Beat up some Romans in Total War: Arena’s open beta


I’ve probably written more about Total War than any other series this year, but I confess that I totally forgot about its free-to-play multiplayer spin-off, Total War: Arena. It has my attention again, however, as a public beta kicks off today, announced Creative Assembly and publisher Wargaming (who were brought in to help last year).

Arena is a bit different from your regular Total Wars, and not just because of the free-to-play business model. The way it approaches multiplayer is rather unusual: instead of commanding massive armies, players command three units of 100 warriors in 10 vs 10 battles. It’s cooperative in a way no other Total War game has been, as you’re only ever in control of a tenth of an army. It also means that, without proper communication, battles can easily devolve into giant, messy brawls spread out across the large maps.

Earlier this year, after some radio silence, Creative Assembly started putting together dev diaries. Here’s the first one.

I forgot it even existed, despite playing it. Maybe that’s because it was announced way back in 2013 (Adam took it for a spin for the first time in 2014). To put that into perspective, Total War: Rome 2 was still six months away when Creative Assembly unveiled Arena. Since then, the studio has released four huge games and countless expansions. Despite that slow progress, it seemed very promising when I played it over two years ago.

It has a lot of the scale and grandeur typical to Total War, but in giving players only three units to worry about, it becomes even more tactical. And the large number of players make each battle feel more eventful. A lot of Total War fights ultimately hinge on one massive clash, but in Arena there are a multitude of discrete battles and fights over objectives going on all over the place as the two teams – 20 players – compete for dominance. It’s pretty lively.

The open beta week is actually a bit longer than a week. It has already started and will continue until December 4. You’ll be able to earn extra silver and experience in simple objectives (like playing a battle, playing in a party, and so on) that change every few days. However, you’ll need a Wargaming account first, and the Wargaming client. You can get both from the official site.


  1. Sp4rkR4t says:

    Played 2 games so far, I think I like this thing although it all boils down to that first charge really, get that wrong and it’s running around the battlefield like a headless chicken time.

  2. TheRaptorFence says:

    Idk, when I played this in the closed beta it felt distinctly more Wargaming than Total War. TTK was very quick, movement and UI felt off compared to normal Total War, and the menu was an utter mess that seemed obtrusive. Coupled with the normal nonsensical ladder climb of Wargaming releases, I would steer clear of this title if you are a Total War fan.

    • Imperialist says:

      Alternatively, if you want a casual pvp game that isnt a max funds cheesefest like regular TW MP games…its not like the price of free hurt anybody. Ive played all the TW games. I love them all. But the MP community is all over the place, and Arena caters to bite-sized chunks of TW gameplay without unit management overload. Sure its alot more arcade-y, but it requires decent skill management and teamwork to do well in. (also, the game was developed way before Wargaming was involved, so its still CA’s team working on it)

  3. Meat Circus says:

    Those Romans all have identical chests.


    • Captain Narol says:

      That’s not Romans, that’s Barbarians.

      That they regrouped Celts, Germans and other barbarians in the same factions is one of the things I don’t like about that game, which is nice anyway but indeed feeling more “Wargaming” than “Total War” in spirit.

      The game has only 3 factions (Rome, Greece, Barbarians) so far and badly needs more with distinctive flavor, IMHO.

      • Imperialist says:

        I think the distinctive flavors are more aimed towards the Generals, rather than the units themselves. There is a fairly good variety of generals so far, most of which are rather different. Would be nice to see an eastern army in there at some point though.