Giant wars and a rain of elves in Total Warhammer 2’s free Laboratory DLC


Imagine a skaven so powerful it can punch a dragon hard enough to knock it off its feet. Then imagine that the pull of gravity has been weakened so much that the dragon is sent cartwheeling into the sky. If you have a copy of Total War: Warhammer 2, you won’t need to imagine such scenes for much longer because you’ll be able to make them happen on your computer.

Today, Sega announced a new, free DLC called The Laboratory. It’s coming on Thursday the 14th of December and it looks very silly indeed.

It sounds more like a toy than an actual game mode, letting you fiddle with settings that’d normally be under the hood so that you can push the game to its limits. Here’s the official word:

Designed in collaboration with Intel® and aimed squarely at those with powerful gaming PCs, The Laboratory is a Skaven-themed Custom Battle playground. The Laboratory’s numerous sliders allow multiple game variables to be tweaked, pushing battles in new and ridiculous directions. Players can massively ramp-up unit sizes, remove the bounds of gravity, and increase impact force tenfold to create scenes of pure chaos. With sixteen different settings to tinker with, players can even save their best combinations of tweaks to use again or share with friends.

The important thing is that there’s a bit in the trailer that looks like Helm’s Deep. But bigger. And another bit when gravity manipulation makes it look its raining men. Or possibly elves.


  1. Greg Wild says:

    I’m among the more forgiving Total War fans out there, but this feels like a waste of development time that could have been spent on interesting campaign content. Especially given their recent branch conflict with the Norsca update.

    • Longestsprout says:

      Hence why it’s an experiment.

    • Imperialist says:

      Being a collaboration with Intel, i wager theres some money floating back and forth here. But the assumption that this is somehow detracting from other things is just that…an assumption. CA’s janitor could have made this for fun for all we know.

      Regardless, TK next month and Norsca in may. Id like to see some smaller factions on the table somewhere inbetween.

      • Katar says:

        I doubt there will be a massive content drought between the new faction and Norsca. It won’t be a new faction but Lord packs are almost a certainty.

    • khamul says:

      This feels to me like the kind of thing you get out of ‘happy hacking’ time: i.e. when developers work on what *they* think would be neat (knowing what the product can do), rather than what the bosses ask for.
      Probably, all those switches and levers were there under the hood anyway, and probably having a proper UI for it made the tuning and balancing they’ve had to do for Mortal Realms easier.
      So I would very much expect that putting together that trailer and the press release cost a lot more time and effort than the actual game change did – even including validation and release process costs.

      Not that the effort on the trailer was wasted… because that was a thing of beauty.

      Flip ALL switches, yes-yes! Pull ALL levers! AH HA HA HA HA!!!

      • hamburger_cheesedoodle says:

        Have to agree with you there, both about the development costs (usually these kinds of parameters are tweakable anyway) but also that the trailer absolutely sells this. If this announcement was just text, “Eh, maths, whatever.”

        But put in a cackling ratman and it’s funnier than most comedy on youtube all the sudden.

      • Cederic says:

        It’s quite possible that this was already 90% written – you would build this type of feature for engine testing and balance fine-tuning.

      • Belmakor says:

        Literally the best voiceover I have ever seen for a trailer before. MOAR! MOAR! MOAAARR!!! HAHaHa

    • Okami says:

      Game development doesn’t work like building construction in Age of Empires. Things don’t get done quicker, just because you selected more workers and right click on something.

      • Katar says:

        Yes just throwing more people at the problem won’t necessarily help. I’d argue the sentiment that this was a waste of resources for CA that could have been used on more interesting or on more basic problems. Optimising the game as performance is horrible compared to the first game, rather then adding more stuff for those with outrageous Gaming PCs that will make the game run even worse for most people but look pretty in those YouTube videos.

        • Okami says:

          But here’s the thing: this looks like it’s mainly UI work with a bit of code support and most likely didn’t take long to create. All in all, there were probably ten people involved in this, and that’s counting production and qa. Of course there’s the possibility that one of the coders was their best engine specialist and was sorely missed during the patch development. But it probably wasn’t.

          • Katar says:

            They probably weren’t using engine specialists, but it still looks pretty bad wasting resources on something this minor/pointless given the rest of the news coming out of CA this week.

        • trashmyego says:

          I think it’s the opposite of a waste of resources considering the damn thing is sponsored by Intel.

    • MrEvilGuy says:

      Total War, for better or for worse, has a pretty diverse range of fans now. I’m sure many will love this. I know I would if I was younger – years ago I used to chat to my friends about how the best games are the ones that let you goof around with the settings to make the game glitch out and hilarious. I think we especially hated the game Skate for taking itself too seriously, purposely barring the player from doing things that would take away from the intended realism of the game.

    • Boozebeard says:

      Firstly, I don’t think you’re as forgiving of anything as you think you are, secondly holy shit what a party pooper, thirdly all this does is add some UI sliders to change values that are already part of the game, wouldn’t have been all that much work. Fourthly can we stop second guessing the business and project management decisions of successful studios that we have nothing but the most surface level details about.

  2. wombat191 says:

    Awww just a custom battle thing.. I want it part of campaigns. Glorious explody campaigns with people flying 500 ft in the air

  3. duns4t says:

    This reminds me of those battle simulator games that came out in recent months/years, but much better realized in almost every way. And it’s free DLC. Well done!

  4. Glentoran says:

    Looks like fantastic fun.

  5. fuggles says:

    We have reached the end times! People criticising the output of free dlc as getting in the way of producing paid for dlc.

    Whoulda thunk?

  6. Premium User Badge

    Alikari says:

    This looks amazing and that was one of the most enjoyable trailers I’ve seen in a while.