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.