There's a couple of leaks which seem to point towards it. Firstly, as reported by Kotaku, a Sega PR booked a trade show appointment with Turkish site Oyungezer for Shogun 2. Secondly, a press-release for it appeared on TWCenter, apparently leaked. The thread's been removed though still shows up on google, but has been mirrored all over the place. We'll only know at E3 - or with PC Gamer's next cover, whichever comes first. The leaked alleged press-release is below, plus some initial thoughts...
And, to stress, there's no proof that this press-release is genuine. Take everything below with a pinch of the proverbial.
Title: Shogun 2: Total War™
Published by SEGA. Developed by The Creative Assembly.
Format: PC- DVD
1 to 8 players
Ratings: ESRB Teen, PEGI 16, OFLC M, USK 12 – All provisional
Release date: 2011
MASTER THE ART OF WAR TO BECOME THE UNDISPUTED RULER OF MEDIEVAL JAPAN
In 2000, the Creative Assembly re-invented the strategy genre with Shogun: Total War, an unprecedented blend of 3D real-time battles and turn-based management game and the first offering in the multi-award winning series. With over 7 million units sold and universal acclaim from the press and community, Total War has consistently been at the cutting edge of the genre and is today one of the most successful PC franchises of all time.
In 2011, the makers of Rome and Empire: Total War will release the sequel to the game that started it all. Shogun 2: Total War will take long-time veterans and newcomers alike to the next level of strategy gaming on PC. Based on 10 years of experience in making Total War, Shogun 2 is the perfection of the series with a new Artificial Intelligence (AI), revolutionary multiplayer modes, brand new campaign map options and epic 3D real-time battles.
It is the middle of the 16th century in Medieval Japan. The country, once ruled by a unified government, is now split into many warring clans. The player takes on the role of one Daimyo – the clan leader – and will use military engagements, economics and diplomacy to achieve the ultimate goal: re-unite Japan under his supreme command and become the new Shogun – the undisputed ruler of Japan.
Set during the golden age of Samurai warfare, Shogun 2 brings to life the most turbulent period of Japanese history.
Total War redefined
Shogun 2 is the ultimate refinement of the original formula with a new, cutting-edge AI, more polish and online functionality than ever before. The result is the perfect mix of real-time and turn-based strategy gaming that invites both veterans of Total War and new players to experience the enjoyment and depth of the series.
New character progression
Choose from 9 different clans and compete on and offline for the undisputed supremacy of Medieval Japan. Gain experience to level up your own character-warlord as well as your generals and agents.
A complete single and multiplayer offering
Play through the Main Campaign in single player or invite a friend online to play competitively or cooperatively in Campaign Multiplayer mode. Join 8-player multiplayer battles with your own upgradable avatar and climb the online Leaderboard to show the world who reigns supreme. Also including exciting new modes of team play for clans, a first in the Total War series.
New Generation AI system
Developed according to Sun Tzu’s principles in the Art of War, the Artificial Intelligence constantly analyses its situation and reacts to your every move with greater precision and variety.
Improved land and naval battle gameplay
Land battles never felt so realistic with new multi-staged castle sieges and terrain features changing according to the weather and time of the day - turning each engagement into a tactical challenge. Set buildings on fire to force garrisoned troops out and use your units’ special abilities to turn the tide of the battle.
Naval combat also offers more variety with the addition of coastal battles. Islands can work as effective cover for your ships, while sand bars and reefs can be used as traps against an enemy fleet.
Accessible and in-depth empire-building gameplay
A streamlined User Interface makes management of your kingdom much easier. Build and govern cities, recruit and train troops, conduct diplomacy and manage your agents – each feature is now introduced with comprehensive tutorials, gradually revealing the depth of the Shogun 2 campaign map – the heart and soul of the Total War experience.
Initial thoughts? It strikes me as a smart move for Creative Assembly, on at least a couple of levels.
Firstly, with their last games, they've managed to burn huge chunks of the respect gamers ever had for them. As evidenced by all of RPS' recent comment threads, there are grudges a plenty. Going back to their roots is, at least, a gesture of trying to start again.
Secondly - and more importantly - arguably the biggest problem of the recent Total War games has been their scale. They are not elegant designs, but maximialist pile-everything-on ones. Part of the joy is just the impression that it all hangs to together. However, when the AI isn't up to it, it all falls apart. In that press release the "New Generation AI system" is going to get a lot of gags translating it as "An AI System".
Shogun, while a big game, is much more manageable than anything Creative Assembly have attempted in a Total-War-game proper in a decade. By strimming it back from the epic sprawl they can concentrate their attention. Clearly, we're going to lose a lot here. Hopefully, they'll gain by making it work.
And there's a third thing - the period really is relatively unexplored grounds. The first Shogun game was an enormous atmospheric period piece - I can't think of a mainstream game which treated the period in a grounded respectful way, with nary a whiff of fantasy. To turn somewhat tautological, I'd like another Shogun game, if only because I'd like another game like Shogun.
If this turns out true, I suspect we'll be watching it carefully.