For twenty years now, The Creative Assembly has been hard at work building some of the greatest strategy games in history dating back to the release of Shogun: Total War in 2000. Hot on the heels of the success found with Total War: Three Kingdoms and its story set against the backdrop of the Chinese Han Dynasty, the development team is hard at work crafting the series’ first-ever foray into the Bronze Age in the form of Total War Saga: TROY.
Total War Saga: TROY marks the second game in the franchise to carry the Saga moniker following the release of Thrones of Britannia in 2018. The Saga spinoffs are intended to focus on specific points in history on the conflicts within rather than an all-encompassing examination of an era. TROY, as you would expect, aims its crosshairs directly on the Trojan War, a decade-long affair that saw ancient Greece and Troy locked into a bloody battle. The conflict serves as one of the cornerstones of Greek Mythology and directly inspired Homer’s Iliad and Odyssey.
A battle of mythical proportions
Much like its recent predecessors, Total War Saga: TROY unfolds over the course of a turn-based campaign with multiple real-time strategic battles sprinkled throughout. Players assume command of special characters (dubbed Epic Heroes in this particular iteration) that each have unique playstyles, difficulty levels, and starting positions within the overall campaign. These heroes offer multiple ways to play through the conflict, each offering a unique perspective with battlefield and diplomatic abilities that fundamentally change how the game is played.
As was the case with last year’s Total War: Three Kingdoms, players can opt to delegate real-time battles to AI control and put their full focus on the narrative drama and diplomacy side of things or opt to micromanage the entire experience down to the individual battlefield unit. This helps new players who may be overwhelmed by the mountain of things to manage and do not have two decades of prior Total War experience to rely on for guidance.
It has a freakin’ Minotaur
My first look at the game came during a special preview event where a massive battle between the Spartans and Trojans was used to show off some of the new features for Total War Saga: TROY. The demo opened up with the invading Spartan army landing on the beach and making their way to an amber-coated battleground against the defending forces. In this battle, Achilles was the hero unit for the Spartans, leading units of Myrmidon swordsmen and Phtian spearmen.
On the opposite side of the field, the hero unit Hector had command of the defending force, including the spear-equipped Guards of Troy, chariots, and a Minotaur. As this time period is heavily intertwined with Greek Mythology, the team at The Creative Assembly also took some liberties to weave in some of the most famous mythical figures into the grand conflict. In the game, the legendary beast is actually a super unit where a hulking man dons the head of a bull. While historical accuracy is always nice, I doubt anyone is gonna argue that these units are anything but mega-cool. The team says that these mythical units can be obtained by controlling specific regions in the campaign or by use of the Divine Will mechanic. Due to their incredible power, these mythical units will be difficult to acquire, but capable of turning the tide in battle.
Gettin’ down and dirty
Terrain traversal has been given a greater focus this time around. Long grass now plays an important role in battles as certain types of units will be able to hide in the blades and potentially sneak attack with ranged weapons. Sandy terrain will cause a loss of movement speed for all types of units but could be a useful tool for master tacticians. Mud is possibly the most important new terrain type in Total War Saga: TROY. Mud can have serious effects of the mobility of certain unit types.
Infantry units will fall into one of three weight classes: light, medium, and heavy. In addition to determining unit mass and its effects on attack types, unit type weight will play a huge factor in the speed at which mud can be traversed. Marching multiple heavy-class units into a mud bog can slow movement to a crawl, making what would normally be an imposing force into a sitting duck for more limber units or ranged attackers. Battlefield awareness and the relationship between terrain and unit classification will be a huge factor in tactical decision making.
Crafting your own Odyssey
The Creative Assembly aims to have eight different hero units ready for the game’s launch later this summer, offering up many ways to experience the campaign. Multiple hero units mean multiple epic duels will be possible, as the rank and file units will always give the commander room for one-on-one epic showdowns. Meaningful interactions with the mythical gods are also on the table, potentially offering campaign boosts for the faithful and ill omens for those who fall out of favor. The Trojan Horse has also been confirmed to be in the campaign for sneaky folks. A launch day DLC by the name of Amazons is also in the works with The Creative Assembly planning to offer more details in the coming months.
If the thought of battling with Spartans, Trojans, and Minotaurs has you all hot and bothered, be sure to mark down August 13, 2020 down in your calendar as the game will be releasing on PC through the Epic Games Store. On launch day, a special promotion will be running where you can pick up the game for free. The game will arrive on Steam sometime in the summer of 2021 for those who prefer its storefront.