Grand war strategy (and the odd scary-as-hell horror game) is what Creative Assembly is known for, and nowhere is that more true than their Total War series. As we’ve seen in Codi’s review of games like Total War: Three Kingdoms, these titles bring a near-fanatical approach to period realism, excellent field tactics, ruthless diplomacy, and multi-tasking mastery at the highest level. Now, Creative Assembly’s newest team, Creative Assembly Sophia in Bulgaria, tackles a time period wrapped in mystery, myth, and legend — the Trojan War. Recently we’ve gone hands-on with an early version of the game, offering up a chance to decide the outcome of one of the most famous battles in ancient history — Achilles versus Hector. Let’s take to the field for a brief look at A Total War Saga: Troy.
Set in the Bronze Age in the ancient Medeterranean, Troy tells the story of the twenty year battle between the Trojans and Mycenaean Greece, better known as the Trojan War. While we only got to tackle the battle you can see above, undoubtedly it will also tell this story from both perspectives, as well as from the eight total factions that’ll appear in the campaign. What makes things interesting here is the approach to the myths and legends of ancient Greece.
Total War tries to stay true to historical roots whenever possible (other than Warhammer offshoots, of course), and that means there is little room for centaurs and minotaurs, right? Well, Creative Assembly Sofia figured out precisely how to handle this sticky wicket with a concept they are calling “the truth behind the myth”. The two examples we got to see in this preview build are the aforementioned minotaur and centaurs. Rather than mythical beasts, the centaurs are simply more druidic-style cavalry who are “one with their horses”. Similarly, the Minotaur isn’t a bull, but instead a massive man wearing a cow skull and wielding a dual-headed axe for maximum intimidation. These units do have special attacks like the Bull Rush to mow down and cut through foes, but they are human and far from immortal.
At this time horses were reserved for cavalry, with well-armored infantrymen being the more common unit. While Total War can feel like throwing hundreds of soldiers into a meat grinder at times, the Sofia team wanted to break this up a bit. Here we see three different types of infantry — light, medium, and heavy. Light soldiers aren’t well armored, but they are incredible flankers. Heavy soldiers can sustain more damage in battle, but their heavy armor makes them slow to pivot. Medium soldiers carry neither advantage, having neither weakness, making them a steady spine for your army. These “weights” matter as there is a greater emphasis on mass when your enemies crash into your troops, making flanking and tight group formation even more important than ever.
Alongside two new terrain types (sand and mud, both affected by the weight of the aforementioned unit types) is the ability to have your infantry toggle between a balanced defensive attack with sword or spear coupled with a shield, or to shoulder the shield and go into an all-out assault mode at the risk of greater damage to health and morale. This may come in handy when you encounter the next major feature of the game — heroes.
Epic heroes like Achilles and Hector are a nearly-unstoppable force in the field. These named units have special skills (courtesy of their own skill tree) and surround themselves with special troops. As they battle their enemies, they’ll build up rage, allowing them to unleash devastating attacks like Ares’ Rage — a power that lets Achilles do 150% damage for a short period of time, sending him into a berserker rage where he is unable to be controlled for a period of time.
Each hero has their own strengths and weaknesses. Achilles has great speed and maneuverability, focusing on light but swift attacks. Hector can field the strongest defensive units, is hard to route, and as such has the most organized units with tighter packed formations. Additionally, there is a new meter called “Aristeia” which is described as where a hero has their finest moment in battle. When activated, this makes the hero become nearly unbreakable in battle. This sort of differentiation should create some additional permutations between factions and create some epic face-off moments in the field.
This short battle gave us a good taste of what A Total War Saga: Troy has in store for what Creative Assembly Sofia has in store for us. The fresh take on infantry, as well as the unique approach to the gods and monsters of the time, should make for another compelling historic grand battle adventure. Stay tuned to Gaming Trend for more on A Total War Saga: Troy as we approach the release on August 20th, 2020, exclusively at the Epic Games Store.