• ?Good vs Bad – Thrones of Britannia – Community Review

    Critique Report: Viking Invasion 2: Total War
    (Because let’s be real, that’s what this is.)

    Review Basis:
    It is important to know the positotion from which this review is based upon in order to assess how relevant it is to the reader.
    So far, I have played a few hours on two Sudreyar campaigns, the first unmodded, the second modded. I’ve been rather busy so have not yet had time to play past turn 20 on either. I have fought two siege battles and two open field battles.
    I have been following both of Lionheart’s campaigns to get a bit of a feel for some of the other factions and have checked out some other youtubers’ vids too.
    I an extensive Total War enthusiast, having played Rome, Medieval 2, Empire, Shogun 2, Rome 2, Attila, Warhammer and Warhammer 2.
    I am, first and foremost, a singleplayer gamer with very little interest or experience in multiplayer elements.
    One final thing to note is that I did not get the game at full price, recieving a small discount due to Lionheart’s promotion.
    With these frames of reference in mind, onto the review proper.

    User Interface:
    – Good:
    — More than a few quality of life things from Warhammer and Warhammer 2 have crept in. Not as many as I would have liked, but nevertheless, with a little adjustment time for the new layout, the UI is fairly robust in several ways. However.

    – Bad:
    — Despite the improvements, this game is noticealy behind Warhammer 2’s sheer quality of life improvements, which speaks somewhat to the budget differance. It is good by comparison to Attila… but Attila is not the last Total War game to come out.
    Additionally, among the options there is no proximity hiding foliage, despite this being a feature of Attila. this actually has significant gameplay effect as, lovely as the thick foliage is, it gets extremely impractical to give orders in. Now that could be argued to be the point – simulation of the difficulty of ordering and observing in a forest. This is certainly an interesting gameplay idea; but the AI very evidently does not suffer this handicap – and since I am a single-player gamer, this quickly made several of the battles I played rather frustrating in having to pause and fiddle with the camera every few seconds to see what is going on. Consequently, I feel that the inability to chose to proximity-hide foliage should be folded into battle realism mode, where it will have a more appropriate home.
    Finally, while the new unit banners are an improvement over Attila’s – and very functional for determining unit type and state – their small size can make them hard to select from a distance and compounds the above foliage problem.

    Art and Sound Design:
    – Very, very well put together visuals and sound. The game does an amazing job of truly immersing me into it from the unit cards to the small buttons. Stained glass for days was an amazing decision.

    Optimisation:
    – In short terms, this game’s optimasation compared to Attila’s is very good. A big noticeable improvement right off the bat. No longer do movement and controls feel like motion through treacle. Much better.

    Battles:
    – Good:
    — Combat is fairly weighty, charges especially packing a punch. Tthe new cavalry mechanic especially force some more tactical flexibiliy

    – Bad:
    — The classic problem of line deformation still remains – though it does seem reduced thus far.

    Maps:
    – The open battle maps are largely decent, minor settlement battles making a welcome return. The true masterpiece, however, lies in the siege maps. Wonderfully put together with a whole lot of love and attention, sieges are a joy to play now. Even the AI’s classic incompetence doesn’t dimminish this much – often just being on the map makes a huge difference.

    Units:
    – Completely unsurprisingly, the game doesn’t hold a candle to attila in terms of variety, but it has more options than I had been concerned there would be.

    Factions:
    – The variety of factions is evenly balanced between minor and major powers across five different cultures, with some overlap. I would like a bit more to divide them at times, but it’s not quite a matter of somethingsomething Germanic.

    Campaign Layout:
    – There seems to be some very clever design choices here. My campaign as Orkneyar required some seious thought put into it in order to get to my first enemy’s lands – and it allowed me to manipulate the rough terrain to make me pretty hard to attack between the valleys and gulches.

    Campaign Characters:
    – Good:
    — The traits system is pretty decent, though needs more depth. Loyalty and political actions are pretty solid too.

    – Bad:
    — It was a nice experiment, but the lack of agents hurts quite severely. I should be able to murder officials and harrass armies.

    Campaign Mechanics:
    – Good:
    — The individual faction mechanics are a nice way to break upthe typical monotony. War fervour/weariness make a welcome return and the recruitment system enables some fun shenanigans and thought. Supplies is solid, too. Estates give a nice tangible way to quickly and easily manage (or lose control of) influence. Finally, the minor settlement system actually works pretty nicely, reconciling Attilla/Rome 2’s design with fond memories of Shogun 2.

    – Bad:
    — The uneven political options are a bit annoying – don’t especially like being gated into a playstyle for a faction (praise mods!) The Expedition mechanic is a bit depthless; I’d really rather it ended with a quest battle or somesuch. Otherwise, some minor quibbles remain, like being unable to unencamp in the same turn if you accidentally hit it.
    Oh and please show me the movement an army will make before I click it – pretty annoying when the army turns annd randomly goes the long way. Especially when water is involved. No edicts, reduced stances and the inability to eventually garrisson or reinforce minor settlements at all also take away from the depth and options.

    Artificial Intelligence
    – It has the typical probems in battle and campaign, but it seems more focussed on the given factions’ own interests. Went to war and found that the enemy faction didn’t just tunnel-vision onto exterminating me and only me. Nice little improvement.

    Conclusion:
    This game is not going to be for every Total War player. However, based on press statements and the speed of early patches and in particular the announcement made at the end of this week, it does show a lot of promise as a live testbed for new ideas and features, which can then be sorted into things that work or do not work for future main series games. And that is actually quite exciting! It makes some sacrifices and bad decisions between its moments of brilliance… but I’m actually quite glad it does, since that means that true experimentation is going on. I look forward excitedly to see what changes future updates bring!