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Mortal Empires

September 20 2017

By Michael Whelan

Mortal Empires


Across the whole Total War: Warhammer trilogy, each instalment will stand alone as its own game, each with its own discrete campaign. We’re a couple of weeks out from part II launching, and we’re stoked about how the Eye of the Vortex campaign is going down. It’s been fascinating to hear how our test groups and reviewers, Youtubers and livestreamers are reacting to this new type of endgame in Total War, and we can’t wait for you to get your hands on it soon.


We’ve long spoken about our end-goal for the Total War: Warhammer trilogy: to realise the Warhammer Fantasy Battles world in the most complete and detailed way as possible. All those races from 8th Edition Warhammer Fantasy Battles with army books, each with their own starting positions, all playable in the kind of holistic, mega-sandbox of Warhammer joy nobody has ever attempted before.


We also said we’d do this in three stages: part one would cover the geographical area of the Old World. Parts two and three would explore other geographical areas and races. Shortly after Warhammer II launches, owners of both parts one and two will get to play a key part of that grand vision with our first FreeLC download: Total War: WARHAMMER – Mortal Empires.


Mortal Empires will sit alongside The Old World and Eye of the Vortex as an epic fantasy strategy experience, a playable campaign in its own right, accessed through the Warhammer II menu. We’ll be taking the iconic territory of the Old World you know from the first game and expanding outwards to the West, taking in key territories from Lustria, the Southlands, Naggaroth and Ulthuan to massively expand the playable area. It’s not a straight stitch-‘n’-fit job, and it can’t be – the Old World and Eye of The Vortex campaign maps are designed to be standalone; they’re different shapes and don’t ‘fit together’. Also, no Vortex story mechanics here: this is pure conquest, with all the playable races and factions we’ve released so far (plus a ton of AI controlled ones) vying for dominance across the continents.


By the end of the trilogy, we intend there to be 5 massive campaigns to choose from across all three parts:


The Old World Included in Warhammer I
Eye of the Vortex Included in Warhammer II
Mortal Empires Free Campaign for Owners of Parts 1 & 2
Warhammer III’s Main Campaign Included in Warhammer III
A Very Big Campaign* Free Campaign for Owners of Parts 1, 2 & 3


*= Er, no, we’ve not decided on a name for this yet.


In terms of content, Mortal Empires is way, way denser than we’d initially envisaged back in 2013, when we were in pre-production for the first game. That’s thanks in part to our New Content team, headed by the ever-cheery Rich Aldridge, whose small but insanely talented crew have contributed to massively more playable factions per-square-mile in the Old World (and therefore in Mortal Empires) than we’d originally imagined. New factions for all those original Old World races (Clan Angrund, Crooked Moon, Bloody Handz and all the rest) plus three new races in Bretonnia, Wood Elves and Beastmen, each with their own sub-factions and start positions. Factor in what the core Warhammer team has been working on for the last year and a half – four new races (that’s eight more Legendary Lords and start positions) with eye-poppingly different mechanics and playstyles for Warhammer II – and you’ve got quite a busy map to play on.


In Mortal Empires alone, we’re up to 35 Legendary Lords across 25 different starting positions.


What’s more, Mortal Empires will carry over many of the features of Warhammer II’s Eye of the Vortex campaign you may’ve seen us talking about in recent months. These include (deep breath): rogue armies, ranged breath-attacks for all dragons, treasure hunting, encounters at sea, storms, shallows and reefs, a whacking great number of UI refinements and improvements, 8 and 10-slot cities, chokepoint maps and, of course, universal territory capture and climate suitability mechanics.


Sizewise, Mortal Empires is over twice as big as the Old World in terms of settlement count. Again, to be clear, this isn’t the Old World and New World maps stitched together. We wanted to put gameplay and replayability first, so it’s effectively a new map in its own right. Here’s some stats:



  The Old World Mortal Empires
Settlements 142 295
Starting faction count 66 117



Even as the final shine goes into Warhammer II, we have our top men dedicated to playtesting, balancing and polishing Mortal Empires, and all the playable races are being put through the ringer. Our key objectives are gameplay balance, a huge variety of factional experiences, and sheer density of content across a massive world map. We’re also very mindful of the range of hardware specs people play our games on, and how that may impact future map expansion.


There’s a couple of additional things we should mention about this free campaign map in advance:


The massive number of factions will increase end turn times, there’s no getting around it. We’ll be keeping an eye on this through our testing, and when it gets into player’s hands, keeping the general hardware impact of such a large and packed map in mind.


We’re being ambitious with Mortal Empires, but we’re keen to hear feedback, and we’ll certainly make tweaks and updates to it over time. As you’ve probably guessed, given the countless updates we made to Warhammer I, we will always look to improve on what we’ve done, and there’s no substitute for getting it out in the wild and played by hundreds of thousands of people. Over time, for example, we’re aiming to create unique starting positions for more of the Old World Legendary Lords who currently share the same spot. Like pretty much every part of the series so far, Mortal Empires will evolve.


Also, due to the different teams’ development schedules, Norsca won’t make it into Mortal Empires when it first becomes available – they’ll arrive in a patch soon afterwards. But we’d much rather release Mortal Empires to you sooner and get Norsca implemented in due course, which will then take the Lord/startpos count to 37/27.


Regardless: this massive, evolving campaign – which will get richer again with successive DLC and FreeLC for part 2 – is a tremendous amount of fun to play.


And a final word on the name. We know that not all the empires and characters featured in Mortal Empires are ‘mortal’ in the truest sense of the word. But compared with what may be stirring on the distant horizon…

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