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Mortal Empires Interview with Ian Roxburgh

October 11 2017

By Michael Whelan

Mortal Empires is on the way! To follow up on our recent design blog about it (which you can read here), we sat down with Ian Roxburgh, Game Director on the TWWH series to ask him the HARD QUESTIONS.


Hi Ian, thanks for taking the time to talk to us!

I hate it when you lot make me do this…


So how big is Mortal Empires?

Huge! It’s all of the Old World, obviously with a massively expanded Southlands area, plus areas of Ulthuan, Naggaroth and Lustria. It’s the most character-heavy, faction-packed and content-dense map we’ve ever made, with 35 different legendary lords playable, and all those lovely new gameplay features from Warhammer II (treasure hunting, new UI gubbins, storms at sea etc).


How does it compare to the ‘Russian datamine’ map that did the rounds after Warhammer 1 shipped?

Pretty bang-on to be honest, but that map doesn’t show you how packed the campaign map really is, how much stuff is in there. I fully appreciate it may look a bit squished from a top-down perspective, but a few turns of playing at ground level are enough to make you realise how massive it is.


So there are some parts of the New World that aren’t in Mortal Empires?

Yeah, there’s a whole bunch of design involved here but to boil it down, we’re balancing end-turn times with how the Old World fits in with the new territories. It’s a question of scale versus practicality, and what’s actually fun to play. We could’ve added more regions, but there’s a cost to the player in terms of ballooning end-turn times and a less-interesting slog of a campaign. And bear in mind we’re building this with WH3 in mind as well.

We’ve been playtesting the shit out of every one of the 35 factions on all the difficulty settings, and I think we’ve got the balance in a good place. It’d be easy to get side tracked worrying about geographical reduction, but in fact there’s double the region count over Warhammer 1. I can’t stress it hard enough but seeing a 2D representation of landmass just doesn’t prepare you for the sense of scale you experience over the course of a 50-hour-plus campaign.

I’d add that Warhammer’s all about big characters, big wars, big events and epic culture clashes. We don’t want an Elf player spending half the game just fighting other elves. We want them to spend it re-enacting the War of the Beard for shits and giggles, and still realising they’ve still only seen a third of the map.


Will any of the Old World Legendary Lords get new start positions?

Not yet but watch this space. Our whole focus right now is getting Mortal Empires in great starting form, which is a massive job as I’m sure you can appreciate. Designing and playtesting new LL startposes is on our wishlist but first things first, we want the campaign in tip-top starting shape and fun from every angle before we start dicking around with it. We have a pretty good track record of tweaking and evolving Warhammer, and we’ll carry on doing that.

Worth noting though that there are some interesting switch-arounds for a couple of the New World Lords. Queek starts play in Karrag Orrud, right at the heel of the World’s Edge Mountains, so he’s in immediate contact with Greenskins and a stone’s throw from the Dwarfs, plus he’s in contention for Karak Eight Peaks along with Skarsnik and Belegar. Teclis has also shifted, to the Star Tower off the east coast of Lustria, so his initial concerns are vamps and rats. His is definitely a tough startpos!

Which improvements from the Vortex campaign will be carried into Mortal Empires?

Pretty much everything, I mentioned a few earlier but there’s also universal territory capture, rogue armies, choke-point battle maps, encounters at sea and coastal reefs. It feels quite different to the Old World campaign when you’re playing as one of the Old World factions.

Rites aren’t something Old World factions will be getting, they’re unique to the New World races and part of what makes them special and different to play.


When will Mortal Empires be available for download?

Soon, in a matter of weeks is the plan. We haven’t put a date on it as we don’t want to release it until we’re really happy with it, but it’ll be out in the very near future.

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