It’s hardly a secret that Total War is a franchise I love, it was Total War that first brought me into PC gaming, scratching my strategic itch. Over the years it’s been interesting to see how the games have developed and even changed themselves, some going for a stylistic approach while others have gone closer to a narrative experience. The question that comes to mind is what sort of experience is Total War Saga: Troy going for?
I’ve previewed a hands-off experience from Gamescom last year and just under two months ago I was able to get hands-on with a battle in the game, previewing that. Recently I’ve had the chance to get hands-on with the first forty turns of the campaign, playing as either Menelaus or Paris. Or both. Personally, I’ve spent most of my time as Menelaus, if only because I didn’t want to choose the character with the more difficult of starting points when my time was limited.
Forty turns isn’t a long time in Total War, that much is clear to anybody who has ever played one of the games. This is even more true at the start of a campaign while you’re establishing yourself and planning for the future. In the roughly one hundred turns I’ve spent as Menelaus and around sixty as Paris, I think I’m understanding how Total War Saga: Troy will play out on the campaign map. At least somewhat, with there being several features to learn and some still to be shown. When the game launches there will be eight factions, four from the Greek side, four from the Trojan. We already know that the Amazons will also feature as day-one DLC content and when I asked the developers, I was told that if people want it, more factions will be added as later DLC. What we know is that each faction will have two unique aspects. Menelaus, for example, can use the Spartan Colonies ability, letting him colonise an abandoned settlement without the use of an army. He also has the Call to Arms ability, letting him recruit allied units, offering the opportunity of simply building economic cities and having your armies consist totally of allied units. Paris, on the other hand, can ask Helen to move and live closer to him. Well, you can invite her to a large feast, some games or to participate in a prayer, each boosting the region’s happiness, growth and even recruitment costs and the experience of units in a province. She is said to be the most beautiful woman ever, her beauty even bolstering the abilities of your troops, should you host some games in her honour. If she is close to Paris, her mood is lifted and when she is happy, the region she is in also gains a boost to happiness. He also competes with Hector for “Priam’s benevolence”. Essentially, you’re competing to become the heir of Priam and to rule Troy. You do this through several methods, such as completing missions, defeating and conquering Achaeans, gaining favour with whichever god Priam’s interested in at that moment in time and, of course, simply donating gold to him. Honestly, I’ve found Paris more interesting, despite his more difficult starting position, if only for the options you’ve got to explore in the first few turns. Menelaus has great potential later on in the game as your allies have stronger troops for you to recruit, but to start with you’re going to have to focus one region on the military.