The Total War Saga spin-off series has swelled of late. At first it was just Thrones of Britannia, but then Fall of the Samurai was retrofitted with the same branding, and hot on the heels of that move it became public knowledge that Sega and the Sofia-based branch of The Creative Assembly were working on another entry. At Gamescom, we got our first glimpse at this project.
Like previous Saga entries, Troy is a laser-focused exploration of a conflict at a certain time in a certain place. The story of the Trojan War - upon which this game is based - is also shrouded in mystery and brought to life by mythological feats, and CA has seemingly taken this ambiguity and has turned it into a feature. As a studio rep told us in the business area at Gamescom during a behind-closed-doors demonstration, we'll be getting all the timeless heroes and villains, with events wrapped up in the mythology that has made this one of history's most famous tales.
With Saga titles being flashpoints in history, Troy is an obvious choice for CA. Set during the Bronze Age, there was societal collapse all over the known world (except in Egypt, we're told). It's an interesting backdrop, but it's not as interesting as what happened next. As the story goes, the Trojan prince Paris runs away with Helen, the Spartan queen, sparking a war between Troy and a coalition of Greek states. Homer, who wrote the Illiad, is the narrator in the game.
The developer has also used the Greek theme in a number of clever ways, for example, the fog of war that would normally dissipate as you explore is now a shroud that burns away, revealing more of the world. Even more eye-catching is the background of the world map, which is inspired by Greek pottery. It looks great, and we were also told that this is the biggest Saga map.
Troy uses the same sandbox setup that Total War fans will be familiar with, where players are dropped into a famous scenario and then given the tools to either rewrite history or see things done just as they were (only better). Here we're getting eight factions - four on each side - and we'll be developing settlements and trying to conquer those of our opponents, with the freedom to play as you like (for example, you can play as a rogue Achilles and burn your traditional allies, should you wish). We're told that we'll have to manage the loyalty of key characters, and there'll be diplomacy related to the game's resource economy.
Speaking of which, there'll be five major resources in the new economy, with the basics being food and wood, advanced being bronze and stone, and then the special is gold. More exciting is the inclusion of the Greek gods, and players will be working to earn the favour of Ares, Hera, Athena, Apollo, Aphrodite, Poseidon, and Zeus. What's more, if you fall out of favour, the gods may come to hate you, which can be precarious.
In-game characters include famous generals from the era, but they'll be unkillable. They'll also have a bit of personality that should play into the battles, such as Achilles - you know, the one with the wonky ankle - who is a great warrior albeit hot-blooded. Hector, prince of Troy and Paris' big brother, has great defensive units and is well organised. Then there's the Minotaur, who has been plucked from the legend of Theseus, a beastly warrior who wears a bull-skull helmet and charges into units like a wrecking ball.
Troy will also apparently offer greater distinction between ground units, as a way of escaping a more limited pool of unique troop types from the era. The famous Myrmidons, for example, will be great at tangling with other ground units, while chariots on the fringe of battle will offer flanking options. Spearmen can put their shields down and wield spears two-handed if required, while hero characters with superhuman powers can take on whole units on their own.
When you're not engaging in battles, the overarching campaign will play out not in years, but in turns. The studio rep told us that CA is going for a timeless campaign that exists somewhere between myth and legend, that can take full advantage of this most enduring of settings. It's certainly a great fit for this burgeoning spin-off series, and we're looking forward to diving into this ancient adventure and fighting for the favour of the gods in what sounds like an intriguing new Total War experience.
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