Total War: Warhammer III - Champions of Chaos: Chatting inspiration and aims with Creative Assembly
We caught up with the strategy game's lead designer to learn more about the recent batch of DLC.
A few weeks back, amidst the madness that was Gamescom, Creative Assembly released a new batch of DLC for Total War: Warhammer III. Known as Champions of Chaos, this extra boon of content brought new playable Legendary Lords, as well as a suite of new mechanics, and an array of new units. Now that this DLC has been out in the wild for a little while, we've had the chance to catch up with CA - specifically with lead designer Sean Macdonald - to learn more about their inspiration and aims with Champions of Chaos.
Gamereactor: Did Azazel take inspiration from the old Codex drawings, or did you make your own visions of him?
Macdonald: Our teams that work on character art always take inspiration from the multitude of source materials that Games Workshop have created over the years. The main sources of inspiration for Azazel were his tabletop model from Champions of Chaos 5th addition as well as his 6th edition artwork, however both are quite old depictions and as a result he needed a bit of an artistic update in order to fit into the game. Overall, we stayed true to his original design but really tried to emphasise some humanoid characteristics despite being an ancient Daemon Prince of Slaanesh.
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How much of the graphical design is CA, and how much is GW?
We obviously take inspiration from the wealth of fantastic source material that has been created by Games Workshop over the past couple of decades, but everything created for Total War: WARHAMMER is designed in-studio by Creative Assembly. Our companies have a fantastic relationship and frequently collaborate to ensure that the game is meeting their standards as well as the players'.
What changes had to be made to update the warriors of chaos?
Warriors of Chaos are one of the most iconic races from the setting, so we knew that we had to reintroduce the race in the way that was befitting of their infamous reputation. The biggest change made to the race and its subsequent factions is that they're no longer a horde and can now inhabit settlements - allowing the construction of Chaos Altars within minor settlements and Black Fortresses within Major settlements. We've also really tried to push the role-playing potential of the race through the new Warband Upgrade and Chaos Gifts systems - both of these allow the player to promote their most loyal units through the Chaos ranks, with some even being granted daemonhood!
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Do you feel this implementation of Warrior of Chaos is more "codex" compliant, aka closer to the board game version?
We always look to the original source material to provide inspiration for our design direction but the lore for the Warriors of Chaos has had the biggest impact on their design direction. We really wanted the players to feel like they were gradually building up this unstoppable tide of northern warbands who are all uniting under one banner in the hope of drowning the world in chaos and it feels very thematic.
Has balancing units and unique characters been hard? There are a lot to keep track of at this point...
Balancing units and characters is always challenging when you're dealing with over half a decade's worth of content. In game we currently have 86 Legendary Lords as well as hundreds upon hundreds (sometimes thousands) of spells, units, abilities, mounts, items etc, so balancing can be a daunting task as we aim to ensure they're all working as intended. Thankfully, we have an amazing QA team, collaborative community, and software which help us identify any outlying issues, allowing us to prioritise changes needed for future patches.
Who is your favourite Lord in the entire TWW series?
Sigvald the Magnificent would probably be my favourite Lord from the series. I love the idea of this vainglorious warrior with near unmatched close-combat capabilities going into battle with a shield that doubles up as a mirror, and with a retinue of elite bodyguards known as the Mirror Guard who allow him to bask in his own glory whilst in the thick of combat. On the darker side of things, he's the greatest personification of beauty on the outside and rot within - ideal for the devotees of Chaos!
Do you feel game mechanics have evolved to its full extend?
As a team we're always looking for new ways to evolve, innovate and generally improve on the content which has come before. With every passing game and DLC we've aimed to be more ambitious, and this will continue to be our philosophy moving forward. So, continue to expect new and exciting things moving forward.
What is your expected play-through time for an Immortal Empires (IE) campaign on normal?
It can vary massively depending on how skilled the player is, but I'm on course to defeat my Kholek campaign and capture all settlements in around 80-100 hours.
Do you expect anyone to beat IE with all 23 races?
You'd need a lot of time! I would expect someone to beat the short and long campaign objectives with all 23 races but winning the Domination Campaign Victory with all 23 races is another feat entirely and I'd be very impressed if they managed it.
IE have had a lot of changes, do you feel it's more fair now?
Immortal Empires has been a huge undertaking and is the most ambitious and technically challenging campaign that we ever made. As a result, we've attached the beta tag because we know it will have some rough edges at launch due to the colossal amount of content involved, but it will only get better from here as we gather player feedback and make necessary changes. In terms of fairness, we've done a lot of work to ensure older races are up to date compared to their WARHAMMER III counterparts, we've addressed key exploits, and we've done a huge amount of work to address balance issues. We plan to support this enormous game for years to come, so we'll always be looking at ways in which we can improve the overall experience.
Which semi-sadist set the end-game scenario sliders to be such an extreme length?
Our philosophy for this sandbox mode has been to empower player agency wherever we can, so the end-game scenario sliders have a huge amount of customisation to allow players to do what they want, where they want, whenever they want. As we've said, the framework for this mode will only make it easier for us to add new varieties of these scenarios in the future.
A big thanks to Macdonald and Creative Assembly for speaking with us. You can check out Total War: Warhammer III's Champions of Chaos DLC in-game today.