War. War never changes. But Total War does.
With an imminent sequel to arguably one of the best games in the series, Rome: Total War, fans are understandably excited all over again for the promise of epic warfare on a grand scale with gargantuan armies clashing and huge swathes of copy editors researching synonyms for the word ‘big’. So far, the Total War series has played with five distinct time periods, fleshed out with numerous expansion packs. So, does the future of the series mean trading off the time period for scope, or vice versa? Napoleon: Total War‘s narrower time period, and Shogun 2: Total War‘s constricted regional area are evidence of such a trend.
Part of the series’ appeal has been the re-enactment of something even the casual historian recognises as significant, through either its consequence or its global impact, with Shogun: Total War and its sequel the general exceptions to the rule. As a result, it’s a little unlikely that Creative Assembly will choose something along the lines of The 1838 Pastry War, fought over damage to a bakery, or the Anglo-Zanzibar War which lasted about thirty-eight minutes (though I could see that being ported to iOS). With that in mind, here are a few incredibly serious avenues that the Total War series could go down next:
Myth: Total War
People love games with deities in. Or hate them. I forget which. That doesn’t change how brilliant offerings like Age of Mythology offer something a little different when it comes to strategy. Imagine the Total War: Rome II engine rendering gods and heroes waging war across the Ancient World. Generals are all well and good, but an army led by Ajax or Achilles, able to call upon a Minotaur division, promises something special. The siege of Carthage is a good start, but what about Troy? Or, why not double-down on the legendary aspect and give us Bible: Total War – smite thine enemies oh mighty smiter!
Post-1530: Total War
The thing is, Renaissance: Total War doesn’t sound like a name we’d associate with bloodthirsty conflict, and Post-Medieval: Total War doesn’t really cut it. Medieval II: Total War ended in 1530, with the series next picking up in the 18th century with Empire: Total War. This leaves a juicy game-sized gap just ready to exploit.
A fractious Germany and Italy would mean that players get the chance to unite Europe in their image, and perhaps the team could get back to some of the cultural intrigue that was largely abandoned after Medieval II. By the time Total War: Rome II is released it will have been seven years since players have been given the chance to assassinate the Pope and trade away their nation’s women for the purposes of diplomacy as we did with reckless abandon in Medieval II: Total War. That’s far too long.
Super Early Civilisation: Total War
The Empire Earth and Civilization series gave us a chance to conquer from the very beginning (it’s a very good place to start), so why doesn’t Total War follow suit? Though the series flourishes when operating on an epic scale, something that might not translate to a rabble of loin clothed men invading caves, consider the Mammoth battles, the Sabre toothed tiger-pulled chariots, and the Raquel Welch’s stomping about the place. Hell, why not go the whole hog and add in some Dinosaurs?