Total War is a long-standing strategy game series that has captivated gamers for over 20 years. With a total of 14 games released, the franchise has explored various historical periods and even delved into the realm of fantasy. In this comprehensive guide, we will explore the best Total War games that have left a lasting impact on players. From the epic battles of Total War: Warhammer III to the rich historical drama of Total War: Three Kingdoms, we will dive into the highlights of each game. So, whether you’re a seasoned Total War player or a newcomer to the series, this article will help you navigate the vast world of Total War and discover the games that deserve your attention.
1. Total War: Warhammer III
Total War: Warhammer III stands as a triumphant step forward for the Total War series, offering players the ultimate fantasy strategy game. Drawing on six years of fantasy and historical Total War design, Warhammer III pulls out all the stops to provide an immersive and diverse gaming experience. This game takes place in the fantastical Warhammer universe, known for its intricate lore and iconic characters. With a blend of turn-based strategy and real-time battles, Total War: Warhammer III allows players to take command of legendary factions and wage war across a vast and visually stunning world.
Review: “Total War: Warhammer III is a triumphant step forward for Total War on almost every front, boasting not just the best and most diverse single-player campaigns ever, but a revolution in multiplayer too.”
The Ultimate Fantasy Strategy Game
Total War: Warhammer III truly shines in its ability to bring the Warhammer universe to life. Players can choose from a variety of factions, each with its own unique playstyle, units, and mechanics. Whether you prefer the righteous warriors of the Empire, the savage hordes of Chaos, or the cunning elves of Ulthuan, there is a faction to suit every playstyle. The game’s campaign map is a sprawling representation of the Warhammer world, filled with iconic locations and lore. From the fiery landscapes of the Chaos Wastes to the ancient forests of Athel Loren, each region is beautifully crafted and rich in detail.
Triumph in Single-player and Multiplayer
In Total War: Warhammer III, the single-player campaigns offer endless hours of gameplay. Each faction has its own objectives, storylines, and unique challenges to overcome. Whether you choose to conquer the world or pursue a more diplomatic approach, the choices you make will shape the fate of your faction. Additionally, the game introduces a revolution in multiplayer, allowing players to engage in epic battles against friends and foes alike. With a wide range of multiplayer modes and the ability to customize your armies, Total War: Warhammer III offers endless replayability and strategic depth.
2. Total War: Three Kingdoms
Total War: Three Kingdoms is hailed as one of the greatest entries in Total War’s core historical series. Set in ancient China during the turbulent period of the Three Kingdoms, this game combines historical accuracy with captivating storytelling. The Romance of the Three Kingdoms, one of China’s most important national stories, serves as the backdrop for this grand strategy game. As a warlord vying for power and control, players must navigate complex alliances, engage in diplomacy, and lead their armies to victory.
The Epitome of Total War’s Historical Series
Total War: Three Kingdoms showcases the evolution of the Total War series with its expanded character mechanics and strategic variety. Taking cues from the Warhammer games, Three Kingdoms introduces unique hero characters with their own special abilities and relationships. These heroes can turn the tide of battle and shape the course of the campaign. Whether it’s the cunning strategist Zhuge Liang or the mighty warrior Lu Bu, each character brings a distinct flavor to the game. The attention to detail in the character animations and voice acting further adds to the immersive experience.
Innovative Mechanics and Engaging Storytelling
One of the standout features of Total War: Three Kingdoms is its overhauled diplomacy system. Players can engage in intricate negotiations, form alliances, and backstab their rivals to gain the upper hand. The game also introduces espionage, allowing you to infiltrate enemy territories and gather valuable information. These mechanics add depth and realism to the gameplay, making every decision feel meaningful. The campaign is filled with dramatic moments and branching storylines, bringing the human drama of the Three Kingdoms era to life. Unfortunately, Creative Assembly has announced that there will be no more DLC for Three Kingdoms, but the existing content provides more than enough content to satisfy players.
3. Total War: Shogun 2
Widely regarded as one of the best games in the Total War series, Total War: Shogun 2 takes players back to 16th-century Japan, the setting of the very first Total War game. With its tight focus on the Sengoku period and refined gameplay mechanics, Shogun 2 offers a polished and immersive experience. The game builds upon the foundations of its predecessors while introducing new features and improved aesthetics. From the intricate diplomacy system to the breathtaking battles, Total War: Shogun 2 showcases the pinnacle of Total War’s core gameplay.
A Return to the Roots of Total War
After the sprawling scope of Empire, Total War: Shogun 2 embraced a more focused approach. This decision allowed Creative Assembly to hone in on the core systems of the series and create a more refined experience. The game features a vibrant campaign map, complete with diverse provinces and iconic landmarks of feudal Japan. Players can choose from various clans, each with its own unique bonuses and starting positions. The ability to customize your own clan adds a personal touch to the game, allowing you to create your own narrative within the rich historical setting.
Immersive Gameplay and Aesthetic Polish
Total War: Shogun 2 excels in both its turn-based campaign and real-time battles. The campaign offers strategic depth, requiring players to manage their provinces, balance their economy, and engage in diplomatic negotiations. The real-time battles, on the other hand, are a spectacle to behold. From the clash of samurai swords to the volleys of arrows, each battle feels intense and immersive. The attention to detail in the unit animations and the stunning landscapes further enhances the visual experience. Total War: Shogun 2 remains a fan favorite among Total War enthusiasts, and its enduring popularity is a testament to its quality.
4. Total War: Rome 2
Despite a rocky launch, Total War: Rome 2 has proven to be one of the most resilient games in the series. Released in 2013, it quickly became the best-selling game at the time and continues to attract players to this day. Rome 2 offers a grand-scale depiction of the Roman Empire, allowing players to command vast armies and shape the course of history. With its engaging gameplay, vibrant graphics, and extensive DLC offerings, Total War: Rome 2 is a testament to the enduring appeal of the Total War franchise.
Resilience and Turnaround
Total War: Rome 2 faced criticism upon its initial release due to technical issues and gameplay imbalances. However, Creative Assembly diligently addressed these concerns through numerous patches and updates. The game has undergone significant improvements, making it a more stable and enjoyable experience. The dedication of the development team and their commitment to listening to player feedback has transformed Rome 2 into a beloved entry in the series.
A Testament to Enduring Gameplay
One of the reasons for Rome 2’s enduring popularity is its engaging gameplay and immersive depiction of ancient Rome. Players can experience the grandeur of the Roman Empire as they expand their territories, manage their provinces, and engage in epic battles. The graphics, although slightly dated compared to newer titles, still hold up well and provide a visually pleasing experience. With a plethora of DLC options available, including additional campaigns and factions, Total War: Rome 2 offers countless hours of strategic gameplay for history enthusiasts.
5. Total War: Medieval 2
Released in 2006, Total War: Medieval 2 holds a special place in the hearts of many Total War veterans. Despite its age, this game continues to captivate players with its immersive setting and challenging gameplay. Set during the medieval period, Medieval 2 allows players to experience the tumultuous era of knights, castles, and religious conflicts. With its loyal modding community and the release of a definitive edition, Medieval 2 remains a beloved entry in the Total War series.
Timeless Appeal and Enduring Loyalty
Medieval 2’s enduring appeal can be attributed to its turbulent and romantic setting. The medieval period offers a wealth of historical events and iconic characters, creating a captivating backdrop for strategic gameplay. The game’s mechanics provide a more challenging experience compared to newer titles, appealing to players seeking a greater level of difficulty. Despite its aging graphics, the modding community has breathed new life into Medieval 2, offering a plethora of ambitious mods that enhance the gameplay and provide unique experiences for players.
Embracing Challenge and Modding Community
The modding community surrounding Medieval 2 is one of the most active and ambitious in the Total War series. Players have created mods that introduce new factions, overhaul gameplay mechanics, and even add entirely new campaigns. These mods allow players to explore different aspects of the medieval era and customize their gameplay experience. Additionally, Creative Assembly recognized the enduring loyalty of Medieval 2’s community and released a definitive edition that includes the Kingdoms expansion. This edition provides players with even more content and ensures that Medieval 2 remains a staple in the Total War franchise.
6. Total War: Empire
Total War: Empire marked a significant departure for the series, introducing a new era and gameplay mechanics. Set during the 18th century, the game explores the Age of Enlightenment and the rise of empires. Empire’s campaign takes place across three continents, with players navigating complex political landscapes and engaging in naval warfare. With its emphasis on musketmen, artillery, and the Industrial Revolution, Empire offers a unique and refreshing experience within the Total War series.
A Departure from Convention
Empire’s global scope sets it apart from its predecessors, offering players the opportunity to conquer territories in Europe, the Americas, and India. The campaign map is vast, allowing for strategic maneuvering and the establishment of trade routes. Naval warfare is a central feature of Empire, with battles taking place on the high seas. The introduction of naval combat added a new layer of tactics and strategy, creating a fresh gameplay experience.
Naval Warfare and Industrial Revolution
Empire’s naval battles are a spectacle to behold, with massive ships of the line unleashing thunderous broadsides. The inclusion of naval warfare expanded the strategic options available to players and added an extra layer of depth to the gameplay. Additionally, Empire’s timeframe coincides with the Industrial Revolution, leading to the introduction of new technologies and units. Players must adapt their strategies to incorporate musketmen, cannons, and other advancements that define this era. With its unique setting and gameplay mechanics, Empire offers a refreshing departure from the traditional Total War formula.
7. Total War Saga: Troy
Total War Saga: Troy is part of a series of smaller-scale Total War games that focus on decisive flashpoints in history. Released by Creative Assembly’s Sofia studio, Troy offers a fresh take on the Total War Saga concept. Set during the legendary Trojan War, this game combines historical events with myth and legend. Troy showcases the studio’s creativity and ability to blend lessons learned from previous Total War games with innovative ideas.
The Evolution of Total War Saga
Total War Saga games are experimental spin-offs from the core historical series, exploring specific historical events or periods. While previous Saga games had their merits, Total War Saga: Troy represents a significant leap forward in terms of gameplay and innovation. The strategic layer of Troy is vibrant and engaging, with multiple resources to manage and unique factions to command. The Sofia team’s creativity shines through in their interpretation of the Trojan War, offering players a fresh perspective on a familiar tale.
Vibrant Strategic Layer and Innovative Campaign
Troy’s strategic layer is a testament to the evolution of the Total War series. The multiple-resource economy adds depth to the gameplay, requiring players to balance their production, trade, and military strength. The campaign is filled with dynamic events and objectives, ensuring that every playthrough feels unique. The Sofia team’s experience with the Total Warhammer games is evident in the implementation of hero characters and mythical units. These additions, combined with the immersive campaign mechanics, make Total War Saga: Troy one of the richest entries in the series.
In this comprehensive guide, we have explored the best Total War games that have left a lasting impact on players. From the fantasy realms of Total War: Warhammer III to the historical drama of Total War: Three Kingdoms, each game offers a unique and captivating experience. Whether you prefer commanding legions of soldiers or engaging in intricate diplomacy, the Total War series has something for everyone. So, embark on epic campaigns, lead legendary factions, and shape the course of history in the world of Total War.