Total War: Warhammer Interview With Creative Assembly

Creative Assembly’s take on the Warhammer universe is due for release just a few short weeks from today. Their upcoming title, Total War: Warhammer, is set to offer a fresh new take on the setting with the kind of strategic gameplay that the studio built its reputation on.

We recently got in touch with Creative Assembly’s Al Bickham, the Studio Communications Manager, who answered some of the questions we had about the game, particularly with regards to how the game came about and the decision to make the Chaos faction pre-order DLC. The studio recently announced that the Chaos Warriors will be free for purchases one week after release, quelling much of the criticism that players had over the decision.

What gave the inspiration for combining the Warhammer and Total War series?

We’ve always known that the Total War system of turn-based campaigns and epic real-time battles would suit a fantasy setting pretty well. There are a lot of old Warhammer fans on the development team, and there was a real enthusiasm for the prospect of a Total War version, so we spoke with Games Workshop, one thing led to another, and here we are!

What was the hardest aspect of capturing the look and behavior of the different factions?

Probably the most time-intensive aspect was hand-animating the vast range of beasts and creatures in the game. We had to expand our animation team quite significantly to be able to recreate that vast menagerie in an authentic and arresting way, as a lot of these things just can’t be motion captured.

The Chaos appear to be the significant threat that players must face in your game, what improvements have been made to the Enemy AI to increase the effectiveness of combat? Have any of the tactics caught the developer team off guard?

We’ve worked to improve the way the AI assesses the situation on the battlefield and commits its troops. One of these improvements is that the AI now holds units in reserve for when a particular situation on the battlefield isn’t going its way. It’ll keep an eye out for those situations and commit its reserves as required.

Pre-orders come with the ability to play as the Chaos faction. Could you explain your reasoning behind making the faction exclusive?

Chaos are in the game already – though in a slightly more limited and non-playable form – regardless of whether you own the DLC. They’re an integral part of the world and form a major late-game threat for the player, whichever faction he plays as. The preorder makes them playable, fleshes out their unit roster somewhat, and adds further legendary lords, and with that, we sincerely wanted to offer something of extra value to players.

However, we recently announced that Chaos Warriors will still be free for the first week that the game is on sale, meaning you don’t have to preorder if you don’t want to, and you’ll still have a shot at getting the DLC for free. And if you want to pass on that entirely, you can still buy them as a DLC pack further down the line.

Some players feel as if restricting the playability of some factions to pre-order exclusives means developers are selling incomplete games. Will this advantage of buying the pre-order be permanent, or will players be able to get their hands on the Chaos later down the road?

I think there’s a misunderstanding here! We’re not restricting the availability of Chaos Warriors to preorder/week one only. Even if you don’t preorder, or buy the game week one, you can still buy the Chaos Warriors DLC further down the line if you wish, and that’s been the case since we announced it.

Total War: Warhammer is set to release on May 24th for PC, Mac, and Linux. Check out the Steam page if you’re interested, and follow their Twitter for other game updates.