The first major expansion to Total War: Warhammer is here, and it’s a whole new playable race: the savage Beastmen. The DLC includes a whole new selection of units for the Beastmen, which you can play in the standard “Grand Campaign,” or in a custom story campaign called “An Eye for an Eye.”
But players are chafing a bit at the price: at $18.99 US, it’s not cheap.
However, players annoyed by the high price tag aren’t getting completely left out in the cold. The Beastmen will still show up as enemies in their campaigns, and everyone’s getting some new hero units and magic abilities added to the game.
For those who do take the plunge though, there’s a lot of meat on these bones. Like the Chaos Warriors faction, the Beastmen operate as a nomadic horde, similar to the way the Huns could operate in Total War: Attila. They can’t occupy settlements, and instead carry their structures with them. Encamped, the Beastmen are concealed from enemy players, and Beastmen hordes are immune to the “infighting” debuff that causes attrition when two Chaos hordes get too close to each other. Like the Chaos Warriors, though, they also spread Chaos corruption wherever they go and quite enjoy burning cities to the ground. Like the Greenskins, though, Beastmen hordes build up a meter called “Bestial Rage” by raiding and fighting, and when this is high enough you’ll be given a “Bray Herd” AI army which will help you in battle.
The Beastmen’s military units are focused on shock troops that can deploy in “vanguard mode,” which in Total War terms means you’re able to place them outside your usual deployment area and closer to the enemy. They prefer ambushes to pitched battles, and so far, I’ve found them very effective at rushing out-of-position enemy units and overwhelming with greater numbers. Line troops don’t wear armor and will lose one-on-one against all but the weakest enemy units, so it’s important to have cavalry or skirmishing units ready to plow in from the sides (preferably out of the forest).
The Cygor, one of the faction’s top-tier units, is a hulking, one-eyed giant with a goat’s head that pitches gigantic boulders like a hairy trebuchet. Unlike most artillery, however, it’s plenty capable of holding its own in a melee.
The Beastmen hero skill and tech trees are interesting – many decisions there make you take a big debuff to, say, recruiting, along with any bonus. I’ll have to see how this plays out in my campaign but it seems like a neat way to encourage hyperspecialization in hero builds and could make for some extra replayability.
The “Eye for an Eye” story campaign puts you in the cloven hooves of Khazrak the One Eye, a legendary beast-lord who is bent on getting his revenge on the Elector Count Boris Todbringer. Boris, it turns out, is the reason Khazrak is called “The One Eye,” and Khazrak means to return the favor. The campaign is set on a new, densely-wooded map that gives players plenty of opportunity to leverage the Beastmen’s covert jungle warfare tactics.
But again, even if you don’t purchase this expansion, you’re still getting some new stuff, both in the game itself and under the hood. All players will have access to the new Amber Wizard hero, who uses the Lore of Beasts and can summon a manticore to the battlefield.
Everyone’s also getting four new multiplayer maps, which have some of the nicest scenery in the game to date. There’s also a new multiplayer feature that lets players tweak hero skills, equipment, and abilities using a points system. And you’ll be able to unlock a brand new lord for multiplayer/custom battles, too – Sarthorael the Everwatcher, who you’ll unlock in the game’s vanilla campaign.
There have also been a ton of balancing tweaks, performance improvements, and UI enhancements that are all rolling out with the game’s big Update 2. Check out the full patch notes on the Total War wiki.