To those ends, they said that they wanted to make it so that Roman players would be moving legions around, instead of individual units – as the Emperor would be doing. Excitingly, they also mentioned that over time, each legion would take on its own characteristics over time, so, for example, one with a string of defeats might be weaker. Seeing how that might work in practice would have been far more interesting than a single historical battle.
Likewise, they mentioned as an aside that Creative Assembly is planning on having provinces in Rome 2, the core geographic unit of every Total War map, be consolidated into regions. A move like that could do wonders for moving players away from spending most of their strategic time picking new buildings and tax rates for each individual province.
The original Rome's
split of the Republic into three different familial factions was an effective way to get to a meaningful civil war, but the developers recognized that it was artificial, and claimed to be working on systems that would allow for meaningful political maneuvering in a more organic fashion. It's certainly plausible – the remarkable success of Paradox's Crusader Kings 2
at making relationships and politics fun and compelling says it can be done in a grand strategy game – but how will it be achieved in Rome 2
? Asked about modding capability, one of the main draws of the original Rome, they said they were very keen on releasing tools to make the game moddable – although the original was customizable straight out of the box.
Some of the answers to questions revealed a curious lack of detail. The historical battle used in the demonstration took place in the time of the Roman Empire, while the original Rome: Total War
focused entirely on the Roman Republic. But the developers didn't want to say exactly what the chronological scope of the game would be. Nor were many details given about whether the political structure of non-Roman factions would be, although the designers expressed interest in making playing those factions as interesting as playing the Romans.
The Q&A sections about the tactical battle engine were more revealing, thanks to that engine actually having been demonstrated. When the developers talked about how they were able to build battlefield terrain in more diverse fashion than Shogun 2
's flat-with-some-hills method, the impressive Teutoburg terrain jumped out. Had it been possible to see the implementation of the strategic ideas as well, the mind might have been dazzled as well as the eyes.
Given Creative Assembly's excellent track record, it's reasonable to assume that the rest of the game is coming along as well as the its combat engine and graphics. If so, that would make Total War: Rome 2
a very special game, but skepticism is still warranted.
Rowan Kaiser is a freelance writer currently living the Bay Area, who also writes for The A.V. Club, and has been published at Salon, Gamasutra, Kotaku, and more. He still occasionally finds Ultima VI Moongate maps and mantra notes when he visits his parents' house. Follow him on Twitter @rowankaiser.