When Shogun: Total War first hit back in 2000 I was quite a fan. Sure the game had it’s problems, especially when you went into battles, but its blending of turn-based and real-time strategy really captured my interest.
The thing is, I eventually got burnt out on the games tragically flawed real-time simulations and while I know that has long since been fixed, I’ve never really been able to summon up enough interest to try any of the Total War games that have followed in Shogun’s footsteps. Until now.
I was a huge, huge fan of 80s strategy title The Ancient Art of War at Sea, the game managed to capture what I imagined the tactics were for sail-powered ship-to-ship battles and I loved the pacing, the ebb and flow of those raging fights.
That’s what drew me to MMO Pirates of the Burning Sea and it’s what will finally get me to return to the Total War franchise when Empire: Total War hits.
The game, which was show in pre-alpha earlier this week, you wage war in the 18th to the early 19th century, and while there’s plenty of things to do on land, what makes this game different is its inclusion of real-time 3D ship-to-ship battles.
These battles start off by having players deploy their armada on the water and select the formation they want to start in. Once the game kicks into action, players get to command their fleet, taking care to watch the wind, as they try to out manoeuvre and out gun their enemies.
The game, we were told, will feature a number of types of shot, the ability to do things like clear a deck of sailors, poke holes in sails, tear down a mast or sink a ship.
The version we were shown didn’t have any animation among the meticulously detailed crew, but that too will be coming. Sailors and marines will be running around during battle, doing what they need to, to attack, including some taking to the riggings to try and snipe the other ship’s crew.
During a battle, debris flies from ships when they are hit, people can be blown into the water, Creative Assembly has even modeled sharks and is playing around with the idea of putting them in the water during battles to attack fallen sailors, though they’re not sure if that will make the final cut.
While watching a pre-recorded battle, the live action gameplay was interrupted several times by pre-generated cut scenes trigged by certain events, like sinking a ship or removing a mast.
The crew of each ship will have their own morale, which will impact their effectiveness and the men will gain experience from battle to battle.
The developers told us that every musket ball, every canon ball, fired in the game is individually modeled, it’s path traced to see what damage it does.
The game will also feature a way to save and upload video of battles and the team is working on a cinematic editing tool to release with the game so people can create their own movies.