I was having a chat with a friend about strategy games. He told me he was going through some older titles, but couldn't really get into the Total War games. Having just finished a playthrough of the original Dawn of War 2, I recommended Relic's classic and said it should be available for pretty cheap.
He hadn't found the time to buy the game yet, though. So when I saw SEGA dump a truckload of strategy games into the latest Humble Bundle package this morning, you can bet my friend got a prompt email.
It's available for the next two weeks, although if you're looking for something to dive into over the long Easter weekend now isn't a bad time to buy.
There won't be any new games added to the bundle over the coming days, as often happens with these large packs, but what's on offer is damn good value even if you only get the first tier.
First Tier: Pay US$1 or more to unlock
One of the best entry-level offerings Humble has had for a while, this.
- Company of Heroes Complete Edition
- Warhammer 40,000: Dawn of War - Master Collection
- Medieval II: Total War Collection
- Rome: Total War Collection
- SEGA Genesis/Megadrive Strategy Pack (Shining Force 1 + 2, Gain Ground, Columns)
- 10% off Humble Monthly for New Subscribers
Besides the wet squib that is the Humble Monthly offering, there's a ton of value in here. The first Dawn of War is still most people's favourite because it has all of the base-building mechanics that Relic opted to scrap for the sequel.
The original Company of Heroes remains an excellent experience for those with a penchant for WW2 strategy. The Total War games are fairly dated these days and lacking some sorely needed quality-of-life changes. But they'll run like the wind on modern systems and with mods there's plenty of fun to be had.
Second Tier: Pay more than the average (US$6.10)
Two quality collections and one hell of a PC port.
- Valkyria Chronicles
- Warhammer 40,000: Dawn of War 2 — Grand Master Collection
- Eastside Hockey Manager
- Total War: SHOGUN 2 — Fall of the Samurai Collection
- 66% off Football Manager 2016
The Football Manager 2016 coupon is kind of a moot point I feel: if you're into Football Manager, chances are you would have bought the game already (or you're still playing an older version). Eastside Hockey Manager is Sports Interactive's take on ice hockey management and is still pretty fresh, having only launched in early December.
But the real value here is in the mega collections. The Dawn of War 2 comes with the original, the Chaos Rising expansion and Retribution, which is basically three strong campaigns that you can play solo or with a friend. Retribution also lets you play a campaign with any of the six available races, a nice change from the Space Marine-bromance in DOW 2 and Chaos Rising.
For just over $8, that's worth it alone. But getting Valkyria Chronicles on top is a massive bonus. The PC port is the best version of what was originally a PS3 exclusive, running at a silky smooth 60 fps in 1080p.
If you're unfamiliar with the IP, Valkyria Chronicles is a cross between a third-person action and tactical strategy that borrows heavily from the Second World War in its fictional depiction of a European conflict. It's a great game for anyone who liked XCOM and a real PS3 gem. (Can we get PC ports for the others, like Wipeout HD? Please, Sony?)
As for SHOGUN 2, it's one of the more beloved games in the Total War franchise although the nature of battling in Feudal Japan means the playable surroundings are a little more restricted than, say, Rome 2.
Tier 3: Pay US$12 or more to unlock
This tier's harder to justify, and might not be worth it at all if you're not a stringent WW2/fantasy strategist.
- Total War: ATTILA
- Company of Heroes 2: Master Collection
On the surface, it's an excellent deal for Total War: ATTILA. But the game was not warmly received by fans, with the DLC pilloried for being excessive. Slavic nations cost US$6. You want Charlemagne? That's another US$10. And that's not to mention the beefy rig users report you'll need, as a result of the optimisation issues.
Company of Heroes 2 has no such issues with performance or optimisation though. The Master Collection also means you'll get the two campaigns and three extra multiplayer factions. But the general consensus is that you can have a thoroughly rewarding experience with the original Company of Heroes and the Eastern Front mod.
It's been years since I played the original CoH 2 singleplayer campaign, and I haven't had any experience with the DLC. The general reception I've gotten is that it's not as authentic as the original, although it's hard to tell how much nostalgia plays a part in those impressions.
So that's it for the latest Humble Bundle that's actually worth your time. And money. A lot of your time and not much money. What are your thoughts? Do the Total War/Creative Assembly games take your fancy, or are you like me and more partial to the Dawn of War offerings? And what about Valkyria Chronicles — any fans want to make an argument as to why people should play it in the comments?