Total War: Arena is Creative Assembly’s New Free To Play Game

Total War: Arena A look at the projects history and its future.

A Look at Total War: Arena

What’s Total War: Arena? Don’t you mean Total War: Warhammer II? – I’m well aware that another Total War game is the main focal point currently. But what about the forgotten free-to-play title, that seems to have been in development for an age? Allow me to explain.

The game you may not have heard of is making progress. Total War: Arena might be overshadowed by the recently announced Total War: Warhammer II. Creative Assembly has had this title on the cards for what seems like an age now. But what do we actually know about the title? Let’s look at that.

What is Arena?

Total War: Arena is a free-to-play online game in the style of a traditional Total War title. The game has been through a number of beta tests and was at one point available as a pre-alpha title on Steam. Things have changed since then, as Creative Assembly joined forces with Wargaming.net – the company who brought us titles like World of Tanks and World of Warplanes. This partnership saw the game removed from the Steam library for almost a year. After its removal, the game was taken back behind closed doors into the development stage once again. The game came back for public use in the form of a number beta test’s, however this time; users launched the game through Wargaming.net’s client – an unwelcome change for some.

Total War: Arena focuses on the real-time strategy aspect of a typical Total War game, basically it’s all out bloodshed. There are a few differences in this title and its not just a simple copy and paste of previous historical Total War games. For starters, this game focuses on battles and does not include any sort of grand campaign or world map. It’s kind of like a MOBA, but with the Total War engine.

Players choose a general, who will be a famous historical figure – think Leonidas of Sparta. Each general has special abilities, which can boost things like defence, speed or other attributes in battle. Then you select your unit type - archers, cavalry, spears or swords – the kind of typical Total War units you’d expect are here. The more you use a unit in battle, the more experience points you gain and the more units you can eventually unlock. Each player can select 3 units to take into battle and then players of 20 are split into 2 groups of 10 and the fight begins. Without going into unnecessary details, that’s the simple way to describe the overall gameplay in Arena.

Tweaking, Teamwork & Timescales

When I first played the game, back in the days when it was openly available on Steam, I loved it. I would consider myself a fan of the series, having played every title extensively - but this didn’t cloud my critical judgment. When first playing you were able to tell that the game wasn’t finished. It felt like it wasn’t too far away from a release, but it still required some major tweaking. Overall the game was fun though, and that’s got to be one of the most important parts of any video game.

Taking the grand battles of other Total War games and adding a new and exciting element to the game – Teamwork. I might be the vanguard for my teammates. Sending my spear unit in head first to hold the line whilst my allied cavalry units flanked the oncoming enemy. I might have been deadly archer’s, raining hell on those pesky approaching Spartans. There are so many possibilities and what I’m getting at is that this game relied on other players as much as you. Something we’ve not experienced in other total war games. You couldn’t win a battle on your own which is why I nicknamed the title Total War: Teamwork.

We currently do not have a release date for the title and Creative Assembly’s website simply states its still in development – I’d expect a release at some point this year. Having played the current beta tests, I have to be honest and say that since Wargaming.net got involved, the game just hasn’t felt the same. It definitely looks better, but the feeling I had when playing the Steam title just isn’t there anymore.

Summary

By adding a full multiplayer element and reducing the number of units that a player controls compared to other Total War titles, Arena may have opened itself up to a larger market. In previous titles, the learning curve could be a bit steep for new players, but with Arena, this was far less so. We must remember the game is still in development and subject to change, so anything could change, but for a free-to-play title, it’s worth a download at least on eventual release. For new players, this could be a game changer and a real-time investor. For you Total War veterans out there – you might be better off waiting for Warhammer II.

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Constantly threatening to write a book, but always with a story to tell. Despite my thick Yorkshire accent, I try my best to articulate. A former QA means I like big bugs and I cannot lie.
Gamer Since: 1988
Favorite Genre: RPG
Currently Playing: Ghost Recon: Wildllands
Top 3 Favorite Games:The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim - Dragonborn, Total War: Rome II, Tom Clancy's Ghost Recon: Wildlands
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