Creative Assembly has been busy with the Total War: Warhammer franchise lately. The second game of the planned trilogy is coming on September 28th, and in preparation a host of updates and bugfixes have been added to the original, as well as the new Norsca DLC faction.

One part of these updates was quietly replacing the default benchmark packaged with the game, which we’ve regularly included in our current cycle of CPU reviews. It was a short snippet of a battle between greenskin and Imperial armies, shot mostly from above, with some missile trails and artillery thrown in. Its advantages were that it was fairly CPU intensive, from a modern game that people are still interested in, and extremely easy to run (as it is automated).

Northgard is an unusual sidestep for Shiro Games: Moving from the genre-exploring Evoland titles to city building and real-time strategy is not the usual course, it’d seem. Shiro Games assured us that Settlers and Age of Empires were as important to them as gamers as the RPGs that inspired Evoland, and have set forth to build Northgard.

As Evoland picked the most memorable bits from the history of JRPGs, Northgard feels like it must be made of Shiro Games’ favorite bits of the 4x and RTS genres. Those familiar with Settlers will recognize the similarities in Northgard immediately, and AOE fans also have some familiar items.

If MOBA games are clustered into the overall “strategy” genre, that makes it the most popular in the world. A game like League or HOTS differs heavily from RTS, but the former creators of Rise of Nations think that they can tap into a new audience of strategy fans with a fusion of genres.

Dropzone is an RTS that eliminates base building and instead focuses on player control over three hero-type units, leveraging a sports-like points system as a victory condition. The three pilots man mech fighters, primarily split between the classic Tank, Support, and DPS roles. An additional two classes will be added in the future. Players draft their pilots and load-outs before each match, each load-out offering various passive (Software) and active abilities.

Dawn of War III's presence at PAX West 2016 made for the first hands-on gameplay opportunity available to the public. The game is true to the RTS genre, but mixes and matches components from the first two titles to make more of a “core” RTS game. This time around, Dawn of War III has added base building back in, meshing with a push for large army sizes and a battlefield littered with Hero and Super units alike.

Dawn of War III is a Relic game. Aspects of gameplay are distantly familiar to Company of Heroes, but Dawn of War's third iteration has distanced itself enough (while running on the Essence engine) to feel mostly unique in its mechanics. For our hands-on demo, we played as the Space Marines (Blood Ravens, sub-faction of Blood Angels) in a late-game campaign mission with access to hero Gabriel Angelos and Super Unit Titan (piloted by Lady Solaria).

Total War: Warhammer launched May 24th -- and it’s been a massive commercial success. In just three days, the latest Total War title has broken the sales records for all the franchise’s prior launches. Within a week of launch, Total Warhammer has already hit half a million sales, making it “the fastest selling Total War title on Steam.”

We’ve talked extensively about Total Warhammer with the team, specifically with regard to how the game makes use of DirectX 12. You can find some of that content here and here.

For 25 years, the Civilization franchise has been a keystone in the PC gaming world and helped establish the 4X genre in video games. Each title in the franchise built on the next, solidifying and improving the core gameplay set up in the first game. Except Beyond Earth, but that was an outlier. It’s now time for the next game in the series -- Civilization VI.  It’s been six years since the last title in the main Civilization line, and two years since Civilization: Beyond Earth.

Atlas Reactor is a “turn-based team tactics game” developed by Trion Worlds and currently in open alpha, although that will be replaced by a closed beta on April 14th. Small teams of “freelancers” compete to kill each other in simultaneous turn-based combat, for reasons that aren’t entirely clear (and don’t matter).

The words “fast-paced” get tossed around a lot in Atlas Reactor marketing materials, and it’s an accurate description. The tutorial mission implies a Frozen Synapse-esque game of turn-based strategy and careful planning, and the solo gameplay confirms that initial impression with leisurely minute-long planning phases. Competitive gameplay is much faster, however—decisions must be made in a matter of seconds, and things quickly become hectic. “Turn-based” and “fast-paced” aren’t often said in the same sentence, but it turns out they go pretty well together. The worst part of a turn-based game is waiting for the opponent’s turn to end; Monopoly would be a lot better if everyone had to complete their turns within five seconds. Also if families didn't play it together, but that's another story.

 

Total War: Warhammer demonstrates a natural, synergistic fusion of two genres -- the long-standing grand-strategy games, Total War, and even longer-standing Warhammer tabletop game. Campaigns in the Warhammer universe like Storm of Chaos have given way to Total War-like experiences; armies roam the world map, growing or unfurling (or ‘crumbling’) with wins and losses. At the same time, combat in Total War has kept its structure and mechanics: units travel in tightly-knit groups, facing and flanking are important parts of the battle, and strategic map utilization can make-up for troop count disparities. Then, of course, having a strong general and maintaining troop morale dictate most heavily the staying power of military forces.

All these points are shared by the Warhammer tabletop game. As much sense as the partnership makes, it marks an astounding new venture for the Total War team -- a first venture into a fantastical environ.

AMD just announced a partnership with Total War developers Creative Assembly, highlighting the game developer's move to implement DirectX 12 with the upcoming Total War: Warhammer Grand Strategy game.

1999. That’s the year. I spent most of our meeting with Atari and Nvizzio trying to remember when I last went deep with Roller Coaster Tycoon – more than a decade ago. Yikes.

RCT was the product of an era infatuated with city builders, civilization management, and RTS games. The industry ebbs in cycles of these almost-episodic fascinations – it’s MOBAs today, it was MMOs in the early-to-mid years of the century, and it was isometric builders in the late 90s.

Enough of that.

Today, we’re looking at Roller Coaster Tycoon World – which I’m truncating to RCTW, for the sake of these PAX-worn fingers – the series’ first PC release since 2004. RCTW continues the game’s iconic theme park construction, management, roller coaster design, and visitor torture, introducing a number of era-appropriate features along the way. The game is developed by Nvizzio, published by Atari, and is confirmed for a 4Q15 release at price-points undisclosed.

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