Total War Saga: Troy Preview – Take to the Battlefield

Last year, at Gamescom, the world was introduced to Total War Saga: Troy, taking you to the world depicted in the Homerian epics (The Illiad and The Odyssey) while also bringing in a lot of mythology. 'The truth behind the myths' is how a portion of the game was explained during my preview from an event at Gamescom last year, as well as my subsequent interview with lead designer Todor Nikolov.

This exploration of 'the truth behind the myths' is something I got to see parts of, as well as a number of the other new features in both a presentation and a hands-on with Total War Saga: Troy.

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If you're not aware, the Total War Saga titles are based around more focused events and timelines rather than the covering considerably longer periods of time as you find in more traditional Total War titles. Total War Saga: Troy is also the first full Total War title from Creative Assembly Sofia (formerly Black Sea Studios and then Crytek Black Sea), with their previous titles being Knights of Honor and WorldShift. Once acquired by Creative Assembly, they worked on DLC for Rome II and assisting with other Total War titles.

The fact that it's the first full title by Creative Assembly Sofia did concern me a little. Would the quality be the same? Would it be a true Total War game? The more I've seen of the game and now having had a hands-on, the fears are seeping away. What really helps is that the core Creative Assembly team has assisted with the project when needed and, of course, the studios earlier Total War experience has helped them along. What is interesting is how the Bulgarian studio is making Total War Saga: Troy its own, while still keeping well-rooted in the series.

A lot of this I've covered briefly in my earlier preview of the game, but it's the stylistic choices that set Total War Saga: Troy apart. I should note that these are what I've been shown, not actually what I've played. With a great stylistic design that includes a parchment map that burns away as you explore to the beautiful clay-pot design of the sky and even the designs of the aforementioned mythical creatures.

Still, these aren't the features you're reading this preview for. This is all about the battlefield, where the factions of Total War Saga: Troy will settle a number of their differences and you can see the mythical creatures and heroes of some of the worlds' most legendary stories take place right in front of your face.

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Before we jump into that, a few words on what else we've been told. Most of this you'll already find in my other preview, that's why I'm keeping it brief. What we know so far is that Total War Saga: Troy has eight playable factions, though no specifics have been made clear beyond knowing that Troy will be one faction. I doubt we'll see a full Achaean faction, likely the city-states before they (much later) became the Achaean League.

We also know that a large part of the game will be based around the favour of the gods. Each and every action you take will gain favour from one of the pantheon found within Troy, the six gods being Aphrodite, Apollo, Ares, Athena, Hera, Poseidon and Zeus. We also know that Total War Saga: Troy will not have a central currency, as found in other Total War titles. Wood and Stone, as expected, will be required for building. Food and Bronze will be the fuel and armaments of your army. Gold will feature in the game and will be used for diplomacy and trade, but will apparently be more difficult to obtain than the others.

So what of my actual time with Total War Saga: Troy? The battle I was able to participate in was outside the gates of troy between Achilles and Hector. The first thing I'll say is that the duels here just aren't as entertaining as those found in Three Kingdoms: Total War. While you can spot the hero out if you look hard enough, a fight between Achilles and Hector doesn't have the same oomph, the same grandeur, as I think it deserves. Hero Units are, of course, impressive in their own right, with the abilities that can help make or break a battle.

Not on the same level as a hero, the best way to describe these is a stopgap between a regular unit and a hero, one that is distinguishable by their abilities in battle as well as their designs. I'm very interested to see how other legendary creatures take form, especially as a large number of them could fly and others were mystical in nature, such as Medusa. Controlling these mythological creatures can really be seen as just an elite unit to either turn the tide, or just one that you want at a key area of the front line.

They're not the really interesting part of the battle, that comes from how the regular units have been differentiated and how the terrain now plays an even bigger part than ever before. The terrain, in particular, is key to everything, with the new terrain being sand, mud and long grass. Mud and sand aren't too dissimilar, both impacting on the movement speed of all units. The difference is that mud has a much larger, but varying impact. The heavier a unit is, the larger the impact on movement speed, charge strength and more.

You notice the mention of unit weight, this is where Total War Saga: Troy truly differs. Due to the fact that cavalry units were few and far between in this period of time, historically and mythologically, a great deal of variety has been implemented to soldiers. With a larger focus on the weight of armour as well as the weaponry dividing units into three different classes, the tactics once used with cavalry in earlier games can be taken on by light soldiers here. Also, lighter soldiers can hide in long grass, allowing for ambushes less obvious than those taking place in forests.

All of this has created an engaging title from the time I spent with the preview copy provided to me. I played through the battle four times, twice on each side, losing once as Achilles. It's impossible to say at this time if the final product will be good, bad or somewhere in between, the campaign and what comes with that is yet to be seen. What I do know is the battles are engaging and smooth, as Total War should be. Will this be another Total War Saga: Britannia or will this be on-par with that of recent core Total War titles? Only time will tell.

Total War Saga: Troy will be coming to the Epic Games Store on the 13th of August and, in an unprecedented move, will be completely free to own if you grab it in the first 24 hours of launch.

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