So heres the thing, I’m a massive world history buff and I love how throughout time strategy and commands have been at the forefront of this. Total War: Arena takes these two things and pumps them into an online game where as a team you must strategise and command your troops to victory.
Upon starting up the game I was greeted by a very simplistic menu, my initial thought that this was down to there not being to much content in the game, though as I started to look at what was on offer; oh wrong I was.
The main menu houses three different tabs, the Commanders tab allows you to choose your hero; this will determine how your troops look as well as what ‘Hero Abilities’ will be available to use. During my time I decided to go down the Rome route with a legionnaire, thus at the touch of a button I could order my troops to create a tortoise shell with their shields and stop incoming arrows from the enemy.
Within the Barracks players can choose which battalions they want to bring to battle, each tier you reach the more options open up; though unlike the single-player Total War games Arena only allows players to control three battalions.
The final tab, the Army, is where you’ll be spending a lot of your time between battles. Set out in a flow chart design here you can plan upgrades and choose which way you want your army to grow. At first it’s pretty daunting to look at though after a few matches and some currency to level up I was in and out of the menu with ease knowing which way I wanted to upgrade my troops to be the best killing machines.
After spending a monumental time figuring out which hero you want and what troops to choose you’ll be ready to hit the big ominous ‘Play’ button. Thus thrusting you straight into a battle and not giving any kind of ‘here’s what you need to do and how you do it’ explanation.
When getting into a match you are given the option of 10 points to start at, other than either starting at the front or back of the team there is no real substance to what this means.
The aim in Total War: Arena is to push through enemy lines and reach the opposing teams flag, upon capturing it the game is over regardless of who is left standing. What really set me back was the lack of a hints or tutorials on how to play, and within two minutes of my first five matches I was being obliterated and forced to sit out for the remaining 10/15 minutes. The one major flaw of Total War: Arena is its lack of friendly play to new players of the series, or even returning fans that may have forgotten how the game works. I’ve not played a Total War game in recent years and was left totally bewildered by the amount that I had to think about in a short space of time.
Putting aside the gameplay I want to touch on the way the game controls. This is always something that I personally have the biggest issues with in PC games; being a natural console player I’ve always struggled to use mouse and keyboard to play, as well as the added strategy and movement involved in this one. Thankfully Creative Assembly has made the controls relatively easy to pick up, with me needing to only check a few times which button was for certain hero abilities.
To summarise my time with Total War: Arena, I think after a few tweaks and more content it will be a stunning game. For me they only need to add the samurai faction and I could see myself getting completely immersed within the game. If Creative Assembly play their cards right this could be the next big arena game that players gravitate toward.
My only gripe can come from the lack of tutorials for new players or a way to ease you in slowly really throws me off. Of course this can be remedied and the game is still in Closed Alpha so the developer has plenty of time to fix anything that may be troubling players.
If you are a fan of the MOBA/Arena style games then this one should be on your radar, I’m keeping my eye on the development and hope the game evolves into something amazing!