On September 11th we will be getting the latest DLC for Total War: Warhammer 2 (to be referred to as TW:W2 henceforth because I don’t want to type that again) and I’m very excited for it. Creative Assembly’s implementation of DLC has drawn criticism in the past, especially in regards to the Warhammer franchise, and it has kind of a bad rep when it comes to asking for players to hand over extra cash. However, things have shifted to the point I think they offer great value for money, and I wanted to explain what makes the recent updates so compelling.
Now before we get to the DLC it would be remiss of me to not mention the recent price hikes in various regions without warning. This is shitty, and the high price of the base games in general is agitating, especially considering the first game is required in order to gain access to the Mortal Empires map and purchase the extra content for it. It’s unfortunate Creative Assembly are losing so many potential players because of this barrier to entry, and I hope they reconsider this in the future.
With that out of the way, let’s break down what typical DLC looks like, because just by glancing at the Steam page it looks a little overwhelming. You can break DLC into two broad categories; Faction and Lord packs. Faction packs introduce a whole new race into the game, with its own unit roster and multiple lords to play as. These have seen a huge jump in quality with TW:W2. In the first game, they added the Wood Elves and Beastmen as faction DLC, and they just weren’t that impressive. They only came with two or three Lord choices respectively, some iconic units were missing from their roster (there’s a distinct lack of big beasts in the Beastmen roster sadly), and their campaign mechanics are not that exciting. I had fun with a single playthrough of each, but in terms of getting your money’s worth you have better options available.
The two factions added in TW:W2 were the zombie pirates of the Vampire Coast, and the lost empire of the Tomb Kings. To be frank, they blow the first game’s offerings out of the water. With four lords apiece all with varied starting locations, unit rosters that include some of the coolest monstrosities introduced into the game, and unique campaigns that add a thematic flavour to the gameplay.
They’re both fully featured factions and feel on-par with the other races in the game, and I’ve put countless hours into Tomb Kings campaigns alone. It’s surprising then that these race packs all cost the same, about $28 NZD. They need to permanently drop the price of the Wood Elves and Beastmen, or add to their factions without charging extra, because I can’t justify anyone getting them unless you’ve mined through a lot of the other content.
The other big type of DLC they release is Lord Packs, and this is where it gets interesting. These packs typically take two characters from existing factions who have conflict in the lore, add some new units alongside them and throw them into the game with some unique campaign mechanics. These cost less than half what the faction DLCs do, and what has really set these apart is the free content that comes with these updates.
This is what The Hunter and the Beast has in spades. In this we see the Empire’s Huntsmarshal Markus Wulfhart helm an expedition into the heart of the jungle of Lustria, home of the ancient Lizardmen. Nakai the Wanderer, a giant humanoid crocodile, is intent on stopping him defiling their lands. Both feature unique campaigns that set them apart from other lords within their faction. Wulfhart being far from Empire homelands means needs to fulfil the Emperor’s mandate in order to receive reinforcements, while Nakai’s horde style gameplay and tribute to the gods sets him apart from other Lizardmen. In the larger, sandboxy campaign map called Mortal Empires, Nakai also starts on the other side of the map on the island of Albion, closer to the chaotic Norscan Tribes and chivalrous Bretonia. These unique starting positions might not sound like a big deal if you aren’t familiar with the game, but trust me when I say it completely changes your experience, and is a great bonus on top of the other mechanics being added.
If this was all that was being added I’d say it was already great value for money, but we haven’t even got to the free content yet. Something that is always included with Lord Packs is an extra lord, in this case the albino Lizard Gor-Rok. These ‘FLC’ lords aren’t as unique as the ones included with the pack in terms of campaign mechanics, but fit in nicely alongside the existing ones.
The major free updates released with the last few Lord Packs, have included significant reworks to the original factions from the first game. The series has improved a lot since the first game came out, and these factions have lagged behind in terms of overall mechanics compared to the newer races.The Hunter and the Beast arrives alongside a complete overhaul of The Empire’s larger campaign structure. This rework adds a brand new political system to give you more nuanced options to confederate with the human states, meaning you aren’t forced to carve a bloody path through them in order to unify The Empire. Along with unique units that unlock when your officials take office in a state, it even adds whole new provinces to the map and moves one of their lords to a new starting location, again changing the course of a campaign. These updates have already been done for some of the other starting factions and I can attest to how much of a breath of fresh air they are, and it’s totally worth doing another run to try the changes out. I’m excited for three or four of the new or revamped campaigns being added, which feels like $13 (NZD) well spent.
Now while I’m singing the praises of this type of content, I understand it’s intimidating if you’re getting into the game for the first time. The best way to approach it is to not go overboard. Give the base factions in the game a go, and if you really enjoy a certain one, take a look and see what the lord pack for it offers to see if it’s worth investing in. If you buy up all the DLC before you start playing you’re likely to get overwhelmed with the amount of lords to start as and units to recruit during your campaign, and it won’t add as much value as it would once you have some experience with the game.
Overall though I couldn’t be happier with the content on offer with the latest update, and as long as Creative Assembly continues to offer so much value, I’ll continue to be hooked.