Creative Assembly has worked on the Total War series for over a decade and this time the series tackles the colonial era of the 18th century. Major new features include proper naval warfare with real time ship-to-ship battles and the expansion of the play area to cover North America and India in addition to the European theater. Somewhat complex gameplay has also been refined in many ways and predictably the visua 228f ls have been upgraded to a whole new level.
Fundamentally Empire: Total War continues the traditions of Total War series and should be considered an evolutionary step from Medieval 2: Total War rather than a completely new game. Gameplay is split between turn-based play on three separate regional maps and RTS-style real time play with armies or navies to resolve individual battles.
As for improvements, sea battles have been the obvious gap in Total War games so far, and they are finally here - the biggest new feature of Empire: Total War is the addition of real time ship-to-ship battles. You are no longer forced to just autoresolve sea battles and the naval battle system is a logical evolution from the land-based Total War battles - highly detailed ships sail on with little crew members scurrying around on the deck and, when called upon, fighting in boarding battles. Ships are usually just commanded to attack specific enemy ships but for advanced maneuvers you also can take manual control of individual ships.
Empire: Total War Trailer
Conquer the World
The other big new thing is the expansion of the scope of the game. In addition to the European map, war is present also in North America and India, as could be expected for a game set in the 18th century. Additional areas around the world are also included as trade zones - you can't conquer land in these areas, but they play a part as a source of trading income through establishment of trading posts.
Playable nations in the Europe include France, Great Britain, the United Provinces, Sweden, Prussia, Austria, Spain, Russia, Poland-Lithuania and Ottoman Empire. You can also start out as Maratha Confederacy in India while the New World is split among European nations as colonies - you can play as United States of America only in the introductory "Road to Independence" campaign.
There are some nation-specific unique unit types and some additional ones for the single player can be obtained by purchasing the more expensive "Special Forces Edition" - a silly marketing move if I ever saw one - but in general the units can be divided into four categories - melee, ranged, cavalry and artillery. However, compared to Medieval 2: Total War the armies tend to be far more homogenized across nations. Sure, you get new units through technological breakthroughs as the time psses and that can create some interesting matchups in case your opponent is behind in tech, but most of the time battles are all about the basic tactic of melee protecting ranged units from cavalry charges while the muskets whittle down the opposition. Interestingly the 18th century musketeers tend not to suck quite as much in melee as archers did in the earlier games, so over time the importance of melee is diminished. A musket with a bayonet can double as a spear of sorts in a pinch, like when you end up on the wrong end of a cavalry charge.
Games: Empire: Total War
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