Recently, Creative Assembly gave GotGame a chance to try out their new free to play multiplayer title, Total War: Arena. Not too long ago, the servers went live in North America, so North American players in the closed beta can finally start experiencing the game. Creative Assembly’s Community Corrdinator James Given, joined by Map Designer Leif Burrows, presented the beta content. Fans of the series can expect familiar point-and-click style real time strategy gameplay, only this time, the game teams up ten players to fight against another ten players. Each player will pick a commander, all based on real historical leaders like Julius Caesar and Leonidas, and each one has their own unique armies. As players level up their commander, they can upgrade their armies with new equipment or even unlock stronger units that they can equip into battle (up to three groups can be used in a battle).
Of course, with each upgrade comes pros and cons. It may increase defense to upgrade a cavalry unit’s armor, but it will typically make them heavier and will make it harder for them to travel through rougher environments. Weaponry determines a bit of a power hierarchy as well, as pikes will obviously have the advantage against swords, while swordsmen can decimate archers or other ranged units. It would be wise to play smart with units and attack when there is a clear advantage.
Playing with other people, cooperation is key. It is unwise to charge into the battle alone and take on the enemy solo, especially when outnumbered ten to one. Each map has towers that can be used for increasing visibility, making it so that one player can use it to show their team more of of the map and even reveal enemy locations if they’re hiding in blind spots. If teammates are being attacked, players can send a group of units behind the enemy forces to flank them and deal more damage, turning the tide in their favor. Commanders also have various abilities that will allow them to strategically fight, sometimes making a buff, or even give certain units special commands like focused fire on specific targets (which is useful since there is friendly fire).
Fighting in battles will help earn not only unit experience, but also commander experience, both of which are needed for certain upgrades. Unit experience is more of a general point system and allows individual unit types to gain new equipment, being the primary experience type used. Commander experience is used to apply points to getting new unit types, and then on top of that, there is the Silver and Gold currency, used to buy new things like commanders, features, and more. Gold currency is the premium currency that would require real money, and it can be converted into any of the other currency types.
In battles, the goal is to either eliminate the opposing enemy forces, or to make it to their base and capture it. Sometimes, it may be worth the trip to the enemy territory to take their base if they are too busy battling it out with your teammates. It is also smart to know when to retreat, as mentioned earlier, certain units do better in different situations and those with a disadvantage should probably avoid confrontation. Working together with your team is going to be the key to victory, earning those sweet experience points and silver coins.
In my preview, I played as the Roman general Scipio Africanus, being told that he was a well rounded commander and that he had very useful abilities. Warcry is an ability that de-buffs enemy soldiers, dropping their defense as well as their morale. Wrath of Mars is a powerful attack that units can use to deal heavy damage. Oath of Perseverance buffs soldiers and make them fight to the death as a last-ditch effort. Outside of battle, Scipio also has a Quick March ability, allowing his units to form a column and quickly move to another point. Using these abilities wisely definitely helped in the battle, as many of the skirmishes came with a positive outcome for our team. During these battles, James Given was able to reach the enemy base and capture it, resulting in a sweet victory.
It seems like Total War fans have something to look forward to given that this is a fairly fresh experience in the franchise. With roughly thirty groups of units on both sides of the battlefield, it feels like it can be pretty hard to manage, but that is where cooperation comes in handy, working together with friends (or strangers in many cases) to grasp victory. For those still interested, the official site is still accepting signups for the closed beta, so feel free to take part in the epic battles and experience it for yourself.