Total War Attila: after the fall of Rome – review

After infusing time and resources into Total War: Rome II, brought up to speed with the Emperor Edition after a troubled launch followed by many patches, it was practically assumed that Creative Assembly would exploit the game engine and formula for other titles, the first of which is precisely Total War: Attila.

Given the points of contact with the predecessor deductible already at first glance, the most obvious risk that this new episode ran was that of being branded as a sort of spin-off rather than as a separate chapter. Creative Assembly stated from the start that Total War: Attila would be more than just a reskin with new content, and the game’s most distinctive faction, the Huns, does indeed introduce some tangible changes to the core mechanics.

The basics have remained the same: among the various modes available for quick games, custom, or historical battles, the main one remains the campaign. At the beginning you choose one of the available factions, initially 10, ranging from the two Roman Empires to the Sasanian one, passing through Visigoths, Ostrogoths, Franks, Saxons, and of course Huns. Each faction begins its epic in unique conditions of territorial extension, wealth and political situation, which combined create an initial scenario of varying difficulty.

The glory of Rome this time is a distant memory, and in the role of the Romans we begin with large territories but threatened from several directions (so much so that it is advisable to deliberately give up some to consolidate their position), while the Sassanid Empire is rich in strong armies and can count on a full treasury.

AI seems less passive than in the past and does not hesitate to act forcefully in case of superiority.

Newbies can count on the classic initial prologue to play a mini-campaign useful to familiarize themselves with most of the mechanics, and often the classic advisor explains in depth the available functions, this time in Italian from the beginning. Getting into the intricate mechanics of Total War: Attila, in short, is quite easy even for beginners, thanks to various difficulty levels ranging from easy to legendary.

At each turn it is possible to move your armies or strengthen them, recruiting units during the following turns or immediately if you choose to hire the most expensive mercenaries available. The settlements, in case you play with a non-nomadic faction, include a whole series of upgradeable buildings (available or not depending on the technologies already discovered) with various effects that can take some time and study to be deciphered, in case you are fast of the series.

The technological discoveries are rather self-explanatory, thanks to two different branches (civil and military) very clear about searchable technologies, necessary turns and unlocked effects.

Whatever choices you make in terms of faction development and management, sooner or later, and indeed it always happens very soon, you will need to take to the battlefield. Each clash can be resolved automatically by choosing a more or less prudent attitude, and the option is very useful in case the balance of forces between the sides is particularly unbalanced, but the real-time clash is the beating heart of Total War: Attila.

Ship behavior routines also benefit from improvements in Total War: Rome 2, with ships less likely to get stuck together.

Before each clash it is possible, in case a settlement is attacked, to wait for more favorable weather conditions (without any guarantee that things will not get worse) for a limited number of days, and in any case to dispose of the troops before giving the away to hostilities.

The AI ​​seems to have benefited from the changes made to Total War: Rome 2 over time, with enemies able to make better use of numerical superiority by attacking promptly and also surrounding units towards which they have a strategic advantage. Likewise, the enemy cavalry does not seem to get pinched too easily by spearmen or other fighters towards whom they are at a disadvantage.

A note can be moved to the apparently excessive ease with which one can hit the enemy leader with all the consequences of the case on morale, and in the same way the front of the entire army seems to be able to be more manipulated than necessary with some initial diversionary maneuvers.

From this point of view, it is true that the mechanics remain unchanged, but the assortment of new units promises to make things interesting enough even for those who have tried their hand at Total War: Rome 2. In general, the clashes are interesting. and never too easy, especially if you increase the level of difficulty.

The army name generator still tends to produce at least curious results.

Moving on to the major novelty of Total War: Attila, the hordes propose some substantial variations to the classic system of settlements and management of the same. Each horde can both move as a normal army and enter encampment mode, in which it behaves more or less like a city with the ability to build yurts, pastures and other structures to develop their resources.

Having more armies, it is indeed good to use one army as a central encampment in order to produce fresh resources and troops with which to replace the losses of other hordes from time to time rather than rest the latter, but at the same time it is necessary to defend properly. the settlement so as not to make it easy prey for attack.

The Huns, in particular, rely heavily on cavalry with all the consequences of the case: mobility in this case becomes the main weapon, and hit-and-run tactics an essential component in the case of a clash with spearmen, pikemen and others. forces like that.

Although the news in this and other cases can be seen, Total War: Attila still closely resembles its predecessor, with everything that comes with it. Impersonating a barbarian horde and raiding territories, complete with a scorched earth effect after the conquest, or damaging the buildings of a city during a particularly brutal siege, is interesting but does not make a decisive difference overall.

Even if closely watched battles are spectacular if you have a high-level graphics card, the tactical map is always the most suitable for controlling the progress of the fight.

Despite the improvements made to Rome 2 over time, Total War: Attila seems even slightly heavier than its predecessor, and not only in terms of graphics but also in terms of turns. With the same processor, the time for each single turn seems in fact perceptibly longer in this last chapter, perhaps due to the new routines that manage the hordes on the map. Creative Assembly promises optimizations between now and the launch of the game, which will take place on February 17, but at the moment the situation is as we have described.

On the other hand, the spoken Italian is already present, but to tell the truth it is not completely convincing given the exaggeratedly emphatic voice of the narrator, which softens a little the drama of the introduction and animated sequences of the campaign. The game’s internal encyclopedia and other texts, on the other hand, have not yet been fully translated, so those who plan to rely on it to study and design at a desk, research and development must necessarily chew English.

Technical issues aside, Total War: Attila still falls into a delicate territory between sequel and expansion, and does not cut some bridges with Rome II as one might expect. Veterans of Total War, or even just Rome II, will find different units and factions on their hands that, however, closely resemble what they have seen previously, and the new mechanics that govern the hordes are not so revolutionary as to transform the game.

The changes made in other sectors, such as the family system to be politically reinforced at the expense of competitors, also recall the elements seen previously or only marginally engage in global planning, and some flaws of the past still persist as in the case of some ships that gets stuck or armed by the occasionally erratic behavior on the map. In general, the corrections to be made seem more a matter of optimization than of refinement of AI and mechanics, which suggests a less troubled development path than that of Rome 2.

The fact remains that Total War: Attila, at a price of € 39.99 on Steam, risks putting fans of the genre in front of a Hamletic dilemma. The Emperor Edition of Rome 2 is available at a price of € 59.99 but offers all the updates released over time and, importantly, the huge amount of content produced by the community on Steam Workshop.

The news may therefore not be enough to justify the new outlay for those who have already spent several hours on the previous chapter, and who in the passage should also give up at least for a while all those tweaks that over time have given Rome 2 so much solidity sighed.

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