Total War: Warhammer 2 artwork for the Tomb Kings

"You Should Try" is a series of articles where I get to showcase a game I really enjoy while explaining what exactly makes it so much fun. This can be any game: new or old, action or strategy, indie or AAA. The only requirement is that it has to be something I've found myself obsessed with and in need of sharing with the world.

Today I think you should try Total War: Warhammer 2 - a supremely satisfying strategy game where pirates are both zombies and vampires, barnyard animals harbor a seething hatred for humanity, the French are hopelessly addicted to sipping from the holy grail, and where interdimensional daemons attacking your village is just another Tuesday! So if you would like to experience an RTS game whose scope is without equal, allow me to show you why you should give Total War: Warhammer 2 a try.

Video version of this article (~13 minutes)

Why Warhammer 2 in specific?

First things first, given that Warhammer 3 has literally just arrived, you might be wondering why in the world I'm recommending you the older game in the series. Well, the answer is really quite simple. While Warhammer 3 still has a fair few issues to work through before it can be considered truly finished, Warhammer 2 has already gone through that phase and is currently both packed with content and polished to a mirror sheen due to many years of updates.

Best of all, thanks to Warhammer 3's upcoming Immortal Empires campaign map that will combine all three games into one gigantic world, grabbing Warhammer 2 right now is neither a waste of money nor time. All of that content will eventually be ported over to Warhammer 3 as a part of a free update if you own both games, but until that happens you'll have plenty of time to sink into Warhammer 2 and experience one of the finest RTS games around.

Total War: Warhammer 2 screenshot of dinosaurs riding dinosaurs

It doesn't get better than dinosaurs riding even bigger dinosaurs

Faction diversity and replayability

The reason I have so much praise for Warhammer 2 is because it's strategy game with such an impressive amount of unique races, factions and starting locations that no two playthroughs ever feel alike. One campaign you could be playing as a megalomaniacal wizard rat throwing actual nukes at peasants near the sunlit coast of Tilea, while in the other you could be trudging through the endless snowy wastelands of Naggaroth with an army of cows with serious anger management issues.

This sort of diversity stretches to the subfactions as well, because many of them play completely differently despite being near identical at first glance. So in the case of our ratty friends the Skaven you have Ikkit Claw who is the aforementioned tech-wizard, Lord Skrolk who is riddled with so much plague it has given him superpowers, Deathmaster Snikch the ninja rat who will kill your heroes before you realize they're even in combat, Throt the Unclean who creates horrific mutated beasts down in the appropriately titled Hell Pit, and the list goes on for a while.

Even though all of these subfactions feature most of the same units, the way they tend to utilize them is drastically different thanks to a mixture of exclusive buffs and character specific mechanics. So while everyone can use Deathmaster Snikch's various sneaky-stabby rats, his special enhancements are the thing that makes these units rise from being mere support to the backbone of your army. Needless to say, this makes for some highly replayable campaigns!

Total War: Warhammer 2 Ikkit Claw using his warpstone rocket against lizardmen

Launching a warpstone-infused nuke isn't even the most ridiculous thing you can do

Turn-based campaign

When it comes to the actual gameplay, Warhammer 2 is separated into two parts: the grand campaign map where you get to do all of your empire building and army management, and the real-time strategy battles where you get to squander all of that away because you're too busy zooming in to watch all of your little minions duke it out. Out of the two the battles are by far the most exciting part, though the campaign shouldn't be underestimated since growing your empire and bullying other factions is still good fun.

The way the campaign map works is rather similar to some of the other turn-based, grand strategy games out there. You use your armies to conquer cities, use your cities to produce resources and gold to keep your economy running, use your resources to construct new buildings that let you recruit bigger and tougher units, and then you use those units to conquer even more cities. 

Managing all of this is quite the balancing act since everything is interconnected, moves slowly and is open to disruption from your enemies, but that's also the charm of it since a little bit of hardship goes a long way towards making you truly invested in your fledgling empire. So as soon as you feel comfortable with the mechanics, I'd highly recommend cranking up the campaign difficulty and preparing yourself to fight tooth and nail for every inch of land! It'll be a brutal struggle, but winning when the odds are stacked against you feels all the sweeter!

Total War: Warhammer 2 Taurox screenshot

Or you can just pick Taurox and wreck everything in sight

Battles and presentation

While I do enjoy it for its own merits, let's be perfectly honest here, Total War: Warhammer 2 does not have two instances of the word "war" in it for no reason. The campaign is intentionally simple and mostly here to facilitate interesting battles, as well as to give you a few moments to cool off before throwing you into the next one.

A good thing too, because the RTS-style battles in Warhammer 2 are a pure joy to mess around with. Each skirmish can consist of thousands upon thousands of units clashing with swords, fangs, hooves and even random bits of pavement, yet thanks to the controls that let you order regiments instead of single units, keeping on top of everything is surprisingly easy. So rather than have you struggle against the UI, what Warhammer 2 really wants you to do is to dive in deep and experiment with all sorts of army compositions and strategies.

This is also where the aforementioned diversity comes into play since no two factions are even remotely alike. They all control the same and feature the same general unit types so it's easy to swap between them, yet each one has unique strengths and weaknesses that can completely change how you approach your battles. For example, Skaven have worthless infantry so they rely on ranged firepower and superior technology to dominate their opponents, while the kingdom of Bretonnia solves the same problem by going all-out on brutal cavalry charges and hit-and-run tactics.

Total War: Warhammer 2 screenshot of Ikkit's artillery and weapon teams

When in doubt, get more guns

Regardless of what faction or playstyle you decide to go for, the important thing to note is that all of them, and I really do mean every single one, are well made and fun to play. Despite pouring nearly 500 hours into Warhammer 2 over the past few years, there's not a single faction that I even remotely hate. All of them have something special about them that makes them exciting to play, so even if you choose one that's your polar opposite in terms of playstyle, odds are you'll find some units or strategies that still make you giddy.

Observing these battles is also just as much fun as fighting them due to Warhammer 2 making excellent use of the insanely deep and rich Warhammer world. The unit models in particular are astonishingly well made, to the point where some of them have better detailing and animations than even characters in major open-world games, and there's hundreds of them in Warhammer 2's regiments! So when you combine that kind of visual fidelity with a world where a knight's charge can fling a horde of skeletons into the stratosphere, you've got yourself a recipe for quite the spectacle!

Total War: Warhammer 2 screenshot of a charge from the knights of Bretonnia

Watching skeletons fly never gets old

The siege problem and modding

The only thing I dislike about Warhammer 2's battles are the siege maps since pretty much all of them feature the exact same layout and require the exact same strategy to crack. It doesn't matter if we're talking about a backwater hamlet or an impregnable Dwarf fortress - the vast, vast majority of the siege maps are just a single wall with a couple of towers.

The sieges are not so unbearable that they ruin what makes Warhammer 2 so entertaining, but it's definitely one of those things that starts to wear on you with time. So should you decide to make Warhammer 2 a more permanent home, you might want to look up a mod or two to help you sort all of that nonsense out.

Speaking of which, the outstandingly active modding community is another one of the big reasons why I love Warhammer 2 so much. It doesn't matter if we're talking about complex things like adding new factions and units, or something as simple as tweaking a couple of numbers on already existing ones, the Warhammer 2 Steam Workshop has it all!

So even though I would recommend starting off with the plain ol' vanilla Warhammer 2, the Steam Workshop is definitely worth checking out once you get a little bit of experience under your belt. After all, adding a few mods, or even a few hundred, is a great way to spice up old campaigns and add even more toys to Warhammer 2's dangerously overflowing toybox.

Total War: Warhammer 2 screenshot of the siege battles

The walls are mighty, but none of that matters when the gates fall in ten seconds flat

DLC expansions and Moral Empires

The final thing worth talking about is the DLC policy. If you've ever opened the Steam page for Warhammer 2, chances are you ended up being shocked by just how much DLC there is for it, as well as much all of it costs!

While it might look scary, the good news is that this is not a Paradox situation where the DLC is basically mandatory for fleshing out the game. Instead, the really important changes and faction reworks have already been brought in through free updates, while the DLC is there purely to give you new things to play around with once you get tired of the same old factions.

Best of all, even if you don't buy the DLC all of those extra factions and races will still be around on the campaign map for you to fight or befriend. So even if you simply stick to the base version of Warhammer 2 along with the free DLCs, you'll have more than enough content to keep you busy for a very, very long time.

The DLCs are well worth the trouble though, so if you find yourself liking what some of them offer, I'd highly recommend grabbing them during one of the frequent sales. This goes doubly so for the original Total War: Warhammer because not only does it act like a hefty expansion for Warhammer 2, but you can also get it fairly cheaply these days. Having it on your account gives you access to a bunch of new races, factions and units to experiment with in Warhammer 2, and most importantly of all, it also lets you access the absolutely massive Mortal Empires combined campaign map!

To me the Mortal Empires sandbox is by far the most enjoyable way to play Warhammer 2 since the map is so ginormous that you can realistically not even see a quarter of it in a single playthrough. Even if you end up playing the same faction, simply changing the starting location to somewhere halfway across the world can have a significant impact on how your campaign progress and what units are going to be most useful. So if you enjoy experimenting with different strategies and playstyles, the Mortal Empires campaign map will likely mess up your sleep schedule!

Total War: Warhammer screenshot of Karl and his troops

Closing thoughts

While its sequel will likely eclipse it in a couple of years, right now Total War: Warhammer 2 is an immensely ambitious and highly enjoyable strategy game, as well as quite possibly the best Warhammer game ever made. It's also one that will last you a very, very long time because between all of the base content, DLCs and the thousands of mods, Total War: Warhammer 2 is absolutely brimming with things to do.

It frequently go on sale as well, so even if the current price tag looks a bit intimidating, just wait a little while and you'll be able to grab it on the cheap. So if you're in the mood for a strategy game that is just as much fun to play as it is to watch, I would heartily recommend you give Total War: Warhammer 2 a try!

[Note]: To help set you on the right path with Total War: Warhammer 2, and the rest of the series for that matter, I've now also created a simple-to-follow beginner's guide highlighting some of the most important things to know before starting your adventure.