Developers Total War: ARENA did not leave their comfortable offices for the grandiose Game World. And why, since civilization has long invented such a miracle of programming code, like Skype. While some foreign workaholics spend a precious day trying to meet journalists, bother themselves and others with sluggish handshakes, two developers from Creative Assembly, Leif Barrows and Joshua Williams, just organized a video interview, showed a gameplay video and responded to all our questions.
For those who are in the tank: ARENA – this is strongly stand out against the background of the other draft line of Total War. Creative Assembly decided to create an online strategy, and although it is based on traditional mechanics, it almost completely lacks single-user content. No historical campaign and global map – the gameplay is completely inscribed in the format of relatively short network matches. If you, like me, are interested in how unlike the original will be the gameplay and whether the veteran Rome and Medieval have to go through the local “tutorial”, let’s deal with it. http://www.miniclipgamez.com
There are three factions in ARENA: barbarians, Romans and Greeks. They differ primarily in the style of combat operations. So, the barbarians are good at reconnaissance and unexpected maneuvers; the Greeks are perfectly defensive; organized and armored Romans are very resistant to attack.
In addition to the differences in the types of units and the branches of their development, each side will have its own set of generals – real historical figures. These characters have several active abilities that significantly affect the outcome of the battle. A good reason to open the encyclopedia once again. If almost everyone has heard of Germanicus and Caesar, then, for example, do you know about the queen of Isaen Boudicca? Yes, and do not be surprised: war is not just a masculine affair, and at the moment, out of ten military leaders, two represent the perfect sex.
In total, there are 146 types of detachments in the game, as well as 16 premium squads, which you can acquire for real money. The developers immediately eliminated the emerging concern about the balance: “paid” fighters in their characteristics do not exceed the standard. But they have some special feature that can successfully complement the chosen fighting style. To buy “elite” is in the event that you want to strengthen the tactical potential of the troops with unique gameplay features. For example, barbarians can diversify their ranks with throwers darts, although in their standard “barracks” of such specialization and not heard.
In the battle involved teams of ten players, each of which controls three orders. The number of soldiers in one unit varies depending on the type of troops. However, the average value of the total number of participants in the battle is approximately six thousand – this is a lot compared to other representatives of the series.
The scale and degree of the epic nature of what is happening is also increasing due to the fact that the cards have become smaller, and the soldiers are more jovial. In the gameplay shown to us video skirmishes began within thirty seconds after the start of the match. The whole action lasts about ten minutes – the average for most fights. Dynamics increased significantly, “units” quickly run across the field, shlestnuvshiesya detachments without extra dancing with sabers fertilize the bodies of the soldiers land.
Creating tactically correct combinations of units is the key to victory. It is easy to guess that each “unit” has its own characteristics, as well as passive abilities that determine its role in the battle. We were shown a match in which the goal of the players was to capture the enemy base and defend their own.
The battle begins by selecting the position of the units. This is done taking into account your plans for the future: to remain guarding the base or to attack in any direction. On the map, there immediately appear some circles and marks. The developers explain that so the allies coordinate their actions. For sure, it was a challenge for Creative Assembly to create an understandable and effective communication channel between users. After all, the coherence of actions is extremely important for team play – especially strategic. Those wishing to speak were allowed to “hang” various information labels on enemy detachments or protective objects. Not distracted from what is happening, you can ask the artillery to attack the objectionable “unit” or advise colleagues to take up defense in a certain place.
Developers have already taken steps to simplify communication between “random” users and report positive results of the PTA. In most cases, people unfamiliar with each other successfully coordinate their actions. But the creators are going to introduce additional forms of communication, so that, for example, even the “teapots” more experienced teammates could quickly tell where to go, which line to defend, and so on.
So, creating a plan for battle. The man who recorded the video gameplay, chose as commander well-known in the narrow Izent circles Boudikku. If you have not yet glanced in the encyclopedia, then I note that in a real story lady she was brave, but to know the charm of military victory at least once she was not fortunate. A prospective military commander receives an appropriate army-two detachments of war dogs. And also a group of prosaic swordsmen. To at least someone killed.
The infernal lady on the chariot, surrounded by dozens of fierce Cerberus – say this set is suitable for a quick attack, and therefore the troops of Boudicca immediately go towards the enemy along the southern path. Allies wander along the central and northern lines – all the tracks between the bases are three, as in the classic MOBA. On the way to the goal, there are strategically important points that increase the radius of view and allow artillery to attack more effectively. For one such place, and the first battle unfolds.
Spearmen and swordsmen of the enemy turned out to be faster than our dogs and already took a position. Boudicca has to attack. Comes the classic Total War – a game in “Stone, scissors, paper.” Spearmen, swordsmen, dogs and archers are trying to reach the most suitable opponent for themselves. Familiar strips over the heads of the soldiers signal the state of health and strength of the fighting spirit of the detachment, without which the warriors will throw their weapons, they will tighten their tails – and to my mother. Somehow, the passive and active abilities of the participants in the dog carnage affect what is happening. Everything is familiar, the difference is felt only in the accelerated rhythm of the movement of troops, as well as in interaction with the allies – you need to catch their signals and, if necessary, tag the units with “black” marks for artillery fire.
As a result of professional and well-coordinated joint actions of armed people and their four-legged friends, Boudicca manages to win. Somewhere far away, we see large-scale battles on other lines, which makes the spectacle truly epic. There things are worse: the Allies are retreating and preparing to defend the base. And the main mission now lies on the shoulders of the Yitzen ruler.
The capture of both bases begins simultaneously: the enemies are already on their native land, and our dogs have reached the foreign land. At this stage, the gameplay acquires a new tactical hue, because the more soldiers are on the territory, the faster the capture. A timer can be brought down, damaging the occupying forces. It is necessary to decide what is more promising – to get the maximum number of “units” on the enemy base or to prevent the enemy from appropriating our possessions.
Boudicca won by the fact that it was based on some structure, attacking strangers. Nevertheless, there will not be permanent protective structures, high city walls or ditches in the final version. The Romans have architects who can build defensive obstacles in the process of battle, but large-scale sieges of fortified cities should not be expected.
It should be noted that not all cards have the structure of three lines. Battles in ARENA refer to historical battles, and in accordance with them is defined as a list of goals, and the design of the locations themselves. There are open spaces, there are options in which the urban and forest zones are equally combined, there are mixed maps like “Marathon”. There are also three main directions: rock, gorge and center, which is a large territory with a bare plain and forest. Choose a path of movement with the mind. Since the performance indicators of detachments depend on the type of terrain, in tactical planning, it is also necessary to take into account the specificity of the terrain.
An important factor in the success of a free-to-play project is a qualitative player progression system. In ARENA, apparently, it’s all right. Generals have great prospects for improving talents, and each faction has its own branches of development of “units” with ten improvements. There is also a wide choice of uniforms. Any unit has its own inventory with five slots. Which breastplates will decorate your Royal Spartans or how sharp the arrows will be for the Greek archers, decide for yourself. Of course, the developers did not forget to fill up the store with no cosmetic pleasures that are functional. It is still important what coat of arms the enemy will see on the shields of your Romans.
At the end of each match, participants receive a silver – game currency – and experience, which can be invested either in the development of the skills of generals, or in the improvement of detachments. A large part of the conquered good automatically goes to the recovery of the battered or broken “units”. The financial report is accompanied by detailed statistics of useful actions, allowing you to find out exactly what a coin has flown into your pocket: for victory, loss, detection of the enemy, capture of the base. Pleases and a sign with bonuses, which are issued for the accomplished feats. And the developers have introduced titles, insignia, account levels, team colors, multipurpose system of repetitions … In general, ARENA in every possible way motivates the player to strive for fame, to fight with feeling, properly, with alignment and improve their skills.
But how merciful is the local monetization to lovers of a slow but independent growing up? The developers claim that even without cash injections will be comfortable. To create a general idea of the speed of free receipt of content, let us give the following statement: to open one branch of the development of groups of barbarians (and there are only three or four of them), we will have to spend about fifteen hundred matches. And the average duration of the battle, recall, is ten minutes. These are quite normal time costs for free-to-play. Are they acceptable for you – decide for yourself.
From the point of view of the chosen model of Total War distribution: ARENA looks almost perfect. Short sessions, a lot of motivating “Challenges” and titles, as well as a real opportunity to receive closed content by own work. But how valuable is the game as a strategy in the line of Total War?
Visually, it is almost not distinguishable, the basic principles and mechanics are untouched. But a number of minor changes and innovations, dictated by the multiplayer status of the project, slightly changes the perception of the gameplay. Some strategists, “oldfagas” may not be fond of fussy transience of combat, microcontrol of all three squads, dependence on team members. But this is their problem – in my opinion, moving the Total War combat mechanics to the network segment of the market is logical and correct, and the permanent scanning of the Creative Assembly of the CBT process and the active implementation of the ideas of the players give faith in success.