Exclusive Interview With The Creative Assembly On Total War: Shogun 2

Any PC gamer who plays strategy games should be very familiar with the Total War series. Since the first installment, which came out back in 2000, Total War games have been continuously praised by critics and fans alike. With each iteration, the series gets better and better and on March 15th, the latest Total War game is going to be released, Total War: Shogun 2.

The series is returning to 16th century Japan and is promising gamers a unique and exciting strategy game experience. Significant changes to the core gameplay have been made and the developers over at The Creative Assembly are promising one of the most pleasing Total War games yet. With the game hitting store shelves soon, we thought we’d reach out to the guys at The Creative Assembly and talk to them about Total War: Shogun 2.

We Got This Covered: First of all, thank you for taking the time to talk to us. Why don’t you introduce yourself?

Craig Laycock: Hi, I’m Craig Laycock, Community Manager for Total War.

WGTC: Aside from being graphically stunning and set in Japan, what makes Shogun 2 different from all the other Total War games?

CL: Where to start? This time round we have skill trees for each of the characters on the campaign map. That means you can customise exactly how each of your characters develop as you play through the game, meaning there’s scope for virtually limitless variation. Add into the mix the fact that we now have land present in sea battles and you can see why we’re excited about Shogun 2.

WGTC: Over the years we have seen the battles in Total War games increase in size. For Shogun 2 how many units can we expect to see on screen at once?

CL: Well, that depends on how fast and powerful your PC is. The engine can theoretically handle 56,000 men on screen at once, which is absolutely epic. Typical battles will feature fewer men than that, but the short answer is “thousands and thousands”. When you look at how we’ve cranked up the detail level on each of those men, too, it’s quite a technical achievement – and one of our unique selling points.

WGTC: What are some of the new unit types and agents we can expect to see in Shogun 2?

CL: We couldn’t make a game that was set in 16th century feudal Japan and not include ninjas. It would be madness. So they’re in there. There will also be geishas and elite assassins. There are loads of other agent types, to, ranging from monks to metsuke (secret police trained to hunt down ninjas).

WGTC: You guys at The Creative Assembly strive for realism and historical accuracy, so what have you guys done in order to immerse the player and make them feel as if they are really leading a samurai army to victory?

CL: Lots and lots of research. It helps that we have such a great pedigree internally. We, of course, developed the first Total War game, which was Shogun, many moons ago – and we’ve been building on that experience ever since. A lot of the team joined The Creative Assembly because of games like Shogun, so we’ve been able to take a lot of that passion and inject it into the game.

WGTC: Will Shogun 2 take place only in Japan or will there be the possibility to sail across the sea and invade Korea and China?

CL: Shogun 2 will just be set in Japan. I say “just”, but it’s massive! We have around 65 regions in the game to dominate, and the total size of the map is comparable to, say, Empire or Napoleon. And there’s always the possibility of expansions…

WGTC: How has the AI improved in Shogun 2 compared to other Total War games? How will the AI in each battle keep us guessing what’s going to happen?

CL: For every Total War game we release, we want the AI to go one step better than before. It’s been a big area of focus for us in Shogun 2. We want a challenging, competitive AI that will constantly try to outflank and keep the player on his or her toes, and I think we’ve achieved that. It certainly beats me a lot.

WGTC: How many factions will there be in Shogun 2 and will they all be Japanese? What will be the main differences between each of the factions? Will the player have to unlock any of the factions or will they all be available at the start of the game?

CL: There will be 9 playable factions (or 10 if you’re lucky enough to own the limited editions), which will all be available from the start of the game. In addition to those, there are 20 or 30 other non-playable clans also competing (or working) with you as you attempt to become Shogun.

WGTC: On your website, we saw some awesome screenshots of big Japanese ships. Will there be naval battles in Shogun 2 and how will they be played?

CL: Oh yes. And for the first time in a Total War game, land will be represented in naval battles. That means you’ll be able to get a sense of perspective as you fight your battles, seeing the land you wish to conquer alongside your ship. You’ll also be able to use land to your advantage – coves and inlets allow you to block off enemy ships and set up ambushes.

WGTC: In Medieval 2: Total War, players were treated to major events such as the Black Plague and the Mongolian Invasion. Will Shogun 2 have any such major events, and could you tell us what they might be?

CL: There will be events, yes – expect anything from volcanoes to earthquakes!

WGTC: Have there been any changes made to the multiplayer experience? Are you guys planning on making a ranking system?

CL: How long have you got? In short, we’ve completely, utterly, massively overhauled our multiplayer experience. Without going into detail (and believe me, I could), you’ll be able to customise a general to represent you online and offline. When you play online, your battles all contribute to a greater good – either contributing to a clan competition with thousands of players, or by developing your avatar, unlocking items as you go. There’s more… so much more, but space is going to get the better of me!

WGTC: In Empire you introduced a new special campaign called road to independence in which players followed the development of the United States. Can we expect to see anything similar to that in Shogun 2?

CL: Empire, and to an even greater extent Napoleon, were fairly story driven. Sure, you could go off and play the Grand Campaign, but we wanted to include some story for players who enjoy that type of gameplay.

With Shogun 2, we want the player to write his or her own story. So we’ve limited the number of starting regions to one or two and thrown the player into the thick of it, with unexplored lands shrouded completely from view. Every play-through will be different, and every story will be different.

WGTC: Total War games usually come out with expansions like Viking Invasion, Barbarian Invasion and Kingdoms. What can we expect for Shogun 2? Perhaps Shogun 2: Last Samurai Edition where there’s a new unit type led by Tom Cruise?

CL: There will be expansions, I’m sure. Quite what they are, you’ll have to wait and see!

WGTC: Thanks again for talking to us and we look forward to playing Shogun 2: Total War.

CL: No problem, hope you enjoy playing it as much as we have making it!

Be sure to check out Total War: Shogun 2 when it’s released on the PC on March 15th.