Total War: Pharaoh is the latest entry in the turn-based strategy series by developers Creative Assembly Sofia, featuring the New Kingdom of Egypt as its setting and following the story of various historical leaders such as Ramesses II, Seti II, and more.
We got to play a preview of Total War: Pharaoh where we experienced playing Ramesses’ faction, and the campaign as well as engaging with various new mechanics. Without further ado, here are some details we picked up while playing the preview of the game.
Weather & Combat
Arguably the main selling point of the series is strategic warfare and Total War: Pharaoh already has several improvements over the previous installments, such as a dynamic weather system that can alter the outcome of battles and offer many tactical options.
In Total War: Pharaoh, the weather can be unpredictable and change at any time during battles, so a warm sunny day can suddenly turn into a raging thunderstorm, affecting how your army would fight. The dynamic weather system is quite diverse and comes with many different variants with their own effects, for example:
- Storms can dramatically lower the effectiveness of missile units, shortening their range and stopping fires from ever starting.
- Thunderstorms have a similar effect to storms but also lower the morale of all units on the field.
- Sandstorms will greatly lower visibility, unit movement speed, fatigue replenishment, and the effectiveness of missile units, whilst also dealing a small amount of damage over time to all units.
- Sweltering heat, on the other hand, increases fatigue build-up from all activities while also disabling fatigue replenishment. Additionally, the weather also increases the rate at which fires can spread.
As previously mentioned, weather can affect fire and the element will play a strategic role in war. Some units have abilities to use burning arrows or torches to start a fire, spreading the flame from grass patches to forests to buildings. Furthermore, the fire can also be further manipulated by the speed and direction of the wind.
Ramesses is one of the playable factions in Total War: Pharaoh we got to try, following the namesake leader on his path to greatness.
The ruler Ramesses II was historically the last great monarch of the New Kingdom of Ancient Egypt, the third ruler of the Nineteenth Dynasty, and is often regarded as a true Warrior Pharaoh whose daring military strategies are matched only by his heroic resolve.
Driven by ambitions, Ramesses II leads with intuition and swiftness, allowing his armies of well-trained elites to gain an upper hand even against numerically superior foes.
As such, Ramesses is a suitable faction to be played by novices who only began playing the Total War games for the first time. One of the reasons is that the faction is flexible, and has a lot of resources to start with at the beginning of the campaign, while also having fast progressions.
Not to mention, the many starting elite soldiers to boot, allowing you to jump right into the game and have a go with it.
From our experience, the beginning of the campaign started off with a smooth ride. The economy is quite manageable through the controlling of various settlements around the starting zone.
Moreover, the game also gives you an abundance amount of resources in the beginning, allowing you to build and upgrade settlements with relative ease.
Once you have grown powerful, you can also challenge the Pharaoh’s throne in a civil war. If you manage to win the battle, you can then usurp the position and gain all the benefits of a royal title. After you have attained the title of a ruler, you get to use the court where you can influence others, as well as continue improving your regalia.
As a ruler, you are also given the ability to manage multiple regions through vassals without the need to directly own them. However, if you do not feel like playing as a Pharaoh or a Great King, you can still enjoy a more traditional Total War experience, albeit the game will be a lot harder this way.
Apart from the aforementioned dynamic weather system, Total War: Pharaoh will also feature changing seasons that are defined by the ebb and flow of the Nile. The changing seasons can affect the food production buildings along the river Nile and each season takes 2 turns.
Sea Peoples’ Invasion
The early parts of the game are relatively easy since you are only managing the economy and engaging in smaller wars. That said, the challenge began once you encountered the Sea Peoples, a seafaring confederation that attacked Ancient Egypt during the Late Bronze Age collapse.
The invasion of the Sea Peoples serves as Total War: Pharaoh’s endgame event and players can influence their strength through the Pillars of Civilisation mechanic, a gameplay system that determines the stability of the various facets of Ancient Egypt such as its economy, the weather, and so on.
If you manage to keep the level of Civilization prosperous, the attacks from the Sea Peoples will be weaker and vice versa.
An important aspect while expanding your faction is the religious affiliations where you would have to choose deities to worship.
During the playthrough of the campaign, you can worship up to 3 gods and your choice would determine the direction that your kingdom would be heading later in the game. Across Egypt, Anatolia, and Canaan, you can discover 19 gods by conquering any settlements associated with them.
Depending on the gods, each one of them provides unique bonuses to building types, specific settlements, or units. Each of the gods will also have a cult center that counts as a Pillar of Civilisation.
Additionally, players can build shrines and temples dedicated to their gods in order to boost their favor and obtain better bonuses, advancing up to 3 tiers of worship. Each tier of worship also unlocks different mechanics to interact with; for instance, should you ascend in favor of a god and your generals become devoted to them, they will grant powerful effects to the army. Of course, note that your army will also suffer negative effects if you lose the god’s favor.
The real-time strategy title will also feature a new mechanic called “Ancient Legacy”, which is unlocked after advancing through the campaign to a certain point.
The Ancient Legacy mechanic can be used by your factions once players rule over a sacred land, and they serve as great deeds that were achieved by rulers past.
Legacies are said to aim to inspire players to recreate the historical events within the context of their own campaign, allowing them to emulate historical leaders and further specialize their faction in a playstyle of their choice to add replayability to their playthrough.
Total War: Pharaoh
So far, Total War: Pharaoh is quite an enjoyable game that shows the beauty of the Ancient Egyptian civilization in fine detail. Even if you are not familiar with the series, playing the campaign using factions like Ramesses’ is quite entertaining due to its ease of use and they serve as a great gateway for newcomers to Total War: Pharaoh.
The addition of Sea Peoples’ invasion is also a welcomed feature and makes the gameplay a lot less predictable. The unpredictable attacks certainly make the game a more challenging experience that will attract veterans who seek such thrills, where the empire you put much effort into building can suddenly perish.
Total War: Pharaoh is scheduled to be released for Windows PC in October 2023.