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Total War Saga: Thrones of Britannia Hands On Impressions and Interview

Joseph Bradford Posted:
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Previews Not So MMO 0

Some technologies require the raising of a certain number of troops, others require the building of specific buildings in your province. And some will be more factionally focused early on, such as the Community Civic, which requires the player to upgrade a monastery, or conquer a fully-upgraded settlement from an enemy which houses a monastery. Since monasteries are really only present in Gaelic territory, this meaning that the Community tech might be more of a focus of a Scottish kingdom early on versus say a Viking king. 

Factions themselves also have some more flair to them versus other single country games like Shogun in the past. While Shogun certainly had multiple Samurai factions, at the end of the day he different Daimyo didn’t play too terribly different than the next. Obviously there were different focuses, such as a reliance on Ashigaru with the Oda over the Cavalry brought to bear early on with the Takeda, but at the end of the day they didn’t play too dissimilar from the next. Thrones of Britannia has you take control of one of ten factions belonging to either the Gaels, the Welsh, the English, the Great Vikings or the Viking Sea-Kings. These different factions have specific cultural traits which set them apart from their neighbors. For instance, Gaelic Kingdoms have the cultural trait of Legitimacy, which means owning territory or assisting allies in battle gives unique bonuses to Gaelic Kingdoms.

Additionally, factions themselves have specific traits to give each of the ten playable factions a different flavor when playing them. Mide, the faction we played at the hands on, has the trait called “Fair of Tailtiu.” This is an event that triggers every so often in the summer as the people if Mide hold a great fair. This benefits your faction and improves relations with allies. However, if you don’t have enough coin or you capital happens to be under siege, the fair is postponed. 

Planning for these events and the events that unfold throughout Britannia adds unique flavor to each faction as well. Each faction will face events that are unique to them, as well as branching dilemmas which are loosely based on historical events the faction faced. They offer challenges and choices over the course of the campaign, and have many outcomes the player must face - some impactful on the campaign overall.

Provinces also have more value and meaning to your faction - and all aspects of your provinces must be protected from enemies in Thrones of Britannia. Each province is broken up into the capital and minor settlements. The capital is where the trade, infrastructure, military buildings and more are built, and is walled to protect from invaders. The minor settlements is where you’ll have your resources being built such as farms, mines and more. Thes add a layer of strategy when trying to subdue an enemy as instead of simply throwing yourself at the walls of their city, you can take over their farms to starve them out, or their mines to dry up their coffers. Eventually their army will have to meet you in battle to reclaim their lost territory, allowing you to fight the battle on your terms.

Raiding also plays a role in Thrones of Britannia as armies have to be supplied. As you campaign and move farther and farther away from your supplies, your army will start to run out of supplies. Raiding in a foreign territory now no longer is there just to harass another player (or have the CPU harass you), but replenishes supplies as your army “lives off the land.”

One of the other drastic changes in Thrones of Britannia is the removal of agent-type units. According to James, one of the major reasons they were taken out was due to the framework of the traits and follower system in Thrones of Britannia. There is a major focus on character development in Thrones of Britannia as character come to be defined by their individual stats, traits and followers. These stats can define your characters effectiveness as commanders of your army or governors of your settlements throughout the course of your campaign. Additionally, these traits can help determine how much influence your characters have in your faction.

Traits are gained over time when performing a specific action in the campaign. Followers are powerful upgrades to your character that further customize the role the character plays in your faction. Want a commander better at governing? The Scribe follower improves governance and overall faction income for example and would be a fit follower for a character assigned to governance rather than commanding an army. 

Many of the functions of the agent-type units are folded into the follower and trait system. In this sense, there isn’t a need in the studio’s mind to “clutter up the map” with units, as James mentioned when talking about this decision to remove agents from Total War Saga: Thrones of Britannia. For those worried that this takes away an element to a Total War game, though, there is no need to panic.

“You also have all those options already in the system,” James stressed when referring to the types of actions agents traditionally brought to the game. “It’s not like they’re gone, they are there. They’re inside your generals and governors and your followers, so you still get some of those bonuses and abilities there.”

When Total War Saga: Thrones of Britannia hits shelves on April 19th, it’s going to be interesting to see how the public takes to these changes. However, what’s clear is that Thrones of Britannia will set itself apart from the Total War games of the past, telling a more intimate story of history versus the grand campaigns of the past. However, while the story is more focused, it is by no means small. In that regard, 9th century British Isles makes perfect sense here - it’s a time where many kingdoms ruled the isles. It’s a time where trade was starting back up and peple were more willing to unit and become better connected. It’s in that rise of these kingdoms into the unified realms they would become that makes me excited to experience the whole of what Total War Saga: Thrones of Britannia has on offer.

“We’re not talking about massive empires here. We’re talking about the genesis of what would become future empires.”

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Joseph Bradford

Joseph has been writing or podcasting about games in some form since about 2012. Having written for multiple major outlets such as IGN, Playboy, and more, Joseph started writing for MMORPG in 2015. When he's not writing or talking about games, you can typically find him hanging out with his 10-year old or playing Magic: The Gathering with his family. Also, don't get him started on why Balrogs *don't* have wings. You can find him on Twitter @LotrLore