Where to start in the Total War series
July 2, 2012 11:53 AM   Subscribe

Where should I start in the Total War series? I am enjoying Civilization V but I'd like to jump into the Total War series and I see there are quite a few versions and updates and I don't know where would be a good place to begin.
posted by zzazazz to Sports, Hobbies, & Recreation (11 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Shogun 2 is the most recent and is universally well-regarded, which can't be said of the renditions leading up to it. I'd start there.
posted by sinfony at 12:05 PM on July 2, 2012

Yeah unless you have a strong preference for setting, go with Shogun 2.

Lots of great guides and stuff at TotalWar.org.
posted by kavasa at 12:08 PM on July 2, 2012

Depends on your interests and how new your computer is. All of the games are broadly similar, and have consistently scored in the high 80s/low 90s on metacritic. They have more or less gotten better (and more computer resource-intensive) with each new installment. Wikipedia has them listed in release order.

If you have a favorite historical time period you could consider starting with that.

Total War: Shogun II and the standalone (set later in history) Total War: Shogun 2: Fall of the Samurai are the most recent releases and were widely praised. (Total War Battles: Shogun is a side track into iOS mobile gaming.) If you want the latest and greatest Total War experience I'd start there.

Empire: Total War is supposed to be really great but was super buggy when it came out. If you buy it on an old CD make sure you get the patches. Supposedly the bugs have been fixed by now.

For a fun "Let's Play"-type story of a Shogun game see here (sorry I couldn't find a better way to collect the posts than by tag and they're in reverse chronological order). That blogger also did one for Empire here with the wonderful conceit of playing as the (usually unplayable npc) barbary pirates.
posted by Wretch729 at 12:11 PM on July 2, 2012

I had a lot of fun with Rome: Total war and Medieval II: Total War before Shogun II came out.

I really enjoyed something about controlling Roman legions and I liked the various projectile weapons (musketeers, cannons, mortars, etc) in Medieval that I missed in Shogun II.
posted by VTX at 1:12 PM on July 2, 2012

They're all quite good.

Empire is by far my favourite, I didn't notice it to be very buggy and a lot of the complaining that went/goes on about it is a little beyond me. If you buy the steam version it'll be patched automatically, it's not perfect, but it's pretty damn good! I love the epic feel of it as you get Europe, India, and Central/North America as playable territories. Napoleon is in the same vein and a little better in terms of the game mechanics but I keep going back to Empire due to the global scope of it. Napoleon is limited to Europe.

Medieval 2 is fun but really showing its age and Rome was fantastic but definitely beyond its prime.

Shogun 2 hasn't really held my interest. The graphics and gameplay mechanics are excellent, but it's a little dumbed down compared to previous incarnations. Naval battles are horribly boring in fall of the Samurai, and the campaign map doesn't really lend itself to strategic conquering; It's pretty much a grind in one direction.

Anything before Shogun is now cheap enough on steam that you really won't go wrong
posted by Beacon Inbound at 1:15 PM on July 2, 2012 [1 favorite]

I've played them all, and I just can't recommend Empire. Unless something has changed in the last year or so, sieges are still very buggy. Even with all the other problems fixed, the sieges will bite you over and over. (Specifically, the game slows waaaaay down during sieges, even with only a couple of units on the field.)

If you want the guns era, your good options are Napoleon and Shogun 2, depending on which background you prefer.

Otherwise, Medieval and Medieval 2. M1 is, in my humble opinion, the best game of the entire series. It just captures the feel of the era so well. But if it is too difficult to get it to run, M2 is also good and of course much prettier.

I think Rome is actually the weakest game, as much as I love playing in that era.
posted by BeeDo at 2:19 PM on July 2, 2012

Just looked on Steam,

Right now you can buy a combo pack with Empire + Napoleon GOTY editions for $30USD.

Or you can buy the Total War Mega Pack which includes Everything from Rome to Napoleon (inclusive) and all their add-ons for $49USD. For $50 get the megapack... I'll guarantee you'll get your moneys worth and each game has its own flavour that makes it enjoyable.
posted by Beacon Inbound at 3:53 PM on July 2, 2012 [2 favorites]

Thanks, great answers.
posted by zzazazz at 4:22 PM on July 2, 2012

I'm playing Empire at the moment and I love it. I bought it on Steam, so it's fully patched, and I haven't noticed any bugs at all (I think it crashed once, but I had a recent save, and I can live with one crash in 10s of hours). The seiges don't slow down for me (but I have a very fast pc).

I played Rome a lot and really enjoyed that too.
posted by richb at 2:35 AM on July 3, 2012

I saw just this morning that Total War: Rome II has been confirmed for next year.
posted by VTX at 6:20 AM on July 3, 2012

Amazon has the Total War Bundle on sale. At that price, you can just try them all out.
posted by aloysius on the mixing boards at 9:10 AM on July 4, 2012

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