A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this game.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Total War: Warhammer is a war strategy game that combines the Total War video game series with the fantasy of Games Workshop's popular Warhammer franchise. The game is a complex mix of real-time and turn-based strategy, with players ordering large numbers of troops into combat in various environments. The different factions fight against each other using a variety of medieval and fantasy weapons, including swords, spears, cannons, steam-driven tanks, magic spells, and even dragons. Despite the scope of the game, players can zoom in to the battlefield to watch the brutal fights take place, up close and personal. Although the warring factions may insult each other with various dialogue pieces, it's the game's in-game chat with other online players that runs the biggest risk of opening up younger players to offensive language.
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What's it about?
For the past 13 years, Creative Assembly has been one of the go-to sources for epic-scale military strategy, thanks to its successful Total War video game series. Meanwhile, for more than three decades, Games Workshop has brought its own epic-scale fantasy wars to tabletops with its popular Warhammer franchise. Now, like peanut butter and chocolate, the two powerhouses have joined forces in TOTAL WAR: WARHAMMER, which combines the real-time and turn-based military strategy gaming experience with an epic fantasy setting. Orcs and goblins ride into battle against dwarves and humans, while vampires and other evil forces lurk in the shadows. Facing off against troops armed with everything from swords and spears to steam tanks and dragons, as well as more than a little magic and even the undead thrown in for good measure, you'll need to keep a cool head, survey the battlefield, and find the chink in your opponents' armor to drive them back where they came from.
Is it any good?
Let's get one thing straight: This is one of the most impressive strategy games around, but it's also frustrating, brain taxing, and exhaustive with a high level of complexity. It's difficulty is definitely more of an acquired taste and not for everyone. That being said, it's also one of those games that rewards patience and gives you a real sense of accomplishment when you score a victory. You'll never feel like you or your opponent lucked your way through a battle. Instead, whether you win or lose, it's all because of your quick thinking, your skill, and, most likely, the hours you spent learning all the nuances of battle.
As far as the presentation goes, it's sort of a mixed bag. The cinematics look great, and if you zoom in on the action during battles, you'll be treated to a harsh and brutal look at fantasy combat. The problem is, there's no way to adequately manage all your troops from the front lines. Instead, you'll spend most of your time using a much broader viewpoint, which makes things look more like battle for domination between two or more ant colonies. And as much focus as there seems to be on the action, it's everything leading up to the battle where the focus really lies. That means resource management, heavy text, tweaking stats and abilities, and the like. The actual battles are just where everything you've done before comes together. It can be a slow, plodding process, but if you have the motivation to stick with it and the patience to learn, there's a surprising amount of content to enjoy.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about violence in gaming. What are some of the different ways violence is portrayed in gaming, and how does it change the impact? For example, how is the violence in the video game different from the violence portrayed in the Warhammer tabletop game?
Taking about different types of games. What are the similarities and differences between video games and tabletop games? What are some of the advantages and disadvantages of both?
- Platforms: Mac, Windows
- Price: $59.99
- Pricing structure: Paid
- Available online? Available online
- Developer: Sega of America
- Release date: May 24, 2016
- Genre: Strategy
- Topics: Magic and Fantasy, Adventures, Monsters, Ghosts, and Vampires
- ESRB rating: T for Mild blood, Mild language, Violence
- Last updated: March 16, 2020
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Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.