Rating : 7/10
Total War: Warhammer is a long term project for Creative Assembly. Eventually the studio wants to release either DLC or free-LC containing all of the represented races in the Warhammer Fantasy Battles tabletop game. This will involve two more expansion games, as well as a schedule of updates over the years inbetween. Call of the Beastmen is the first major race-based DLC that has appeared for the title, and is a sign of good things to come.
The Beastmen – a race comprised of man-bull hybrids as well as fauns, centaurs and minotaurs – are another unique roster in a game that already boasts very distinct factions. Fast, lightly-armoured and based around hit-and-run tactics, the Beastmen are very much akin to the hordes of Total War: Attila. Holding no cities or provinces, the player will be required to flit between enemy provinces razing, sacking and looting as they go to gain resources. The Beastmen are no lovers of diplomacy, either – entreat with other factions and feel the penalty as your hordes’ obedience drops.
Unlike their Chaos counterparts, who are also a horde faction, Beastmen do not get a penalty for being in close proximity to each other, meaning that you can effectively shelter a smaller horde from harm by its larger parent and upgrade it along the way. This allows for a spring-like movement across the campaign map, as secondary hordes back up the parent in difficult encounters and sieges. The Beastmen also have their own specific stances, whilst their default has a chance to automatically initiate an ambush each time you engage or defend – reflecting on the fact the Beastmen travel in the impenetrable forests of the Warhammer world. Though a nice change it can become slightly stale, as the environments created for these battles – while pretty – never really seem to show any real change between battles. You’ll recognise rock formations and strategic sections on the map and be able to use them time and again, which becomes quite tedious.
Nowhere is the difference between the Beastmen and the other races more reflected than in the violence of the battlefield. Comprised of fast-moving and hard-hitting infantry, the Beastmen area faction that will be beloved by those who like to flank and pull apart the enemy formations. Few Beastmen units can stand toe-to-toe with late-game specialists and so it’s necessary to be more canny with your placements. It’s for this reason that Creative Assembly has given a large amount of Beastmen units the ability to deploy outside of their zone – allowing the player a chance to set up harrassments and ambushes as the enemy moves in. When battle is joined, the Beastmen are probably by far the most enthralling to watch in combat. They thunder into the charge, tossing their heads around, braying like maddened bulls. The chaos and disruption they bring into ordered battle lines is as exciting as it is rewarding.
Of course along with the new roster, Creative Assembly have brought in two legendary lords for gameplay, each with their own quest lines and abilities. One of these lords, Khazrak the One Eye, has his own separate mini-campaign: Eye for an Eye. This mini-campaign pits you against the forces of the Empire’s separate elector counts as they try to stomp out the Beastmen rampaging within their forests. The overarching goal, however, is for Khazrak to fight and defeat Boris Todbringer, the elector count who took his eye, and enact some poetic revenge. Though little different from the main campaign, it offers a decent nine or ten hour chunk of gameplay that can be a refreshing break from the grand strategy of its larger cousin.
At £13.99 (at the time of writing), Call of the Beastmen can be considered quite pricey for a DLC that simply adds one race to the game. Creative Assembly has gone some way to justifying it by bringing an unparalleled sense of personality to the Beastmen (long the punching boys of the Warhammer world), as well as creating a separate campaign map. The DLC will satisfy anyone hoping to add to their vanilla game experience, though some might want to wait until it goes on sale at a lower price point.
This DLC will satisfy anyone hoping to add to their vanilla game experience, though some might want to wait until it goes on sale at a lower price point.
Financial journalist by trade, GameGrin writer by choice. Writing skills the result of one million monkeys with one million typewriters.