PC Gamer

Few things make me as happy as modders taking one game and stitching it to another. As Troy and Abed said, it only makes them more awesome.

Medieval 2: Total War is getting pretty old in the tooth, but modders are still working hard to find us some new ways to play it. The Elder Scrolls: Total War mod means you can now pit the various factions of Tamriel against each other in a war that can only be described as, well, total.

There are 20 factions to choose from, including The Kingdoms of Skyrim, Daggerfall, and Wayrest, the Clan of Blackmarsh and the Clan of Crowns, and the Great House of Hlaalu, Telvanni, and Dagoth, just to name a few. You can play as monsters too, like the hordes of Oblivion or an army of undead warriors. They're all custom skinned, so if you choose to side with Oblivion you'll really be marching around an army of Daedra.

There's a full map as well, based on The Elder Scrolls games, and appropriate custom banners will snap in the wind as you march your armies into battle. 

The mod is not yet complete, but from my play session I'd say it's off to a good start. The campaign isn't finished yet, and there are some bugs, but I played a few custom battles and they worked just fine. It's also entirely in Russian, so in addition to the mod, which you can find a link for on this page, you may also need the English language patch. Even with it, some of the text still appears untranslated, though they're working on a better one.

Installing Medieval 2 mods isn't always easy, but there's a nice guide here on Reddit.

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Mod of the Week

I don't know how successfully it comes across on the TV show, but the Game of Thrones book series makes the storied history of Westeros as important and intriguing as the current, rather messy state of affairs. Westeros: Age of Petty Kings, a mod for Medieval II: Total War Kingdoms, is set during the Andal Invasion of Westeros, thousands of years before the events of the series, which means now you can take part in the shaping of the turbulent continent and forge your own version of the history of Westeros.
The true, full name of the mod, it appears, is Westeros: Total War: Ages of Petty Kings for Medieval II: Total War: Kingdoms, but I get fined by PC Gamer if I use more than three colons in a single headline. I'll begin by quoting the modder directly, since he does a fine job of explaining the sitch:
Long before the rise of Valyria, Westeros was divided into countless Petty Kingdoms. In the south, the Reach is consumed by fire as countless Andal Kingdoms are drawn into an ever growing civil war. In Dorne, the deserts run red with blood and in the north four kingdoms struggle for supremacy, even as they face invaders from all sides. As chaos descends upon the lands of Westeros it remains to be seen which Kingdoms shall forge dynasties to last a thousand years, and which will fade into history.


You'd think one Stark, once, would move somewhere warmer.
I don't blame you if you're more interested in the current batch of characters from Game of Thrones than in the generations that came before them. The thing is, even though the mod is set thousands of years prior to the events we've been watching and reading about, there are still plenty of familiar names around. Some families have been in Westeros for a very, very long time, so yes, you'll still find the Lannisters at Casterly Rock, the Starks are chillin' (literally) in the North, the Arryns are in The Vale, and the Martells are over in Sunspear. What bright futures they all must have!


It's your chance to be the Lannister who never pays his debts.
There are a whopping 29 different factions to choose from in the mod, including House Reyne, The Stormkings (who have a stag on their banner, which was later co-opted by the Baratheons), plus House Bolton and House Umber in the North, and then a bunch more I've never heard of because I sort of skimmed through certain parts of the book, okay? No need to Google while you're selecting a faction, either: the modders have provided a hefty chunk of lore and history in their descriptions.


Lore-friendly and packed with info, it's like Wiki of Ice and Fire, the game.
The map of Westeros we've come to love is faithfully rendered, and though King's Landing may not exist yet, plenty of still-standing cities predate it. The source material seems to have been well researched and respected: even cities and castles that are mentioned only in passing in the books appear in the mod in their proper spots. There are quotes from historical characters on the loading screens, and you'll even get to listen to the familiar Game of Thrones theme song that I hope is legally okay to use in this mod but I'm not sure that it is. Point being, the mod is really drenched in the feeling and flavor of A Song of Ice and Fire, and I think fans of the books and show will feel quite at home here.


Not sure who these guys are or why we're fighting. But that's true when I read the books sometimes.
If you're not super interested in the politics and city building, you can of course whip up some custom battles on some familiar battlegrounds, like the Wolfswood, Golden Tooth, the Vale of Arryn, the Iron Islands, The Reach, and lots more. I pitted a bunch of Starks against a mass of Boltons for the Dreadfort, for no particular reason and definitely not to exact some sort of revenge. I also had Cracklaw Point battle the Lannisters in the wintery North. Why? I dunno. Why the hell not?


Lions versus Crabs. I know who I'm betting on.
The mod is still in development, and has a lot of plans for the future, including doubling the number of castles on the campaign map and bolstering them with both lore-friendly houses and some created just for the mod. There are also plans to add more units, including unique ones, as they're not particularly varied at the moment. Mercenaries will be added (sellswords, if you want to get all Game of Thrones-y about it), and there's an effort underway to add even more factions like the Night's Watch and the Wildlings.
Installation: Download the mod here. Again, I'll let the modder explain how to get it set up, because he does it well and it worked for me.
1) Make a copy the "Launcher.exe" from your M2TW folder and rename it "kingdoms" (if you already have a "kingdoms" you should be fine).
2) Put the Petty_Kings folder into your mods directory and DO NOT CHANGE THE FOLDER'S NAME.
Assuming you have the "kingdoms.exe" and the correctly named "Petty_Kings" then you can simply double-click on AOPK.bat in the Petty_Kings folder and it will launch the mod.
PC Gamer
Company of Heroes


Sega used to spend their time faffing about with console boxes and a blue hedgehog. Now they spend their time more productively: publishing cool PC games (and occasionally trying to resurrect the blue hedgehog). Sometimes these many projects collide into a single, gloriously incomprehensible mess of different games and styles. It happened with the bizarrely compelling Sonic & All Stars Racing Transformed - a game in which an anthropomorphic fox could lose a kart race to the football manager from Football Manager. It's also now happened with this week's Humble Weekly Sale.

The pack collects some of the publisher's more celebrated series, along side smaller projects and a collection of classic console games.

At the lowest pay-what-you-want tier, you'll get Alpha Protocol, Company of Heroes, Rome: Total War and Hell Yeah! Wrath of the Dead Rabbit. Pay more than $5.99 and you'll also receive The Typing of the Dead: Overkill, Binary Domain, Renegade Ops, Medieval 2: Total War, and a collection of 10 old "Genesis" games. The Genesis, in case you're unaware, is what incorrect people call the Mega Drive.

The deal also includes Total War: Shogun 2, available for purchases over $14.99. In addition to supporting Sega, the money will also go towards the following charities: Make-A-Wish, Whale & Dolphin Conservation, Willow, Special Effect and GamesAid. As always, the bundle's sliders will let you choose exactly where your money will go.

It's probably one of the best Weekly Sales that Humble have run in some time. Company of Heroes, Rome: Total War, and Medieval 2: Total War are often considered among the best entries of their respective series. In addition, Alpha Protocol and Renegade Ops are definitely worth checking out for the sort of price you can grab them for here. Also, there are a few Mega Drive games - including the Golden Axes. Weirdly, there's no Sonic anywhere in sight, although at this point, maybe it's for the best.

The Sega Humble Weekly Sale will run until March 20th.
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28186TWRII_Battle_Formations


In 61 BC, Julius Caesar levied Legio X Equestris, a legion of several thousand fighting men who fought with distinction in his campaign against Gaul. They were disbanded in 45 BC, shortly before Caesar's assassination. In the ensuing civil war, the 10th Legion was raised again and fought for Lepidus, Marc Antony, and finally Emperor Augustus.

Over that 20-year period, thousands of men died or retired as veterans with lands they had helped conquer in Gaul. Equestris' individual legionaries are not remembered by history. But as a unit, Legio X Equestris were instrumental in Caesar's conquest of Gaul. Creative Assembly wants to give every army in Rome II: Total War a similar legacy, to make them more than masses of faceless troops.

And here history and gameplay merge in a really exciting way: as an army accrues victories, it will also accrue traditions, transforming a generally skilled army into a highly specialized one.

Every upgrade system in Rome II—from the revamped military and civic tech trees down to the abilities of generals, agents and armies—encourages specialization. On the macro level, military and civic developments are now divided into three subcategories (management, tactics and siege for military, economy, philosophy, and construction for civic) you can hop between at will. Teching for naval superiority or a strong farming economy, for example, is much more direct than it was in Shogun II: Total War.



But army traditions are what have me most excited for Rome II, and not just because the historical basis behind them is really cool. Traditions have the potential to completely change how battles play out by the end of a 20 (or 30, or 40, or...) hour-long Rome II campaign, because traditions outlive the poor legionaries who die earning them.

As you might expect from Creative Assembly, Studio Communications Manager Al Bickham explained the army tradition system with a historical comparison. "Think about the 101st Airborne," Bickham said at a recent preview event for Rome II. Remember Band of Brothers? He's talking about those guys: "They're all about their small unit tactics and being in enemy territory and working, effectively, guerrilla warfare. That's what they do. They do that really well. They've done that for the last 100 years, right? That's what is all about."

In Rome II, traditions extend the upgrade system used for commanding officers to whole armies. But that system has been reworked, too. Instead of progressing a general through a tech tree as he levels up, you now assign one skill at every level (with a cap at level 10). Previously acquired skills can also be leveled up in place of acquiring new ones. If you mainly use your generals to rally and inspire troops, focusing on those abilities will make them horse-mounted masters of morale.

In Shogun II, you could specialize generals by choosing a path through the tech tree, but you'd probably be wasting a few points along the way. Rome II simplifies choosing the abilities and buffs commanders bring to the battlefield. The same system also applies to Rome II's agents.



And where armies previously just grew stronger and gained morale with experience, they'll now gain their own set of specializations in the form of traditions for siegecraft, cavalry, and infantry types. Bickham detailed an example:

"I've spent six of my possible 10 points as an army's been leveling up in siegecraft and heavy infantry. Those guys are going to be city smashers, you know? They're going to be really good shots and very damaging with their onagers and ballistas and scorpions and stuff. I'll have those on my front line doing my city bashing for me."

Rome II tracks the history of each army, listing wins and losses and years in service. Armies can be renamed, and whatever symbol you set as their standard will appear on the legionary character models. And if that army is slaughtered to the last man, the traditions they bled for aren't lost.

"Say you have the 13th Legion," Bickham said, referencing a legion he took into battle at the Rezzed game conference last month. "The 13th Legion cops it. They all die. You can go back to one of your cities, you can recruit a new general, you can give him the banner of the 13th Legion, and you can recruit a new army along with that new general under the banner of the 13th Legion. Get all those traditions back. The whole idea is it's a symbol of the traditions of a fighting unit...The standard, what that army represents, is always there."



By endgame, using the right army in the right battle will be key, as even green troops can strut onto the field with 10 traditions backing them up. Bickham's city smashers, for example, could be torn apart by a heavily trained legion of cavalry. But losing an army of seasoned troops shouldn't spell disaster, either.

"It's no longer about--putting it in the context of previous games, armies were stacks of troops, and you just kind of mashed troops together, and you'd add more, and you'd build the stack," Bickham said. "I think by the end of the game you'll have some incredibly experienced guys you'll be really attached to because you've crafted them over time. They're like macro RPG characters made of thousands of men."
PC Gamer
total war rome 2


Rome wasn't built in a day, as slow people are fond of saying - no it took, like, at least a week. Creative Assembly seem to be taking even longer with Total War: Rome 2, their latest enormo-strategy title which is set - if my history is correct - in the late 1970s. To make the wait more bearable, the devs have started their own Let's Play series, this latest entry showing off the game's campaign mode. It's a pleasantly in-depth video, detailing the different starting choices and factions, before- cor, look at that gorgeous world map.



There's not much in the way of fighting there, but thankfully CreatAss (I promise never to use that contraction again) have recorded a more battle-focused Let's Play entry too. You'll find it below.

If you want to know our take (you do), have a read of our recent hands-on preview. Total War: Rome 2 is out September 3rd.

PC Gamer
Hyrule Total War


It's time for a confession: when it comes to Zelda, I'm dangerously ignorant. I could try to hide this fact from you - casually mentioning how the green dude is called Link, and thinking that would be enough to conceal my shame - but then I'd probably mess it all up by calling the Triforce, "that thing from Sword & Sworcery EP". Despite this historical deficiency, there are some things I do know: 1) Total War games, and 2) that Total War games would be much improved by the addition of magic, a weird tentacle eye-bug, and a giant Cyclopean scorpion. All of these things can be found in Medieval 2 mod, Hyrule: Total War.



This trailer marks the 3.0 release of the mod, which is available for download at ModDB. It offers 19 factions, a campaign mode, custom settlements, and four missions of a new "Hyrule Historia Campaign". While it's a nice amount of fantasy Total War to enjoy, the mod is still in development - and the final, feature complete version remains "TBD".

You can find more on Hyrule: Total War's status over at the mod's development forum.

Thanks, Reddit.
PC Gamer
Empire: Total War


Because fighting AI just isn't the same as taking a sword to the face of a good friend, you know? Empire: Total War has opened its multiplayer campaign beta to testers again after a long three years—here's your chance to get back in on the action.

The multiplayer campaign was first added almost a year after release, way back in December 2009, though the doors have been barred for quite some time. A new page recently sprung up on the Empire: Total War website, though, once again welcoming beta registrants.

"Shortly after Empire: Total War was released, we added in an unsupported multiplayer campaign beta," says the sign-up page. "Not everyone was able to get hold of a key for this and the application process was eventually discontinued. In response to fan requests we are, for a limited time, offering the opportunity to apply for a key once more."

So head on over and drop your email address in the box. You'll be told that the team will "be in touch," but there's no word of when. If you receive your invite, let me know what the hell's going on in there—I want to know all about the three-year party that's been raging within Total War.
PC Gamer
TWA Featured


We still don't know much about Total War: Arena, the PvP strategy spin-off that will pit teams of up to 10 players against one another, each controlling small units led by historical generals. We don't even have concept art to speculate over yet. But in a recent interview with Edge, Lead Designer James Russel has shared some tidbits about the game's free to play business model, and the reasoning behind it.

It may sound incredibly obvious, but Creative Assembly says it's going with free to play because they feel they need as many players as possible in their multiplayer pool. “The first is the reason why we’re doing this is to make this great multiplayer experience…to have a player population on a different level,” says Russell. Previous games in the series have suffered with long matchmaking times and deserted lobbies—something I docked Shogun 2's otherwise great Avatar mode for. Thus, it stands to reason that something would need to change for a Total War title intended to stand on the strength of its multiplayer.

Creative Assembly also reassures that "pay to win" won't be a concern in Arena. Rather, the plan is to sell accelerators that "let you level-up your character faster so you get to high-level content more quickly." Again, nothing we haven't seen before in the free-to-play space, and nothing all that unexpected. If you haven't already, you can head over to the Total War: Arena site to sign up to be informed of when the closed beta goes live.
PC Gamer
Total War Rome 2 Suebi


Creative Assembly continue to announce Rome 2's playable factions. Today's reveal heralds the Suebi as the sixth of the game's eight factions, meaning we're only a few weeks away from the full roster. "The Suebi are an indomitable Germanic culture dwelling to the north east of Gaul. Not a single people, but rather numerous tribes sharing a common language and similar religious beliefs," says the wiki page. From the look of the above screenshot, they also make passing wolves rather nervous.

"Heavily reliant on infantry and ambush tactics, raiding is their predominant form of conflict. Lightly equipped, most Suebi warriors make use of the framea, a javelin-like spear, as swords are a rarity. Often unarmoured they carried their rounded, oval or long, hexagonal shields into battle and wore little more than simple cloaks or other garments at times."

From the sounds of things, their Berserker units will prove powerful fighters, and the Night Hunters will camouflage well in forests. "Like other Germanic factions, the Suebi are masters of forest warfare and plunder. Stemming from a confederation of smaller Germanic tribes, they have a diplomatic edge when dealing with other barbarians and excel at fighting lesser tribes who dare to stand in their way." Despite this, their isolationist stance will likely hamper trade with outside factions.

The Suebi join Arverni, Iceni, Macedon, Carthage, and, of course, Rome. But which civilisations will make up the final two factions? Place you bets... Now!

Rome II is out in October.
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