Total War: ATTILA Review – PC/Steam

The Total War series is one I’ve always been interested in, ever since my brother showed me the first entry in the Medieval branch way back when. As a History graduate, I’m passionate about exploring particular eras in the human chronicle, and I love to learn about events that I’m perhaps not as familiar with as I should be, such as the aftermath of the fall of Rome, which is loosely depicted here. That isn’t to say that I approached Total War: Attila as a learning experience, but it’s these types of games that can do enough to trigger a spark of inspiration that causes me to learn more about a certain subject.

However, having been away from the Total War series for a number of entries, I must admit my first few hours with Attila felt a little like sitting through an intense series of lectures on a subject that I had neglected for far too long. While I had fun learning the ins and outs of how Attila works, it simultaneously felt like I’d never learn everything that the game was telling me, and that what it was telling me was barely scratching the surface of the mechanics of Attila’s game world. This is a dense game, and if you don’t spend the time learning everything that you can do within it, and how to play successfully, you’ll have a tough time. It’s not the kind of experience where you can idly click through what the tutorial is telling you, thinking ‘yeah, yeah, I’ll pick that up later’.

Thankfully, the tutorial segment is comprehensive, and to be fair, it takes its time leading you through the various aspects of the game, allowing you as much time as you need to become familiar with what it is showing you. I never once felt rushed or under pressure to quickly complete a particular task, even in the heat of battle. Attila’s tutorial starts by giving you a couple of battles to run through, with both defensive and offensive scenarios, before bringing you to the campaign map. Here, you are shown how city management, troop movement and diplomacy works, as well as a whole bunch of other mechanics which will aid you in your quest for domination.

The campaign map is more of a topographic environment, showing rivers, hills and forests, and of course the various settlements dotted around the map. There are a ton of different factions to choose from in Attila, and each offers their own set of general objectives, as well as differences in the level of difficulty you’ll initially experience as you attempt to gain your faction a sure footing in their native area. Much of your time spent in the campaign map will be used in managing your settlements, which can revolt if not given enough care and attention. Public order plays a large part in how successful you will prove to be, and this is affected by your choice of provincial governor, the direction that your building and expansion policies take, and of course, how much tax you level against your citizens.

As well as managing your own towns and cities, you have to contend with foreign powers, and these relationships can be aided with alliances, trade agreements and marriages, or destroyed with threats and declarations of war. These areas of the game are made up of a whole host of menus, sub-menus and happenings behind the scenes, and to be honest, it was here that I got hung up the most. It was difficult to keep track of what events affected certain areas of my faction, as well as simply being unable to find the information or button that I was looking for. I’m sure that with plenty more time with the game, I would have better luck finding things, but to start with, and even after a number of hours with the game, it would often take me two or three tries before I would find the screen that I was looking for.

Even if the intricacies can be difficult to manage, Attila does a better job of guiding your hand in a more general sense, by providing you with objectives and missions to undertake, such as capturing a particular city, surviving past a certain date, or pursuing an alliance with a particular power. You’re also given a fairly comprehensive set of updates at the beginning of each of your turns, which keep you well-informed about actions not just within your own borders, but within those of other factions too, if necessary.

Once it becomes time to go to war against another power, you can either manually manage the battle, or take more of a gamble and allow the computer to auto-resolve a conflict. While this allows you to choose between particular approaches to the battle, it offers nowhere near as much control as managing the battle yourself, and denies you the chance of experiencing the level of detail offered by the battle map. From the draw distance, which allows you to view miles of the battlefield when fully zoomed out, to the washing hung on lines visible when zoomed in, battles feel like you’re attacking or defending an actual town, rather than fighting over a barren patch of land. Another interesting touch is that as you zoom in or out, the sounds of battle increase or decrease, which intensifies the feeling that you’re commanding actual forces.

Battles in Total War: Attila can prove to be just as complicated as diplomacy and city management, though. As well as having a solid knowledge of tactics, and the strengths and weaknesses of both your and your enemy’s units, you need to take into account the terrain of where you’re fighting, and the current weather conditions. High ground affords your units an advantage over those attacking from below, and forests provide cover for you to travel unseen. When you begin a battle, you are given a brief summary of the expected weather conditions, and if they are unfavorable, such as if it’s foggy, you can wait until conditions have improved, to provide you with a better chance of emerging successfully. It’s yet another aspect that creates a feeling of immersion in a game that’s already full of them.

If you’re familiar with strategy games, then this upcoming sentence will likely be redundant, but for those looking to get into the genre, be warned. Total War: Attila is the kind of game that you can easily lose an entire evening to, without even realizing it. This isn’t the kind of game where you can pop on for 15-20 minutes bursts, as even catching up with your updates at the beginning of each turn takes about that long, and there’s definitely a strong encouragement to have just one more turn, whether it’s to finally break down your enemy’s stubborn defenses, or to finish building a particular structure in a city that’s on the edge of rebellion. Total War: Attila is a time-sink, in the best possible way, and it’s something that newcomers should be aware of.

I find the strongest recommendation when reviewing a game comes from whether or not I’ll return to it once a review is finished. With Total War: Attila, though it is certainly overwhelming at times, and has far more wheels in motion than most games I’m used to, I feel willing to take the time to learn how the game works, what makes it tick, and how to become a better player. It can be punishing, but it’s also patient with its players, never making you feel as though you’re forced to act before you’re ready. It’s intimidating at first, and I can see this putting some people off, but it rewards perseverance, and the feeling of turning the tide in battle it looked like you were about to lose is intense. Unsurprisingly, Total War: Attila isn’t a game for everyone, but for fans of the genre, you could do a lot worse.

Screenshot Gallery

[carousel arrows=”display”]
[panel][/panel]
[panel][/panel]
[panel][/panel]
[panel][/panel]
[panel][/panel]
[panel][/panel]
[panel][/panel]
[panel][/panel]
[panel][/panel]
[panel][/panel]
[/carousel]

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *