Shogun 2: Total War – Eurogamer Developer Session Preview

The Eurogamer Expo offered us numerous treats in the form of games to play, but there were also plenty of Developer Sessions. These talks involved top industry experts not only showing off footage of games, many of which aren’t released until well into next year, but also gave the audiences a fantastic insight into the world of full-time video games development. If any Train2Game students braved queues and made it into any of the developer sessions, it was worth it!

Judging by the size of the queue to see it, the Shogun 2: Total War developer session with creator Mike Simpson, was one of the most popular of the Eurogamer Expo. Naturally The Creative Assembly man didn’t disappoint, offering fantastic insights into the history of the Total War series, the development of the game, and what new features we can expect from Shogun 2: Total War.

For those who may be unfamiliar with Total War, it’s a series of strategy games that combine turn based and real time features, produced by Sussex based developers The Creative Assembly. Each game in the Total War series has been based on a specific period of history with emphasis on units, weapons and scenarios that are true of the era.  The Total War series is exclusive to the PC and each game, beginning with of Shogun: Total War in 1999, has been highly successful.

But how did the critically acclaimed Total War series begin? Mike Simpson was entirely truthful with the conference hall when he said Shogun: Total War began “by accident.”

The Creative Assembly originally wanted to develop an RPG based around ancient Chinese novel, Monkey: Journey to the West. (Yes, the very same text that inspired Enslaved: Odyssey to the West!) However, development of this idea proved difficult, so The Creative Assembly decided to go for a different angle.

ogun 2: Total War soldiers

Mike Simpson freely admitted that the main idea behind Shogun: Total War, was to produce a Command & Conquer clone and base it in Sengoku period Japan. The production took another turn when the 3D effects card became available, allowing the developers to design Shogun: Total War in an entirely 3D landscape. The strategy game, based around warring clans and with the aim of uniting the whole of Japan, was released in June 2000 and became a massive success.  The Total War idea evolved over a decade with the release of Medieval: Total War, Rome: Total War, Medieval 2: Total War, and Empire: Total War. Each game was a historically accurate representation of the era it was based in.

Now, ten years on from the game that started it all, Creative Assembly are developing a true sequel to Shogun: Total War. But why now, why develop Shogun 2: Total War at this stage? Mike Simpson gave a simple answer, because they wanted to! Feudal Japan is the studios favourite historical era and they feel there is fan interest in a Shogun 2: Total War game.

Those attending the Shogun 2: Total War developer session were treated to information about new features in the game. These included a new skills and experience system used for upgrading units, and unique Battlefield Heroes, single powerful characters who are upgraded through an RPG style level up system.  Mike Simpson also told the audience about the introduction of siege battles into Shogun 2: Total War, catering for the unique design of feudal Japanese castles. Shogun 2: Total War will also feature “something revolutionary” when it comes to multiplayer, with The Creative Assembly keeping their cards very close to their chest with this one. The new features for Shogun 2 definitely look like they’ll expand on the already excellent gameplay of the Total War series. As Mike Simpson pointed out, every feature in Shogun 2: Total War will be based on a total of 14 years of coding and development.

Shogun 2: Total War Naval Units

We got a look at a Shogun 2: Total War gameplay demo on the halls big screen, and visually it looks very impressive. Weather and environment are set to play a big role in Shogun 2: Total War battles, which can change dynamics for the up to 56,000 soldiers that can be involved. Simpson talked us through a battle between two of the nine Shogun 2: Total War factions and demonstrated how different units, abilities and tactics will be essential in the quest to unite 16th century Japan. Naval battles will also be a part of Shogun 2: Total War and the audience got an exclusive look at some of the new units.

Of course, Shogun 2 isn’t all about real time strategy, with turn based decision making also making up a massive part of Total War games. This part of Shogun 2: Total war takes place on a fully 3D and rather beautiful map of the game world. Naturally, the aim is that your faction starts off in one corner of the country, before eventually exploring the rest of the game world and becoming the Shogun of all of Japan.

During the turn based part of Shogun 2: Total War, you can attempt to gain the upper hand over your enemies by sending individual characters including Ninjas and Geishas to take out enemy generals, or sabotage towns. These ‘events’ now have their own movies, two of which Mike Simpson showed the hall. You can watch the Shogun 2: Total War (rather bumbling)Ninja Assassination event video below, and get yourself a look at the new 3D world in the process. Creative Assembly’s community manager Kieron Brigde talks us through it.

Mike Simpson says there’s no specific release date of Shogun 2: Total War as of yet, because the game will only be released when it’s suitably playable. However, we can probably expect Shogun 2: Total War to arrive on the PC sometime during 2011.

So Train2Game, what are your thoughts on Shogun 2: Total War? Are you a fan of the Total War series? If so what do you think about the new features? And what do you think about the early development of the series?

You can leave your thoughts on the Eurogamer Expo Shogun 2: Total War developer session, here on the Train2Game blog, or on the Train2Game forum.

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