Name: Total War Saga: Thrones of Britannia
Developer: Creative Assembly
Reviewed on: PC
Acquired:* A copy of this game was provided from publisher for review purpose*
First of all, I must say that I’ve never touched a Total War game before, but I enjoy kingdom builders like Civilization and Europa Universalis, and Thrones of Britannia certainly piqued my interest when I first heard about it. Being a beginner in this game was not easy, but how did it stack up after I got some hours into it? Time to find out!
“The year is 878 AD, the English king Alfred the Great has mounted a heroic defence at the battle of Edington, and blunted the Viking invasion. Chastened – but not yet broken – the Norse warlords have settled across Britain.”
– Steam Page
In Total War Saga: Thrones of Britannia (from now on ToB) you can play as ten different factions, from five different cultures. Personally I chose to be Sudreyar, a viking sea king-faction, as I wanted to make use of their nautical strengths. My main tactic was to conquer all of the British Isles through warfare, unfortunately, my attempts at that were futile, and I never got to the end of that campaign scenario. More on why this happened will be explained in the gameplay section of the review.
First of all, let me say how amazing this game looks! Especially the intro is top notch, as it not only has nice textures, but also has its own style which really fits into the setting for the rest of the game. The in-game textures look awesome too, as the style feels very much in spirit of the story.
The only thing keeping the graphics section from being perfect is the UI, which I found to be a bit cluttered and lacking in information on each screen. It’s not a major issue, but I felt it was too much text without enough actual information per section. I also felt that the text-boxes were a bit out of style with the rest of the game. Especially when the rest of the game fits so well together.
I really want to like the gameplay in ToB, however I keep finding it boring and repetitive. Not to mention the fact that the game seldom explains how to use different mechanics. It’s just not beginner-friendly at all. And for my first step into the Total War-series, this was very close to a deal-breaker for me. I was so far from ever completely understanding what the game wanted me to do when different things happened, like my warlords losing loyalty to the king, but never explaining how to prevent that.
What I do want to praise the game for, is the RTS(real time strategy)-gameplay. And despite never having enjoyed RTS games before, I actually liked the RTS elements. Although it must be said that they’re far from the most advanced I’ve ever tried, it was just advanced enough to have some tactical aspects, yet simple enough for me to enjoy. 5/10
The controls are pretty much standard for these kind of games, with every button being programmable if you don’t like the way it’s set up as a default. Controlling my units was quite smooth, although I wish it was a bit easier to make the rush to the target. I do wish that it was better ways to rotate the camera though, and that the rotation could be a bit quicker, but those are minor issues.
One thing ToB really has gotten right, though, is the balance between the different factions, with all of them having strengths and weaknesses. As a result no playthrough is the same, and the game encourages trying out different clans and different tactics each time. The game not only tells you what difficulty each clan has, but also why it has said difficulty. Take for example Sudreyar, which is a normal difficulty clan to play as. They have strengths when it comes to the sea and warfare, but they start out very slow and don’t become good until the late-game content. Other clans can be very prone to war in the start of the game, but then settles after a while. Say that you find the early-game section very easy, but struggle in late-game. The game tells you that Sudreyar might be a better clan for you. And thereby encourages you to play once more, but as a new clan, this time around.
I really wanted to enjoy Total War Saga: Thrones of Britannia, but the lacking beginner-friendliness and cluttered UI kept me from ever having a 12-hour session I can have with lots of other games. Although I can see that the developers have something going for them here, I just can’t recommend this unless you’ve already played (and enjoyed) the previous games.
Several ways to win
Quite good replayability
A bit boring
Replay Value: 7/10
Total Score: 7/10
Good – “If you’ve played the previous games, you’ll like this one too. Not for beginners though”