Finally, we can talk about the next big Total War title that was announced to us at Gamescom this year. It’s not easy to keep our mouths shut about a title both we and our friends are very passionate about, and not least, the era itself.
Inspired by Homer’s Illiad, Creative Assembly is announcing a new Total War Saga within the era of Troy. In Troy, the fate of Aegean civilization will be in your hands; each choice you make will shape the lands from the mythical heights of Mount Olympus to the arid deserts of Lemnos. Experience history as it may have happened or shape the legend for yourself in this unique chapter of Total War.
A Total War Saga: Troy will be released on PC during 2020.
Interview with Todor Nikolov – Lead Game Designer
Interviewer: Lars Erik Ødegaard
Q: Do you think Troy is a perfect fit for the total war series?
Yeah definitely. It is the story that lies at the very core of the Trojan war. Which is important. The story of the whole conflict between Cairns and Trojans. The husband who needs to take his wife home and avenge the guests who dishonored to him, the city of Troy who is doomed to fail at a certain point. It’s a perfect fit for the Total War saga title because the Total War saga title aims to cover a more focused more intense experience that deals with a single war for example at a limited amount of time and a very specific place. So all of this comes together to make the Trojan war actually perfect for the saga title.
Q: So obviously Homer’s books are a source of inspiration for this game. Are there any other sources of inspiration?
As you have seen in the presentation. We’ve got this whole truth behind the myth concept. So in terms of the research that we have done. It was also related to both truth and myth. All though when we began the very research we didn’t know that. It became evident that we were doing that a bit later. But part of our research was related to historical records archaeology. We came to know what the armaments of the Warriors looked like. The cities that people lived in how they were built and where they were situated. But on the other hand, once we got. All these data. We had no information about the characters. For example. You don’t get to see the records of all the Kings of Mycenaean. And this is when we incorporate the information from the Iliad, the Odyssey. From the whole epic cycle. We just sprinkled it in the game. And it’s this combination of both realistic research and literature and Mythological related research, that come together to form Troy.
Q: You mentioned the Odyssey. So Odyssey is one of the most central persons in the books of Homer, is he gonna star in the game?
Yes, he is a playable character.
Q: So he’ll probably have some strategic advantages?
Yes. Well, just to provide some context. Every faction in the game has two factions, unique mechanics. And the ones related to Odysseus is that. The fact that he can build some structures in foreign settlements because you know cunning. A cunning person and he’s also a very proficient sailor which allows him to construct more special buildings in coastal settlements. Which are different from all other buildings in the game. Apart from that his quest, because we have questions in the game. They’re a great tool to provide some further narrative. In the game. His quest chain actually retells the story of the Odyssey. Because in his quest we’re asking Odysseus is to go nearby Troy. And once he gets there we tell him what this is there are troubles at home you need to go back because there is a bunch of people that are after your wife and after your kingdom. And when he returns. He gets to fight an epic battle. Against. His enemies, the suitors from the Odyssey.
Q: Obviously, in the books, he’s one of the main persons behind the trojan horse, is that going to appear in the game?
We actually have not a single horse we have three of them. Three different. What’s interesting about them is that they’re based on actual theories related to what trojan horse might have actually been. For example, one of the theories that we have implemented in the game is that the horse, as an animal, is a symbol of the side of Poseidon. The god of the sea. Poseidon is also known as the Earthshaker. He causes earthquakes. And he hates the city of Troy. Really, he wants the city razed to the ground. So occasionally in the game, what happens is that every few turns like, “30, 40, 50”, an event the first where an earthquake strikes Troy. The City and the buildings are severely damaged. The garrison is very very weakened. If you fight the battle of Troy. The campaign map is going to be changed. You will see wall breaches and some general destruction. The city will be much easier to take during these windows of opportunity. So, you need to pay attention to the earthquake if you aim to take the city. And even if you want to defend the city you still have to keep in mind that whatever happens an earthquake may take place. And it makes sense, because Archaeologically, around the city which is believed to have been the original Troy. There is evidence of a siege at some point. And, earthquakes occurred right during the siege. And you know the Anatolian area is known for their violent earthquakes. So it makes sense.
Q: And in the first presentation they mention the minotaur, is there any other mythical creatures that will occur?
There are others. Know the Minotaur is a single entity unit, he is very powerful, he has access to some unique abilities. Overall in the game, he supposed to be comparable to a leveled up hero. So he’s more of a mid to late game unit. Another example of you know the mythological creatures that we’ve got in the game is the Centaur. There are certain regions on the map where we know that the centaurs are believed to have lived. So, when you go to those regions there are some regions specific buildings that you can build only there. And these grants you access to the recruitment of centaurs. Now, back in the Bronze Age, they did not have cavalry. They relied on infants mainly and on chariots. And we have introduced a number of you know, tweaks and updates to how the infantry acts. In order to still keep the varied gameplay of battles. But, having access to the mythology of the whole area allows us to incorporate cavalry actually. These are the centaurs. You can recruit these horsemen units. They are light, their very fast and chase down any strugglers. And, it makes perfect sense because back in the Bronze Age, if the ordinary civilized person saw somebody on horseback they would believe that they’re seeing actually a monster. Because nobody rode horses back then. So we are talking about the centaurs as being tribes of horsemen barbarian that live outside of civilizations. They are very wild and the weird. That we refer them as centaurs in the game.
Q: They also mention the favors of gods. Do you think that’s going to have a big impact on how you play the game?
Yeah, we’re planning for it to have a very very considerable impact on the game. Because there are 7 gods, each of them affects a different aspect of the gameplay. For example, Ares affects the battle powers of the units. For example, Hera affects resource production and unit replenishment. So we’ve got all the areas covered. For example, Poseidon affects everything that is sea-related. So you need to be very careful of which gods you will try to make favor you. If you gain the favor of Ares apparently you’ll be stronger in battle. Do you have the resources for that? What happens when there are conflicts in the game? Devine conflicts, because occasionally an event might occur, where two gods declared that they’re in conflict. Other gods join their sides to a certain point. It might not be feasible for you to support Ares anymore. Although, you might need support for your armies. Almost every action that you do in the game affects the god favor system. Because Ares is he likes when you kill captives after the battle. He hates when you retreat from battle. So, be careful when you retreat because he might hate you. There is also a multitude of other ways to gain or lose favor. You have an interface screen where you can perform sacrifices certain of your agents. Also, make rituals at settlements. Which increase your favor of the gods. If they’re making the ritual at a settlement that you own. You might also try to reduce the favor for Gods for other factions. And thus, you weaken them. Because there are different tires of divine favor. They provide bonuses they can also provide negatives. It’s a very complex system. It. Touches. Every aspect of the game and it’s valid not only for you. It’s valid for everyone. Playable factions and non-playable factions, everything.
Q: So this is the first Total War game you have been in production with?
It’s the first stand-alone title. We have so far released three DLCs for Rome II. And a patch for thrones of Britannia as well. Yeah. I’d say it was the perfect training ground that prepared us for this title. And of course, it’s, you know, we have a great passion for it. We like the story of the Trojan war a lot. Still, it demands a lot of effort. it’s a great challenge. But we’re doing our best.
Q: So you had some interest in Troy before you started on the game?
Well. To be honest. Not really. Because I remember studying Iliad at the 5th grade. And it was confusing to me. I was a kid back then. Couldn’t care less about Achilles and Agamemnon. But ever since I started working on Troy I read the full story seven times. My eight right now. It’s amazing. It teaches you a lot. And the fact that it comes from such a far point in the past is just amazing because those stories and the message in the Iliad are internal, they are still valid. So it’s. It’s amazing.
Q: There have been created many movies of this period, have any of these movies have been a source of inspiration for this game?
Well, we certainly can point out the Brad Pitt movie, Troy, you know. What we did in the game is that we introduced a lot of brand new animations. Specifically for the heroes and there that match combat. Because for heroes and the match combat sequences, certain these animations pay homage to the movie and the duel between Achilles and Hector. It’s also, you know, one of the most recent movies. There is a great cast of actors in it. So yea, we certainly watched that movie. It’s a very famous movie.
Q: Also these books of Homer have a tendency to be a bit dark and gloomy. And favors power not weakness is that something that is mirrored in the game?
Well, it depends on how you read into. Because by looking at it the Iliad is the glorification of war.But. In fact, if you go deeper it’s more about the futility of existence and the futility of war because, in the end, everyone will die. This is a cheerful message brought to us by Homer! In that sense. And there are certain aspects of the game which you know convey this feeling of duty. That can be seen in the Iliad. Like, for example, Achilles. One of his fiction mechanics is related to his mood. And he can sometimes become depressed. Like he was in the book when he mourns the loss of his friend Patroclus. So we’re trying to convey that in the game. We’ve got plenty of tools to do that. And yeah. We’re trying to stick true to the literary origin.