If you're not a fan of the Total War series, let me clue you in on how they're normally announced. Fans will spend months, maybe even years hoping for their favourite historical era to be revealed as the game's setting. When it's inevitably shown to be something else, everyone gets bummed out, but then finds something to enjoy in the game regardless.
Or at least, that's how it used to go down. Things are a little different this time around. The last Total War game, Rome II, was seen by many as a big disappointment, so the opportunity to wipe the slate clean and go somewhere else was something fans were really looking forward to.
Instead, developers Creative Assembly have today announced a new Total War game, due early next year, and it's...not wiping much away at all.
Total War: Attila takes place directly after the events of Rome II, with players able to either destroy or save the Empire. Taken in isolation, a game focusing on Attila and the onset of the Dark Ages would be pretty cool!
But taken in context, given the time period and reception to Rome II, it's disappointing, a feeling reflected in any comments about the reveal. Few people would genuinely have been expecting an all-new game so soon Rome II's release, but the period after a main Total War game is normally when a substantial expansion is released (see: the excellent Shogun II expansion).
The last time Creative Assembly released a larger title instead of an expansion so quickly was with Napoleon Total War, a "new" game that looked and played so much like the previous title, Empire: Total War, that it even shared the same HUD elements (something Attila also seems to be doing).
To be fair, Creative Assembly have surely learned their lesson from Napoleon, and are trying to offer more than just a new map and some new units. They're promising some substantial changes, like the return of skill trees for generals, a fire mechanic that spreads through cities, improved street-fighting (not like it could have been any worse than in Rome II) and the ability to raze entire settlements and wipe them off the face of the map.
Maybe those things, and what looks like an attempt to fix the missteps taken with Rome II, will make this a good game in the end! But given how long it took to patch Rome II into something workable (we even had to delay our review verdict for a few months), and the reception to Napoleon, and you'll have to excuse fans for exercising caution.
Now if you'll excuse me, I'll be over here continuing my vigil for an Empire II set in the 19th century...