Total War: Rome 2 will deliver "a darker vision of war", lead designer Jamie Russell told a packed Rezzed audience this afternoon in Brighton.
"Close-up, we want the men to feel more human," he said. "We've got facial animations, emotional interactions between men, so that if the guy next to me gets hit by an arrow, I'll react to that.
"It's all about a darker vision of war. We want the combat to feel more brutal, more visceral. And we want the form-combat to really get a sense of that Roman war machine, that unique fighting style of the Roman meat grinder legions." That's up close. On the larger scale there are "epic" cities with multiple capture points. There are also combined battles, so soldiers can jump out of boats to join the battles on land, and artilleries on ships can "tear down cities". They're not separate components. "Our aim," said Russell, "is for Rome 2 to deliver some of the most spectacular sights you've ever seen in a video game, and I really believe that we can deliver that - I'm not being hyperbolic there."
Russell outlined some of the other goals of Rome 2 - "The game our player base really wants us to make, and the game we want to make."
The campaign map will be "much larger" than in Rome 1. There will be barbarian tribes in the northern forests, there will be "exotic" Eastern kingdoms in the deserts and there will of course be Rome itself.
That will amount to a "huge variety of fighting styles, cultures and environments".
There will be political rivalries of the Senate, and political rivalries within families. Rome 2 wants, like Pinocchio, to be human.
"We want the player to be thinking things like, do I save the Republic or do I play to become Emperor," said Russell. "This was a time when the personal decisions of Julius Caesar and Cleopatra shaped empires, they forged history with their personal decisions."
With that, Russell showed the Rezzed audience the first ever public footage of Total War: Rome 2. It's the same footage we saw in our Total War: Rome 2 preview.
We can't reproduce that content in pictures or in video here.
The code on show was "super, super early" - "We're way, way, pre-alpha," said Russell.
There are a tonne of visual features and effects to add, and the final game will look "way better", not that you can see what we saw by reading this.
Russell delivered an interesting insight into Creative Assembly's 25-year history, from humble beginnings as a sports game-making studio to it's eventual pirouette into Total War and becoming one of the most successful developers Britain has ever had. Today, 20 designers, 36 programmers and 40 artists work on Total War: Rome 2. One tidbit of the talk that stuck in our mind was Russell talking about historical accuracy in Total War games. "History inspires; truth is stranger than fiction," one presentation slide read, illustrated with a picture of a burning pig.
You can obviously go "too far" in reproducing real-life. Actual battles could last for 15 hours and may even include tea breaks. So, Russell said, realism becomes real tactics working in your game.
"Realism is the servant of the game, not the master."