Total War dev: PCs in danger as new consoles approach is "ridiculous" notion

PS4's PC-like architecture testament to its strength.

"People always bang on about PC dying", Dom Starr, the campaign designer of Total War: Rome 2, told Eurogamer.

People started banging on about PC dying after publishers turned their backs on desktops when this generation - PS3, Wii and Xbox 360 - began. Console-led development - even multi-platform development - was all the rage.

Today of course it's a different matter: the PC gaming scene is bursting with life (and money) and the PC versions are the ones publishers brag about.

pc

"Ridiculous."

But there's a new console generation kicking off proper this Christmas. Creative Assembly's Total War series weathered the last storm - does Dom Starr see rough seas ahead now?

"I don't think PC is in any danger of dying," Starr answered. "I think that's ridiculous.

"If anything, the fact that the new console, PS4, seems to pretty much be an adapted PC just goes to show that the platform is strong and [we're] likely to not see the death of it any time soon."

Total War is one example of a "very different" gaming experience available on PC, Starr highlighted. But could Total War be on console? Series overseer Mike Simpson told me it wasn't an issue of controller input holding Total War back from console: it was an issue of raw machine power.

Cue PlayStation 4 which, among other impressive components, features a whopping 8GB of GDDR5 RAM. How about Total War on console now?

"I believe the canned-response to that tends to be it's always something that's being considered and it's a possibility, but beyond that no comment," responded Dom Starr.

"Personally I think it would be nice to have Total War on console, get the experience to people who aren't necessarily PC gamers."

He added: "You'd have to adapt a fair bit if for a joypad controller. Something like the Wii U might be easier to do some - drawing battle lines, moving the units around in a bit more of an organic way."

"If anything, the fact that the new console, PS4, seems to pretty much be an adapted PC just goes to show that the platform is strong and [we're] likely to not see the death of it any time soon."

Dom Starr

rams

Rams: the PS4 has them.

Could the PS4 DualShock 4 touchpad be used in the same way?

"Possibly," considered Starr, "or you could conceivably use it more like a mouse or a trackpad on a laptop. And in that case I suppose maybe you're just looking at a PC hooked up to a television and it would work in much the same way."

Creative Assembly does have an in-house console team working on an Alien game, presumably for next-gen machines. We haven't heard too much about it yet. The point is, Creative Assembly would already be familiar with - and geared up to develop for - the machines if the Total War fancy took it.

It's more likely, however, that a Total War-like experience would be designed specifically for consoles rather than there be a port of a core game like Rome 2. Creative Assembly has been exploring the mobile and tablet space with Total War: Battles, a spin-off turn-based strategy game. And it worked really, really well.

When I asked Mike Simpson last summer about the future - the five years ahead - he said this: "We'll have a whole bunch of new games out there; we will have explored lots of areas we've not been in before, especially from a gameplay point of view and content point of view; we might have expanded out in some interesting directions."

One of those directions could be Warhammer. Creative Assembly announced a multi-game Warhammer deal in December 2012. CA may even get the Warhammer 40K licence; Sega bought Relic Entertainment from THQ earlier this year but the whereabouts of the W40K licence is unknown.

CA didn't say what it would do with Warhammer, but to me the obvious suggestion is Total War: Warhammer. When put to him, Dom Starr fidgeted nervously.

"I am not programmed to respond in that area!" he said. But is it a good fit (it obviously is)? "Well they're both about war..." he squirmed. "They both involve lots of things killing each other, so..."

Total War: Rome 2 is due out towards the end of the year. There's still plenty we don't know about it, not least what multiplayer ambitions it has. Dom Starr wouldn't budge an inch on the subject. Could Creative Assembly be opting for something persistent?

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