A school gym in England, mid-'90s, and two local rugby players await orders. One is small and wide and called Adrian, and one is tall and weighs about 20 stone. He's Big Dave. Adrian has been getting flattened by Big Dave all day but he keeps getting back up. It's the rugby training in him: you bloody well get back up if you're knocked down. But this instinct is starting to annoy the people he's in the school gym for, the people making the sports game. They're trying to motion-capture for a rugby game and would rather Adrian lay still. They should be careful what they wish for.
Right, although we recorded this podcast yesterday, Donlan isn't around to write this week's blog post. So, as a result, don't be expecting any clever tangents in which I delight in some historical anecdote I've just read in The Guardian, or whatever it is he usually does. I'm here to tell you about the contents of today's episode. And that's your lot.
Total War: Warhammer, more than any other game in the series, has managed to offer such brilliantly distinct flavours with each its playable races. Deciding whether to lead the Empire or the Vampire Counts isn't just about the unit rosters, it's about entirely different playstyles.
We've known that Creative Assembly has been working on a new historical Total War game for a while now, but many had assumed the studio would be returning to a familiar setting. It's been 10 years since Medieval II: Total War. Just saying.
I'm more of a Total War guy than I am a Warhammer Fantasy buff and so I didn't have much in the way of expectations for the Beastmen.
Right, yes. This should have gone up on Tuesday, but I was a little busy freaking out about giving Overwatch an Essential badge. Donlan likes to tell me that when we do give a game the big golden sticker, the review has to feel like an event. An event. That really adds to the pressure of writing the thing.
Creative Assembly has offered pre-order incentives, in the form of extra units and playable factions, since Napoleon: Total War in 2010. It's always been unpopular with certain parts of the fanbase, but I don't think we've ever seen a reaction quite like the one following the news that Total War: Warhammer's Chaos Warriors would face the same fate.
Variety has always been an important part of Total War. Leading one of the great Roman families in a Rome: Total War campaign was meant to feel like a very different experience to the one you'd encounter as a Gallic chieftain. One promised discipline and infrastructure, the other was all about numbers and brute strength. More recently, with Total War: Attila, we've played as nomadic tribes, with no cities to call their own, or fallen empires, holding onto what remains of their power. This is a series that's always encouraged multiple playthroughs from different perspectives - but I don't think it's ever looked as varied as it does in Total War: Warhammer.
Total War: Warhammer developer Creative Assembly has told Eurogamer it found the negative reaction to game's controversial pre-order DLC "disheartening".
It's nearly done. After three days of drinking, chatting and, funnily enough, playing games, EGX 2015 is entering its final stretch, and we're all blearily considering the long trek home from Birmingham NEC. And what a year it's been! We've been graced by legends such as Sony's Shuhei Yoshida, been entertained by the Dragon's Den-esque Pitch Your Game Idea at the Rezzed sessions and discovered some new and exciting games at the various indie sections. What, though, have been the highlights? Here's a little selection of what's made this year's EGX special.
My Dwarfs (not Dwarves) are standing their ground. A line of heavily armoured infantry supported by crossbowmen, handgunners and around 50 flamethrowers. They wait patiently, as Dwarfs often do, for a much larger force of Greenskins to crash upon their ranks. Outnumbered and then some, but not yet outgunned, they've brought with them some rather formidable artillery: two sets of Organ Guns, named for their resemblance to the musical instrument... although instead of leading hymns down at the local Methodist, they shoot lots of tiny cannon balls at a pleasing rate of fire. (It makes sense when you see them in action.) My other cannon shoots flames and is called a Flame Cannon. That one is probably a little easier to picture.
This was always supposed to be the perfect mix, wasn't it? The sheer unmatched scale of Total War meeting the extraordinary races of Warhammer Fantasy; I think I've been daydreaming about this game for more than a decade now. And the demo looked incredible: a Greenskin horde crashing violently into the organised lines of the Empire at Black Fire Pass. Being able to sit back and watch it all play out is captivating. However, that's a pretty important clarification to make. We watched the battle, but we didn't play it.