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Thread: Copy of a couple AAR's from the TW Dotcom forum

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    Member Member dge1's Avatar
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    Default Copy of a couple AAR's from the TW Dotcom forum

    Shireknight: Here's a link.

    Default Back from Rezzed -Rome II is much, much better than the gameplay videos let on.

    Just got back from Rezzed, I see Mackles has already done a thread detailing the battle so I'm not going to duplicate it again I'll just talk about a few of the specifics instead.

    Firstly if you love what you've seen on the gameplay videos then good news because the game is far, far better than it looks in those.

    If you don't like what you've seen on the gameplay videos then good news because the game is far, far better than it looks in those.

    I played the demo about ten times, lost as Rome the first time I played, won on the second attempt, won as The Egyptians on the first attempt and then after that concentrated more on the details of the battles rather than trying to win and this is what I noticed :-

    Land battles

    Forget what you've seen about the speed, the units don't rush around like madmen, the battle averages around ten minutes but on one that I played dead seriously it lasted over 30 minutes with me micro-managing every single thing my army did, It's true that units are routing a bit too easily at the moment but I get the impression that that is deliberate so that people can get through the demo nice and quickly.

    Soldiers react to ranged fire, when soldiers are fired upon they raise their shields to deflect the incoming arrows and also the Cavalry raise their shields too when they charge for the same reason. When you issue the order for a cohort to go into Testudo there's no time to go make a cup of Tea while the men organise themselves like you could in RTW, now when the order to Testudo is given the men snap to it and Testudo is formed within seconds, Testudo is very effective against ranged fire and gives great protection to the Legionaries.

    Elephants, someone made a comment in a thread yesterday about how he was disappointed that the Elephants don't move their heads in combat like in the Cleopatra trailer, well they do trust me I was watching for this today and the Elephants are nasty pieces of work especially when they are fighting other Elephants, they swing their heads from side to side using their tusks to rip into the enemy and knock over men.

    Units are very responsive, if you spot them quickly enough then it's quite possible to avoid "Al's burning balls" by ordering your men to run to the side out of their path -if you spot them early enough. Same in combat, units seem happier to disengage from the enemy a lot faster now and don't dither around trying to decide wherever they should follow your orders or do their own thing.

    Naval combat

    Ok I have to admit the most fun I had today was with the ships, naval combat in the demo is outstanding and quite a few times I just played with the ships and didn't bother with the land fight at all.

    After playing Shogun 2 I couldn't believe how responsive the ships in Rome II are, you would think that with Shogun 2 being set some 1500 years in the future the ships would be faster and more manoeuvrable and that the ships in Rome II would be dull and boring but no it's the total opposite.

    Because they are powered by rowers they are fast and quickly react to all orders given to them, they can turn really quickly and build up a fast rate of knots and get to ramming speed in a short space of time.

    I spent most the battles ramming my ships into the enemy and boarding them, troop transports come in pairs with half an infantry unit in each ship, when you issue an order to one of the ships the other one follows the same order so you can't control them separately, if one of the ships get destroyed then the remaining ship comes under the players control and half the unit is lost.

    Naval actions are fast and furious, if you ram an enemy ship, as soon as it hits it automatically starts reversing again ready for you to ram the enemy again if you want to. If you want to board the enemy ship (which both transports and artillery ships in the demo can do) then it will ram the enemy but this time instead of reversing it will stay impacted on the enemy and your soldiers all rush to the front and pour over the Bow onto the enemy ship, no drawn out grappling hook fiddleyness in this game simply ram into it and your men will immediately start to board (they don't all dive into the sea like in ETW/NTW either )

    Likewise when your men land on the coast they don't dawdle, the ships beach themselves and instantly the men are jumping onto the sand, once the men are off the ship I did notice you have the option to re-board them again however I never tested that.

    In the Cleopatra video the Egyptian flagship smashes right through an enemy ship and breaks it in two, I tried to do this all day but never managed it once however just before it was time to leave I was having a chat with one of the designers (ship designer of all people) and he asked me what I thought of the ship breaking in two animation and I told him I hadn't seen it properly because I've not managed to do it yet and blow me if he didn't start the battle up and proceed to smash straight through the middle of a Roman ship using just a bog standard Egyptian boat

    I know there are some negative thoughts going around at the moment because people aren't liking some of the things they are seeing in the gameplay footage however I have to say after actually playing it it's a completely different experience from the impression those video's give, the sound effects are amazing, the music in this battle really suits the situation well and I found myself tapping the keyboard along with the theme, all in all if this demo is anything to go by then Rome II is going to be an amazing game.

    I saw a lot more stuff but I'm afraid it's been a long day for me and I'm totally shattered and need sleep so I'll stop now.

    Oh one last thing, the constant chatter of the men is hilarious when you are zoomed in on them, I heard one soldier scream "Bar-stards!" when an Egyptian Chariot ran into his unit and no word of a lie one of the soldiers on a boat actually uttered those immortal words "We're going to need a bigger boat" right at the start of one of my battles which totally made my day

    And another from Mackles here in two parts.

    So, fellow Total War fans - I have returned! From Rezzed! And I bring news! I was there from 10 to 6, and while I didn't spend my entire day playing Total War, I spent a significant portion either playing or chatting to the dev team. And my god, what an experience.

    Do not mistake me. I will not be fawning over the game here, merely attempting to describe to you as best I can the things I saw and felt today! So, let's to it!

    Roman Victory!

    In my final playthrough I was able to land 3 legionary cohorts behind the enemy position and take out their artillery (more on that soon) and some scythed chariots and traps to boot. At the same time, my skirmishers and cavalry cautiously advanced and were able to drive off the enemies ambush units. I then took my 6 Evocati legionary cohorts, elephants and Legatus, and slowly marched them up the left flank of the hill, cleared by my amphibious units. The Egyptian AI was loath to abandon their well prepared position and so I was able to catch it on the hop as it attempted to readjust.

    Now, the Egyptian infantry is rubbish. To put this in context, I had some extremely good Roman heavy infantry and the Egyptians had a lot of light units and their own heavy infantry was not the best in the world. However, the strength of the Egyptian army is in disrupting the Romans with their special units. Whenever I attempted to advance directly up the hill, through elephants, scythed chariots, balls of fire and camel charges, I took heavy casualties. While I could still take the hill I was in no shape to take on the reinforcements, so that capture point offers a way out for less confident players. By advancing carefully up the steep left side of the hill and with many of the Egyptian special units taken care of by the amphibious units, I was in much better nick to take on the first army.

    Having walked my units up and around the Egyptian flank, I was then able to effectively take on the Egyptian units. They didn't last long against the legions of Rome! With my Auxilliary cavalry causing havoc on the right flank, my velites panicking the remaining elephants and my legionarys cutting a path through the Egyptian infantry, Ptolemy fled. I still had 5 cohorts of Evocati, some cavalry, elephants, my velites and, of course, Julius Caesar with which to take on the reinforcements. They attempted to bulldoze through my line to get to the capture point and I punished them in kind. By the end of the slaughter, I still had my 5 cohorts and 3 elephants, the hilltop and plenty of corpses.

    Blood.y good stuff!

    The Egyptian fleet, which had made short work of my own artillery ships which I used as a distraction to enable the melee troops to get behind the enemy position, proceeded to bug out as I looked upon a vista of fleeing enemies, dead foes and conquered lands. That's a good feeling guys, and you will enjoy it come release day!

    Big Edit: It must have taken me 15-20 minutes to complete it this way!



    I thought I'd skim over this section, as the demo version I could play only featured the historical Battle of the Nile. What I saw of the campaign map was limited to what you saw in the Livestream and the guys at CA were either fairly tight-lipped or honestly didn't know about the particular features I asked about.

    One thing that popped up though! I wouldn't take this as set in stone, but apparently before you start a campaign you have an option! Yes, options! We all love options I know, but this is one to be pleased about!

    According to what I was told, you can select whether or not to limit armies to 20 or 40 units!

    If you select 20 then the same system in FotS applies, whereby a reinforcing army can occasionally give you 40 units to commaand. This option has been left in because, for some players, 40 units is simply overwhelming. But for us hardcore ancient commanders then we can have 40 units in every army! Cool beans, no?


    Again, very tight-lipped or kept out of the loop, I was unable to pry anymore juicy facts from CA. Except for one - there will be no return of the FFA MP battles. Two sides to a battle, with up to 4 players per side. No 8 way cluster-f*cks!

    The Battle

    Now, I played the Battle of the Nile several times over and from both sides. I spent most of my time playing as Rome, although when I did play as Egypt it was a decidedly easy affair. Of course, any human on a hill outnumbering the AI is going to have an easy day of it.

    The Romans though? That is one tough slog to take the hill!

    I will do my best to cover things as and when I remember them! I will also update the thread as I go along, with extra information and answers to your questions.

    The capture point - If you take this point, and knock out the first Egyptian army, then this battle is a doddle. Do it fast enough and the reinforcing Egyptians simply won't have time to even get there to contest it. I took my little brother along and he did this on his first go and won the battle. I consider myself above such petty tactics, and consequently had my ass handed to me several times before finally getting it right!


    Right, I know this is a concern so let me set your mind at ease. In the battle I played the Egyptian army had 3 units or "Ballistae", not the giant ballistae we saw in the E3 demo. When they fired they were not sniper accurate. If they hit, which was at best one shot in 8 or 10, they sent men flying BUT not the entire unit. Each direct hit only managed to kill a handful of men, I think 8 was the most I saw. One shot killed two, although it put around 20 men on their asses!

    Charge Animations

    When I followed a cohort charging into some Egyptian light infantry with the unit cam I witnessed some very cool charging animations! I won't list every single one I saw (which wasn't many - I had a battle to win!), although one consisted of a legionary jumping into the enemy front line while covering himself, mid-air, with his shield. Needless to say, he smashed his opposite man backwards, and overall the charges feel very weighty and brutal.

    As a side note, I was talking to one of the Battle AI designers and he was telling me how they had done a lot of work on incorporating the system of mass into the combat. I definitely saw this at play, with those charges really pushing men backwards, combat animations doing the same and cavalry charges having some real penetrating power.

    And the cavalry....

    Felt very fluid, not ridiculously responsive but also not clunky. One thing I noticed, I ordered one cavalry unit to charge into the back of some archers. The side of the unit did bump into some other Egyptian infantry before they got to the archers, but instead of the whole unit stopping to attack the infantry instead, the main part of the unit followed it's orders and continued on for some good old fashioned archer slaughter!

    Naval Combat

    The navies! As the Romans, I rather abandoned any attempt to take control of the water! However, from the times I did attempt a futile resistance, I got a sense of the epic nature of the naval combat in Rome 2! The boarding mechanic feels very fluid, ramming as well. You saw some of it in the Livestream, but nothing compares to ordering your men to ram and board the enemy ship, then realising that their artillery has just set the middle of your ship on fire and men are jumping over the sides!

    The landing mechanic was also very smooth. If you have a ship selected you can mouse over the shore and see some ghostly halos indicating places you can beach your ships and disembark. Your men will then leap over the sides before forming up. The melee unit had two ships, so when I lost one ship to ramming on the way in only 80 men were available to land!

    Unit Abilities

    I saw plenty of abilities on offer, from various units. The old "Kill Elephants" ability is back, in case they run amok (which they do with distressing regularity).

    I saw the "Attacking Testudo" ability for legionary cohorts, where they enter a slightly closer formation with shield overhead and to the front. The unit can still march relatively quickly like this, although you do become every artilleryman's dream target.

    There was one ability, called something to do with whips, which increased a units attack and morale for a small time.

    Pike phalanx ability, for pike phalanxes, obviously...

    Group Functions and Formations

    Now this was a feature that, while I didn't actually use it, I did spend a while having a look at and reading through the available information. If you want to group units, you now have four options. You can:

    - Group Selection
    Simply group units to quickly select a bunch for orders

    -Group Formation
    Group units so that when you move them they maintain the formation you have placed the entire group in.

    - Group AI Attack
    Group a bunch of units and left them loose on an enemy unit or army you select. The units will continue to attack these enemies until ordered otherwise.

    -Group AI Defend
    Group a bunch of units and give them a location to defend. The units will continue to defend this location until you issue more orders to them.

    Also, if you select a bunch of units, there are various formations you can put your army into! I can't list them all, as I can't remember, but some of them included:

    - Triple Acies
    The classic Roman manipular legion formation

    - Double Acies
    A two-lined version of the above

    - Single Line/Double Line
    Single/Double lines of units

    - Column
    Forms your men up in a column with archers at the front, melee troops in the center and cavalry to the rear

    - River defense
    Forms your men up into a line, with infantry to the front and center, with archers and light troops on the flanks and any cavalry in a reserve to the rear

    Unit cards

    I found the unit cards to both be very nice looking and very user friendly! Believe me when I say it is not at all difficult to quickly work out who is who and what is going on, simply at a glance. The only little issue I have with them is the green bar representing unit health rather than a number, although time may help me over this!

    Combat Speed

    From what I saw today, the combat speed would appear to be toned down from Shogun 2. Once again, let me stress that the Egyptian infantry were utterly out-classed by the Roman legionary cohorts, so that definitely impacts on how long the big melee sections take. If you look after your men well until you get in close then the Eygptian's don't stand a chance.

    Unit's don't generally rout too early, although if you put your men in a bad place and they feel out-matched then they will run. It's not quite a return to the die-to-the-last-man MTWII, but it felt much better than Shogun 2!

    As for unit movement speed, it wasn't too slow and wasn't too fast! It takes a good long while to get your men up that hill, and if you run them up it then they will be very-tired/exhausted before the fighting starts!

    As an aside, I noticed a little animation of a unit that was very tired, where the men were leaning over the shields, coughing and shaking their heads! I would have like more time to check it out, but rather unfortunately there were more elephants on the way!

    A Few Negatives

    When I had defeated the Egyptian land forces, I still had to defeat the Egyptian navy. Of course, due to the capture point, the Egyptians would have to come ashore. However, the second they touched down, because of the morale debuff from the rest of army being dead, they immediately routed. It seemed a bit weird that they would come off the ships just to run away, but as soon as I was done I got talking to a Battle AI dev and I made a point of mentioning it, so hopefully that will get fixed!

    I'm not a fan of the arrow/javelin trails. I think they look fine on the artillery shots, which along with the sound they make and the impact (not as bad as the livestream shows it) just look epic! But for the arrows/javelins they are too over the top for my tastes, and I hope they will be toned down, even if just by a little.

    I would prefer there to be a number on the unit cards, rather than a green unit health bar. I can possibly get over this though!

    More to follow! Watch this space!
    Last edited by dge1; 06-24-2013 at 01:12.

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  2. #2
    Nobody expects the Senior Member Lemur's Avatar
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    Wisconsin Death Trip

    Default Re: Copy of a couple AAR's from the TW Dotcom forum

    Yet another field report:

    I was one of the lucky people who went to Rezzed this weekend at Birmingham and got my hands on Total War: Rome II to play! There was one battle available to play, that being the Battle of the Nile, and I played as both Egypt and Rome a couple of times each so I got a good feel for the game . Here I'll detail my thoughts on the game. Also, please find linked some images. Please forgive the poor quality and angles. I'm not entirely sure I was allowed to take photos but others were doing so too, so I did it a bit sneaky like. Link to pics.

    Firstly, I played as Egypt, as they are the easier team to play. They start fortified on top of a hill, defending, while the Romans must attack up the hill. At their disposal they have burning hay bales to push down the hill towards the attackers, numerous elephants to smash the enemy lines to bits and scythed chariots to cut the Romans down where they stand. But you already knew all this, so I'll delve straight into the nitty gritty.

    Controlling your units feels very fluid and responsive. You issue an order and they hop to it; gone are the days in previous games where you'd issue an order just for them to ignore it, it would seem. Animations are nice and look well done (as I'd expect; I learned today Creative Assembly has the largest motion capture studio in Europe!) and the units themselves are very detailed and nice to look at. The environments too are particularly pleasant. Granted it was a desert map and the major feature was sand, but the dunes looked good and there was a lot of picturesque scenery in the background too, including the Pyramids of Giza of course.

    The actual fighting was impressive too. Most of the animations and fighting was very enjoyable and worked like a charm, though there were a few issues from time to time. Soldiers would sometimes appear to stab and slash when no one was about. In addition, the actual fighting seems to pass quite quickly. Remember how quickly battles went in the original Rome? My play throughs weren't quite that fast, but still quite speedy. This may have something to do with the fact the Roman army is experienced and heavy infantry against light Egyptian soldiers but I'm not sure; I think the general pace of battles is quicker.

    The first person view makes a return for artillery (nothing quite like scoring a bull's eye with a ballista!), but for other units it is replaced by the shaky cam we all seen in the Teutoburg Forest battle. This is actually really cool - I loved getting down on my soldiers' levels and charging with them into battle, or riding with my scythed chariots to cut down the enemy. It's quite immersive.

    What I really loved though was the attention to detail and many little features present in the game. Seeing your soldiers raise their shields to block incoming arrows. Watching them jump over the sides of the ship after beaching to join the main army. When tired and stationary, your men will bend over and try to catch their breath back. My favourite moment was seeing my brave unit of Roman men charging uphill with flaming arrows stuck in their shields, with more and more men falling after each volley to get stuck into hand to hand combat. It really seemed like a great game, and one I now look forward to even more.

    Of course though, there are some issues. The hay bales I mentioned were a bit buggy and only worked when they wanted to. As previously mentioned also the speed of the battles seemed a bit too quick. Perhaps it was the PC it was running on, but the game itself sometimes seemed a bit laggy. The projectile trails are quite ugly too, particularly for javelins, and look more like a smudge than a sleek javelin flying through the air. Finally, unit sizes just feel too small. I want thousands of men fighting (perhaps this could solve the battle speed), not hundreds. Maybe in the final game we can pick unit sizes and fix this.

    Well I hoped you enjoyed the read. In addition CA also did a live code demo on the campaign map, but it was essentially what we've already seen before, with the exact same map zooming across Egypt, Syria, Asia Minor and towards Germania. They did go into a bit more detail about how you deal with other characters and politics. Should someone appear who is a threat to you, you could assassinate or bribe them. On the other hand, a particularly helpful character could be supported or bribed to further support you. Characters will appear over the course of the game, both real and fictional, and will need to be dealt with in one way or another.

    If you have any questions feel free to ask. I'll try to answer as best I can.

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  3. #3
    Senior Member Senior Member Barkhorn1x's Avatar
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    Aug 2001
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    Default Re: Copy of a couple AAR's from the TW Dotcom forum

    Excellent info. from guys who know what we want to hear about.

    Man I HATE the unit cards. I really do!
    "Après moi le déluge"


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