Dane and I were lying in bed together one night and he said to me, “Chris, do you want this Total War: Warhammer II code for review? You like board games, right? It’s basically like a board game.”
“Sure,” I replied, with the blissful ignorance of a man unaware he just became the protagonist in his own Blair Witch mockumentary. “That sounds fun.”
I’ll be honest, I’ve been out of the game for a while. My aging gaming laptop had reached “Counter-Strike and Dota 2 only” status, and I hadn’t been hands-on with a meaty PC title in quite some time.
Luckily I got #blessed on my birthday with a sweet new gaming rig, and an epic title of war and conquest seemed like just the thing to put it to the test. I’d never played a Total War game, but that hardly seemed an issue for a battle-hardened veteran such as myself.
About ten minutes into the tutorial, I began to realise that this game is practically an Excel spreadsheet with a pretty UI, but at this point my ego wouldn’t allow me to think this was a problem. Hell, I spend my weekends playing strategy board games with an average game length of six hours – I’m not about to be undone by the paltry proffering of a profit-driven publisher.
Like many foolish folks before me, I got impatient with the tutorial and skipped it. “I’ll figure it out easily enough,” I thought to myself with the misplaced confidence of a man assembling flat-pack furniture.
The problem wasn’t necessarily that I didn’t know what to do, it was more that I didn’t really know how to do anything. There were so many options and buttons and commands and no combination of them seemed to actually make anything happen. Eventually I managed to start a fight with someone, hit the “auto-resolve conflict” button and was soundly defeated.
I’d like to think that if I’d taken manual control of the conflict I would have outsmarted my opponent on the battlefield, but I also like to think that I could be a professional gamer if I worked hard, practiced every day and had actual talent, ability or drive.
With my army in pieces and still unsure of how to do pretty much anything other than get my ass kicked again, I went back to the tutorial. It was helpful in the same way having Stephen Fry recite you A Brief History of Time and then asking you to repair a space shuttle would be helpful.
There was so much front-loaded information that I struggled to remember everything, and to piece it together in a coherent manner would be akin to piecing together a plain white 5,000-piece puzzle, upside down, underwater.
Much like I did with Starships and Spreadsheets (or EVE Online as it’s known to muggles), I gave up. I have no doubt that with a bit more time and a little more reading, I could have solved this Rubik’s Cube of a game – or at least figured out how to make the sides turn.
But I didn’t really want to. I have little doubt that it’s probably an excellent game if you’re into that sort of thing, much like Hatoful Boyfriend is unparalleled in the “seducing filthy animals” genre. In the immortal words of Abraham Lincoln, it just wasn’t my jam, and my review would be about as useful to a potential buyer as my review of a tampon.
For those reading this who are actually into this sort of thing, let us all know if it’s any good in the comments so we can glean some actual value from this article. Please?