Total War: Rome 2’s inclusion of female characters prompts a predictable review bombing on Steam

In today’s edition of Let’s Nuke the Planet and Start Over, users on Steam are revolting – the verb but also the adjective – over Creative Assembly’s decision back in March to add some lady-shaped pixels into Total War: Rome 2, with over 500 negative reviews of the 2013 game in the last week citing “political garbage” like a game about war isn’t already inherently political.

The drama-o-rama (re-)started sometime last month, apparently, when responding to a complaint on Steam, one of the studio’s community managers didn’t immediately apologise, release an update to scrub all the gross girls out of the game, and send free pizza to the aggrieved parties to make up for such an egregious offence against the inviolable sanctity of facts, actually.

“Total War games are historically authentic, not historically accurate – if having female units upsets you that much you can either mod them out or just not play,” she replied. “People saying they won’t buy the game because there are too many women in it is fine with us – if that’s their reason, we’d rather they didn’t anyway.”

This was presumably not the expected acknowledgement of such very important concerns, but I think she’s being generous not also pointing out that SavageSavant isn’t the real commander of a classical army and Total War: Rome 2 – and most of the other games in the franchise, for that matter – features narrative choices and campaign design that deviate sometimes significantly from what even happened in antiquity anyway, because I would’ve.

This went down like a civil insurrection in Carthage (not so good, for those of you who’re maintaining pretences of historical accuracy), with hundreds of users posting “not recommended” reviews on Steam including false claims that “over 50%” of the in-game generals were now members of the feminist agenda.

“Female characters appear throughout the game, but have between a 10 to 15 per cent chance of appearing as recruitable generals for some of the playable factions. The exceptions are the Greek States, Rome, Carthage and some Eastern factions, which have a 0 per cent chance, and Kush which has a 50 per cent chance. This is to broadly represent the cultural differences in those factions during the time the game is set,” the dev explained in a statement to Eurogamer. “These percentage chances are moddable by players. We’ve not seen a verifiable bug where this is shown to be different or not working as intended.”

For now, however, Total War: Rome 2’s Steam recent review rating is “overwhelming negative”, and I vote we nuke the planet and start over.

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