The Creative Assembly, famous for the historical grand strategy series Total War in which players command thousands of soldiers in historical set-piece battles ranging in era from the days of the Roman Republic to the Medieval Ages, has announced Total War: Arena, a free-to-play online real-time strategy game which will feature 10 vs. 10 multiplayer battles.
Past entries in the Total War series have been singleplayer games in which players control entire armies comprising footsoldiers, archers, cavalry and artillery.
In Arena, which has the tagline “where there is Unity, there is Victory”, each player will control will control a small section of an army which contains, for example, only infantry or only archers. Therefore, each team of players will have to work together to succeed as no individual player will have the diversity of forces to win a battle on his own. Therefore, the infantry players would have to protect the archer players, while the cavalry players would have to harrass the enemy artillery, for example.
Total War: Arena’s shift from a singleplayer game to team vs. team game seems to be reflective of a larger shift in the genre of real time strategy games.
Massive Entertainment’s 2007 World in Conflict, for example, featured 8 vs. 8 multiplayer battles set in an alternate history where the Cold War went hot. In that game, players were forced to choose between commanding infantry, armor, air and support forces in massive battles where teamwork was essential to victory. Eugen Systems’ upcoming Wargame: Airland Battle will also feature 10 vs. 10 battles, and Relic Entertainment’s 2009 Dawn of War II was designed around the 3 vs. 3 team battle mode.
In the words of Total War: Arena‘s lead designer, James Russell, “Playing in a team of ten is far less intimidating than playing 1v1 on TW MP, especially for new players”. He is clearly not alone in the computer game industry as other real-time strategy developers also move away from 1 vs. 1 multiplayer battles towards team-based online gameplay.
Gamers may sign up for a closed beta test of Total War: Arena at its official website.