Total War Saga: Thrones of Britannia was released in May to mixed reviews. The Total War game set in the British Isles kickstarted their “Saga” line. It had its share of fans but did have more detractors. From there, the general consensus on the game had been a failure. That, or it was a terrible idea for Creative Assembly. With these in mind, Thrones of Britannia game director — the very dapper Jack Lusted — spoke to YouTuber and Total War player Cody Bonds. Lusted spoke candidly of the challenges the game faced as well as the team’s plans moving forward. Take a look at the interview below.
Total War: Thrones of Britannia — Total Upheaval
One of the biggest concerns that faced Thrones of Britannia was that it tried to be different from past Total War titles. Given it’s a Saga title, it had to be unique and be able to stand on its own legs. However, a vocal part of the fanbase felt that they were getting the short end of the stick. That’s because of one particular hot topic back in April — ambush battles.
When it was initially announced that the game will not have ambushes, players were up in arms. It was incredulous that ambush battles wouldn’t be part of the game. After all, lots of players liked them right? Well no, not really. As explained by Jack Lusted, only 0.05 percent of players fought in ambush battles in Total War: Attila — which Thrones’ engine was based on. Lusted also added that it wasn’t historically accurate to focus too much on ambushes for the time period. Instead, what the team hoped to explore were tighter narratives and unique character growth.
This explanation was understandable for some, but for others, it just was not acceptable. It was “removing a core mechanic of Total War,” and that Creative Assembly might streamline future games “until we’re only left with one unit and one faction” — the “slippery slope that’s more of a sheer cliff” argument.
From there, criticisms snowballed owing to the game’s smaller size and scope, as well as its simplicity and ease. One needed to only look at player reviews on Steam to learn about some of the feedback given. To some, it was a “good strategy game.” Unfortunately, it wasn’t a “good Total War game.”
Thrones of Britannia — The Allegiance Update
In his interview with Cody Bonds, Jack Lusted made note of these criticisms. The team wanted to experiment on a few things noting that the Total War franchise has been around for almost two decades. Lusted mentioned that they definitely did not want a mixed reaction at first, and so they’ve been working hard to refine the game even more.
Lusted talked about the changes to various mechanics. For instance, it was mentioned how features such as War Fervor and the game being too passive had been detrimental to the player’s enjoyment and faction design. He also talked about Thrones of Britannia’s religion feature. One such change will be part of the Allegiance Update which will revamp Viking Sea King factions. That update makes these factions more unique due to Paganism and decisions to stick to the Old Gods or convert to Christianity.
The shield wall, which was a mainstay in battles during the time, was also mentioned. Lusted said that there shouldn’t be a “shield wall button” that players had to toggle because the battles had to be more fluid and based on AI behavior. Bonds also agreed since. If that was the default way of fighting during those days among the Anglo-Saxons, Vikings, and others, then it shouldn’t have to be toggled every time.
Thrones of Britannia — Blood, Sweat, and Spears
Finally, talk turned to the upcoming Blood, Sweat and Spears DLC for Thrones. This follows Creative Assembly’s past model of releasing a blood DLC sometime after a Total War game launches. The Blood, Sweat and Spears DLC aims to give players a bloody good time. There will be new kill animations such as decapitations and disembowelment. And yes, we’ll even see unit cards getting bloodied the more casualties those troops get.
As an aside, a humorous incident also happened when Bonds uploaded his interview an hour before the announcement was made official. Grace, Creative Assembly’s community manager, can’t help but laugh at the coincidence.
The Blood, Sweat and Spears DLC will be free for those who already own the Blood and Burning Pack from Total War: Attila. It will be released on August 29 alongside the Allegiance Update which makes a ton of changes to Thrones of Britannia. Hopefully, Thrones of Britannia becomes the Total War Saga game that it was meant to be. Seeing more developer support for a title that had a mixed reception is always a good sign. We do think it’s going to make many Total War fans happy — well, except perhaps these two fellas below.
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I’m a small business owner who’s also writing on the side, contributing in various websites under the Enthusiast Gaming umbrella — Destructoid, Flixist, Daily Esports, PlayStation Enthusiast, and PC Invasion.
My Steam library has 1,131 games at the moment so we definitely have a lot of things to talk about.