The Creative Assembly wants you to care about the soldiers you send marching to their doom.
Soldiers in real-time strategy games are quite often seen as a rather expendable resource. Some commonly-used tactics include sending countless units to near-certain death in an attempt to overwhelm the enemy by numbers, with little care for the troops who will ultimately fall. Total War developer The Creative Assembly specifically wants to avoid this in its next title, Rome II.
Rob Bartholomew, brand director for The Creative Assembly, told MCV that "Saving Private Ryan [is] a phrase we're using around the office a lot because we're trying to inject that real feeling of horrific warfare." Despite the vastly increased number of units visible on the battlefield, The Creative Assembly hopes that players will feel a greater impact from losing troops in battle.
The Creative Assembly's ultimate plan is to make players more emotionally invested in their soldiers by giving them a far more visible personality than ever before. More time and money will be spent improving the units' animation, and the game will make use of facial motion capture to further humanize the characters. "We want to create that level of human strife, drama and character on a very macro-scale amongst these gigantic battles," Bartholomew said.
The team's comparisons to Saving Private Ryan don't stop at the emotions involved, either. For the first time in the series, land- and sea-based combat will merge into one, allowing players to storm Roman beaches in a manner similar to the invasion of Normandy.
While adding more personality to the faceless peons present in most strategy games is a laudable goal, it'll be interesting to see if the team manages to pull it off. It will probably be quite tricky to make players feel more strongly about their soldiers when there are so many more littering the battlefield, but if it works it will be a welcome development for the genre.
Total War: Rome II will be available on PC some time in 2013.