Published on October 24th, 2013 | by Tony Odett4
Total War Rome 2 Post Patch Impressions
Five substantial patches in the span of a month and a half- one released every week, starting the week after release. That is the level of effort Creative Assembly has put into Total War: Rome 2 after launch. While I largely escaped the mess of technical issues that, for some, made the game completely unplayable. I did however encounter a large number of bugs, and some annoying features that knocked the game, with its fantastic, beautiful battles, down off that top strategy perch. I can tell you, after having spent some time with the game post-patching, Creative Assembly has put in the necessary effort to claw their way back. The game is still not perfect, but it is certainly on the road to being on par with its predecessors.
The patching has had a massive impact on the campaign. I’ve started two new campaigns, one as the Romans after patch 4, and one as Sparta after patch five. In both, I’ve noticed substantial improvements. One of the game’s most annoying issues was the length of time, after you were finished with your turn, that it took the AI to conduct the turns of all the factions in the game world. It could take upwards of 10 minutes (and got longer the more of the map you had revealed) for your turn to end and the next to begin. Performance has been improved here dramatically, with that time pushed down to a minute or so. This makes the “one more turn” feeling you get from turn-based strategy much more palatable in this case.
Additional improvements were made to the campaign AI. It seems to construct more well-balanced armies- in my first campaign, I encountered a force that was huge, but also 2/3rd skirmishers. The ratio seems much more appropriate now, and unit constructions as the game continues seem to be of much stronger units. Noticeably, enemy armies make more of an attempt to defend cities- especially a faction’s last city (previously, an outnumbered force would abandon the city, in hopes of starting over by capturing a different city elsewhere on the map). Despite those changes, I had difficulty getting the AI to engage in a field battle. All my battles seemed to be versus city garrisons, or armies that were within a city’s limits. Anytime I moved a field army toward an enemy field army, they tended to turn tail and run.
That said, the siege battles are great, and a vast improvement over any other game in the series. The weird pathfinding elements you saw in previous games are gone, and the AI is beefed up by improved logic. Flanked and surrounded enemy forces will now refuse their lines. I found once in my Spartan campaign that an enemy army which I had completely surrounded had A) left some skirmishers to ambush my flanking column and B) turned several units to face rearward to protect their line. It was nice to see the AI reacting to my bold maneuvers instead of simply being overwhelmed.
There have been significant improvements to the interface as well. The game does a better job displaying your research efforts, showing you if you are researching a technology and how long it has to go from the main screen. I still have issue with how all the research trees are hidden within the menus (why can’t I see it all simultaneously?), but this is certainly a start. It also prompts you to decisions in the family/faction menu, which didn’t happen before. The fact that it has to alert you in the first place says some unfortunate things about the interface decisions. But still, these updates move the interface from, if not optimal, to certainly playable.
Generally, this massive influx of updates, improvements and fixes has made Total War: Rome 2 a better package. Creative Assembly is committed to this effort, and has already rewarded the patience of fans with an additional four free factions for both multiplayer and the campaign. There are still more patches coming with a host of AI improvements and upgrades, but this first round has certainly stopped the bleeding, and addressed a lot of concerns longtime fans had for the direction of the franchise.