Total War: Arena impressions

Total War: Arena

The Total War franchise has been around for quite some time and their games have usually been incredible. A majority of their previous titles can be loosely compared to Civilization. Whereas the Civilization games focus on geopolitical conflict and economy, Total War games focus on massive ancient combat. This is where Total War: Arena takes this model, adds the multiplayer element, and then runs off with it.


Before any combat begins, the players must choose a commander and three units to control. You start off with three available commanders: Cynane of Greece, Germanicus of Rome, and Arminius of the Barbarians. These are all historically known commanders in our history. You then get to choose infantry, cavalry, or archers to command for the battlefield. These are the three styles of play within this game, so choose one that you think caters to your style.

The staging area is also where you upgrade your commanders and units via the XP that you attain through many fights. In addition, all the commanders and units have special abilities that affect your gameplay in different ways. This makes it so that the commanders do not have the same play style to affect the battlefield; they’re all unique.


The battle itself is where the bread and butter are located for this game. You will be joined by other players making it a 10-vs-10 on random battle maps. Since it’s ten players including yourself, you will need to work together in order to flank, spearhead, or hold locations in order to get the victory. In some cases, I’ve sacrificed myself in order for the greater good of the battle.

The terrain also plays an important role in the game. Enemy players cannot see units that have hidden themselves within forests or crests of a hill. As a commander, you have to think as strategically as possible when placing and moving your troops to locations in-game.

I’ve planted ambushes with one of my cavalry units like this by hiding them in a forest next to battling units. The enemy commander had turned his back to the forest with his Roman units as he attempted to finish off one of my allies; however, that was when I charged my cavalry out of their hiding spot and flanked the commander, obliterating his soldiers fairly quickly. Tactical combat is where it’s at with this game.

Graphics and Multiplayer

The graphics of the game are actually running on fairly old textures. I’m not going to say that it’s ugly since at the time Total War: Rome II came out, the graphics were considered top-notch. I think this is both a good and bad thing since there are a lot of units on the field and it caters to a lot of players controlling these units. Hence why it’s not as graphic intensive as needed.

Multiplayer for this game is a bit wonky at times because you’re locked to playing within regions. There is the North American region and the European region, and if you have friends across the pond trying to play this game with you, you’re not going to be able to. I’m not sure why this game was region locked, but I guess this is why this game is free.

Final Reaction

The game is great for what it is and that is just the mass combat. The different ways that you can work together with other players on the battlefield made me really enjoy this game a lot; not to mention that the battles usually took less than ten minutes.

One of the bad parts of this game is the “grind-effect”. You have to grind a lot of matches to be able to get XP, which then lets you access better commanders and units. If you want the mind-numbing continuous slog of that, then that’s what you’re going to get. That is unless you have money to pay for upgrades like some units. This term is usually known as “Pay-To-Win” in the gaming community.

Since it is a free-to-play game, that mention in of itself could make hardcore gamers completely pass this game by. It’s a fun game, but unfortunately, since it already has the tags of pay-to-win and free-to-play, it’s going to be seen as a pariah and categorized with mobile games that share those labels.

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