We take a look at the available downloadable content for Creative Assembly’s latest iteration of the Total War series.
Total War: Shogun 2 has been out for seven months now. While the subject matter has not pleased all fans of the franchise, this latest iteration of the Total War series has gathered praise from critics and the public alike. With comments such as “with a smaller scale and tighter focus, boasts the best gameplay and design of any entry in the franchise” and “the ideal example of evolution trumping revolution”, Shogun 2 proves that a company doesn’t always have to make huge changes in a game to create a great addition to the series.
Of course, these days there’s barely a single commercial game released that doesn’t end up having some sort of downloadable content being released for it, and Shogun 2 is no exception. Since it’s release, Shogun 2 has received 3 DLC packs, the Ikko Ikki Clan pack, the Sengoku Jidai Unit pack, and the Rise of the Samurai Campaign pack. What do these packs contain, are they any good, and are they worth the price? Let’s take a look.
The Ikko Ikki clan pack adds warrior monks to Shogun 2 as a new, playable clan, thus taking the playable factions in game to a total of ten, if you have the limited edition, or nine if you just have the standard edition. It includes everything needed for the faction : 8 faction specific units, faction specific skill trees, and the Ikko Ikki monk unit.
In addition, you also get the Warrior Nun unit, which can be trained by all clans except Ikko Ikki, a new Naginata Warrior Monk Hero, the new Historical Battle of Nagashima of 1574, and finally new Ikko Ikki armor and retainers for Avatar mode.
As a DLC pack, the Ikko Ikki pack is not huge, but at the same time it is not expensive either. It adds a whole new clan to play with and some minor additions for the other clans, so basically your paying a small amount to extend the play-life of Shogun 2. If you’re still enjoying the game but are getting bored of the other clans, the Ikko Ikki pack is well worth getting.
The Sengoku Jidai unit pack adds, surprisingly enough, new units to your Shogun 2 game. You get ten new elite units, however they are faction specific so you will not be able to try them all out in one game or battle. The units are :
- Daikyu Samurai – Chosokabe clan : Expert archers
- Fire Cavalry – Takeda clan : Expert cavalry (no, they do not burst into flames)
- Long-Yari Ashigaru – Oda clan : Pike-like spearmen
- Bandit – Hattori clan : Similar to a weak ninja unit
- Mounted Gunner – Tokugawa clan : Matchlock wielding cavalry
- Wako Raider – Mori clan : Similar to the bandit unit above
- Heavy Gunner – Shimazu clan : heavy matchlock wielding foot
- Hand Mortar – Hojo clan : Indirect fire unit.
- Marathon Monk – Uesugi or Ikko Ikki clan : Strong melee unit
- Bulletproof Samurai unit – Date clan : Samurai with bulletproof armor (apparently kevlar was common back then)
The diversity of units available in the standard game and the other two expansions has been well and truly enough up until now. However there are many who complain about the lack of diversity for Shogun fans, so for those fans this pack may be a welcome edition. That said, at such a low cost there’s little reason not to get it if you want your Shogun 2 to be complete.
The Rise of the Samurai Campaign DLC is the most expensive of all the DLC packs, but it’s also the largest. It includes a new campaign covering the Gempei War, set 400 years before the Vanilla campaign. It includes 3 new families divided into 6 clans, with new agents and units for every clan. Basically every clan, unit and building has been changed to reflect the earlier period. Gameplay has also had some major alterations applied to it, such as the removal of religion to be replaced by clan allegiance, (although they both have the same effect). In addition the AI has been much improved.
How much improved is the AI in Rise of the Samurai? In short, dramatically so, especially the battle AI. In my very first battle, I found the AI trying to entice me into it’s very own Japanese Cannae. For those uninitiated in military history, the Battle of Cannae was a famous battle in which a Roman army was destroyed when their Carthaginian enemies retreated the units in the center of their battle line, thus enticing the Romans to pursue and enabling them to be surrounded and destroyed. In my battle the AI sent units almost right up to the units in the center of my line, and then pulled them back when I sent my own units forward to attempt to engage.
I sat in shocked delight as I watched the enemies center retreat while his flank continued advancing, and had to react swiftly to reform my line before the AI caught my entire force out of order. For Total War veterans, that sort of AI reaction is a wonderful thing to see.
As an add-on, Rise of the Samurai is terrific value for money. It adds a whole new campaign with all the new content that goes with it – in effect, almost creating a whole new game. Indeed, Sega and Creative Assembly sold Napoleon Total War as a whole new game when many fans claimed it should have just been an expansion to Empire Total War, and they could just have easily done the same thing here with Rise of the Samurai. It’s to their credit that this time they appeared to have listened to their fans and released this as DLC. Of course, the more cynical among us may be inclined to note that while Napoleon could be marketed as a separate game without looking like a blatant cash grab, Rise of the Samurai most likely could not be.
Regardless, it’s still great value for money and a wonderful addition to Shogun 2.
Creative Assembly has a long history of releasing new content for every Total War game they release, whether it be as expansion packs or in the modern DLC form. Shogun 2 is no exception, and the DLC packs released so far for it are great value and are worthwhile additions for any fan. They add a lot of new content and make some interesting and fun changes to the game. It’s a sad fact that the game itself is now down to $29.99 on steam, while the combined cost of all the add-ons is $18.23, so it wouldn’t take more than another reduction in price or another DLC pack to be released before we find it costs the same to buy the game as to buy all the DLC. However that is the nature of the gaming industry these days.
Creative Assembly have stated on official forums that there will be more DLC packs to come in the future for Shogun 2, so we can probably expect to see that sort of situation before too long. Hopefully the content and value will continue to impress as much as that which has come so far.