As with Rome: Total War, Rome II is set in the classical antiquity and focus on the Roman Republic, allowing players to transform it into the Roman Empire if they so choose.
The game has a larger campaign map than Rome: Total War, and apart from encompassing the extent of the Roman Empire and its environments, features new territories "going further East". A new graphics engine powers the visuals of the game, and new unit cameras allow players to focus on individual units in the battlefield, which in itself may contain thousands of combatants at a time.
Armies and navies also have changeable stances on the campaign map. These stances determine many things, among them total movement points per turn or the ability to deploy traps for an ambush. These stances are called "Forced March" which enables an army to march further, but which will also tire out its men and reduce their fighting ability; "Defensive Stance" that enables the player to place stakes and build temporary forts; "Ambush Stance", which enable the army to remain hidden and attack the enemy with traps such as rolling balls of flaming hay; and finally "Raiding Stance" which lowers the range that the army can march but greatly lowers its upkeep cost. Armies and navies in Rome II can be made up of a maximum of 40 units must have a general or admiral to lead them. There is also a cap on the number of armies and navies a faction can have at any time, based on the faction's power. A faction can gain more power by conquering more regions and filling its coffers with gold. This system has been implemented to make battles more decisive and for them to have a bigger impact on a war between two factions. Players have the ability to name their armies and navies, and to change their emblems.
When the player creates a general and begins training his troops, the army enters a muster mode and it cannot move while in this stance. Generals acquire skills and traits independently from the army they command. Skills can be chosen by the player as their general levels up while traits are based on what a general does in game. Furthermore, if an army loses its general a new one will be immediately appointed by the player.
As with Total War: Shogun 2, the player will be prompted with decisions. The Creative Assembly is expanding on this mechanic, with each decision leading the player down a particular 'decision path' based on the player's previous decisions. These decisions will then affect the way the campaign plays out, such as turning the Roman Republic into the Roman Empire. Additionally, rather than solely assigning traits to generals and family members as with previous Total War games, the player can now assign traits to armies and navies as they gain combat experience through their years of conquest.
Navies play an even more important role in Total War: Rome II than in its predecessor. Creative Assembly introduced mixed naval and land combat for land battles and city sieges for the first time in the company's history. This reflects the naval strategies of the classical era, where coastal cities were conquered and destroyed in great invasions of infantry disembarking from warships. Legions can now attack the enemy's ground forces and cities, while naval units provide supporting fire or ram each other far away in the seas. Navies can also conquer poorly guarded coastal cities by themselves. Naval regions have made a return from Medieval: Total War. Controlling all the ports on one sea grants a player lower penalties for piracy on those ports.
There are three core types of agents in Rome II; the dignitary, the champion and the spy, but each culture will have its own variants for these. When spawned, each agent will have a "profession" that is determined by its supposed background or ethnicity, for example. A player can invest points to an agents profession in addition to its skill tree as the agent levels up. Each agent is able to assassinate other characters and convert them to join the cause of their faction. This is to make each agent type as useful as possible, but naturally different agents will have different skills and purposes only they can fulfill. When an agent is asked to perform a certain task, there is a deeper set of choices on how to complete said task. For example, when getting rid of an enemy agent, one could bribe him off, convert him, or murder him.
Creative Assembly also seeks to capture the uniqueness of different cultures and fighting forces in the ancient times. Jack Lusted, the Creative Assembly's lead unit designer, has stated that instead of the "rebel nation" of the original Rome: Total War there are a large number of smaller nations and city states. Each ethnic group has a unique playstyle. A tribe of British barbarians looks and feels completely different from that of a disciplined Roman legion, for example. Different agents and technologies are also implemented for different factions. After all, inland barbarian tribes were not able to research the technology for polyremes or the ability to manufacture advanced ballistae, historically speaking. It was originally stated that there would be over 500 different land units in the game, including mercenaries, who would make a return from Rome II's prequel. They also said that over 30 different city variants would be implemented, to avoid siege battles feeling and playing out the same every time.
In addition to the traditional sieges and field battles, a myriad of new battle types are available in Rome II. These battle types include the following:
- Combined naval/land battles: These battles will occur when assaulting a coastal city, or when two armies are near the coastline. In the case of the latter, navies can arrive by sea to bolster the land forces with their marines.
- Settlement outskirt battles: These battles are fought near regional capitals, which are too small to have walls.
- Siege battles: These battles occur when an army assaults a provincial capital or a fortified settlement. In these battles, the cities include multiple capture points which the defender has to defend in order to win the fight, as seen in the Siege of Carthage trailer. The attacker can build siege equipment in preparation of the assault.
- Encampment battles: These battles are triggered when an army attacks another that is in defensive stance. The defending army has had time to build fortifications around its perimeter, including wooden palisades or small forts. All in all, the battle resembles a small scale siege.
- River battles: River battles are fought when an army tries to cross a major, navigable river, and another army tries to stop it from doing so. Navies can aid in this fight, although armies are able to build transport ships of their own when crossing rivers.
- Ambushes: Ambushes have been revamped in Rome II, and feel completely different than before. The ambushing army has the ability to place traps, such as flaming boulders, spikes and so on. The defending army must find a way to escape the ambush area to win, although it can also attempt to destroy the ambushing army. These battles are similar to the battle of Teutoburg Forest historical battle.
- Supply train battles: Supply train battles were included in the initial launch by removed in the third patch. They occured whenever an army attempted to retreat and was chased down by the attacking army.
- Port sieges: Another combined land and naval battle type, port sieges are triggered when a navy sails into an enemy coastal city with a port. The navy will attempt to land its marines in the city, while heavier ships intercept any enemy vessels and provide supporting fire to the marines using catapults and other projectiles, like in the Siege of Carthage historical battle.
The political system of Rome II has been completely remade and improved. The Roman and Carthagian factions will have three political entities that vie for power inside the faction. Players choose to be part of one of the entities once he selects the faction he wants to play. The political standing of different entities is based on a new resource system, that is in turn based on the deeds and actions of generals and characters belonging to a certain political entity. If one's standing drops too low, he may find himself powerless to affect his nation's affairs, or if one becomes too powerful, rivals might unite against him. In certain cases, a player can attempt to take all power for himself, thus becoming emperor or king. This requires a civil war, however, another part of the game completely redesigned by the Creative Assembly.
Playable Factions Edit
The Roman Republic
The Republic Of Carthage
Greek States Factions (DLC)
Nomadic Tribes (DLC)
- Royal Scythia
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