Shogun: Total War – Collection is the highlight of the Total War series. TW is quite hard to explain for newcomers, so be sure to check the videos if you’re at all interested.
This budget bundle packs the base game plus the official expansion, Mongol Invasion. We’re reviewing the game to see if it’s still worth your time in 2020. For less than $10 on Steam, modest PC players.
The game is a real-time-strategy masterpiece. The setting is 1542 feudal Japan, where you pick a family (a faction) and start a quest to conquer and unify the country.
The ultimate goal is to capture Kyoto to become the supreme ruler. It’s a single-player turn-based campaing, where each turn represents a full season of the year (like Winter or Autumn). Moreover, you have a set number of years to become Japan’s Shogun.
- Platforms: Windows 7/8/10 PC
- Publisher: Creative Assembly
- Developer: SEGA
- Genre: Real-Time Strategy
“The first, original title in a 15 year series of award-winning strategy games.”
Shogun: Total War – How does it work?
Total War games have two sides, two gameplay mechanics. There’s the world map, where you handle all things.
The UI gives you access to the cities, building either economic, religious, or military buildings. Each building takes a certain amount of turns, and each one delivers different rewards.
The world map also shows you other cities, armies, agents, and ships. You can construct and build armies on all of your cities on a single-turn. Plus, you can move your troops and engage in battles and sieges on the same turn.
The second part of the experience s the battle itself and the TW is king regarding tactical combat. Your armies are divided into units of soldiers (as in a unit of 40 samurais or a group of 40 samurai bowmen). You get to organize your formation, move your army, make them attack, retreat, hold the position, and similar.
These mechanics are complicated. It will probably take you more than a failed playthrough to get a hang if you’re new. But the more you understand, the better the game becomes.
Add to the mix the set of European gun soldiers, samurais, horse riders, bowmen, artillery, and you’d be ready for old-school gaming fun.
Trus me, not many things beat the experience of defending your Japanese castle with units of Portuguese rifleman at the walls.
As you imagine, Shogun: Total War is a deep game. Its core mechanics are present on every TW game as, honestly, the studio got it right the first time. They’ve tried to tweak the original formula many times, but they keep going back to what made it great.
In essence, the deep mechanics of the game are about managing your empire. Diplomacy, economy, trading routes, spies, taxing, politics, and building are all needed to build your armies eventually.
For example, you start the campaing as any Japanese clans you choose, each led by a different leader and offering various perks. As the game goes on, your leader has sons, and your soldiers become generals. You then get to choose which generals, sons, and family members gain a political position.
For instance, you can make your leader’s son, the Feudal Lord of your capital city, and each particular politician and general offer different perks for both army and city management.
Like so, there’re plenty of mechanics giving Shogun: Total War many layers of management. Ultimately, every layer serves to grant you the resources (coin and food) to build your armies. Then, your troops can advance through the map, meet other troops on the battlefield, conquer cities or towns, and defend your settlements.
That said, the best part of the game is defending a castle. At the start of each battle, you have endless time to form your soldiers. When you’re supporting, it’s best to pile your ranged units behind your walls to meet the enemy with rains of fire. Then, you should have spearman and samurais ready to receive the enemies breaching your defenses.
When it’s time to siege, though, it’s equally impressive. You need to climb the walls with siege towers or break the gates with heavy artillery. But because it’s a challenging endeavor, it’s best to surround the city with terrifying armies for various turns until your enemy starves and surrenders.
Another highlight of the game is its “RPG” elements. More specifically, is how the game tracks the advance of your armies according to their performance in battle.
Each battle takes a toll on your army. Depending on how many units you lost vs. how many units you killed, your army gains experience. When the military raises its level, they become more terrifying and are less prone to route against enemy troops.
On top of that, each enemy unit also gains experience according to the same data. Naturally, experience points increase the unit’s level, which gives better stats (attack, defense, accuracy, range, etc.).
You may also add a General unit to the army. Each ranking officer grants advantages to the military, like re-stocking dead soldiers on idle turns. When the general gains levels, they gain more perks and better stats.
Lastly, if your army doesn’t have a general, it can rout more easily. Still, any of the army’s units can become a general, eventually, by gaining experience in battle.
lastly, I have to say that everything that happens within Shogun has sufficient historical accuracy to be interesting. That said, the single-player campaing gives you a set of goals you have to accomplish for each faction. It also activates events after specific points of the campaing and delivers a couple of great cinematics to make the journey better.
The Mongol Invasion expansion does a better storytelling job, though. We recently saw the same tale with a fictional twist on the PS4′s Ghost of Tsushima.
Aside from the campaign, there’s also a set of historical battles you can play. You select the matches from the main menu and play.
Final Say: is Shogun outdated?
The gameplay mechanics and AI were light years ahead of its time. Albeit Shogun doesn’t age well in terms of looks, the number of complex layers and options it gives you on the battlefield are second to none.
Plus, as I said before, the rest of the games on the franchise are merely doing the same. They may add a couple of twists, especially in the city management section, but the core battles have remained the same over the years.
That said, Shogun: Total War is definitely up to date. There’s no other game like it unless you go to another title of the series. The thing is Shogun is the franchise starter, so it’s well worth a try.
Either way, you could play Shogun 2: Total War. The sequel explores these mechanics even further. It’s also one of the most popular RTS games in history.