Starting in June of 2000, and continuing in active development to the present, the Total War series is The Creative Assembly's flagship franchise. Published variously by EA, Activision, and currently Sega, Total War games have been consistently well-received both critically and commercially. Every game (with the sole exception of Spartan: Total Warrior) features a characteristic style of gameplay, fusing a turn-based overworld map with a real-time battlefield view when armies clash. The player controls the city-management, diplomacy, and trade of their faction, while periodically taking direct control over units as the general on the field. The games are also notable for their wide range of playable factions, ranging from ancient Egyptians, to the Duchy of Milan, to the forces of the Shogun of Japan.
Shogun: Total War
Shogun: Total War was the first in the series and only main game published by Electronic Arts, released June 13, 2000. The player controls one of seven daimyos (feudal lords) of Sengoku-period Japan, each of which have a unique strategic bonus and starting troops. Shogun introduced many gameplay elements which remain in the franchise to the present, such as specialized agents, an experience system (called Honor) by which units grow more powerful through combat, and hugely-important terrain bonuses and penalties on the battlefield. Graphics for both the turn-based and real-time sections of the game were sprite-based, resulting in somewhat awkward battle animations but allowing an impressive number of units and projectiles to be rendered on the screen at any one time. An expansion, The Mongol Invasion, introduced a new campaign in which the player could control the Mongol horde invading Japan, while not changing any of the fundamentals of the gameplay.
Medieval: Total War
The second game was Medieval: Total War, it was still developed by Creative Assembly, but it was published by Activision. The gameplay for Medieval was more balanced than it was in Shogun. The expansion for this game was Viking Invasion that allowed the player to play as many different factions, some of which include, the vikings, the Welsh, and the Scotts.
Rome: Total War
Rome: Total War was the first in the series published by Sega, it featured five major factions. The player could choose between the Romans, Barbarians, Hellenic, Carthaginian, and a faction of powers from the middle east. Also playable are various smaller groups, like brigands, pirates, deserters and freed slaves, among many others. It received two expansion packs, Rome Total War: Barbarian Invasion, which took place during the fall of the Roman Empire and and the events after it. New features to the game were elements such as religion, general loyalty, hordes, and pillaging cities. The next expansion was Rome: Total War: Alexander which let the players take on the role of Alexander the Great.
Medieval II: Total War
The next game in the series was Medieval II: Total War the game is based on battles that occurred in Europe, North Africa, and the middle east between 1080 and 1530. This game even delved into the discovery and conquest of the New World. It featured 21 factions including the English Empire, the Turks, the Scotts, and Russian. Its expansion was Medieval II: Total War: Kingdoms, which added four new campaigns including an American campaign where the player could control the armies of New Spain, Aztecs, Mayans, Tlaxcalans, Tarascans and the Apachean Tribes, and a Crusaders Campaign, where Jerusalem, Antioch, Turks, and the Egyptians were playable.
Empire: Total War
The next installment is Empire: Total War it takes place during the 1700 to the early 1800s, and has the player visiting Europe, North Africa, the Indies, the Americas, and the Indian subcontinent. This game contains 50 factions and focuses on period's conquest, exploration, and founding of colonies. As a tutorial, the game explored the French and Indian war and the American Revolution, through the eyes of General George Washington. The Campaign Map now had economic and military improvements separate from the city, allowing players to harass enemy lands. In order to reflect the luxury trade of the era, trade ports were added into the game and cash crop farms were buildable in the more tropical areas. A technology tech tree was introduced that reflects the starts of Industrialism and the evolution of professional standing armies. Empire was also the first Total War game that had playable Naval Battles and deployable defenses before battles. The game also reintroduced the concept of allowing units to mount/dismount from horses.
Napoleon: Total War
Using the new engine made for Empire, the originally planned expansion to Empire: Total War, Napoleon : Total War, was released as a full game. The game revamped the combat factors present in Empire: Total War, and made land engagements more focused on artillery and morale. The game follows the career of Napoleon Bonaparte in mini campaigns that focused on his invasion of Northern Italy, command in Egypt, and finally a grand campaign during his years as Emperor. Players could also attempt to conquer Europe as Napoleon's rivals in the Grand Coalition campaign. The Historical Battles consist of some of Napoleon's most famous battles including Austerlitz, Friedland, Borodino, and Waterloo. Along with minor unit pack DLCs, Creative Assembly released a Peninsular Campaign DLC that focused on the Peninsular War of Wellington against the French in 1809. The Campaign Map improved upon that of Empire and introduced the concept of supply lines and attrition. Multiplayer in the game allowed for players to fight each other in Campaigns, or allow other players to take over AI in their single player games.
Total War: Shogun 2
The first game in the series to feature the new naming system, Total War: Shogun 2 is a sequel to Creative Assembly's first Total War game. The game focused on Japan from the early 16th century to the early 17th century, which is characterized by growing European influence and the introduction of gunpowder to Japan. The leveling of Generals has been revamped and their traits are mostly customizable for the player. For the game, the multiplayer was completely redone, as players now had army customization, and Daiymos that would level up and gain talents that complimented the playing style of the user. The game also featured a Co-Op campaign that allowed two players to play the grand campaign together, and even share units during battles. The game's usual in game encyclopedia was now transitioned to being online.
Creative Assembly released two major additions to Total War: Shogun 2 in the form of the Rise of the Samurai and Fall of the Samurai campaigns. The Rise of Samurai was focused on the introduction of the aforementioned elite warrior class in the Genpei War, and the development of Japan's first major Shogunate. Fall of The Samurai is the closest to Modern Times the Total War series has ever gone with its focus on Japan's transition to an Empire and Industrialization. Japan is split between factions supporting the Shogunate or the Imperial Throne. Railroads link territory together, Steamships rule the seas, and Foreign armies walk the land. Fall of the Samurai also introduced the ability to manually aim, in a semi-first person mode, artillery at enemy forces, and doubled the number of units in an army from 20 to 40.
Total War: Rome 2
A planned sequel to the smash hit, Rome: Total War, Total War: Rome 2 will allow players to control 8 different factions in the ancient world. The game will allow players to customize their path to victory by shaping their civilization through policy or by supporting families that specialize in unique areas. The game will feature large scale sieges that will include simultaneous land and naval engagements. Soldiers on the field will also have, for the first time, facial animations.