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Total War settings I’d love to see used in the future

These IPs or historical eras would make for great Total War settings
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History was always at the core of Creative Assembly’s Total War series until the company made the massive step of cooperating with Games Workshop to create a game trilogy set in the world of Warhammer Fantasy – with iconic characters that can function as one-man armies, massive monsters, flying entities, and magic. It was Total War like it had never been seen before outside of community-made mods. With Total War: Warhammer 3 having completed the fantasy series, fans have been wildly speculating about the next setting Creative Assembly could dive into.

That’s pretty fun, so let me join in – here are some potential Total War settings I’d love to see used for the series and I think are somewhat realistic.

Medieval 2: Total War Third Age screenshot.

IPs like Lord of the Rings already have some fantastic Total War mods as a proof of concept.

Total War: 30 Years War

Here’s a historical scenario I’d love to see covered. The 30 Years War (1618 to 1648) was one of the most destructive conflicts in European history, involving many of the major powers on the continent due to its combination of religious and geopolitical aspects.

In military history, this war happened right at the crossover point where gunpowder weapons began to be vastly superior to anything else, but you still had lots of different cavalry and melee infantry formations on the battlefield, making for an extremely interesting mix.

The 30 Years War also has many of the strong personalities to offer that Total War likes to focus on for faction creation these days: You’ve got imperial leaders like Wallenstein and Tilly, Swedish King Gustavus II. Adolphus, and France’s Cardinal Richelieu that would lend themselves to be used for different play styles.

Total War: Middle-earth

The fact is that most of my playtime in Medieval 2: Total War has probably been spent playing the Third Age mod for the title, which features a playable map of Middle-earth and most factions you can find in the books with complete unit rosters.

I would not mind at all if we got an official Lord of the Rings game set in the Total War series – it’s a match made in heaven, especially after Warhammer established things like monsters and hero units. On the downside, Tolkien may be a little too tame and vanilla as a follow-up to Warhammer Fantasy.

It’s long been a pipedream, but with Embracer Group now holding the rights to Lord of the Rings and desperately needing money, I’d love for Creative Assembly to explore this direction. Lord of the Rings has been absent for far too long from the strategy genre.

Orc battle formations in front of Minas Tirith in Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King.

Book Denethor was a solid Total War player. Movie Denethor, though? Noob.

Total War: Warhammer 40,000

It’s kind of the logical move after Warhammer Fantasy, isn’t it? And I won’t lie: I’d dig it. Most titles in Warhammer 40,000 focus on smaller units and cover-based skirmishes, but some battles that are described in the lore are truly massive affairs – and having recently played Space Marine 2 at gamescom 2023, I know what it looks like when a Tyranid swarm starts an assault. It looks like battlelines closing in a Total War game.

Yes, you’d absolutely need some sort of cover mechanic for this game, but it’s not like mannable buildings and trenches have never been part of the series before, right, Empire: Total War? You’d have lots of ranged and melee units, cool factions, an established fan base – I could see this as an attractive possibility for Creative Assembly and Total War players.

Plus, if there is any universe that fits the bill for a series called Total War, then it has to be 40k – after all, war is all there is in that particular millennium.

Total War: Star Wars

The days in which EA had the exclusive rights to make Star Wars games are long gone, so the IP has been out there to grab – and let’s be honest, it doesn’t get much bigger than Star Wars. Like Lord of the Rings, Star Wars has been absent from the strategy genre for far too long and has huge potential to bring people to your product.

Petroglyph’s Star Wars: Empire at War has massed unit formations that always remind me of Total War anyways, so it’s not like this has never been done before. Think back to the Attack of the Clones movie – or don’t, if you’re still salty about the sand dialog – and tell me that the war scenes on Geonosis were not cut right from a Total War battle. Heck, Total War battles look less CG than Attack of the Clones does.

You’d need to sort similar challenges as with Warhammer 40,000 – are we playing this game on a single planet or do we have a galactic map, will there be space battles, and so forth. A Total War game set during the Clone Wars is definitely something I could imagine would work well – no shortage of iconic characters and units to use there.

Screenshot from Star Wars Attack of the Clones' battle of Geonosis.

War scenes in Star Wars make literally no sense anyways, it's a perfect playground for Total War.

Total War: The New World

Spain’s conquest of the great American empires is another fascinating period of time that’d make for an interesting Total War title. You’d have the different Aztec city states and the newly arrived Europeans to choose from, who’d have vastly different play styles and unit rosters.

I know Medieval 2 featured this scenario in an expansion, but I’ll bend my rules of only including new settings for this one. Diplomacy would be as important as warfare in this title (the Aztecs must remain united or be conquered, while the Europeans need to split the native resistance and could be made to achieve certain bonus objectives to receive additional support from home) and you’d have your big historical personalities to use as well – people like Moctezuma and Cortez.

Granted, I can see this one being less attractive to the company due to lower market interest and the politically touchy subject of colonization, so this one might have to stay on the list for a bit.

Given that previous job advertisements for positions at Creative Assembly have clearly specified that vehicles of some sort will play a role in an upcoming Total War game, it seems like 40k and Star Wars would be the frontrunners from this list – but with Creative Assembly’s shake-up after the Hyenas cancellation it’s impossible to say which projects survived at the studio.

Medieval 3 and Empire 2 are naturally on my wishlist as well, but their settings aren’t quite new. For now, let Total War: Pharaoh sate your historical lusts.