Total War: Warhammer

Total War: Warhammer - Call of the Beastmen

Here comes the trampling of the hooves and a more aggressive new faction.

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The moment that the Total War: Warhammer starter races were announced, fans started to guess which ones would come later as DLC. Well, here's the answer to who'd come first, and it's not what many people would have expected.

Call of the Beastmen is the first big DLC for CA's successful marriage of Total War and Warhammer, and features the the titular Beastmen race. So no Skaven, Lizardmen or Elves just yet.

The hoofed monstrosities are fast, relentless and prone to ambush tactics. The add-on comes with a new, more linear and shorter story campaign, for comparison you might say it's akin to Alexander's from the original Rome: Total War. Events occur more often and thanks to the way that Beastmen function on the campaign map, the action rarely stops. The dark moon Morrslieb is constantly present throughout events. When the moon phases change, the player can decide whether to raise troops for a fraction of the cost or hire veterans, for example.

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The campaign works well as an introduction to the race and its leader, Khazrak The One Eye. You're mostly tasked with razing the empires of your enemies one after another while amassing your unstoppable warherd. Business as usual, then.

On the campaign map, Beastmen function similarly to Chaos or Orks. They can't own cities or towns and are limited in the diplomatic department. If you build up the fervour enough, another AI-controlled herd will spawn to aid you in your conquests (similar to the Orkish WAAAGH army). The tech tree is small, the building options few in number. Beastmen are not ones to turtle. The race can also employ Beast-Paths to move with more haste. Their armies are also on ambush mode when moving normally, so close-quarter ambush battles are more frequent than they are with other races. We'd have liked to have witnessed a bit more originality in their campaign gameplay, because they're more like an amalgamation of existing mechanics rather than something truly unique.

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On the battlefield Beastmen come down fast and hard. Their charges are amongst the deadliest in the game, especially with Minotaurs and cavalry in their ranks. The bullish Minotaurs can rip through pretty much anything and open a weak point for others to take advantage of.

There's other units that are fast as well, and even their "artillery" unit, the boulder-flinging Cygor, moves more quickly than other units of similar function. The hurled boulders are especially fun to watch, landing on a pile of hapless footmen that then explode into a red mist (with the Blood for Blood God DLC anyways). The Beastmen also employ the Lore of Beasts with its own unique spells (like summoning a Cygor right there on the battlefield).

The unit selection has some bright spots like Minotaurs, spiky Razorgors and Cygors, but suffers somewhat from a bulk of similar-sounding and acting medium tier units with shields, axes and the like. The good thing is that Beastmen play rather differently even from attack-heavy Orks due to their charge and speed bonuses. Hooves are great for trampling, but not so such for prolonged fights, so the player wants to hit hard and decisively every time possible.

The Call of the Beastmen DLC might not be what many expected from the first big add-on for Total War: Warhammer, but it's still a worthwhile purchase. The shorter campaign format is an enjoyable intro to the race and has some nice battles in store for players. The race is just about different enough to warrant the opening of your wallet, especially if you're into hyper-aggressive tactics, both on and off the bloodied battlefields.

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07 Gamereactor UK
7 / 10
Hard-hitting tactics, solid introductory mini-campaign.
A mix of other abilities instead of unique ones, Many mid-tier units to bulk things out.
overall score
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