'Total War: Warhammer II' Dev Gives Honest Update on Rough Release of Latest Expansion

"The truth is we screwed up"

The release of Total War: Warhammer II expansion, "Mortal Empires," which combines levels from Warhammer and its sequel, hasn't exactly been that smooth for developer Creative Assembly, the developer revealed in a recent blogpost. In an effort to be transparent with why the expansion is causing problems, many of the developers broke down what's going on and what troubles they're running into. 

"There are rather more moving parts to the Mortal Empires campaign than we’d first anticipated, that’s for sure," brand director Rob Bartholomew said in the post. "At present, we do feel it’s playable and enjoyable, though not under all circumstances."

He continues, saying implementing the Norsca content into the game, then tweaking it so it works within the confines of the expansion has been in issue. Bartholomew also adds the game's currently suffering from "genuine bugs," which the developer is addressing. But these two issues have pushed its update schedule behind where the dev wants it to currently be. 

"Chiefly, integrating Norsca into Mortal Empires has given us no end of trouble," Bartholomew says. 

"There are branches for different games and DLCs, different builds and releases for each, small progressive changes and long-term rewrites," creative director Mike Simpson says. "They constantly branch, progress, complete and merge back together again. ARENA uses streams – they’re the speed-dating version of branches. Shorter lived, more casually started and dropped, and very numerous – there are about a hundred of them."

These branches, though, are a problem. 

"The truth is we screwed up," Simpson continues. "We got so good at branching and merging builds, we thought we had it mastered. Merging is easy when the things that have changed in one branch don’t coincide with the things that have changed in the other. It gets more difficult when the changes overlap – you most often have to manually intervene to pick which branch is 'right.' Typically, merges get exponentially more difficult the longer branches stay apart, as the chance of changes clashing increases."

Merging the Norsca content from Warhammer to Warhammer II, he continues, has presented a large problem for the developer. "The first attempt to integrate Norsca in the routine way caused an immediate tsunami of bugs," Simpson says. "We smacked our heads against it, realized it was unsolvable in a short span, and had to back out. We started on a second, more careful approach, which has been glacially slow, with deeper and deeper issues with the integration tools and process becoming apparent at each stage."

"As the weeks passed, we realized that it would probably be easier to re-implement Norsca in Warhammer II, rather than straighten out the Norsca content copied over from Warhammer I," Simpson continues. "And so, having lost months, we’ve now decided to pick the next point where all the branches are back together (after the next major content update), and then re-implement Norsca from scratch in Warhammer II. This won’t be quick, but it is guaranteed to work."

So, taking all these issues into account, Creative Assembly broke down its current update schedule, staring this month and continuing mid-next year. The schedule, as detailed by Bartholomew, is as follows:

"December: Reprisal Update rollout for Mortal Empires. This contains equivalent Foundation Update skill/campaign improvements to Old World Legendary Lords and Chaos, and will also include some new changes and fixes for Mortal Empires. We’re also bundling in a free, new (and highly experimental!) game mode which we’ve had in our back pocket for a while now. More news on this later in the week.

"January: Our first Campaign Pack was initially planned for this year, but will slip to January. Not to seem too… cryptic… but It’s a hugely characterful and significant addition to both Eye of the Vortex and Mortal Empires, and we’re pretty sure people are going to enjoy it. We’ll also be rolling out another Mortal Empires update alongside this release to address any further issues post-Reprisal Update.

"May: Yes, this is a bit of a gap, but this is how long our painstaking re-implementation of Norsca will take to get added to Mortal Empires. This update will include Norsca and its full roster, updates to various aspects of the race (eg techs, New World race interactions) to make them appropriate and relevant as well as the 30th birthday Regiments of Renown. There will also be further updates to other aspects of Mortal Empires."

"I hope this explains where we are, and gives you some reasonable expectation for the coming months," Bartholomew concludes. "It comes with the very firmest assurance that, just as we did with Warhammer I, Warhammer II and Mortal Empires will continue to grow, evolve, and improve over time."

Total War: Warhammer II was released exclusively for PC on September 28th.