Total War – Warhammer is shaping up to look like a pretty epic game. Initial video footage looks promising. This game is in pre-alpha at the moment so a great deal of changes and improvements will be in the pipeline. The setting of the game is quite different to the previous total war games titles and is extremely ambitious (the style of game will require a great deal more game balancing). In the last few years the total war games had been starting to go the way of other strategy games (overpowered late game units and useless early units), which is a great shame considering the most significant advantage of the earlier total war games over other strategy games was the fact that no unit was useless and every unit could be used very effectively if matched with the right opponent (cavalry have always been the most deadly units, but against spearmen, or particularly pikemen, they should get shredded. Against even good sword units, they should be strong.
Think about it realistically what would you do with a sword to stop a 2000lb horse that is thundering towards you, DEAD IN ITS TRACKS? And if you kill the rider but fail to stop the horse then most likely you will both die, which was often the case (but never seems to happen in a total war game). Hopefully this game will be closer in design to the earlier games, however video footage already suggests the presence of some ridiculously overpowered units, and just like the other recent total war games, the units have a very unweighty feel to them, the dragons and larger creatures seem to move at the same speed as the smaller units, change direction instantly and do not appear to have acceleration / deceleration or inertia. Some of the total war games exhibited fantastic cavalry combat, with all non-spear armed units being flung through the air as the 2000lb dray horses slam into their frontline.
unfortunately in recent games the cavalry seem to ride up to the enemy formation at high speed and then stop and have a little sword fight. In reality when a cavalry unit charges an enemy formation, most of the enemy units are killed not by sword fighting but by simply being run over and crushed, this should especially be the case when using heavy horse units. lighter, smaller horses such as Arabian horses should have less of an inertia effect and should cause slightly less shock damage but should travel faster, in this way the player can elect to go for speed and mobility, or choose slower more powerful and better armored cavalry.
The game also appears to use fixed / blendspace animations still, and while they do look relatively good, the lack of IK animated characters means a much more limited variety of combat moves etc. IK, for those of you that don’t understand how it works, basically animates your model in code. The advantage of this is that animations can be altered on the fly i.e. running up a hill on horseback looks different to running on a straight or running down hill. IK also allows the horses and people to be animated so that they can step on bodies or adjust their feet when standing on stairs or a hill etc. Without IK, games developers must create fixed animations or blendspaces (blendspaces can allow for animation variations, but cannot be combined with other effects so animating running up a hill which is also angled from left to right foot as well as front to back simply won’t work). The other main advantage of IK is in ensuring that attacks connect etc. problems like units being hit physically even they the weapon misses them are caused because collisions are calculated based on proximity, whereas IK can actually check when a sword hits another sword etc.
I do not know why they opted not to use IK. As an indie game develop I wouldn’t dream of making anything without IK other than a basic kids game. Perhaps they did it for performance reasons (hard to believe considering the game I am working on supports up to 40k troops in a battle), it is hard to say. For now, all we can do is make suggestions and hope the best.