A Preview of Empire: Total War

The alpha version of the naval battle interface showing a ship in the process of sinking.

Empire: Total War is the latest Total War game from The Creative Assembly, published by SEGA. Building on the success of Medieval II: Total War and its predecessors Rome: Total War, Medieval: Total War and Shogun: Total War, Empire: Total War will introduce new innovations to the series, such as technologies, naval battles and colonies as well as having about fifty factions to play as! CA have confirmed that not all factions are created equal, so there will be no artificial strengthening of weak factions for gameplay purposes.

The real-time battles are enhanced compared to Medieval II: Total War with muskets and cannons being the norm and many new formations to take advantage of. The scope of the campaign is vastly increased compared to previous games, taking in Europe, America, India and more, with completely revamped trade, diplomacy and espionage systems. Improved advisors will help you to keep track of everything and there are naval battles to excite even the most cynical gamer.

Confirmed Factions


France is the most powerful country in western Europe, with a feared king, well-equipped armies and well-fortified borders. France has a wealth of possibilities, both in Europe and abroad and the might to make use of them.

Great Britain

Great Britain is an amalgamation of various kingdoms which relies on the sea both for trade and colonisation. However poweful they may be, they cannot defeat a centralised European power, so they must prevent one other country becoming the strongest nation in Europe while colonisingforeign lands as much as possible.

The Ottoman Empire

The Ottaman Empire is one of the most powerful in the world. Straddling the lucrative Asian trade routes and with a huge army, the Ottamans have the capability to turn Europe and then the world into an Islamic empire.


Poland-Lithuanua is an old kingdom with a strong tradition of robust defence. With the rise of other powers who surround them, they will need to be strong to resist territorial encroachments.


Prussia is an emergent state but nobody should be fooled by this rising power. Their rulers are capable and their armies are fearsomely competent.


Russia is a relatively backwards country, but has endless resources, manpower and ambition – the three elements required to form a truly massive empire and they have the opportunity to carry it out.


Spain is a country suffering from a lack of direction – Charles II is elderly, feeble-minded and childless. It has a long history of conquest though, despite the economic stagnation caused by the Catholic church and Spain’s new rulers can forge a new destiny for one of Europe’s most powerful countries of the last few hundred years.


Sweden is a smaller country than some in Europe, but dominates the Baltic and is surrounded by relatively weak rivals. A northern European empire is quite possible and with an empire at home, an empire abroad may soon follow.

The United Provinces

The Dutch are a trading nation with many enemies – they are a protestant enclave in a mostly Catholic Europe. They trade the world over and have the most powerful navy in the world.

Confirmed Content

This British unit of musketeers is using platoon firing. The men on the right have just fired and are starting to reload, the men on the left are finishing reloading and are preparing to fire and the men in the middle are in the process of firing.

Land Units

Clansmen are fierce Highland warriors and intimidate all enemies with their wild skirling attacks and barbarous apparel. Highland clans are the last tribal society in Western Europe. Men fight for their chieftains because they are expected to defend their clans’ honour and lands. They fight for these in the same way that they have done for centuries: with the broadsword and buckler, pistol, and Lochaber axe. There is little that regular line troops find as disturbing as the sight of a clan bearing down on them, screaming their hate and defiance. Highland Scots are brave, hard men.
Mamluks are elite light cavalry armed with scimitars. They are best used against scattered formations, but co-ordinating their charges with supporting infantry can cause the enemy to break and allow the Mamluks to wreak havoc among their fleeing foes.
Howitzers are somewhere between Mortars and Guns in their operation and are extremely flexible, allowing their operators to mercilessly pound their target area and make it a dreadful place to be for enemy infantry.
Grenadiers throw terrifying bombs into enemy formations, despite their notorious unreliability. They need to be the biggest and most powerful men in their regiments, meaning that they can hold their own in melee.

Naval Units

A Razee is a very powerful frigate created by removing the top deck from a larger ship of the line. This results in a particularly robust frigate with more powerful guns than the norm while retaining the ability to chase down enemy merchantmen. One of the most successful Razees in history was the HMS Indefatigable under Captain (Later Admiral) Edward Pellew of Hornblower fame.
The Fifth-Rate is the largest of the single deck frigates. They are nonrecoverable ships with reasonable firepower, but they do not have the sturdiness of construction to take on battleships, they are deadly against sloops, brigs and merchantmen though and unlike heavier ships are not at risk of taking on water through the gun deck in heavy weather – ideal for the glory-hungry officer!
The Sloop is a small ship designed for operations in restricted waters such as the reefs of the Caribbean and away from dedicated port facilities. They are used to chase down small privateers and merchantmen as well as communications and inshore scouting.


Tenanted farms can only generate so much income from rents. With an increase in town size, and an increased demand from industry for agricultural products, it is more profitable to have herds of animals, not a gaggle of tenants. Meat and wool demand increases rapidly as towns grow. Apart from any other considerations, moving people off land also creates large areas where landowners can indulge a passion for hunting. While this generates little income, it does give social status.
The Trading Port is vital for anyone who wants to trade in bulk – or more realistically, anyone who wants to trade at all. All goods must go by ship simply because the quality of the roads make it prohibitive to send goods that way.
The University is a useful substitute for a noble birth, allowing a young gentleman to make his own way in life. In Europe, most universities were controlled by the Church, so they were socially conservative, but they still provided a large degree of social and technological advancement.


The Square Formation is a defensive formation for musketeers that requires great discipline to put into practice. By having men facing outwards in all directions, it is not possible for enemy cavalry to flank the unit or to escape its concentrated fire. The downside is that tight infantry formations make tempting targets for enemy artillery spotters.
Platoon Firing helps to mitigate the main weakness of a smooth-bore muzzle-loading musket – its high reload time. By not all firing at once, not all of the men are reloading at once. This means that by “rippling” the fire along the line, the enemy are kept under fire the whole time rather than being able to take cover from a single volley and then returning fire or charging in the minute or so of reload time.
This defensive weapon is a landmine constructed by military engineers and fired by the defenders lighting a fuse. A fougasse consists of a pit, sometimes dug at an angle, with gunpowder packed into the bottom and suitably wrapped to keep it dry. The hole is then backfilled with rubble and stones, taking care not to break the fuse, creating a huge “canister shot” weapon. Any enemies caught by the explosion are blown to smithereens by the blast. Damp, of course, will cause the fougasse to misfire, like any other gunpowder weapon.