Diving into bronze age battle in Total War: Pharaoh

Well, it’s been quite a journey in our trek through the features of Total War: Pharaoh. In previous videos we’ve shown you how to scheme and backstab your way through the Egyptian Royal Court, how you can draw on the Ancient Legacies of Egypt’s great rulers of the past, and introduced you to the great leaders of the late Bronze Age.

But this is a Total War game, and in the end the fate of this land will be decided on the battlefield. So join me on a flyover of a couple of the greatest battles I’ve fought in the ancient world.

Total War: Pharaoh

(Image credit: Sega)

We’ve partnered up with Sega to create series of articles and videos that showcase the new features of Total War: Pharaoh.

First, we go to one of the most important cities in the Nile Delta, Mennefer (or Memphis today). The capital of the Old Kingdom of Ancient Egypt, it remains a culturally and strategically important urban hub in the New Kingdom, where the game is set.

I’m defending the city as Seti, first in line to the Egyptian throne and a ruthless general. The barbarians are at the gates, led by the Canaanite raider Irsu who has stormed through Egypt to arrive here. It’s fair to assume he’s not here just to see the sights, but to tear them all down.

The brutes are attacking from three sides, and they bring siege engines. While the machines slowly trundle towards the walls, first contact with the enemy is at a collapsed wall on the other side of the city. Instead of merely shelling up with defensive units, I charge the Canaanites through the gap with my Libu Raiders, taking them by surprise while my Desert Swords hold the 2nd line of defence.

Meanwhile, the Canaanites break through our western gate, but are immediately met by a barrage of throwing sticks and javelins, almost instantly destroying the first unit to step into the sacred city grounds of Mennefer.

But not all is going smoothly. My forces are being overwhelmed on the southern walls, and their chariots have somehow squeezed through a gap in my western defences, pouring into the heart of the city.

With the southern defence fallen, causing enemy forces to stream in, and enemy chariots now standing before the Great Temple unopposed, things are not looking good. But suddenly, as if in response to my cry to the heavens, a Sandstorm sweeps across the city. It not only slows their advance through the city, but having depleted enemy numbers during the defence, I now have the numerical advantage, which means the slow health drain caused by the weather will affect them worse than it affects me.

I seize the momentum, and in the city streets my forces counter the enemy militia who have foolishly broken off from their main force. Their main force, meanwhile, has gone to capture the Marketplace, which would grant them a morale boost, but the long march through the city is brutal in these conditions, and damaging their units.

My western defence continues to hold, my northern defence turns the momentum, and under the constant barrage of sandstorms the likes of which they’ve never seen, the Canaanites turn tail and run. Their chariots retreat from the heart of the city, and will duly get cut down in their escape by my spearmen, while swift bladed justice will be meted out to the rest of the invaders.

(Image credit: Sega)

Siege of Hattusa

Next, we head north to Anatolia, and the Hatti capital city of Hattusa. The incumbent Great King of Hattusa is having his last stand, while I take charge of the tyrant Kurunta, who’s ravaged this once-great land to take what’s his (or, well, what he feels is his anyway).

The skies darken as civilisation stands on the brink of collapse, and the rain will make it difficult for Suppi to use the heavy chariots that have won him so many battles. Now is the time to strike.

My siege towers roll in at the northwestern walls, while two smaller forces attack from the south. The defenders lack ranged units in the northwest, which should make battering the gate down nice and easy (let that be a lesson to always man your walls with ranged units).

Down in the southwest, I smash through the gate with a battering ram, and use the new ‘Give Ground’ stance on my Swordsmen to bait the defenders out through the gates into the range of my archers. Further to the south, my men mount the walls with a ladder, while a nearby Siege Tower is, well, a little confused, spinning around on its axis while its soldiers try to figure out if it fits onto the walls in front of them. Come on men, we’ve been over this in training!

My battering ram smashes through the gates with little resistance from archers, making me wonder whether its accompanying siege towers, which chuck my troops atop the well-manned walls, were necessary when down below we’ve already got past them. I stream through the gate and set up defensive positions before their reinforcements arrive.

Meanwhile, on the south side my troops have finally figured out how to use the siege tower, but without a battering ram, my precious Armoured Chariots—Hattusa’s finest—can’t get into the city, and for now have nothing to do but let their horses chew on the long grass beyond the walls. I’ll figure something out, eventually.

My wild general Kurunta, charging into the fray atop the castle walls, confronts Suppi and his Elite Guard in the rain. This is epic stuff, like that fight scene in The Matrix Revolutions but without multiple hours of pseudo-religious waffle and tedium running up to it.

Oh, and apparently I start capturing the Palace itself, because a dozen of my Mercenaries have broken off from their unit and are somehow running straight through the middle of the city. Alas, I can’t control them because they haven’t got the banner, but dammit, I salute them!

My position just inside the gates is solid, as Suppi wastes countless troops trying to counter us. My chariots, however, get into a spot of bother with some bigger, badder chariots, and soon perish. Back on the southern walls, a breakthrough occurs. Suppi the Great King has fallen! That’s huge for morale, though the battle on those walls rages on, and at this rate Kurunta’s going to go down too. Best get him out of there, lest Hattusa end up leaderless.

I capture the Water Fountain of Hattusa, which rallies my troops. Suppi’s chariots come to meet me, but they get bogged down in the sloshy mud as a thunderstorm begins overhead. With their shock troops rendered impotent, the enemy has nothing left, and soon yields to my might (while my chariots continue to casually graze outside the city). After all that effort, I’m in a right mind to just burn the city down.

That’s just a snippet of the battles that await in Total War: Pharaoh. With new systems, dynamic weather, new stances, and the late Bronze Age’s finest units at your disposal, this is both a throwback to the series’ at its most historical, and a march into a bold new era.

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