Napoleon: Total War – first look

Take on the role of history's greatest compensator

One of the biggest tactical additions to Napoleon will be supplies. You can’t just advance swiftly over the entire map as you feel like it now. You’ve got to consider the chain of supply, a vital theme that has never really been touched upon properly in the Total War series. This time out, it was absolutely essential to include it, for one main reason: Russia.

The primary reason for Napoleon’s first failure to force all Europeans to wear a big string of onions round their necks and constantly consume snails was, of course, the disastrous attempt to conquer Tsarist Russia. The sheer scale of the country stretched the French supply lines to the breaking point, until his soldiers started freezing to death in the hollowed out corpses of their horses.

In previous Total War games, the only hindrance said expanses would provide was to slow your progress. Now, you’ll have to set up a supply system to stop your guys from dying of hunger. To do this, you can build supply depots as you move along. It isn’t perhaps the most sophisticated way of handling the issue, but it should suffice. It’ll also provide a method for the defending armies to stave off advancing forces by going guerrilla on the supply depots. Cut off the supply and it doesn’t matter how big the enemy’s army is, they’ll soon be whittled down to nothing.

Diplomacy will be trickier, as you can imagine. Play as France and everyone will almost certainly hate you, being that you’re the most powerful, and to win you basically have to bump them all off. Luckily, you’ll be able to play as other factions as well, so it’s not all Francophilia.

A new AI Director system should make the campaign flow better than before, with a substantial raft of improvements to the AI. For example, computer-controlled factions will have more short-term campaign objectives, not just “Kill the player at all costs.” Hopefully, this will mean some of the quirks of Empire’s diplomacy will also be ironed out, like certain factions refusing to trade with you, despite you being on the best possible terms with them.