Creative Assembly revealed some staggering statistics with interesting gameplay implications at their GDC presentation. Perhaps the most interesting was the announcement that there will be 117 different factions present in the campaign, which starts players off from "the earliest days of the Roman Republic" and tasks them with building an empire.
An immediate effect worth considering is the fact that Rome, for which the game is named, may not even become the colossal empire that it did in actual history. (If my Arverni warriors have anything to say about the matter, it certainly won't.) We're not sure yet how the 100+ minor factions will compare, in terms of their ability to compete, to the handful of playable states and tribes. But it seems, at least, that we might see a little bit more Crusader Kings-esque state building than in the original Rome, which essentially boiled down to a few mega-blobs scrapping with one another.
We're also promised 500 unit types, which is five times as many as in the original Rome. That certainly leaves room for 117 factions to each have a few unique units each. To what degree a Northeastern Germanic Axe Dude will differ from a Southwestern Germanic Axe Dude in terms of model and stats, we can't be sure yet. I'd imagine many of these "unique" units may differ only in name and palette swap, though I am prepared to be moderately blown away if this is not the case.
Rome II will also feature 183 map regions, which is almost double what we saw in Shogun 2. It also means that a majority of these 117 factions will start of relegated to a single territory. Overall, the picture that is forming of this new campaign is one of a wild, untamed frontier, where players will be forced to unite (if you want to be nice about it, subjugate if you're a realist) their own neighborhoods before getting to the stage of huge, state vs. state warfare that most previous entries in the series have started you off with. If that's the case, I really like the sound of it.
We'll have more Rome II coverage to share in the not-so-distant future. Until then, you can help yourself to our last two previews , detailing the Battle of Teutoberg Forest scenario which was also shown off at GDC.