At the Rezzed PC games show over the weekend, the Total War: Rome II development team showed off an extensive look at the in-game tactical map, new city management systems, and a spectacular combined land and naval battle.
Creative Assembly's studio communications manager Al Bickham took to the stage at the Rome II panel to showcase the Battle of the Nile between the invading Julius Caesar's Thirteenth Legion and the defending Egyptian army. After spending some time managing the empire through some growing pains, Bickham took control of the Egyptians to defend a high hill from the oncoming Romans.
(Skip to 11:09 for the start of the panel and 30:09 for the beginning of the battle.)
As armies rank up you can give them “traditions,” which buffs certain units and specializes the army for specific purposes. “The beauty of the tradition system is, if the worst should happen and the army is crushed on the field of battle, you could go back to Rome or one of your cities and re-raise the banner of the thirteenth legion,” Bickham explains. “You could pack a new army under the banner of the Thirteenth Legion. And while all of those guys would be green recruits without all that individual unit veterancy, they will benefit from the traditions and all of the army experience that you've given to the banner.”
The tradition system has turned the Thirteenth Legion into Rome's premier city-smashing unit in this playthrough, which... doesn't really help them a whole lot. During the battle, Rome sends half its strength on ships to sail behind the Egyptians, land on the beaches and flank the enemy. The Egyptian navy rams the Roman ships and engages in ship-to-ship melee combat. With its reinforcements tied up, the Romans are simply charging up a hill into rushing chariots, artillery, elephants, and flaming boulders. It does not go very well.
One of the most striking new changes is the sense of weight that attacking units have. The new physics-based engine has chariots plowing through rows of units and ballistae strikes creating blast craters of dead and flattened soldiers.