Lead designer of Shogun 2, James Russell, knows just how much fans love Total War. The series typically produces enormous games capable of generating epic storylines across decades of war. Even then, it's surprising just how much time players spend building their empires. Russell says that "the average" Total War campaigner "plays for about a hundred hours." That is a lot of war.
The process of managing your empire from the strategic view and then fighting hour-long battles can eat up a lot of time, but "the real crux of it," according to Russell, is that "Total War has great replayability."
"With Shogun 2, any of those clans could have won the day and become Shogun, so you can have a lot of playthroughs and a lot of different things can happen" he says. "What we want to do is really put the player in an immersive, very specific setting and say 'you write your own story'"
The upcoming, standalone Fall of the Samurai expansion looks to do just hat. The six new factions are split into two groups, pro-Shogunate traditionalists and imperialist sympathisers. All of them have their own self-interest at heart, but will be able to specialise in different aspects of war to take Japan for themselves, whether that means training expert samurai, or trading with the West for powerful new guns.
"We choose preiods that have a lot of depth, a lot of interest, a lot of things going on, a lot of factions vying for control" says Russell. The culture clash and technological battle that lies at the heart of Fall of the Samurai should provide plenty of the famous depth that keeps Total War players coming back for more, and will let us play with some powerful new toys at the same time.
For more on Fall of the Samurai, ceck out more from our interview with James Russell, when he talked to us about the difficulties balancing historical accuracy with fair mechanics , and revealed that Shogun 2 players will be able to fight with Fall of the Samurai players online . You'll find much more in the six page Fall of the Samurai preview in the latest issue of PC gamer UK .