Total War: Warhammer 2 dev diary video talks new races and the Great Vortex

Total War: Warhammer 2 was officially announced last week with a dramatic trailer featuring the High Elves, the Dark Elves, and the Lizardmen doing battle over a patch of deep jungle terrain. In a "Vision" dev diary video released today, members of Creative Assembly dug a bit deeper into some of the overarching elements of the game including the races—one of which remains officially unrevealed, although I think we all know who it is—the world, and how players can either dive into, or completely ignore, the story of the Great Vortex. 

"Players will struggle for dominion over the ailing Great Vortex that has swirled for millennia above the Elven homeland of Ulthuan. Performing a series of arcane rituals, each race must save or disrupt the Vortex according to their motivations—a struggle culminating in a cataclysmic endgame," the studio said. "Territorial conquest is no longer enough… This is a race for control that will define the fate of the world!" 

Or not, as the case may be. Not everyone is a fan of a Big Story, after all, so if you'd rather just jump into multiplayer battles instead, you can go right ahead. "You can ignore the storyline, the narrative. You don't have to fight for the Vortex if you don't want. Sandbox gameplay is sacrosanct to Total War," game director Ian Roxborough said in the video. 

Based on the "very, very positive feedback" to Creative Assembly's efforts to make each race in the first Total War: Warhammer "play differently" from the others, Roxborough said the studio will continue to embrace that philosophy for the sequel. Differentiating the Elven races was tricky, as animator Elyse Gymer explained, because they're both humanoid races, but the Lizardmen were something else entirely. 

"Lizardmen have been a completely different experience than any other race so far," she said. "We tried doing mo-cap for them, and we found that they were pushing too far into the human side. So we went much more animalistic [with their movements]." 

(That may hold true for the game's fourth race as well: While it officially remains a Big Secret, the stinger at the end of the announcement trailer seems like a pretty obvious nod to the Skaven, the very non-humanoid villains of Vermintide.)

The game will will also, as Creative Assembly told us at EGX Rezzed a week ago, aim to address the problem of "endgame fatigue." That's where the Great Vortex story comes into play: Instead of being the last race standing, the objective in Total War: Warhammer 2 is to be the first to reach and influence the Vortex. That will entail not just pounding your enemies into the ground, but also completing a series of rituals that "feed the narrative of your individual race." 

Total War: Warhammer 2 is expected to be ready for release later this year.