The history nerds at Creative Assembly have decided to explore their own history for the next Total War, enlisting Feral Interactive to dig up the original Rome and give it a good dusting. The result is Total War: Rome Remastered, sporting a 4K upgrade, 16 new factions, and a few other modern bells and whistles.
Rome's probably the oldest Total War that's worth remastering. It was the series' first big leap, and it's the most recognisable of the original trio thanks to the 3D units and fleshed out campaign map. Even after nearly 20 years, there are plenty of common threads that run from Rome through all its successors.
"What better excuse than the 20th year of Total War to revisit a grand master?" says Rob Bartholomew, chief product officer at Creative Assembly. "The original release of Rome marks a special time for us as our first major breakout title; it's amazing to get the opportunity to remaster it with our friends at Feral."
David Stephen, Feral's managing director, describes it being "a bit like recutting the crown jewels," so the remastered edition isn't mucking around too much with the fundamentals. Diplomacy is being overhauled, however, along with the UI, camera and controls. In battle, you'll be able to use a tactical map, while the campaign will feature heat maps and icon overlays. You'll be able to rotate the camera in the campaign, and you can expect wider zoom levels throughout. When you get tired of battering the AI, you'll also be able to duke it out in cross-platform multiplayer between Windows, Mac and Linux.
16 formerly unplayable factions are being tossed into the war, bringing the total to 38. Spain, Scythia, Thrace, Numedia, Armenia, Pontus, Macedon and Dacia will be included in the main game. The Berbers, Burgundii, Celts, Lombardi, Ostrogoths, Romano-British, Roxolani and Slavs will be playable in Barbarian Invasion. Along with Barbarian Invasion, the Alexander expansion is also getting the remaster treatment, though the faction number will stay the same.
Instead of making it look a bit like Rome 2, the remaster preserves the original Rome's visual identity, while gussying it up with a 4K upgrade and overhauled models and battlefields. It looks like the lighting and reflections have been improved, too, and boy don't those shiny shields look nice? Judging by the screenshots, it's a version of Rome that matches my rose-tinted memories.
With Three Kingdoms and Warhammer, it feels like Total War is the best it's ever been, so I'm not sure how long this trip down memory lane will hold my attention before I start to ache for the present. Nostalgia is a powerful force, though, and the opportunity to play what was once my favourite strategy game with a fresh coat of paint is too tempting to pass up.
Total War: Rome Remastered is coming on April 29.