Total War: Arena, Creative Assembly and Wargaming’s multiplayer experiment, is coming to a close. The final real-time battles between Romans, Greeks, Carthaginians and barbarians will take place in February, with the game shutting down permanently on February 22.
Arena has been in open beta since February this year and has been playable for a lot longer, but it doesn’t look like it captured players as much as Creative Assembly and Wargaming was hoping. From the FAQ:
Unfortunately, during the open beta, the game didn’t meet the expectations either Wargaming or Creative Assembly had for the title, and it was decided to bring development to an end.
It’s an unusual spin-off. Arena strips away all the empire management and big strategic decisions, leaving battles where you control part of an army, a few units, while your allies control the rest. You’re just one commander in an army where there are ten of you, and together you’ve got to capture points and crush the opposing horde.
Tom took it for a spin back in March, but he couldn’t figure out why it even existed. Take a gander at his Total War: Arena preview.
Putting so many players in a Total War battle doesn't add much to the experience, except for plenty of confusion, and to achieve this the design has to strip out almost everything that makes Total War special. Total War is about two things: running an empire on the strategic map level, and being a general on the tactical level. Arena replaces the strategic layer with a sluggish progression system that wants your money, and then slims down your command to a nippy little battalion that can't get much done on its own.
As a ‘thank you’ for sticking around, Creative Assembly is giving out DLC for other Total War games. All players can pick between Total War: Medieval 2 - Definitive Edition, Hannibal at the Gates for Rome 2, Age of Charlemagne for Attila and The Grim and the Grave for Warhammer. If you’ve got Attila but not the Charlemagne DLC, that should absolutely be what you pick up. It’s one of Total War’s best campaigns.
Wargaming is doing something similar, though it comes with caveats. If you’ve played 100 battles or more during the open beta, you’ll get 30 days of premium time in World of Tanks, World of Warships and World of Warplanes. If you spent money in the shop or picked up a starter pack, you’re also entitled to that back, at least in the form of more premium time in Wargaming’s other games.