Total War: Pharaoh's dynamic weather system lets you feel the heat of battle

Warfare in Ancient Egypt gave a whole meaning to the 'heat of battle.' Conditions were extreme down there on the banks of the Nile, with temperatures soaring so high that soldiers would wear leather armour and breezy kilts to stop themselves overheating.

The Total War series has long factored in the effects of weather on the flow of battle, but in Total War: Pharaoh, conditions can change throughout the battle itself. Sandstorms, thunderstorms, rain, fog, and of course heat will affect both your troops and the terrain beneath their feet, so we've decided to brave the Dynamic Weather system to figure out just how it works, as well as checking out the new 'Stances' in the game.

Dynamic weather and terrain

Total War: Pharaoh


(Image credit: Sega)

We've partnered up with Sega to create series of articles and videos that showcase the new features of Total War: Pharaoh.

Let's begin with the obvious—that great burning disc in the sky. The Sun God Ra has always smiled widely on Egypt, and Sweltering Heat will exhaust soldiers more quickly, especially if they're wearing heavier armour. With units able to set everything on fire in Total War: Pharaoh, from buildings to tall grass, beware that Sweltering Heat can quickly turn a tactical blaze into an uncontrollable inferno.

Ra can also be merciful however. If Sweltering Heat follows rain, then the mud on the ground will dry up, making movement easier for your troops, and especially your chariots.

The other big scourge of the desert is the sandstorm, indiscriminately battering all armies and slowly chipping away at their health. Sandstorms particularly affect attacking armies, as they reduce movement speed and charge speed, as well as reload speeds and range.

Beyond the arid conditions of Greater Egypt and up in the green mountains of Anatolia, fog begins to factor in, reducing visibility and causing AI armies to search for you in the mist. In those wetter regions, you're more likely to get caught in the rain too, so bring a brolly, and bring your ground troops because ranged units are going to experience accuracy penalties. 

Rain can quickly escalate to a storm, which reduces missile range and accelerates the formation of mud, debilitating the movement of chariots with their cumbersome wooden wheels.

Finally, there's nothing quite like a thunderstorm to accompany a heroic charge down a hillside, lightning clapping the second your troops collide. Thunderstorms are the most extreme condition in wetter areas of the map, reducing accuracy, reload speeds, range, morale, and movement. But that's just the price you pay for a dramatic battlefield atmosphere befitting of a pharaoh.

A sandstorm in Total War: Pharaoh

(Image credit: Sega)


The other big battle news in Total War: Pharaoh is the introduction of advanced stances. We've seen stances in the series before, but Pharaoh introduces new ones that create some fine new margins on the battlefield. 

First up, there are the Advance stances. With Advance, you set a point that you want your unit to advance to, which will trigger your troops to get into formation and start marching towards that point with their weapons poised, cutting down anyone in their way. Certain units have variants of this stance, such as Golden Spearmen, who can do a Heroic Advance that increases their defence, or charger units who can do Reckless Advances that increase attack at the cost of defence.

Hold is the standard defensive stance that has soldiers plant their feet, while Give Ground will make units tactically back away while still fighting (handy for archers who can keep firing while moving backwards). 

A variant of Give Ground is the Retreat stance, where units tactically give ground with increased defence and decreased attack—perfect for outnumbered defenders waiting for reinforcements to arrive.

Specific units have their special stances too. Spearmen have the classic Spearwall of course, which provides defence against missiles as they advance. Javelin Throwers, meanwhile, can be ordered to Aim for the Spokes, which deals extra damage to those game-changing chariots. As you push through a settlement, you can even assign your troops to raze and burn everything to the ground as they go, spreading fear and doubt among enemy ranks.

Total War: Pharaoh brings new depth and challenges to the battlefield, but we're sure a shrewd general like you will be able to turn them to your advantage. Good luck, and may the winds blow in your favour rather than blind you with sandstorms.

Robert is a freelance writer and chronic game tinkerer who spends many hours modding games then not playing them, and hiding behind doors with a shotgun in Hunt: Showdown. Wishes to spend his dying moments on Earth scrolling through his games library on a TV-friendly frontend that unifies all PC game launchers.