Immortal Empires, the free expansion for Total War: Warhammer 3 that will unite the armies and locations of all three games in some kind of unholy lasagne of fantasy wargaming, will be playable from August. Creative Assembly has begun blogging about what's changed and why it's taking so long, with the first blog introducing new features and explaining why it's launching as a beta.
Those features include a new faction led by Be'Lakor, the daemon prince antagonist of Warhammer 3's Realm of Chaos campaign, as well as dedicated factions for some Legendary Lords from the early days of Total War: Warhammer, with Grombrindal, Helman Ghorst, and Volkmar the Grim rating a mention. Some factions will be revised as well, with new starting locations and improved mechanics.
To deal with the world being round, Sea Lanes are being added to let armies travel from one side of the world to the other "without leapfrogging". There's no more information than that, but I'm hoping it works like the trade caravans in Cathay's campaign, which face dilemmas as they travel that might result in, say, having to cut a deal with ogres or fight them to get past. That would certainly liven up long naval voyages.
Since Warhammer 2's equivalent DLC, the Mortal Empires campaign, could end with your overpowered armies slowly grinding your final opponents to dust, randomized "dynamic end-game scenarios" will shake things up. The examples provided are "Greenskin invasions or resurgences of the undead". Fingers crossed for something like the crisis events that liven up the late-game in Stellaris.
Victory requirements have also been simplified, and Creative Assembly's manager added that completing objectives along the way will give rewards: "for example, the Vampire Counts can get a permanent 30% reduction in Winds of Magic cost for spells for completing their race's victory objective."
On the subject of Immortal Empires being labeled a beta when it launches, Creative Assembly writes, "We're determined to get Immortal Empires into your hands, but we want to be realistic: it won't be the 'final,' finished product on day one—just as Mortal Empires wasn't at its launch in WARHAMMER II. Ultimately, this entire three-game project won't truly be complete for years to come, which is why we're initially launching it under the banner of a "BETA.'"
Among the many challenges the team has faced while integrating three games are advancements in lighting, which demanded older battle maps be brought up to the new standard, and unifying details like "the UI, character models, VFX, audio, and general game balance", all of which differ across the series. On the mechanical side, changes to the corruption system in Warhammer 3 have necessitated a rework for older factions, and the whole system will apparently be tweaked for Immortal Empires.
"Given the sheer scale of the project, there are bound to be some visual and technical bugs," Creative Assembly says, "and we'll be providing a known issues list when Immortal Empires does go live. Nevertheless, we're confident that game mode will be massive, packed with content, functional, and fun on day one!"
To play Immortal Empires you'll need to own all three games, and will be able to choose from each game's base factions as well as those from any DLC you own. It'll support multiplayer campaigns for up to eight (which is the number of Chaos, aptly), and only the host will need to own all three games. Other players can get by with just Total War: Warhammer 3 to join a game as any of its base factions.