The real monsters were not the people all along
Type: Single-player, Multiplayer
Genre: Strategy, Tactics
Developer: CREATIVE ASSEMBLY
Release date: 2 Sep, 2021
A Total War Saga: TROY had an interesting way of handling mythical monsters. Instead of including actual monsters these were represented by people dressed up in weird ways that also did something odd, like riding horses (something that was not really done in war at this time). It was an interesting way of interpreting monsters, but not everyone were happy with it.
That’s where A Total War Saga: TROY – Mythos comes in, it introduces an alternative main campaign where the monsters were not just weird people, but actual monsters, like griffons, hydras, harpies and sirens. It also adds some new mechanics that supports these new monsters.
The mythical beasts
The stars of the DLC are of course the monsters. These come in a variety of shapes and sizes, some are several times larger than a human, others are roughly human sized, some fly, and some walk. These new creatures greatly expand the somewhat limited unit roster of Total War: Troy with creatures that function differently from anything that was in the base game.
In the main campaign there are a few different ways of recruiting mythical creatures and their followers, depending on what type of creature it is. Many more common creatures, like harpies and centaurs are recruited just like regular units, though you can only build buildings that let you recruit them in specific regions. There’s an icon next to the city names that tells you if you can recruit something special there and there’s also some feature on the map, like harpies flying around or large statues, that indicate that there’s something interesting here. Much like with other buildings that let you recruit units there are also tiers to these, and the higher tiers lets you recruit more powerful versions of these units. Upgrade the giant building for an example and you’ll go from just being able to recruit large shirtless guys with primitive weapons to large guys wearing really snazzy looking fur coats, helmets and wielding huge hammers. Some types of mythical creatures have more unit types than others, there are for an example five kinds of giant units and eight kinds of centaurs, but only two kinds of harpies, and a single kind of cyclops.
Then there’s the big three, the Lernean Hydra, the Griffin Patriarch and Cerberus. In the campaign you can only get one of these beasties, and you need to work for it. Before you can get one you need to send out an expedition to capture it, culminating in a battle against the big monster and its followers, and once you’ve completed this the monster is yours. These are significantly larger and more powerful than anything else, and once you have one you get access to a set of new buildings that you can build that allows you to recruit the followers you previously had to fight against. The three big beasts all have their own specialization, the Griffin is of course a flying creature and can ignore terrain and avoid most melee units that try to chase it down, and it’s really dangerous in close combat. Cerberus, the loveable three headed puppy is another melee creature that can breath fire and summon souls from the underworld, that will then act as a new unit on the battlefield. Then there’s the hydra, which is a long range artillery unit that can spit poison at the enemy from really far away, but which can be somewhat easily overwhelmed in melee. Through the campaign these creatures will also gain new abilities, making them function like simplified heroes (they don’t have the huge skill tree of heroes, instead they can unlock a grand total of four new skills, though like heroes they get to choose what skill to pick).
Each of the big monsters also bring their followers, and you can recruit those (once you’ve built the right buildings) and there are several different follower units per monsters, though they tend to stick to some kind of theme. Cerberus brings the spirits from the underworld, which are unbreakable units, somewhat similar to the undead in Warhammer. The Hydra has people who ingested its venom and they’re then spreading poison in return (and they look like zombies). Finally the griffin has the Arimaspi on its side, one eyed people who tend to have vanguard deployment, so they are not as constricted by your deployment zone.
Some of the new mythical creatures have a significant impact on the game, like the big monsters, or the centaurs, while others, like the giants, feel like they really just add a few more basic units to the game, but overall the inclusion of mythical creatures does shake up the game and opens up new tactical choices. They do generally speaking feel overpowered though.
New campaign mechanics
With Mythos comes a few other new mechanics, and while none are as significant as the inclusion of the big monsters, they do have an impact on the game.
The gods now take a more active role in battles. Earn their favours and they can really help you in a tangible way, but if you don’t appease the gods they might instead try to hinder you. This means that staying on their good side is more important than in the base game. There will also be hostile neutral armies that pop up on occasion (more so in the early game) that you can try and take down. If you do you’ll get the chance to recruit some of the followers of one of the big beasts, even if you’ve not got that particular beast.
One under-developed mechanic is the expedition. As mentioned earlier you need to send out an expedition to capture your big creature, and this is done by recruiting a new army, which you do on the spot (no need to wait several turns to recruit those soldiers). Once you’ve recruited this army and sent it on its expedition you’ll get a message every few turns telling you about something significant that happened, and you’ll have to make a choice that can have positive and negative effects on your expedition, and which might also open up other more favourable choices later. After a while your expedition will finally find the beast and it’s time to fight it, and sadly you need to bring your own main army into the battle as well. This undermines the rest of the expedition mechanics as whatever effects they’ve had on the expedition are likely to not matter much when you’ve got your likely well trained and armed main army helping you in the battle. Your expedition army will then become another permanent regular army under your command.
A Total War Saga: TROY – Mythos is a substantial DLC for Total War: Troy. The monsters, particularly the large or flying ones, have a pretty big impact on how the game is played and open up a lot of tactical possibilities. That said, the monsters do bring with them a few issues. The AI often struggles with dealing with the larger monsters, and at the same time it’s not very good at using the monsters when it has them (not that the AI was ever particularly good, but this has been an issue with the Total War series going back to the first Shogun). This makes the Mythical campaign quite a lot easier than the campaign from the base game. Also, some of the other new mechanics feel somewhat under-developed and overall don’t add much to the game. Still, the new monsters adds some welcome variety to the somewhat limited troop roster of Troy.
Alongside the Mythos DLC there was another mode released, though this one is a free update to anyone who already own the game, and that’s a more historically accurate mode, where you’ve not got mighty heroes, who single-handedly can take on entire units of soldiers, but instead treat them more like generals in the historical total war games, where they go into battle with a retinue of soldiers. This does not change the fact that the game is still based on something that is not historically accurate, but at least it creates somewhat more believable bronze age battles, and if the idea of mighty heroes on the battlefield don’t appeal to you, this might still make Troy worth checking out.