Call of the Beastmen is the first large-scale DLC pack for Creative Assembly’s Total War: Warhammer. It goes further than your average faction pack, adding a standalone campaign taking place on an altered version of the Grand Campaign map from the base game. The price is a little steep however, coming in at $16.99 USD on the Australian Steam store. So is it worth the investment?
Let me start by saying, as far as factions go, the Beastmen are pretty damn cool. Their savagery stands out even amongst the likes of Chaos and Greenskins. The unit roster is also quite unique and thankfully doesn’t feel like a simple re-skin of an already existing faction. It’s hard not to cackle with glee as a group of Minotaurs roll (yes, roll) into the flank of some puny humans, who explode in blood and gore. There’s also the mighty Cygor: a giant, horned cyclops that throws enormous boulders from great distances, with great effect.
As for how they play, the Beastmen’s military philosophy (if you can call it that) focuses on ambushing. They rely on their speed, ferocity and their knowledge of the beast paths (secret passages through the wild, tangled forests of the Empire) to launch rapid and relentless attacks on unsuspecting enemies. It’s incredibly satisfying to send your vicious goat/bull/horse/pig-men streaming out of the trees to careen into the Empire’s vulnerable formations. Like the Warriors of Chaos the Beastmen don’t have static settlements but rather a herd, with recruitment and building upgrades only available while in the ‘encampment’ stance. They also have a meter measuring ‘bestial rage’, which is the equivalent of the Greenskins Waagh mechanic. If the herd reaches a certain level of bestial rage (by fighting, raiding etc) a separate, AI-controlled Brayherd will appear on the campaign map, adding dramatically to your military power. It’s all fairly easy to get the hang of, even without having playing as the original factions.
The new standalone campaign is called ‘An Eye for an Eye’ and sees the player take control of Khazrak The One Eye and his herd, who are seeking revenge on a human Lord, Boris Todbringer (the bringer of Tod, I guess?), who is the man responsible for Khazrak having only one peeper. The campaign map is a ‘zoomed-in’ section of the Empire’s starting point, spanning from the Reiklands in the west, to Hochland in the east. The focus of the map allows for some impressive visual detail. The forests look truly labyrinthine and foreboding, you can see a black drake circling overhead a Greenskin settlement, and as the corruption of chaos takes hold the land changes even more dramatically than in the base game.
This focus also allows for more narrative elements to compliment the uninterrupted murder and defilement. The quest missions and random events are mostly unique to this faction, which in turn makes every military victory feel important. Don’t go in expecting Warcraft III or anything, but I did enjoy playing as a faction leader with clear, albeit simple, motivations. He just wants revenge against the guy who poked his eye out, we’ve all been there. It allowed me to get immersed in a way that I didn’t with the Grand Campaign.
The value you get out of this DLC will depend largely on your play-style and affinity with the faction itself. If, for example you like building several diverse armies and having towns and cities to upgrade, you may want to skip this one. I’ve gotten at least ten or so hours out of the new mini-campaign, and that’s without completing every objective or quest mission. No matter what side of the fence you’re on, rest assured that Call of the Beastmen is of high quality. If you’ve already decided to buy all the DLC for this great game, then go right ahead. For the more wary amongst you, it might be better to wait and see what else Creative Assembly has in store and pick the one that appeals most to you, especially if the pricing strategy remains similar. I for one am very excited to see what else they have planned.