Total War

Empire 2 thoughts and wishlist

Recently, I've been playing Empire, AoE3 and a bit of EU4, and that has got me thinking a lot about a new Empire game. Empire was not received well, as far as I can tell, in large part due to a buggy release and poor performance. Support for the game was dropped shortly after release when they release Napoleon, which really could have been a standalone DLC for Empire the way that Alexander was for Rome 1. Other problems with the game were low unit variety, as every army was majority line infantry and cannons, with only minor variation in cavalry and specialist troops, and the slow and cumbersome nature of naval battles. I was also disappointed that naval battles exclusively occurred out of sight of land and that there were no amphibious assaults like in Rome II or Attila.

There have been lots of suggestions to expand the time period dramatically, and while I think the time period should be expanded a bit, something like the 1500-1900 suggestions I've seen don't seem like a good idea. There's just too much technological and social change in that period for the game to cover and it will cover too many turns. Functionally, most TW games seem to last around 200-300 turns and 2 turns/year seems to be the preferred rate of time advancement for historical games (though there are outliers like Napoleon).

Empire 2 would also be a good chance for a truly global TW game, like many posters in this sub have been arguing for. I propose one that covers nearly the entirety of Africa and Eurasia (with some areas like Central Africa and Northern Siberia inaccessible), as well as most of the Americas (pretty much the same parts of North America as seen in Empire, but most of South America added to include Peru, Brazil, Chile, etc.).

The original game was made in sort of a UI dark age, and it's age really shows in comparison to games like Rome II or even Shogun 2, which was made soon afterwards. It also had a long list of planned features that were cut, like family trees and prisoners of war, which could all stand to be added back. There are also many gameplay improvements that could be made to increase enjoyability.

My list of desired improvements to UI and gameplay is as follows:

UI improvements

Empire and Napoleon have an epidemic of friendly fire, typically by cannons. Cannons need to be able to detect that there is a friendly unit in front of them and then hold fire. The worst is when cavalry units are targeted and then flank the artillery battery, causing the cannon crews to destroy themselves by firing into their own backs.

It's cool, I didn't need those cannons anyway.

When arranging regiments of different strengths into a line, there should be an option to have them deploy at the same depth. Currently, right clicking + dragging sets the units all to the same frontage regardless of unit strength, which means that units smaller in number than the largest unit in the formation will have less depth. When using Fire by Rank, having the line at a depth of three is very important. This can be done manually, but is very tedious to do.

I really wish it would just make the whole line 3 men deep.

Units should have their firing arcs displayed based on terrain features instead of their theoretical maximum range. I'm tired of setting up a cannon battery only to find it's ten feet behind the crest of the hill and therefore useless because it doesn't actually have LOS to the enemy by the barest margin.

Improving Empire Gameplay

Large provinces should be broken up. France and Spain in particular should be three to five provinces each. This was fixed in Napoleon, so carry it forward. It was pretty poor design that it was so easy to defeat France or Madrid just by taking the capital.

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The province management interface should display all available villages, mines, etc. and their possible upgrades on a single screen, so the player doesn't have to go hunting around their provinces to find things to upgrade.

The trade theaters should be expanded to have actual provinces in them, instead of just trade circles off the coast of an inaccessible wasteland.

○ Expanding the map to include China, Japan, SE Asia, South America and Southern Africa would be great, too.

Improved pathing for ships and land units, especially regarding boarding and artillery deployment

The player should be able to order artillery to move to a designated spot and then unlimber, removing the need for babysitting.

Artillery should also be able to be rolled forward (slowly) in cases of minor adjustments where limbering/unlimbering is too time-consuming.

There needs to be more of a role for light ships (sloops, brigs, etc.), particularly in piracy/anti-piracy. As it is, light ships are completely replaced by ships of the line when they come around since speed is less important than firepower and durability in battles and there are no other uses for ships (except transport, but then having a fleet that can fight off an enemy is important and the lower cost of light ships isn't an issue late game when heavy ships are available).

Naval and coastal battle maps should feature reefs and shallow areas of water where sloops/brigs/frigates can sail, but larger ships cannot.

There should be more ship-of-the-line types available for construction at the start of the game. Having early fleets be only frigates and sloops of war isn't good enough. The War of Spanish Succession wasn't fought with only 6th rates and sloops-of-war.

The game should feature family trees, disease outbreaks, prisoners of war, storms and other disasters, all of which were intended for the original game, but didn't make it in.

Fort gameplay is terrible. Whenever I have a defensive fort battle, I strongly consider deploying my army outside the fort because being inside just messes up the pathing and lines of fire too much. Infantry on the walls can only use solid shot in a handful of cannons instead of being able to fire their muskets. Defending artillery units can't do anything at all until the walls are breached.

Elite units should be available earlier in the game. Currently, they often don't arrive until the mid-game, when the player doesn't really need them anymore. I have no good memories of my elite units holding the line or leading the advance in an important battle because, by the time they arrive, I'm overrunning all my enemies anyway and my veteran regulars are almost as good as the Maison du Roi/Guards/etc.

Province population sizes should be smaller so that manpower actually becomes an issue again. In Empire, France starts with a population in the millions and each turn grows faster than you can possibly deplete it with recruitment. Armies (and navies) at the time constantly struggled with manpower issues and it would be a cool gameplay element to have to deal with this (at least until Levée en Masse is unlocked in the late game). Allowing the player to use press-gangs and conscription at the cost of unrest/public order would be a cool game mechanic to play with.

I've got ideas for a Chinese tributary system, treasure fleets and more, but that's best saved for another post.

Cosmetic Improvements

Line infantry units should have a unique regimental flag in addition to their national flag so that there are real "stands of colors" in battle. My reasoning for this is that it would look really cool.

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Battlefields should be more cluttered, with houses, tree-lined roads, farm fields, etc. all over the place (varying by how populated the region is) to make the battle maps feel more lived in. They would also offer good tactical options as obstacles, cover or garrison points for infantry/dragoons.

Original Game Systems to retain

The original games trade goods system was awesome. Mines, plantations and factories produced actual goods that had a market price dependent on the available supply. Control of the means of production enabled the player to become incredibly wealthy. Because these goods were often imported to Europe from overseas, control of the sea lanes was crucial to making money.

The towns system was a great way to make the campaign map feel more lived in but also to move critical economic locations out of the major capitals and force armies to actually fight in the field as opposed to hiding in the capital cities all the time. Sieges make for boring gameplay, let's have fewer of them.

Other systems that debuted in Empire like the technology tree and naval battles should also be retained, but I think that all goes without saying.

Start Date

I propose an earlier start date of 1658. This earlier date hopefully offers more a more interesting situation for a lot of the non-European powers in India and China, before the major empires of those regions had consolidated their control. It also allows for more time for the pike-and-shot tactics to develop into linear tactics. Pikemen in Empire always seemed like a missed opportunity because they were pretty much obsolete by 1700. Winding the clock back 40 years makes more time for them to be relevant on the battlefield.

Europe– In England, Oliver Cromwell has just died, paving the way for the Stuart kings to return. They will have to deal with the hostile Parliament that expelled them before, as well as Anglican suspicion of their Catholic sympathies. Both England and France are at war with Spain, an empire in decline but still strong enough to be a serious foe. This war is winding down to an inconclusive end, as the English and French both look towards the newly independent and very wealthy Dutch provinces for new conquests. In the east, the Hapsburgs have emerged from the Thirty Years' War battered but alive, and now have to face down the Ottoman Empire, whose decline is not yet a reality. Meanwhile, the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth is in dire straits, being crippled by domestic instability and devastated by a Swedish invasion. Historically, this was the beginning of the end for the PLC, but a good player could turn things around for them. Russia is a backwater kingdom of little consequence now, but could modernize and expand given the right monarch (though Peter I won't be around for 14 more years). Raising Russia to glory could make for a good challenge.

India– the Mughal War of Succession has just begun, as the sons of the frail Emperor Jahan are warring to see who will succeed him. In the impoverished Deccan is the eventual victor, Aurangzeb. To his east, in Bengal is his brother Shah Shuja, in Gujarat is his brother Murad. Murad and Aurangzeb are united in an alliance, which Aurangzeb will betray once he has won. In Delhi, their infirm father is under the care of his preferred successor, his son Dara Shukoh.

Much of southern India still remains free of Mughal rule, allowing for eventual Mughal expansion and for possible DLC additions to the game later on. 1658 is the year in which the Dutch established their colony on Ceylon (modern Sri Lanka), and the Portuguese have controlled Goa in southwest India since the 16th century.

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China– The newly ascended Qing Dynasty has conquered and solidified its control over much of China, while Ming pretenders desperately fight on from exile in Burma and the Ming-loyalist Koxinga holds many territories along the coast. At one point, he threatens Beijing such that the Qing allegedly considered withdrawing their capital back into Manchuria. The Southern Chinese provinces of Yunnan, Guangdong and Fujian are controlled by the men who will eventually start the Revolt of the Three Feudatories in 1673; Wu Sangui, Shang Zhixin and Geng Jingzhong. These men present a serious threat to the young Qing Dynasty. Dutch traders have established outposts on Formosa, though Koxinga also has his eye on the island as a base for fighting against the Qing. Meanwhile, Korea is, at least outwardly, a submissive tributary of the Qing, though they harbor a grudge over the Qing invasion of 1636-37, while Japan has sequestered itself in isolation under the Tokugawa Shogunate. I don't have an explanation for how or why Japan would break out of it, so maybe it wouldn't be included in the game.

Americas– Spain remains the dominant power here, with a massive empire in the Caribbean, Mexico and South America. England has begun seeding colonies along the Atlantic Seaboard while the French have settled in Canada and the Louisiana Territory. The Dutch have a few colonies in the Caribbean as well. England recently conquered Jamaica and it has become a major haven for buccaneers attacking Spanish shipping and settlements in the region. Portugal of course controls the expansive colony of Brazil in South America. The major indigenous empires have been destroyed by European conquerors, but some powerful factions still exist like the Five Nations of the Iroquois League in the eastern Great Lakes area and Ohio River Valley and the Mapuche in what is now Chile, who were at war with the Spanish from 1655-1665, eventually proving victorious. On the Great Plains, the familiar tribes such as the Lakota, Cheyenne and Comanche have yet to develop into the expert horsemen of Western myth, but they could if they could just get their hands on some horses and guns.

Base Game Factions

  1. England (with Scotland as a vassal)

  2. France

  3. Spanish Empire

  4. Hapsburg Monarchy (possibly just Austria, with Hungary and Bohemia as vassals)

  5. Russia

  6. Ottoman Empire (with Barbary States and possibly Egypt as vassals)

  7. Deccan/Aurangzeb (begins in a war with Mughal pretenders, representing Aurangzeb's brothers)

  8. Qing Dynasty (with Three Feudatories and other provinces as vassals)

  9. United Provinces (Dutch)

  10. Sweden

Possible DLC Factions

  1. Safavid Empire (Persia)

  2. Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth

  3. Kingdom of Tungning (Koxinga's Ming loyalist kingdom)

  4. Brandenburg (what would eventually be Brandenburg-Prussia)

  5. Ming Dynasty

  6. Three Feudatories (each as a separate faction)

  7. Marathas

  8. Mapuche

  9. Lakota, Cheyenne, Comanche (each as a separate faction)

  10. Siam, Burma, Vietnam, etc.

  11. Japan?

Wow, this turned out much longer than I had planned.

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