Total War: Attila takes place in Europe, specifically during the Hunnic invasions. In this scenario, the Roman Empire is actively failing while the Huns press westward, leaving nothing but ruins behind. A ferocious tidal wave in world history, the Huns could quickly cover European ground while scattering the tribes they came across. In Total War: Attila, Rome won’t burn in a day because the Huns aren’t all that easy to control.
Playing as Romans would require keeping as many settlements as you can, doing what you can to trade and marry your way into strong alliances while adapting to the ever-changing surrounding circumstances. Depending on how you play, friends can quickly become enemies while internal disapproval can lead to rebellion in your own streets. New powers are constantly rising throughout the campaign, each of which have their own political problems waiting to explode. Simply put, everyone wants some of the Empire, and you’ll need to lose some to maintain the most important order in your Empire.
Playing as a smaller faction doesn’t make the game any easier, of course. The first thing you’ll notice is the bark and bite of the incoming Huns from the north. When winter comes around, the campaign map slows down armies and deals attrition damage to those who aren’t in a friendly territory. Unlike previous games, seasons affect the towns more directly as well; for example, crops might be destroyed thanks to a particularly difficult winter. In this way, there is strategy to difficult factions and how they behave in the game.
No matter who you decide to play as, however, you are going to have to stand your ground at some point and fight your enemy. It is dangerous to meet head on with Huns on open ground since they have mounted units you won’t have early access to; they’ll be able to rapidly outflank your ground troops and overwhelm you with larger numbers.
Unfortunately, the tutorial is a little lacking for preparing players to command large armies. It covers micro-combat and macro-management, but it doesn’t offer much on the way of tips, such as not needing to immediately upgrade a building. At best, it offers a refresher to those who have played Total War games in the past; imagine a new player starting the tutorial, which prompts you to immediately attack a much larger, much stronger army. It’s a punishing curve.
Total War: Attila is a game made for veterans of the series. New players will certainly face their difficulties, but those who are willing to dive into the absurd difficulty curve at the expense of having no useful tutorial, Attila can show off its brilliance within. It’s unfortunate that the replay value is buried beneath a test of patience, but there is a wealth of content to explore. The only downside is that you must divide your time between the different game mechanics; the lack of focus limits all of their abilities.