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Picking a favourite Total War game is a bit like picking a favourite child. Each is unique and special with their own quirks and talents that set them apart from the rest. Some are bigger or smarter or faster. Also, you suspect one might actually be an alien (Empire we’re looking at you). At this point, most of the games are cheap enough to justify an impulse purchase. And the series has been consistently knocking it out of the park for nearly two decades now, so you’re guaranteed to lose dozens if not hundreds of hours of your time to them no matter which game you decide to jump into. However, most direct sequels tend to improve on the original in every way so if you’ve never played a Total War game before you should stick with the newer games. For those who want to experience the best of the series, here are the top six Total War games we recommend and why.

Rome 2

Rome 2 is one of the most popular and most played Total War games right now though the developers aren’t to thank for that. Its launch was mired by numerous bugs and glitches that ruined the initial experience, the gameplay was horribly unbalanced, and the pacing felt unnecessarily slow. Much of Rome 2’s popularity can be attributed to its timing – it released right around the time Let’s Play videos were becoming popular on YouTube – and it’s excellent post-launch support. Stick with the Emperor Edition, it’s the most complete version of the game and fixes all of the vanilla version’s biggest bugs.

Rome 2 received developer support years after release with several great DLC’s and patches that fixed a lot of bugs from launch and added some of the most fun campaigns you’ll find in a Total War game. If you’re a fan of mods, Rome 2 has a thriving modding community – easily the largest of the Total War games. With mods, this game has endless replayability, and the numerous patches have made it one of the better Total War games despite its disaster of a launch.

Warhammer 1/2

Before Total War: Warhammer came along, the series seemed bound to real world-changing campaigns in human history and the giant personalities behind them. Warhammer was the first Total War to dive into a pure fantasy setting, introducing a heap of new mechanics, characters, and factions taken from decades of established Warhammer lore. And magic! Oh, there’s magic in this game and that opens up a world of possibilities, adding another class of fighters to the classic Total War combination of melee/ranged/cavalry. The interactions between factions and characters also heavily utilize the established race and faction relations of the property, making them more interesting than they’ve ever been.

Warhammer 2 expanded upon the first with a scope and size that dwarfs all the titles that came before it: 12 playable factions, a sprawling map, and easily the greatest unit variation of any Total War title to date. If you’re tired of grand strategy games being shackled to our own boring Earth, immerse yourself in the grimdark world of Warhammer and Warhammer 2.


Napoleon still stands out for taking a series that was known for massive continent-spanning campaigns and focusing the story on a single person in history. Napoleon takes the player through four campaigns throughout Napoleon Bonaparte’s military career.
Napoleon feels like an expansion to the oft-criticized Empire, implementing some mechanics from the latter as key gameplay aspects, such as attrition due to poor weather or fatigue and the naval combat and musket battles that defined the early modern warfare of the era.

If you’re looking for a Total War game that is more directed with a clear story to tell, Napoleon is for you. It’s a blast to play through some of Europe’s most important battles and maybe even rewrite history.


Attila is a game that puts you in the hot seat from the first turn and doesn’t relent. It shares a lot of similarities with Napoleon in that it focuses on a single character in human history, though unlike Napoleon you’re preparing to do battle with Attila rather than playing as him. Set in the era in history when Attila the Hun set Asia ablaze, the game treats his coming like a force of nature. He is inevitable and all you can do is prepare for the storm.

The decision to put the game on a strict timer like this was a big risk and it split the fanbase on release. Total War games are usually epic campaigns spanning several decades, allowing for deliberate decision-making where a choice now could bear fruit in 15 or 20 years. In Attila, you’ve only got 10 years before the big man himself comes to raze your kingdom to the ground. Going into a game of Attila requires a different mindset from Total War games that came before, and it’s a unique challenge you won’t find anywhere else in the series.

Three Kingdoms

Three Kingdoms is the latest Total War release set in the Three Kingdoms period of Chinese history. You’re given the gargantuan task of uniting all of a China at war with itself with 12 factions to choose from.

What makes this such a great game is the option to choose one of two modes: “Romance” mode which is based on the popular Romance of the Three Kingdoms novels and “Records” mode which follows more historically accurate accounts of the period. In Romance Mode, the personalities are larger-than-life, and the drama is often over-the-top, but all of this adds that extra bit of flair and fun that’s been sorely missing from the series.

Shogun 2

Shogun 2, oh Shogun 2, how do we sufficiently express our love for you. Its release came after Empire and Napoleon, both highly experimental titles. Empire was the first in the series to explore early modern warfare, introducing the use of gunpowder and naval artillery, and Napoleon was a more intimate affair, focusing on Napoleon the leader and person. Shogun 2, however, is a return to the series’ roots.

The direct sequel to the very first Shogun, Shogun 2 is a reaffirmation of every key aspect of Total War that players love. A return to focus on melee and cavalry warfare, an update to the political aspects of gameplay, and improved A.I. and sieges. Even today, it’s considered the ultimate Total War game, the title most representative of the series as a whole and many would argue it’s the best of the bunch.

As we said, it’s hard to pick a favourite Total War game of the bunch. Sometimes it just depends on your what you’re into on a particular day. Maybe you want the intimate storylines of Napoleon or you might want to go nuts in a world with ogres, elves, and magic. Which is your favourite Total War game in the series and why?

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