Having now played and finished campaigns with the Vampires, Dwarves, and Empire, I can safely re-confirm that Total War: Warhammer is awesome. Let’s expand on the awesome though, shall we?
It’s funny how sometimes you can play a game series and not know you are really missing something until it’s provided, and then you look back on older titles and wonder how the hell you even enjoyed the first version. For TW, its faction differences, as before Warhammer, they all kinda felt the same, with the biggest noticeable difference being starting location. In retrospect, that seems INSANE for a strategy game, yet that’s what it was for multiple games in the very successful and enjoyable series.
In TW:W the factions are absurdly unique, and the differences go far beyond troop options (though unit selection has basically zero overlap). Each faction has unique gameplay elements, like the dwarves book of grudges (quests that are generated based on in-game events (losing a city or fight, for example) that incur penalties if you don’t handle them in short order), or the Empire’s government structure (you can assign leaders to different roles, which provide army and faction bonuses), or the Vampires ability to instantly create new units from old battlefields.
Then there are more general things, like the fact that most factions dislike the Vampires and Greenskins, but the different human and dwarf factions can all get along, making diplomacy more important. Or that the Empire, Dwarves, and Greenskins can confederate (absorb) minor factions of their race, while the Vampires and Chaos cannot. Or the two different types of settlements (dwarf/greenskin, and human/vampire), where factions can only control one or the other, and can only sack or raise the non-matching type. Or that Chaos is more focused on destruction than occupation in general.
Starting positions are also big factors. For example, the dwarves are on the right side of the map, with their main threat (Greenskins) being south. Chaos is to the north and the Vampires are to the west, but both aren’t major threats, at least not initially. The Empire, on the other hand, basically starts in the middle, surrounded by rival and/or friendly human factions, and are the first line of defense against Chaos from the north. They also feel the brunt of the Vampires from the east, and to the far west they have the Bretonnians, who may or may not be friendly depending on how diplomacy goes. And of course the Greenskins can always rampage up from the south into Empire lands, again depending on how their fighting with the dwarves goes.
My Empire game was radically different on all fronts compared to my Dwarf or Vampire game, and that makes me all the more excited for additional races to be added via DLC. Plus DLC that adds side systems to the overall game will likely impact each faction differently as well, so how the Vampire campaign plays today likely won’t be how it plays overall after a year or so of additions. That has always been somewhat true in TW games, but again the major formula changes in TW:W will likely result in far more impactful and entertaining additions.
I’ve yet to try out multiplayer, either single battles or the campaign. The campaign sounds like a massive investment in time, and from what I’ve read, it’s somewhat hit/miss in terms of fun. I would be down for some battles though, as I think the faction/unit variety makes the combat in TW:W more interesting than previous games. Hit me up on Steam (SynCaine) if you want to give that a go.