Rome Total Realism (R:TW mod) 6.0
RTS style games have never attracted the kind of attentions from the modding community that FPS games have in the past. Modding is so big and professional now that much of what has evolved in FPS style games had its origin in some or another mod. Even after the move to 3d there has been very little real effort at modding RTS games; something with a fairly open architecture like War3, which should be kind of easy, still (as far as i know) doesn't have any big, Counterstrike style mod.
Until Rome Total Realism.
Whether or not it's truly realistic i won't pass judgement on, but this is honestly the biggest RTS mod i've ever seen. It has doubled the size of the campaign map, has an all new music score (! pretty rare for mods in any genre), and has redrawn the artwork for every single unit. It also has greatly changed the recruitment system in the campaign game, though i'm not certain if i like it better or not. And has added (hmm) maybe 4 all new playable factions like the Bactrians and Illyrians.
I played the 5.x versions of the mod, and it was then still clearly a fan / balance expansion. With this 6.0 version it's good enough, or nearly so, to be a retail expansion.
I haven't tried version 6, but my criticism of the earlier version seems to be still operative.
The map is too chopped up with too many cities.
R:TW, like all the TW games, is a beer and pretzel game. Forcing a siege every two inches really interrupts the flow of what is an almost perfectly balanced game that put a premium on action, not sitting around.
I love the new factions (Bactrians!) and the artwork is really good for an amateur project. The mod works as a history lesson, but kind of falls short as a game because it messes with what makes Rome such a blast to begin with.
The mod doesn't adress my main problem with R:TW, which is the abysmal strategic AI. While it is not reasonable to hold the mod team responsible for the state of the AI, it really hurts their efforts at promoting realistic gameplay. The chopped-up map is also a pain. I wish they'd release a version with provinces sized like in the unmodded game.
Yea i agree with both of these assessments. This mod is aimed primarily at addressing the "arcade" battles which i guess they felt were too fast and decisive. All units have morale upgraded so they hardly rout until the battle is over, and everything is considerably slower - imo a bit too slow. However the way routing worked, and how you could slaughter fleeing opponents almost to the last man, made this necessary (i guess - i would have just reduced the speed penalty for exhausted troops). Not being able to hold everything in their heads at once, they balanced the speed of units to "realistic" values but not the power of archers and arrow fire. Thus now even though Rome was founded and survived for centuries with barely a bow in sight, bow armed units pretty much decimate everything. Also all but a few barbarian civs have hoplites now, which makes the game a bit like Rome: Total Hoplite. For some reason grognards love pike and bow tactics :).
They also, in a fit of historical enthusiasm, really overestimated the value of lots of eastern empire troops. I think the original game had a far better grasp of the overall balance between empires and the roles their units played, even if strictly speaking it wasn't very 'realistic' in a rivet counter way. But i don't think there were many elite well trained troops with good morale in the eastern Selucid dynasties.
Also they screwed up the finances for the campaign game. Feeling trade was too effecient, they neutered all forms of trade altogether. Taxes provide 90% of income regardless of what you do. They seemed to hate that temples provide bonuses, so while different temples for each god are still around, they give the exact same bonus. So no difference between a Temple of Mars or Juno. A pretty clear case of missing the forest from the trees. They also started all the towns heavily fortified, which means there really isn't any decision making to do, especially since there is no reason to bother with trade.
However the way they changed recruitment is nice, sortof. Now you have to spend multiple turns building 'infrastructure' buildings before you can recruit anything. It also allows you to recruit native troops to the province, unlike in the vanilla game. So you can have Persian spearman as Rome, or whatever.
Overall its a huge mod and pretty well done, but i feel like i need to unmod some of the changes myself to get it to the point i want.
The Europa Barbarum map looks really nice about now. Plus their province size seemed to remain the same while they expanded the map to the south and east. There is a stand-alone version of that map somewhere on TWCenter forums but I am waiting for them to release their mod (heard its in final beta stages)... if only before the expansion comes out.
Originally Posted by Kalle
I actually decided to give this mod a whirl earlier last week for some reason, and here is something I found about the AI: still as stupid as ever. I started out playing as the Romans (and I liked how they added a lot of new Italian units and let you build elite units from the start).. however if combat was supposed to be harder, I really hardly found it to be like that.
My Hastati, yes, hastati, rolled over the Greek's Hoplitai, and any Italian Spearmen/Swordsmen. The Greeks still did stupid things like move their phalanxes and leave their sides open to attack, so naturally I kicked them off the peninsula and killed Pyrrhus very quickly ("normal" battle difficulty because I don't like cheating AI :)). Then I moved up north only to discover cool slinger mercs whom I recruited right away.. here's where it became fun.
I had about two gaul slingers per army, and I noticed that they had a huge range and they did tons of damage (more than skirmishers) against unarmored targets (hoplitai seemed to take little damage when facing the slingers with shields). Now the interesting thing is, they didn't fix the bugs where if you attack the enemy with ranged units and your army is a lot stronger, the enemy just stands there moving troops and never attacking you. So I won maybe 5 battles losing 0 troops the entire time, then I realized that thanks to the new map where the cities were right next to each other it wasn't very fun anymore. By the way, they did approach me once in a while, but would route almost as soon as they engaged my mercenary hoplitai or hastati.
I had a hard time noticing that, although maybe the kill speed is slower, their units would route very quickly too often even when the enemy had numerical advantage (and I'm talking about Greeks here, not civilized Gauls). Theoretically if they have 6 phalanx units they should be able to give me a run for my money.
Originally Posted by TheSelfishGene
That was actually nice, but I played it an entire day and never got to finishing Phase III Auxilias in all but the most neighboring provinces and so I never got to see the exotic units.. and even if you can, a lot of the units are redundant, like Italian Skirmishers + Velites cost exactly the same but the Velites are way better. Maybe not if you are a different civilization though, I guess. I hardly imagine this would let you recruit Legionnaires as Gaul though, now would it?
Originally Posted by TheSelfishGene
All in all it feels like the modders were trying to do a good job but the game had inherent limitations (especially AI) they couldn't fix, that and making the map too cluttered.
Playing RTR 5.x I never had a problem with the Greeks, but the barbarians gave me a real run for the money simple because all their troops had such an edge in stats over my poor newly formed roman units. The Gauls weren't that bad, I could deal with their basic troops alright but the Dacians were just brutal. And I loved it. I really felt like every battle mattered. I only had Italy back then, and every army mattered, and every battle could spell disaster. Veterans became priceless as I was outnumbered and outgunned (outsworded?) most of the time but I could edge myself south along the Adriatic and really feel like I was making progress. And then I hit the Greeks again. Huge armies of Hoplites and Skirmishers, I was almost always outnumbered 2-1 or more, but every time I hit the tactical battle screen I knew exactly how to take them apart. I could never say that about the Dacians. With the wooded hilly terrain of the Balkans, the Dacian archers and horsemen, and their raw advantage in single combat and in numbers every battle was a challenge. The Greeks just formed up in a line and marched straight at me.
I've just finished the Roman Campaign and I concur with most of the above. The battle AI is open to gamey tactics- I managed to get a pile of heroic victories using balistas, scorpions and slingers to decimate the enemy before they reached the legionaries.
The zone of recruitment is a nice effect- particularly making each barracks upgrade have a pacifying effect.
The fact that there are too many towns (3 cities in Cyprus?!) means that the Ptolemaic Empire spreads like a virus- I had interrupt my western conquests and conquer Egypt to prevent them achieving victory.
The extra units and modelling are excellent though and the mod has had me ignoring BF2 for a week.
Having said that, beware the Roman Campaign. If you take the 50th city to win, you will crash to desktop. This is a huge WTF? sort of thing about their testing. Their response was that they know about it and they were too busy testing all the factions and new builds that they never got around to finishing a campaign. Great work, guys. (There is a player-made fix for it stickied in their forums)
I wish the modders could fix the horrendous computer opponent during battles. There are several times where I have seen enemy slingers, archers and ballista crews charge my lines without firing a shot.
There were some formation errors in the shipping (and patched) version of Rome. You could see the resultin the suicidal generals, the fix may be included in RTR. Asides from those corrections I don't believe anyone has found a way to generate real competition. I tried the BI demo and it does appear that they have made improvements its at least closer to MTW standards. I couldn't fully compare but on the opening of my first game the enemy line redeployed to higher and better ground. I nearly lost the battle several times.
Europa Barbourum might be the most professional mod, they're stacked with good artists and the historical authenticy is interesting. The bad spot I've noticed is that they use three words when one would do, you can see it in a few of the "event" screenshots.
Interesting, I found the demo unfinished. If you played as the Saxons in the Arthur battle, the Britons just kept standing there, so I got bored of waiting for them and attacked Aldrich and won the battle easily, then the game crashed. Then I played the Attila battle as the Romans..
Originally Posted by Incendiary Lemon
The AI was *kind of* smarter, I am glad they moved to the higher ground, but they kind of deployed their forces on both sides of the hill, instead of *only* on the hill. Plus they waited for me to advance all the way, they should've been peppering my guys with their horse archers right away and charged with all of their heavy cavalry (romans only had 3). I easily won that battle by charging with my entiry infantry+cavalry towards the end (plus all the enemy infantry was exhausted). Winning the battle as the Huns though, was a little harder but I did it anyways. I also noticed that the Goths' spear unit which can do the little circle formation where they have no flanks would stand in one place while it got shot to death by arrows from 80 units to 0 (wtf??). I mean if you are going to die, then you might as well charge the enemy or at least rout.
The downsides could be the new Berserker units which send everyone flying, the sparkles when your unit levels up, and of course the totally random Priest units! All I know is that if Attila the Hun fought like that in real life, he'd have lost long ago.
By the way, did anyone else notice they seemed to have removed the Testudo formation, the Phalanx formation? Why would they do that, Phalanx was still pretty effective against Cavalry, more effective than Shield Wall.
I've seen that in vanilla RTW, though. An outnumbered opponent heavy in missile infantry and skirmishers often dashes uphill.
Originally Posted by Incendiary Lemon
I didn't see a lot of new intelligence in the BI demo. In the Chalons battle, the Huns regularly redeployed just beyond the crest of a hill - so regularly that I wonder if it's not scripted to do so.
It made for a touch and go battle, but the failure of the AI to really coordinate its cavalry charges leads me to believe that not much has changed.