I will be honest: I did not expect Total War: Arena to be this good.
The Total War games have always been more than their real-time battles. They are about scrolling across an interactive map of medieval Europe, inhaling the atmosphere of a world long gone (one part burning wood, two parts human faeces). They are about whiling away the hours eyeing up territory, wondering why it is not yours: the kingly notion that has started all too many wars. And the battles themselves are coloured by the broader context. This crucial river crossing is the gateway to an otherwise unprotected continent; that routing unit of archers will be your last if you cannot afford to train another. The Total War games are layered, like the history textbooks our school teachers had us cover in wrapping paper.
Read more: the best strategy games on PC.
Arena promises to strip all of that away, leaving behind only multiplayer battles of no consequence beyond the acquisition of varying amounts of XP. Who wants that?