End of Closed Beta Test

By Christos Reid

Hi Everyone – first and foremost the development team at CA would like to thank you for all the time and incredible feedback you’ve given us during the Closed Beta for Total War: ARENA.

The dedication and enthusiasm for the game is fantastic and we owe its continuing success and evolution to you and all the players who have taken the time to try the game out; whether they just played a few games or have been super active on the forums posting comments on all the features and tweaks as they’ve happened.

We’ve now got to the point where we have an incredible amount of feedback, suggestions and plans for more features and content for us to include in the game and bring us closer to being Launch Ready.

In order to make this next leap we need all hands on deck here to make some fundamental changes to the back end infrastructure of the game, and that means bringing this phase of the test offline so we can get to work on it.

In two weeks’ time (on the 3rd of March) we will be turning the servers off so we can get to work. Unfortunately this does mean you’ll no longer be able to play from that date until we switch back on. When we do, ARENA will be bigger and better.

We don’t currently have an exact date as to when we will be switching back on, but we do expect it to be in more than 2 months’ time. We aren’t going anywhere though, so stay tuned to the forums and our social media and, not only will we be keeping you up to date with all the news going on behind the scenes as we make progress, but you will also be the first to know when we are going live again.

We appreciate your patience with the beta test and we know it is really frustrating news if you want to continue playing. But we will be back with a better game based on your feedback, and we will very richly reward any of our ARENA players who come and join us in the next testing stage in the future.

All players who’ve spent money to purchase Gold in the game will automatically receive a refund into their Steam Wallet of whatever they’ve spent (this may take a few days to process). You’ll keep your progress though and any gold you have bought. As of now we are also removing the ability to purchase Gold with real money, just to avoid anyone buying any by mistake just before the servers go offline.

Your account and progress will not disappear when we go offline, and we are going to make it really worth your while if you come back and join us when we are live again. More details on those rewards will be coming soon.

Thank you again for your support and help, we are pretty excited by what we have planned for the next stage and hope you will join us for it. We are going to be revealing the new features we are working on soon and there’s an FAQ here and the community team available to answer any questions you might have.

See you on the battlefield,

ARENA Team.

Greetings, Commanders.

It has been a very busy time for the ARENA team since we started our offline development period on the 3rd of March. While the game has been offline we have been hard at work making many changes and planning some very exciting new content.

Our team has grown since the start of the New Year – you may have noticed the flurry of new job opportunities going up on our careers page. We’ve even recruited from within the ARENA community, which just shows the passion that all of you have for ARENA.

The question many of you will have asked when will we be back online. Our answer is “once we feel ready.” We’ve received lots of great feedback from our year of being online from our community and we plan to make good use of it.

To give you an idea of some of the changes we’ve made, we’ve detailed a couple below.

Reworking of Charge Mechanics
We’ve iterated on existing balance & mechanics, making them visually more impactful and balanced across the board:

  • Counter-charging (charge vs charge) no longer feels random is much more precise
  • More satisfying visuals & “feel” to charge impacts
  • Stronger balance & scaling throughout the game

We asked ARENA Designer David Petry about the Charge changes:

“How and when you take an engagement is a huge deal when playing ARENA,” says Petry. “As charging is one of the primary ways to initiate a melee, we wanted to make sure they were as awesome as possible. We took a look at our mechanics, read into your feedback, and found a few ways to improve them greatly.

“We’ve eliminated the “randomness” felt when two charging units collide, and upped the quality of the visuals. Now when the guy at the front stops, the guys behind him stop too, so there’s a great sense of weight & impact when charges are successful (or deflected). We’ve also placed a little more emphasis on timing your charge and building up momentum to pull off the most epic hits. This fixes an old issue with charging point blank being successful, and nudges up the skill roof when duking it out in the initial engagement.

“In short, we’re really happy with the improvements, and can’t wait for you guys to try them out!

Reworking of Pike Mechanics
Massive improvements to how pikes control, play and interact: pikes can now move in any direction, whilst maintaining their formation and orientation!

  • Backstepping!
  • Sidestepping!

Over the course of offline development, we’ll be bringing you updates and behind the scenes whenever possible, until the game is back online.

These are very exciting times for the ARENA team and we can’t wait to show you the progress we have made so keep an eye on our social media for the next ARENA update. Until next time!

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It is with great pride we announce a new commander for Total War: ARENA – James “Dogbert Given”!

Hailing from the northern city of Newcastle, this tenacious community leader and streaming specialist dual-wields giant swords and can rally his troops with passionate speeches about caltrops and how he has stored his own supply of drinks in the company fridge. Check out his abilities below:

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Diet Soda

Increases movement and attack speed for half an hour, followed by a two hour penalty to both. Also sugar free.

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Livestream

All other units on the map stop to watch what Dogbert’s troops are doing, allowing your forces to smash them to pieces while they’re asking questions in chat.

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Pub? Pub.

All your units put their weapons down. It’s five thirty, it’s Friday, and they’re off to the pub. Game continues as normal, with random soldiers from all units in the game leaving to join Dogbert’s force for a pint down the local.

CY_hunt

?

What is his final ability?

Continue reading New Commander Announcement: Dogbert

Praetorian Interview – G4P

By Christos Reid

Hi folks! This week, we wanted to give you an insight into what it’s like being a member of the Praetorians, a group of ARENA players that we have frank discussions with about the game in order to get concentrated feedback from, in addition to working with them on testing new builds. Dogbert spoke to _OTD_PEN_G4P, one of our Praetorians and forum moderators, about their experience.

1. Tell us how you found out about Total War: ARENA?

Total War multiplayer always fascinated me; from what I recall when Total War: Rome II was released, a pure multiplayer game called Total War: ARENA had already been teased. I signed up for the newsletter about ARENA and followed the news about it since then.

2. How did you get involved in the Praetorian testing group?

I was lucky enough to get chosen for the closed alpha in November 2015. Enjoying the game, I played countless hours and eventually came to the forums to post my feedback and contribute to discussions. Most of the dedicated players where on CA_Dogbert’s TeamSpeak and liked to discuss the game there. When the servers were down, we got to talk with CA_Thamis in a forum thread, where he shared statistics with us. I like to believe that this discussion gave CA the idea to found the Praetorian group. Shortly after the relaunch of the servers CA_Dogbert asked the most dedicated testers if they would want to join a early-testing group called the “Praetorians”.

3. How has working with the ARENA dev been?

The relation to the devs is laid-back, you realize that they are just normal people that enjoy the game as we do. You can voice your opinion openly and even if the we express harsh critisism the devs know that we all want to improve the game and accept such statements. We mostly talk to social managers/community managers though, as the developers are very busy.

4. Best part about being in the Praetorian group?

I like thinking about the game on a very theoretical level. Being in the Praetorians gives you an insight into how certain mechanics work. We can easily set up most battle situations on the livetest server. That’s why you get a deep understanding of the game and can discuss well about it. These discussions with other praetorians or developers is what I like the most.

5. What has been the biggest impact you think you or the group has made on Total War: ARENA?

A continuous big impact that the group has is giving feedback and joining playtests on unreleased content, that often gets balanced according to our suggestions. So for example barrage gave 99% reload speed reduction and was usable on slingers and javelins, this proved to be overpowered, but was quickly changed before ever hitting live.

6. What advice would you give someone who wanted to join the group and give useful feedback?

I do not exactly know how CA will design the next recruitment process; it is important that you have fun playing the game and are respectful in-game and on the forums. You need to be able to have constructive discussions on the forum and decent skills in English are beneficial. If you have been given the chance to join the Praetorians, you should always go for it, you get to know the devs and other nice community people, while being able to influence the development of ARENA itself.

Play ARENA with the Devs!

By Christos Reid

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Greetings, Commanders!

Wednesday sees our biggest “play with the devs” ARENA session as we prepare to take the game offline the following day. We’d like as many of you to be present for it as possible, and lots of us will be online and playing!

There’ll be a livestream (found here) hosted by our own Community Coordinator, Dogbert, and you can find the Steam Group he uses to party up with players here. Both the stream and the event start at 5PM GMT. See you on the battlefield!

ARENA Events Retrospective

By Christos Reid

ARENA has been shown at many an event, and before we go offline for a while to focus on development, our Community Coordinator, James “Dogbert” Given wanted to share some of his favourite memories. It’s great to see everything we’ve done so far, and it’s a good preview of what you can expect from us when we’re back! Take it away, James.

Behind closed doors community playtest – Horsham, UK

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We held our very first public play test back on the 7th of November, 2014. After a Q&A to kick things off, we placed the players into two meeting rooms and held a series of 10v10 battles were this group of hardcore Total War players battled it out for the first time.

By the end of the day we challenged both teams to take on the developers which led to two great games in which saw the devs crush the two player teams 2-0. I also wrote “get rekt” on the whiteboard to make sure they got the message about messing with the devs!

It was a great first outing for Total War: ARENA, and really showed that the hardcore could get behind ARENA’s gameplay style.

Press tour – San Francisco, USA and London, UK

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In December we did our first hands on with the press and community, in both San Francisco and the awesome British Museum in London.

ESL ARENA Showcase – Cologne, Germany

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Our biggest event to date was the Total War: ARENA live gameplay reveal we held at the ESL studios in Cologne Germany on the 23rd of May, 2015. For the first time ever we planned to show off live gameplay, and not only that but we brought in 20 YouTubers and Total War players to help us do so. We showcased why ARENA is so great – the epic, massive team-based battles!

By using the awesome studios at ESL we were able to bring TV-level production and top level talent in the form of host Sean Charles and eSports commentator Leigh “Deman” Smith, both of which have been working in eSports for many years to help bring a little bit of a new look and sound to our broadcasts.

The action was just what we were hoping for with lots of epic closely-fought battles between the two teams, showing just how team work and skill means everything in Total War: ARENA. The two teams were “Germanicus”, led by Lionheart of Total War Youtube fame and “Leonidas”, led by Youtuber Jesse Cox. In the end we came down to Team Germanicus winning the showcase event by 7-5 but it was a great showing by Team Leonidas who came very close to winning many of the maps but were beaten by Aggony Duck’s great plays.

DreamHack Summer – Jönköping, Sweden

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We took Total War: ARENA on the road to the biggest LAN party in the world – DREAMHACK – where we had thousands of hardcore PC gamers joining us at our booth to get their first taste of Total War: ARENA.

Gamescom – Cologne, Germany

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We once again found ourselves back in lovely Cologne, Germany, but this time for the biggest Gaming trade show in Europe Gamescom 2015! We had a massive booth where we held 10v10 match-ups with the public, and also gave them a chance to battle people online.

ESL ARENA Showcase – Burbank, USA

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To welcome Total War: ARENA opening up in North America, we partnered up with ESL again to host the second of our Total War: ARENA showcase battles. Once again we brought in 20 Total War players and YouTubers into the ESL studios in sunny Burbank California to battle it out live on stream. Joining us once again for this was eSports commentator Deman and Sean Charles along with many from the Total War Community team and Arena devs.

The winner of the last ESL showcase, Lionheart, took command of Team Warcast to battle the oldest Total War Youtuber, PrinceOfMacedon and Team Murica. What started as a close two battles quickly turned into a one-sided series with players from well-known gaming clan RTK able to swing the balance of power firmly into Team Murica’s favour with them crushing Team Warcast 7-3.

More to come

That’s not all the events we’ll be doing, of course – ARENA will be back after its offline development period and you’ll see us again in the future! Thanks for reading!

As we move towards the end of this closed beta period, we’ve noticed that during the night-time in Europe, it was taking too long to find matches for players in medium and higher tiers. Even though tier banding greatly improved the quality of matchmaking, we feel that at this time (the last weeks before we take a break) it’s more important that you can play as many matches as possible.

The change is effective immediately, which means that everyone will find matchmaking faster, but there may be more cases of high-tier units being matched against low-tier units, particularly during European night-time. When we come back after the break we’ll review our approach to tier banding once more.

Additionally, please note that “soft banding” is still in place – it is unlikely that you will find tier one players being pitted against tier ten players, but the hard banding has been removed.

Why is the game going offline?

ARENA has reached the point in its development cycle where in order to make major improvements quickly and efficiently, it’s easier to take the game offline for a period of time and dedicate everyone to the singular task of bringing the game closer to open beta.

When is it coming back?

We’re not currently giving a precise date to avoid disappointing any of you if development ends up taking longer than expected. We can confirm it will be over two months from the date ARENA goes offline, however.

Why can’t you just keep it up without updates for me to play?

While keeping the game online and hearing your live feedback gives us highly valuable information, it also slows down development time. A lot of our time is spent on fixing bugs, maintaining the servers, and preparing updates (coding, integration, QA testing, and deployment). Without these overheads, we could develop the game much faster, bringing you a more complete gameplay experience in a shorter period of time.

Keeping the game online without any updates or support from CA isn’t an option we’d like: The players would feel not listened to, we couldn’t respond to urgent issues, and overall the mood and gameplay experience would suffer. Player numbers would drop, matchmaking would get worse, and it would leave a bad taste in everyone’s mouth.
Instead, it’s much better to take a break and come back to a game that is more complete, incorporates a lot of your feedback from the last few months, and is overall a much more enjoyable gameplay experience.

Will all my progression be lost?

We have no plans to reset progression.

Does this mean the game is cancelled / the beta test has been a failure?

Not at all – the reason we’re taking it offline is because we want to ensure that the game actually gets finished, specifically because it’s been doing so well. The beta test has been invaluable for us in teaching us about how our community plays the game, how it performs for people outside the studio, and what our priorities should be in order to grant players the best possible experience. This is the point at which we aim ourselves at one of our final hurdles, not the point at which we leave the race.

Can I still spend money in-game?

No, we have turned off the ability to spend more money in ARENA until the game is back online after its offline development period.

I’ve paid for this game and you’re not letting me play it / I still have premium account time to run / How do I get a refund?

You should automatically receive a refund to you Steam Wallet of any money you have spent in game so far. Please allow up to 30 days for this to be processed. If you still have not received the refund after that, please contact customer support (either in-game or via https://support.sega.co.uk/hc/en-gb/categories/200307381-Total-War-Support). Please not this does not remove any paid-for items from your account – you get your money back and you keep your investments.

All my time has been wasted, why do you think that’s OK?

We don’t think your time has been wasted at all! Your contributions to the game have actually improved it significantly. Even playing it without ever posting in the forums helps us as we can look at the stats from every game and player and get a much better idea of how the game performs with real people than we could by simulating the game with AI. You came in on the ground floor of ARENA, and we view the time you’ve spent on the game as invaluable.

Also, we’re pretty sure that you’ve enjoyed playing the game, based on all the great feedback we’ve received. See it as a preview, a taste of what the game could be. Now it’s just a matter of waiting a bit for the game to become what it should be. Besides, we won’t be resetting progress and your Commanders and troops will be waiting for you when we come back.

How do I make suggestions for gameplay improvements and changes?

We’d love to hear your ideas, even while we are offline! Please visit our forums and talk to us about them – we read the forums constantly and have frequently taken player feedback into account when discussing changes and improvements to ARENA, many of which have made it into the live build.

The forums will continue to be up during our downtime, and we’ll regularly update you on our progress through the devblog… and we do want to hear your feedback!

Why don’t you have enough developers to keep the game up?

It’s more that we think that it’s better to get the game ready for open beta faster than it is to keep it online in closed beta. By refocusing our dev team solely on getting ARENA prepped for open beta, we can put that version of the game into the hands of you, the players, much faster than we could do otherwise.

Are you finishing the game, or will you continue to add new content?

The long-term plan for ARENA absolutely consists of releasing new content for as long as the game is live. From release, development on ARENA will continue to build towards new maps, commanders and units as it always has.

Are you going to stop talking to us?

Not at all! We’ve got a lot of behind-the-scenes content planned for while we’re offline, including interviews with the dev team about their progress, livestreams of the internal test build and points of contact in the form of our community team. If you’ve got questions, we’ve got answers – we plan to stay in touch, and we hope you will, too.

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The time of Vercingetorix the Defiant is here! Our latest commander will be unlocked in ARENA next week, and in the meantime we wanted to share him and the other improvements and fixes coming in his patch with you.

Vercingetorix was a Gallic chieftain who defied the might of Rome under Julius Caesar fighting for his people. His name means “Victor of a Hundred Battles”. Tall and handsome, he was a charismatic leader and public speaker who rallied people to his cause through the power of his words as well as actions (learn more about his history here). These actions are reflected in his Commander Orders in ARENA:

 

Vercingetorix the Defiant

Vercingetorix the Defiant

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Natural Fortification

Increases all terrain buffs, and decreases all terrain debuffs, allowing troops under Vercingetorix to take full advantage of the terrain they find themselves fighting on.

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Iron Discipline

Freezes your unit’s morale, allowing you to keep fighting well past the point where most units would break, which will assist players greatly in holding the line against considerable odds.

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Scorched Earth

Sets fire to the ground within an area of effect. Units moving through the fire will take damage, and players can use this to their advantage by controlling access to certain areas of terrain.

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Defiance

The unit enters into a reckless berserk, which delays all damage taken until the order is finished, at which point the full sum of damage will be applied at once. This temporary invincibility can be used for devastating, reckless attacks and heroic last stands.

Continue reading Patch Notes: Vercingetorix the Defiant

TW ARENA_Vercingetorix_History Blog image

Vercingetorix ( 82-46 BCE) was a Gallic chieftain who defied the might of Rome under Julius Caesar fighting for his people. His name means “Victor of a Hundred Battles”. Tall and handsome, he was a charismatic leader and public speaker who rallied people to his cause through the power of his words as well as actions. He is considered the first national hero of France (known as Gaul in his time) and his defense of the land against the Roman legions made him legendary even in his own time.

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Concept art of Vercingetorix.

When Caesar invaded Gaul, Vercingetorix led his people in resistance. He sent messengers on the fastest horses througout Gaul to spread the word of his victory and raise the revolt. Most tribes heeded his call and the country erupted in violent rebellion. Caesar quickly moved to put down the uprising. Vercingetorix, hearing of Caesar’s approach, ordered his men to burn everything the Romans could use to advantage: farms, fields, villages, and even cities.

The Siege of Avaricum

The people of the city of Avaricum, however, begged him to spare their city and allow them to defend it against the Romans and Vercingetorix grudgingly obliged them. Caesar arrived with his forces, laid seige to Avaricum, and took it; slaughtering most of the inhabitants. Out of a population of 40,000 only 800 escaped the massacre.

The carnage at Avaricum rallied the country against the Romans and Vercingetorix’s army swelled with new recruits. Vercingetorix defeated Caesar at Gergovia and kept him from making any headway in the war through guerilla tactics of striking swiftly at his supply lines with skilled cavalry units . These tactics were effective until Caesar brought in even more highly skilled German horsemen who defeated Vercingetorix’s men and forced him to retreat to the city of Alesia.

Caesar followed him to the city and laid siege to it, surrounding it with trenches, traps, and siege towers. Vercingetorix had dispersed his cavalry before entering the city and sent them for reinforcements. When help finally came, they tried to break Caesar’s lines by attacking a point in the perimeter from the rear at the same time that Vercingetorix led his men from the city to strike the Romans from the front. The Roman lines wavered but Caesar rallied his men by personally entering the battle and taking command; the Gauls were defeated and fell back.

Triumphant Defeat

The people in Alesia were starving due to the siege and Vercingetorix understood there was no way to break free and relieve them. Dressing himself in his finest armor, he rode to Caesar’s camp where, silently, he took his armor off and then knelt at Caesar’s feet, hoping that by his sacrifice he could save his people. Ceasar, however, refused to show mercy. Vercingetorix was taken in chains to Rome where he was thrown into prison while Alesia was destroyed and the people massacred or taken away as slaves.

When Caesar had completed his conquest of Gaul and returned to Rome, Vercingetorix was dragged out of his prison in chains to lead Caesar’s triumphal parade; afterwards, he was executed. His name lives on, however, for his dedication to the freedom of his people and he continues to be admired for his courage and sacrifice.