In a bit of a strange turn of events, Creative Assembly has revealed the pre-order bonus for Total War: Warhammer II. It's the Norsca race, who live in the frozen north of the Old World, between the Chaos Wastes and the Sea of Claws. These ferocious warriors specialise in dealing in harsh climes, relentlessly raiding and sacking, always on the move. Only CA aren't releasing the Norsca as DLC for Total Warhammer 2, but for the original Total War: Warhammer. Still following?

So anyone who pre-orders Total War: Warhammer 2 will get the Norsca Race Pack to use in Total War: Warhammer from August 10th. Offering DLC for the older game as a pre-order bonus seems an odd way of doing things, but it's seemingly in an effort to tread the thin line between being a great bonus and being essential content. On that front, Creative Assembly has probably nailed it. Quite who this is intended to entice is a little confusing though. Casual Warhammer fans won't have even heard of the Norsca, while hardened fans will be getting the sequel regardless. 

If you don't own the original Total War: Warhammer then there isn't much point in pre-ordering the sequel then. For those who plan to own both, the Norsca will be coming to Total War: Warhammer II in a roundabout way shortly after the sequel's launch. A big patch is coming to join the two games' worlds together, including the Norsca.

So to clarify:

  • Anyone pre-ordering Total War: WARHAMMER II will gain the Early Adopter Bonus of the free Norsca Race Pack DLC for the original Total War: WARHAMMER.
  • Norsca is a Race Pack for Total War: WARHAMMER.
  • It is DLC for the first game only.
  • You can purchase it alone if you do not wish to pre-order or buy Total War: WARHAMMER II in the first week.
  • Shortly after the launch of Total Warhammer 2, Creative Assembly will be releasing an extra combined campaign map, which is a whole new, massive campaign accessible for free for owners of both the first and second games. Norsca will also eventually be playable in that combined campaign map.
  • If you do not own Toal Warhammer 1, you will never be able to use the Norsca DLC.
  • Norsca will be available to play on 10th August 2017.

As for the Norsca, we got a reveal trailer for them, and despite never hearing of them before, I think they actually look like one of the stronger factions in the entire game. They're backed up by War Mammoths, Skin Wolves, and Frost Wyrms, and generally just a look a lot better than High Elves. I've really got it in for High Elves.

Original Story: July 17 2017 - Creative Assembly Preparing for Total War: Warhammer 2 Pre-order Exclusive Race Announcement

Creative Assembly is gearing up to announce the pre-order bonus for Total War: Warhammer II, and after the backlash that greeted the Chaos race exclusivity for the first, they’re understandably laying the groundwork first, prepping fans before the official unveiling later this week. So yes, Total Warhammer 2 will be getting an ‘Early Adopter Bonus’, encouraging Total War fans to hop in early and provide a healthy population boost at launch. The added bonus for CA and Sega, of course, is that means everyone paying full price.

“We’ve spoken before about how more people playing the game at launch is massively important to us, and early adopter bonuses for people who put their money down early or in week one are very much worth us rewarding,” explains CA’s brand director, Rob Bartholomew. “We can spend marketing budget on advertising the game in a great many ways, but one of the best, for us and for players, is in creating extra game content.”

Bartholomew goes on to say that Creative Assembly is treading a tightrope between offering pointless pre-order content (for example Need For Speed: Payback’s exclusive smoke trail) and something which fans deem absolutely essential to the core game. The Chaos Warriors veered a little too much into the latter territory, and the team are apparently aware of that. To that end, the early adopter Race Pack that’s going to be revealed later this week will be more in line with the Bretonnia add-on to TW:W than the Chaos Warriors. They’ll be a new faction with new legendary lords and unique Race mechanics, “all of which is designed to increase the replayability and distinctiveness of the new Race,” but they won’t be as wholly different as the Chaos Warriors were.

“We think we’ve got the balance better this time, but we’re always looking to improve the nature of the offer. Better stuff means more people playing at launch and, as we’ve said before, it would be a shame for early adopter and pre-order bonuses to go away as that would be less game content overall.”

Your viewpoint on this is going to fall one of two ways: this is content from the finished game that has been sliced off to encourage pre-orders, or this is genuine additional content that wouldn’t have been in the game were it not for pre-order bonuses. We’re never going to know the truth behind it, but obviously, the cost of making this pre-order DLC has been factored into the price of the $50 game. Once it’s removed a week after launch, an argument could be made that Total War: Warhammer 2 isn’t worth the $50 price tag anymore. Fortunately, the bonus DLC will be available to buy on its own at some point after launch.

My ultimate thinking behind this is that it doesn’t really matter unless you plan to buy Total Warhammer II in the period after the pre-order bonus is removed and before the game is in a Steam sale. Either you buy TW2 for full price at launch and get the pre-order content, or you wait until you can pick the game up in a sale and buy the pre-order content separately.

Anyway, in addition to all this Warhammer goodness, Creative Assembly has said there’s plenty of historical shenanigans on the way too. There are multiple historical releases planned for the next 12 months, comprising the Total War Saga spin-off series and an unannounced mainline game set in a new period of history.

So the big questions now are - are you going to pre-order Total War: Warhammer II to gain access to the bonus pre-order content? And what is the bonus race going to be? My money’s on something like the Aestyrion, the splinter faction comprised of both High and Dark Elves. If it's something as sought after as the Skaven then whoo boy, hold onto your butts.

Total War: Warhammer 2 is out on September 28th for PC.