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Video Game / Total War: Arena

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Total War: Arena was a online-only spin-off from the Total War series, developed by Creative Assembly and published by Wargaming (yes, that Wargaming).

Based on the Total War: Rome II engine, Total War: Arena focused on online multiplayer battles involving up to 20 players, with each player controlling up to three military units. There were various factions, units, and commanders, which could be mixed to some degree for creating very different play styles. Units and commanders earned experience after each battle, eventually allowing for upgrades in obvious inspiration from World of Tanks.

The game had alphas available as early as 2015. It was officially released worldwide for PC on February 22nd, 2018, only to be shut down exactly one year later. A Chinese-only version continued to exist for some time, but was also eventually shut down in May 2022.

Tropes present in this game:

  • Anachronism Stew: Although Total War: Arena started off as being largely set in the Ancient era of Europe, no one ever said that the game would be restricted to that time period and region.
    • Despite being from different eras, historical figures like Caesar and Boudicca can fight each other or together on the same battlefield.
    • WarGaming announced Feudal Japan as a future faction for Arena, dispelling any strict adherence to historical accuracy even further than expected.
    • Bringing the game's timeline up to the early medieval ages is one of the major goals that was outlined by the developers. So the appearance of Frankish Knights is pretty much guaranteed.
  • Artistic License – History: Nearly all units have some basis in reality, but the Arcani, tier-10 light artillery, are a bit suspect. Their trivia description ends with "They probably didn't wear ninja hoods and carry light artillery. But, then again, no-one says they didn't..."
  • Bribing Your Way to Victory: Gold serves as the Game's premium currency which is used to convert Unit XP to Free XP, buy more silver, or unlock Premium Units.
  • Faction Calculus:
    • Rome: Famous for it's Sword Infantry which has high attack and defense, allowing them to grind down enemy melee units and weather volleys of archer fire. They are also experts at siegecraft and can field Ballistas and Catapults.
    • Greece: As the birthplace of of the Hoplite and Phalanx formation, Greece's armies are primarily composed of Spear Infantry and Pike Infantry which are more suited to defense rather than offense. They have access to Archers and Cavalry.
    • Barbarians: Optimized for speed and stealth, Barbarians rely on gaining the upper hand through ambush and harassment before closing in. Their lesser armor stats means they can't afford to trade missile for missile, blow for blow, and man for man with enemy units that have better defense and attack stats.
  • Friendly Fireproof:
    • Errant shots will damage both friendly and enemy units that are intermixed in melee combat.
    • Spear Infantry in Phalanx formation would inflict indiscriminate damage to both friendly and enemy units. But this has been removed in Patch 3.1.0 to provide a better incentive to using Phalanx formation.
  • Frontline General: In franchise tradition, each of the 20 players has a famous leader front and center on their first unit, serving as commander. Imagine Julius Caesar fighting alongside a unit of 100 swordsmen or javelin throwers.
  • Ineffectual Loner: Any unit that goes too far out without any friendly support can expect to be ganged up on and destroyed very quickly.
  • Javelin Thrower: Javelins have a short range, but deal outrageous damage against even heavily armored targets.
  • Play Every Day: Every Commander you have available has a 100% XP daily bonus for their first victory. This daily bonus can be 200% on special events.
  • Suffer the Slings: Slingers have the longest attack range and are deadly against lightly armored targets, but have almost no armor-piercing capability.
  • Tactical Rock–Paper–Scissors:
    • Archers/Skirmishers/Slingers will outrun and bleed Infantry, Infantry will grind down Cavalry, Cavalry will catch and crush Archers/Skirmishers/Slingers.
    • Sword Infantry can outmaneuver Spear Infantry but are vulnerable to range units and cavalry charges, Spear Infantry have better defense and become considerably dangerous when in phalanx formation but are slower and more vulnerable to flanking, Pike Infantry becomes unstoppable when put in phalanx formation but at the risk of being slower and much more vulnerable to missiles and melee.
    • Artillery can cut down infantry units with impunity but are relatively inaccurate, need spotting, and are easy prey to cavalry. Catapults have the longest attack range and can hit multiple units but are prone to missing and have a minimum range blindspot. Ballista batteries offer better speed and accuracy for picking off Infantry and Cavalry but have shorter range and can't hit as many targets per shot.
    • Wardog Infantry provide a hard-counter against Spear and Pike Infantry in Phalanx formation and can catch and rip apart Missile Infantry and routing units. Much like Cavalry however, they are hard-countered by Sword Infantry.
    • War Elephants are living battering rams that can crush Sword Infantry and Spear Infantry with ease unlike Cavalry which is vulnerable to prolonged melee. They are soft-countered by Slingers and Archers and hard-countered by Pikes, Skirmishers, and Artillery.