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Rome 2: 'We're aiming for the most awe-inspiring battles you've ever seen in a game'

James Russell, Creative Assembly's lead designer, talks about their ambitious new strategy epic

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What kind of interesting new terrain will we see in the new, bigger maps?

There'll be huge capital cities, and smaller barbarian villages. Each culture will have their own look and feel. You've got forests, settlements, farmland, mountains. We want to portray terrain much more effectively than we have before.

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We want to do more on the campaign map too. We want to do more with ambush battles, defenses, and improve naval battles too. We'll have more interesting battle objectives. There's a LOT we want to do there.

What can you tell us about the new engine?

We've got a whole new lighting system. We've got new particles too, and they'll cast proper shadows and receive scene lighting. It's a real upgrade, and we're not even halfway to alpha. We're working on destruction, new animations, and tighter combat. In Shogun you had these people paring off individually, but in Rome it's a total meat grinder.

We're looking to render the campaign map using the battle engine. This is a huge step forward for the campaign map, because we want to to look really breathtaking. The goal for the battles is for them to be the most awe-inspiring sight you've ever seen in a computer game. It's a big goal, but it's achieveable. We want it to be a spectacle when you zoom out and see the battles.

But at the same time, we want to run on machines that aren't the best machines. We want to take advantage of the best PCs that are out there in a year's time, but at the same time we know people are playing on laptops more, and we want to make it accessible to lower end machines as well. Shogun 2 has a reasonably forgiving min spec, and our intention is not to change it. We can't guarantee that obviously, but that's our intention.

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