The next DLC has docked with Total War WARHAMMER II, which brings us a whole new faction and method of play. The Vampire Coast is a plethora of undead nightmares combined with the romanticized pirates of old. Each unit screams with authenticity and truly does create a whole new dynamic within this title. I never knew I needed to watch dinosaurs riding bigger dinosaurs fighting zombie pirates on castle walls, but thankfully Warhammer knows me better than I do.
Though this DLC does not update the graphics in any way, the models for the Vampire Coast are absolutely impressive. Barnacle covered muskets wielded by decaying waterlogged flesh, wrapped in fairly typical pirate garb. Even the shipwreck beasts who are bound together by bodies of what I can only imagine used to be her crew, march across that battlefield with a cannon for a hand. Let's not forget the giant crab-type monstrosities that loom on the horizon.
Almost all of the new features will feel familiar if you are a veteran to the title, but with very distinct and noticeable differences. For starters, your faction leader acts as a mobile base. Think the horde armies of the chaos faction, but you also have the ability to occupy settlements around the map and spread your empire's influence. Each legendary lord also wishes to gain infamy throughout the game cycle. Infamy is gained by winning battles or completing quests, which once you have earned enough, you can use to purchase new research buffs as well as unlock new heroes or give bonuses to your current lord in combat.
This should almost be a given, but you can also spend your time hunting for buried treasure dotted across the map. Clues will appear in different areas of the map and upon visiting and digging at these locations, they will reward you with loads of gold and infamy. There is also a mechanic called The Pieces of Eight, which are collectible coins that unlock new Regiments of Renown to join your armies.
Another addition to gameplay is that now naval battles can be fought on islands instead of just auto-resolving. To be honest, this feels a bit like a cop-out, since pirates should always have the opportunity to fight from their ships. They are sailors for goodness sake. That aside, this is a welcomed feature and it is nice to see a change of scenery as the islands offer a very new sense of conflict, with limited maneuverability and some pretty environments. I must admit, when they announced this factions release, I had my fingers crossed for naval warfare within the Warhammer universe.
The Verdict: Excellent
Without a doubt, Curse of the Vampire Coast as a DLC is well worth it. Not only for the absolutely fantastic new units and faction but also for the additions to “naval combat” in the form of island battles. While you perhaps have never thought of pirate zombies fighting elves, orks, or lizardmen, you might be pleasantly surprised by how much you enjoy watching these battles.