The best things in life are free, right? Fun as it is to get some extra Wendy’s nuggets, I much prefer free things that can give me 100+ hours of entertainment. And this is why I’m thrilled to see that everyone can score a free copy of the critically acclaimed (and addictive) Total War: Shogun 2, a game that combines super-fun top-down world management with incredible real-time army battles.
I don’t even want to think about how much time I’ve put into the Total War franchise since the first Shogun: Total War debuted back in 2000. Now, it feels like there’s a “Total War” game for just about any franchise or time period you can think of—even including Warhammer, but only Age of Sigmar, not 40K. (A boy can dream.)
Total War: Shogun 2 might have come out in 2011, but it’s still a great way to spend an afternoon (or two, or many). And if you’ve never played any of the Total War games previously, this could not be a better way to get into the franchise. Though they all have their quirks and unique features, the core gameplay remains pretty similar: Control your empire by issuing turn-based commands across a lovely top-down map, and jump into a real-time fight with your (hopefully) gigantic army whenever diplomacy stops working.
The one caveat to these games is that, well, they ain’t Starcraft. Clever battle tactics are highly recommended, as simply running all your melee units forward as if they were Zerg will probably not win you many battles. Allowing the enemy army to eat a healthy spread of your arrows, Gladiator-style, before distracting them with your infantry so you can mow them down from behind with your cavalry is recommended. At least, that’s how I carved out my empire in feudal Japan.
To get a free copy of the game, simply hit up Steam before May 2 (3am AEST), add it to your cart, and complete the transaction. That’s it. You’ll have it for as long as you want to play it, which will at least be a month if you aren’t getting absolutely wiped in your early battles. And if that’s the case, I implore you to stick with the game; it takes some time to master its basics, but once you do, you’ll be carving your way to victory.