How A Total War Saga: TROY Bridges History and Myth

Rapt with violent rage, the epic hero Achilles divides the Trojan army by routing half of their ranks to the river Scamander, filling it with the bodies of dead soldiers. The reason? He seeks revenge for the loss of his companion Patroclus, who was slain by the Trojan prince Hector.

This event alone accurately captures the nature of Homer’s Iliad, a text in which dramatic narrative meets detailed accounts of tactical warfare — or, in other words, a perfect source text for the latest entry in Creative Assembly’s Total War Saga series.

A Total War Saga: TROY focuses on the events of the Trojan War, going further back into history than any of the series’ other titles.

“It fits the concept of a Saga title perfectly, providing a more focused experience based on a pivotal moment in history in contrast to our era-sprawling titles,” Creative Assembly Sofia Game Director Maya Georgieva said. “Using Homer’s epic poems has allowed us to foray into the exciting Bronze Age era, leveraging legendary sources such as the Iliad and Odyssey to make up for times when historical facts are missing.”

Yet Homer’s allusions to Greek mythology do more than simply serve as substitutes for historical fact; they represent attempts to assign humanity to the conflict, to find meaning in the senselessness of war. As a result, the gods and legendary figures from Homer’s texts have become deeply embedded in common imaginations of the Trojan War, even if they never existed or were depicted as larger than life.

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So you can expect to see gods and monsters depicted in TROY, though not necessarily in a way that’s faithful to Homer’s poems. “We have elected to give those characters a grounded, plausible interpretation that is more truthful to what might have really happened,” Georgieva said. “We are presenting what we believe to be the truth behind the myth.”

TROY opts for something Georgieva calls “enhanced realism,” a depiction of the Trojan War that pays homage equally to historical fact and mythology. “It was only fitting to approach the presentation of this lost golden age with a sense of the nostalgia for an idealized past,” Georgieva said. “We made it our goal to pursue this direction of enhanced realism to present the era similar to how the ancient Greeks would have seen it.”

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One of the ways in which Creative Assembly achieved this enhanced realism was by focusing on the game’s environmental effects. High CPU core counts grant the simulation of grass and water more depth and complexity. “The interactive grass and water benefit from every single additional core as they are written to split the work required to process the whole frame using a lockless task system,” Creative Assembly Sofia Technical Director Sergey Miloykov said.

TROY’s armies also receive a boost in quality when using a higher-end CPU. "With the right hardware,TROY allows for more units and generally larger armies on the battlefield,” Miloykov said. “They will look significantly better with improved visual fidelity and the battles will play more smoothly.”

Creative Assembly also implemented a variety of post-processing techniques that allowed for more optimizations. “For example, screen space reflection was done using back-projection and spends a fraction of the time compared to classic screen space ray tracing,” Miloykov said. “We also implemented baked shadows to cache all the shadowing in the distant static scene, allowing us to use more dynamic shadow quality nearby.”

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Though we may never arrive at the historical truth behind the Trojan War,TROY offers a depiction of the iconic event that balances fiction against reality, placing gods, minotaurs, and centaurs in a world that feels exceedingly similar to our own.

A Total War Saga: TROY will be available for PC on August 13, 2020.

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