Now that Total War: Pharaoh is out in the world, it feels like the perfect time to share our interview with game director Todor Nikolov, which was filmed back in August at the Gamescom 2023 conference.


You can watch the interview in the video above, and marvel at the epic backdrop provided by the game's booth at the conference!

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Telling about the origins of the project, Nikolov said, "We wanted to have a Total War title that's about Ancient Egypt, because Ancient Egypt is a very influential, very easily recognisable ancient civilization that a lot of people are interested in across the world."

Specifically, the warring strategy game Total War: Pharaoh is set in the late Bronze Age, which Nikolov describes as "very much this pretty stable society where different kingdoms and civilisations interacted with one another, not that different from nowadays, but it collapsed and we don't know how it happened."

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This missing chapter of recorded history, Nikolov says, "gave us freedom to flesh out our characters in a way that makes sense within the historical context that we had, and also to accommodate different kinds of gameplay."

Getting into the factions present in the game, he added: "We've got three rival cultures with different amounts of factions. We've got four Egyptians, two Canaanites and two Hittites.

"So, for example, one of the Canaanites is known from, I believe, one or two inscriptions where he's little more than a name.

"He's called Irsu, and he's described as someone who took over a portion of Egypt, or perhaps the entire Egypt. We're not certain. And he was really this terrible oppressor who did a lot of terrible things, and even prevented people from worshipping gods."

A still of a character from Total War: Pharaoh looking sad
Total War: Pharaoh. Creative Assembly

Speaking of gods, there is also a system in the game where you can worship different deities in return for certain perks.

Nikolov explains, "The idea is to increase the favour of the gods, to prove yourself before the people that you are someone who is very pious and very dedicated to a certain god.

"And then you can gain passive effects from the shrines that are contained within the territories where these are constructed. You can send armies to pray to the shrines, so it makes a lot of sense for you, before you send your armies to a battle, to quickly pray on a shrine.

"This will take them... like it might be out of their way, but then they will gain some some benefits."

After we tried the demo for the game, which offered a few fun battles of varying difficulties, we did wonder if Nikolov had any advice for players that are not already mega experts in these types of games.

He told us, "For new players, I would definitely recommend them to start with the tutorial... It's an on-rails experience that gradually leaves the player to carry on playing their campaign.

"There is also a lot of on demand information within the campaign, but I fully realise that many players do not start the game in order to get told stuff or read stuff; they want to play.

"So, what I would suggest to the players is to explore the variety of campaign customisation options that we have. It's something new for Total War that we are adding, and it's a feature present in other strategy games. It's a long list of options that can that allows you to create various aspects of the game."

If you want to make your play through a little less daunting, Nikolov recommends, "Just tweak down the aggressiveness of the AI, give yourself more resources. At some point, you will be bothered by the sea peoples who are invading - tone them down or switch them off.

"Create for yourself this safe space where you can explore the game as you play, learn how it works, and you will not be punished severely or in any way for any mistakes that you make.

"And yeah, just explore. And when you feel confident in your knowledge of Pharaoh and in Total War, you can try another difficulty level or another faction or another kind of play through.

"And maybe for some players, actually, this would be the preferred mode of playing - just chill, painting the map if they see fit. If this is how you believe that the game is fun, play in this way."

Total War: Pharaoh is out now on Steam for PC and Mac. We've seen decent deals at CD Keys!

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