In the year 9 A.D., the Romans were convinced they had the province of Germania under control. Many of the tribal chieftains had been defeated, and the commanding Roman, Publius Quinctilius Varus, had only three legions left at his disposal. Little to his knowledge, the son of a chieftain who had been taken hostage and given a proper Roman education had quietly been forming a confederacy of willing tribesman to meet their Roman conquerors head on. Thus is the setup for the Battle of the Teutoberg Forest, one of the historical battles appearing in Total War: Rome II.

Like the Germanic confederacy, Creative Assembly's ranks have quietly swelled over the course of the past few years. The studio now has more than 250 game developers humming away on five projects. Though it doesn't always get the high visibility of other grand strategy games like Civilization, Total War's reputation has crystallized steadily over the course of the last several titles in the franchise, and fans have taken notice. Gamers purchased more than two million copies of Total War games in 2012, and Creative Assembly also moved 5.25 million units of downloadable content. Now the studio has been granted its largest budget ever to create the most anticipated title in the series history, Rome II.

Nearly a decade has past since the last time Creative Assembly built a game in this historical period, and in the passing time the studio has constantly iterated on its signature combination of sweeping grand campaigns and intense real-time battles featuring thousands of soldiers. Rome II features battlefields spanning 2  x 2 square kilometers with more varied elevation than we've seen in the past. In the Battle at Teutoberg Forest, the Germanic tribes are stationed on ridges overlooking the tactically susceptible forest pass. As the Roman legions march through the forest, suddenly flaming boulders start rolling down the hillsides toward them. 

At this point the person playing the game demo pulls the camera in tightly using the new cinematic camera and we watch the soldiers brace for impact. After the absorb the blow, they must ready their spears and arrows to fend off the advancing foot soldiers following in the wake of the boulders. 

To get a true sense of the enemy's numbers, the tester pulls out into a new overhead tactical camera that uses bright colored boxes to quickly indicate where all the legions are located. If players prefer this vantage point, they can use it to quickly issue marching orders for large swathes of soldiers. 

Soon archers are pouring flaming arrows down onto the Romans, who quickly enter a tortoise formation to protect themselves. Though the Romans fight valiantly, the Germanic numbers prove overwhelming and Varus decides to cut and run. With retreat being the only option, the play tester tells his soldiers to march double-time toward the trail leading out of the forest, fending off war dogs and other German soldiers standing in their way. With a fearsome group of berserkers in hot pursuit, he leaves a few light spearmen behind to act as armor against the dangerous unit. In the end he escapes with barely a dozen soldiers. Better than Varus failed in the historical battle, but not by much.

This epic battle is just one of the many waiting to ambush gamers when Total War ships this fall, alongside a grand campaign that promises streamlined province management, a map that stretches further east than the one in the original Rome game, more political intrigue, and a diverse collection of large cities to conquer. Look for Rome II to come to PC this fall.