“When you think of a pirate, you think of freedom,” Vampire Coast designer Mitchell Heastie says. “They sail the seas, do whatever they want, and that’s something we wanted to offer to the player.” It’s a philosophical level that underpins Total War: Warhammer II’s most up-to-date DLC, and significantly Luthor Harkon’s marketing campaign.
Luthor’s backstory is likely one of the most vibrant in Warhammer. A member of the Harkoni tribe native to the hills round Lahmia, the place vampirism started, Lutr Harkoni was sired by one of many first Blood Dragons – a vampiric bloodline that values honour and martial ability. Centuries after Lahmia fell, Luthor resurfaced when Norscan raiders made off with the cargo of an Imperial service provider ship. Unfortunately for them, stated cargo included Luthor’s coffin. When their ship ultimately crashed on the coast of Lustria, all of them had a critical case of You’re Undead Now, and Luthor was very a lot in cost.
He constructed a brand new house for himself the place he landed, founding an undead enclave within the jungle that turned often called the Vampire Coast. While exploring the neighbourhood, Luthor came across the deserted Lizardmen metropolis of Huatl, and had the intense concept to plunder it. In so doing, he disturbed a collection of protecting glyphs that severed his connection to the Winds of Magic, and scrambled his thoughts. There’s a lesson in there about failing to take heed of your individual origin story.
It’s so much to work with. So what did Creative Assembly wish to emphasise most?
His insanity is such an affect on his persona, in order that has to return throughout in his voice
“Mainly his madness,” Heastie says, “and his lack of magic because of the madness. Over the course of the campaign his goal is to repair his mind and get his spells back. His madness is very influential – it’ll change his effects and his stats. He might now and then get a different spell, things like that. So it’s a really varied and different campaign for him.”
Luthor’s insanity not solely shapes his private journey within the marketing campaign, but additionally his distinctive position in fight, portray him as a jealous anti-magic hero.
“Because in the lore he is separated from the Winds of Magic, what we wanted to do with Harkon was make him an anti-caster Lord, rather than just another duellist,” designer Gary Deans says. “He specialises in combating enemy casters – increasing their spell miscast chance or increasing their cooldown. So you’ll send him after other vampire Lords or Slann mage-priests, things like that.”
It’s encouraging that Creative Assembly remains to be capable of finding niches for brand spanking new Legendary Lords – despite the fact that there are actually 50 of them within the Mortal Empires marketing campaign that gathers each Total Warhammers and their DLC. With solely so many techniques to work with, it’s turning into trickier to distinguish new characters.
Harkon vs Noctilus
Luthor’s journey to restore his thoughts and landlubber beginning place make his marketing campaign top-of-the-line within the Vampire Coast DLC. Count Noctilus delivers on the pirate-sorcerer fantasy, however has fewer attention-grabbing selections to make.
“As more content comes out it does get a little bit harder, but I think we’ve been able to deliver that,” Deans says. “Harkon has his anti-magic specialisation, and Cylostra [Direfin] is the first ethereal caster lord that we’ve created. So there is still some fertile ground out there for us to come up with new playstyles and mechanics.”
Harkon additionally has an unusual degree of utility in his toolkit, reflecting his assorted background and, maybe, his scattered mind. “He’ll hold his own in a duel, depending on the matchup,” Deans says. That’s a consequence of his vampiric power and Blood Dragon heritage. And but, being a pirate, he has a pistol, so “he can fire on the move and do a bit of harassment if he wants to”. Moreover, with entry to a Terrorgheist as a mount choice, he additionally has glorious mobility. “He’s quite diverse in how he plays,” Deans says – simply as he’s various in his personalities.
The Vampire Coast reveal trailer drove a number of hype for the DLC, and Luthor Harkon was its charismatic star. It’s clear one thing’s not fairly proper when he talks to a corpse, to the digital camera, and to himself – within the plural. But his voice additionally performs a giant half. Nasal, nearly snivelling, and but not comedian, it quivers, like an over-taut guitar string liable to snap, including a deranged, threatening high quality.
Luthor Harkon is a remarkably coherent depiction of a fragmented insanity
“We got a lot of different voice actors to have a go at him, then we chose the one that we thought fits best,” Heastie says. “You have the Sylvanian vampires, the quintessential vampires, who have that very strong accent, but we wanted to make [Harkon] a bit different. He needs to sound a little bit pirate-y, but not too much, and his madness is such an influence on his personality, so that has to come across in his voice.”
How a personality ought to sound might be one thing Warhammer creators Games Workshop by no means needed to take into account, since they make mute fashions, however Harkon’s voice carries their seal of approval: “We’re always in contact with them, they’re always on board with everything we do,” Heastie says. “We make sure that they’re okay with it.”
Harkon’s insanity is well-communicated at a bodily degree, too, along with his twitchy animations. And there’s one contact I significantly loved – his sword, which he typically holds downturned, like a cane.
“It’s like a little accessory that helps in selling his crazy personalities,” animator Eva Seyeux says. “So we have different idle animations, one fancy, one powerful, one crazy old guy. We tried to have one animation per personality.”
Total War: Warhammer II’s Luthor Harkon is a remarkably coherent depiction of a fragmented thoughts, one which has required coordination throughout a number of disciplines: animation, artwork, sound design, gameplay design, and – let’s not neglect – the cinematic group, who threw in a stunning contact all of their very own that the neighborhood picked up on: Luthor’s creepy smile (“We always love the trailer reaction – it’s one of the most exciting parts of the job, to be honest,” Heastie says).
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This is a personality for which some outdated and scrappy fluff exists, however little or no art work, and nearly no new materials outdoors of End Times lore, which Total Warhammer doesn’t – but – incorporate. Nonetheless, Creative Assembly has introduced him to life triumphantly, creating one in every of its most distinctive Legendary Lords thus far, greater than two and-a-half years after the discharge of Total War: Warhammer.