It's never good to piss off your most ardent fans, but that's exactly what developer Creative Assembly did this week. On Monday, Creative Assembly released the Beasts of War DLC for Total War: ROME II, a DLC that adds seven new battlefield units at a $2.99 USD price tag. But one of those seven units is getting Creative Assembly a ton of backlash from the ROME II community.
It appears that the Camel Cataphracts were actually in the game prior to its September 2, 2013 release, spotted in a "Let's Play" video posted by Creative Assembly on August 22, 2013. After that was discovered, players found that Mercenary Naked Swords were also featured in the video, despite not being introduced into the game until the Caesar in Gaul DLC. With these two findings, ROME II players are now accusing Creative Assembly of holding back content with the intention of post-release, paid DLC.
With the official Total War forum blowing up with complaint posts, Eurogamer reached out to Creative Assembly for a response. Brand director Rob Bartholomew told Eurogamer that the issue with the units was due to a "misunderstanding of what's being shown combined with a marketing error which I certainly appreciate doesn't look good, but wasn't our intent to mislead." He goes on to say that the naming of the units in the Let's Play video was unfortunate, but they were not the same units included in the aforementioned DLC. The ones in the DLC "are essentially a different version following increased design, artwork and balancing to match the quality of the other units available."
Bartholomew did apologize to fans, saying that his marketing team should have "double-checked the likelihood of [the units] making it into the final game" before allowing them to appear in a video recording. He says that the team occasionally goes back to units they liked but didn't turn out good enough when it comes to units for DLC to see if they can be improved, and it just so happened that these units were two of them. Bartholomew said that because of this mishap, Creative Assembly has put checks in place that should prevent such things from happening again.
While paid DLC always has some detractors, it's important to note that not only did ROME II ship with the most units of any previous Total War game, but Creative Assembly is also very accommodating to the mod community. In fact, the studio often leaves unused placeholder assets in the game data, knowing modders like to tinker and have access to such things.
As long as you feel you got your money's worth out of a game at launch, post-release DLC shouldn't bother you. I doubt many people bought ROME II just because they saw Camel Cataphracts in that Let's Play video – and if they did, the complaints would have come a lot sooner.