Total War: Arena is now open for a week of free public testing

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Amidst the flurry of recent Total War announcements you may be wondering what happened to Total War: Arena, the free-to-play experiment announced several years ago. It’s still a thing, and now’s the time to start paying attention again: it’s getting an open week, and it starts later today.

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The open week will run from 12:00 GMT today to 09:00 on December 4. Anyone who plays during that period will be granted permanent access to the closed beta to continue the fight, and will even get three special premium units as a gift. 

Arena was announced four and a half years ago. No-one would’ve blamed you if you’d thought it was stuttering. But there’s now a real sense of momentum behind it: developers Creative Assembly have more than doubled in size since its announcement, and they unveiled a partnership with known free-to-play experts Wargaming last year. The open week is a statement of their confidence in the game, and a bid to re-engage anyone whose attention had lapsed.

If that’s you, here’s a quick reminder: Total War: Arena is a free-to-play multiplayer game featuring a more accessible version of Total War’s real-time tactics combat. Matches are 10 vs 10, with each player choosing three units to take into battle and a commander to lead them. Commanders have three abilities which define their playstyle, and are inspired by real history - Vercingetorix, who would burn his own people’s villages so the Romans couldn’t use them to resupply, has an area-of-effect fire attack. Matches last up to ten minutes, and the goal is to either wipe out all enemy troops or capture their base.

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There’s really nothing else quite like it - it’s well worth a look for multiplayer RTS/RTT fans. For my hands-on impressions and more information about how it’s shaping up, click here.

For more details, see the free week announcement and FAQ here. To get involved, head to the Total War Arena website (US readers go here, EU here). A full open beta is planned for further in the future, though the devs "are rather flexible" on exactly when, according to lead designer Jan van der Crabben.

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