Anyone looking to play a Total War game with 19th-century-style warfare will have undoubtedly come across Total War Empire and Total War Napoleon.
Total War Empire was released in 2009, and then just one year later, Total War Napoleon in 2010. But how are they different? Is Napoleon just an Empire DLC? Or is it an entirely separate Total War title?
What is the difference between Empire and Napoleon?
After the release of Empire to favourable reviews, Napoleon came shortly after, also to good reviews, but added different strengths to the game. Napoleon should be treated much more as a sequel to Empire than a DLC, as there are some significant differences in the game.
Essentially, Napoleon is a much more concentrated version of Empire. While Empire is global, Napoleon takes place in a smaller set of more detailed maps, where Napoleon Bonaparte had his real campaigns. Even though the scope is more restrictive in Napoleon, and there are fewer factions available, the depth within each faction is greater, and more detail has been added to units and diplomacy. Empire goes for global warfare, Napoleon for a concentrated focus on a particular time period.
We cover the specific differences below.
Diplomacy in Total War Napoleon is a lot more fleshed out and offers more choices, such as trade embargoes and other types of demands. This changes the strategy of the game, as it means you can’t afford to be as blasé as Empire.
However, due to the greater historical accuracy of Napoleon, you won’t have as many strategy options available to you, as it will follow Napoleon’s real conflicts. Finding some allegiance with the Coalition (Austria, Prussia, Russia and Britain) will be tough if you’re playing as France, as historically Napoleon was their enemy. In Empire, you will have a lot more to choose from in terms of a diplomatic strategy, as you’re less confined to a historical moment, and can shape the game how you like.
Empire’s map is larger but Napoleon’s is denser. In Total War Empire, you will have five continents to conquer, whereas Napoleon is only set in Europe, North Africa, and the Middle East.
But it’s important to note that each of these regions in Napoleon has more regions within them, and each region is more intricate. This can feel like the map is a lot bigger, as it will take longer to capture entire countries.
Units & Battles
Missionaries have been removed in Total War Napoleon, and you will need to use your Gentlemen only to advance your technology and campaign progress. In Empire, you will need to manually replenish your troops, however in Napoleon, it will automatically happen, and the rate will increase based on your regional logistics. Recruitment will take slightly longer in Napoleon, because in Empire each turn is a season, whereas in Napoleon it acts as half a month, so the time scope is much more concentrated.
There is a cap on generals in Napoleon depending on the number of military buildings you have, so you will need to allocate them wisely.
Total War Napoleon also gives you the option to ‘occupy’, ‘loot’ or ‘liberate’ regions, which is not available in Empire. This can add some real strategy to your campaign map, as you can use ‘loot’ to heavily disrupt a region for the enemy, and ‘liberate’ to create a new state, and foster them as a satellite state.
As Napoleon is set in a slightly later time period, artillery is a lot more developed, so battles will involve a lot more range. The battles in Napoleon in general are at a faster pace. Napoleon also allows you to play historical battles, such as the Battle of Waterloo.
Napoleon being the newer game obviously has some improved graphics, which have been layered onto Empire’s existing graphics. Napoleon also has improved historical accuracy and focus and contains real-life portraits of famous rulers, advisors, and generals.
Unit models have also received unique graphics modifications in Napoleon, whereas in Empire, most regular units are exactly the same just in different colours. In Napoleon, uniforms will even change based on your location to be historically accurate for the battle and time period.
In Empire, you can play as 12 different nations, but there are only 5 to play as in Napoleon. In terms of diversity, the Ottomans and the Marthas in Empire are a lot more unique compared to the other factions, but then as just previously stated, the difference between the European factions is simply uniform colour. Napoleon has much more distinct uniform types between factions and is more historically accurate, and regiments will be clearly distinct from one another.
Empire or Napoleon?
In summary, both are fantastic Total War titles and are relatively similar to each other. Empire was the first to come out, and is a favourite title in the Total War series, and Napoleon adapts and improves on it in many ways.
If you’re looking for a game where you can practice some world domination, then Empire will be good for you, but in terms of a more historical and upgraded battle experience, then Napoleon is a more concentrated and detailed version.
One benefit of Total War Napoleon is that due to it being a newer and updated version of the game, it has an excellent modding community, which still consistently adds mods to the game in 2023. So if you’re looking for a game that you can continue to enjoy with mods, then Napoleon is the choice for you.