Total War: Warhammer II is set in Games Workshop's Warhammer Fantasy fictional universe. The game takes place across five continents— Ulthuan, Naggaroth, The Southlands, Lustria and Nehekhara. The game will center around control of the Great Vortex in Ulthuan. The Vortex campaign features a narrative storyline for each of the five races as they cast rituals to either stabilize or control the Great Vortex.
Total War: Warhammer II features turn-based strategy and real-time tactics gameplay similar to other games in the Total War series. The game's announced races in the campaign include the Lizardmen, High Elves, Dark Elves, Skaven, Tomb Kings and Vampire Coast. Those that own races from the first game will have the same races unlocked for multiplayer in the second and a grand campaign map spanning the first and second games' campaign maps was soon released in a patch after launch. The game's campaign is more narrative oriented than the sandbox campaign of the first game with each race battling to save or destroy the Great Vortex over Ulthuan.
Many millennia ago, mysterious space-faring beings known as the Old Ones visited the warhammer world. They reshaped it to fit their needs, and created several species with the intent for them to combat the Forces of Chaos. The first of their creations were the Lizardmen, who aided their masters in the development of the great plan. However, the stellar gates which the Old Ones used to enter the world collapsed, and the daemonic legions of Chaos flooded the world. The Old Ones vanished, and the Lizardmen were left to fend off the daemonic tide.
In the island continent of Ulthuan, home of the elves, the Daemons of Chaos rampaged throughout the lands. Two heroes emerged from the chaos, Aenarion the Defender (First of the Phoenix Kings) and Caledor Dragontamer. Aenarion raised armies to combat the Daemons whilst Caledor devised a plan to vanquish the forces of chaos. He, along with a cabal of mages, would use the ancient waystones (focus points of magical energy) around Ulthuan to drain off Chaos energy of the Aethyr which was spewing into the world from the collapsed Chaos Gates at the poles, enabling the Daemons of Chaos to manifest in the physical world.
Caledor, with the secret aid of the Slann (the mage-rulers of the Lizardmen), created the Great Vortex, siphoning the winds of magic and draining much of the chaos energy from the world. However the plan was only partially successful, as while the Chaos energy is drained away, it continues to spill from the Realm of Chaos and particularly in the Chaos Wastes. Caledor and the mages were condemned to a fate worse than death, as they became entrapped within the Vortex; forced to continue chanting spells in order to stabilize the vortex, or else doom the world.
In the present day, the Twin Tailed Comet passes the world. However, its passing disrupts the Great Vortex. Its weakness is felt by four factions: The Lizardmen, the High Elves, the Skaven and the Dark Elves. The Lizardmen and High Elves seek to stabilize the Vortex, whilst the Dark Elves and Skaven seek to control its power for themselves. A fifth faction, the Tomb Kings, discover that the comet has activated the Black Pyramid of Nagash. Throughout the campaign, they enact five rituals in order to bind the Vortex to their will while the Tomb Kings search for five books to open the pyramid. As they near the end, it is revealed that the twin-tailed comet was in actuality a rocket ship created by the Skaven. They engineered the false comet to provoke the other races into unwittingly adding the ritual power into a skaven bell. When the bell tolls thirteen times, the Skaven God, the Great Horned Rat, will be summoned into the physical world. When the fifth ritual is completed, the player's chosen race will fight a final battle in the Isle of the Dead to determine the fate of the world.
At the same time of these events, a fifth playable faction, the Tomb Kings, discover that the Skaven rocketship has activated the Black Pyramid of Nagash and must search for five books to open the pyramid. They have no influence on the Vortex.
Should the High Elves win the campaign, they stabilize the Vortex. Should the Lizardmen win, they stabilize the Vortex and become its new guardians and embark on a crusade to purge the world of everything that is not part of the Old ones great plan. Should the Dark Elves win, their leader Malekith takes over Ulthuan, and with the Vortex's power, becomes a God. Should the Skaven win, the Horned Rat is summoned and the Skaven conquer the world.
Gameplay style is the same as in the first game, only with a more narrative driven design in the main campaign, yet the traditional sandbox style gameplay is still the same and expanded upon in the combined map campaign called Mortal Empires. However you must own both the first game and Warhammer II in order to download and play Mortal Empires. Any races and DLC that you own from the first game will also carry over into Mortal Empires.