Those are not hoplite shields!

One of the things that I discovered only fairly recently is that the shields used by hoplites in Total War: Rome 2 are actually incorrect. The most characteristic element of the ‘Argive’ shield is its double grip: it has a central porpax through which the warrior put his left arm up to the elbow, and an antilabe near the rim that served as a handgrip. This allowed the shield to be carried on the left shoulder and arm.

But if you look closely at hoplites in Total War: Rome 2, you’ll notice that their shields don’t have the double-grip construction. Instead, they use a single grip! Here, have a look at this screenshot, which should make it clearer as to what I’m talking about:

The sad thing is that I never really noticed until someone pointed it out to me. A lot of the time, the hoplites hold their shields in a manner that seems like they are equipped with the double-grip. I must say I was terribly disappointed when I discovered this, especially when it turned out that this was already the case in the original Rome: Total War! The Greeks in Total War: Arena also fight using single-grip hoplite shields.

As a reminder, this is what the inside of an Argive shield actually looked like:

Why did the Creative Assembly do this? Did they not realize that Argive shields don’t look like that?

It turns out that they didn’t do this out of ignorance, even though a lot of the artists working on these games are not, of course, experts when it comes to ancient military equipment. However, the single-grip hoplite shields are nothing more than a cost-saving measure.

Most of the animation of human figures in the game is done through motion capture. Most warriors in Antiquity fought using single-grip shields and so those are the animations that they focused on creating. Capturing a different set of movements specifically just so they could properly animate the use of Argive shields would have been prohibitive, and so they elected not to do that. For gameplay purposes, it doesn’t make much of a difference either way.

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