How to get Total War: Shogun 2 for free now — and more games for cheap

total war shogun 2
(Image credit: Sega)

Right now, people need to stay home to help prevent the spread of coronavirus. And one of the best ways to keep people at home is with video games — even the WHO agrees.

Now, Sega is doing its part by offering players free copies of Total War: Shogun 2 on Steam. This massive turn-based strategy title could very conceivably keep you busy until the lockdown ends. But if it doesn’t, Sega is also cutting prices on some other favorites in the Total War series.

This information comes from the official Total War website, which revealed the giveaway on April 24:

“The past few weeks have presented unimaginable challenges for many of us, but the remarkable collective effort being made by the global community to overcome this moment of adversity has been truly inspirational,” wrote Ella McConnell, Total War’s community content editor. “With this in mind, we want to continue to encourage you all to stay home and save lives by extending a gift to everyone to help make this difficult situation a little bit easier.”

That’s pretty much all there is to it. Total War: Shogun 2 is currently free on Steam. To acquire it, all you have to do is visit the link, then add it to your account. You can download it whenever you like; once it’s added to your account, it’s yours to keep forever. The offer is valid as of April 27 at 1 PM ET, and will last until May 4 at 1 PM ET.

Full disclosure: At the time of writing, Steam advertised this game as free, but claimed that it cost $29.99 when added to the shopping cart. This is likely a small bug that will sort itself out within the next few hours, so be patient in the meantime.

Unfortunately, just as the game isn’t free quite on schedule, the associated sale hasn’t yet begun, either. Sega advertised that “selected historical Total War games and DLC” will be available at a discount, but which games, and how much, we’ll have to wait and see. We do know, though, that Three Kingdoms, Rome and Warhammer will not be included in the sale, and that the DLC for Total War: Shogun 2 will be 75% off its usual price.

For those who have never played the series before, Total War is a franchise of grand strategy games, where players wage a long-term campaign over a large map. Managing resources and positioning troops on the world map is often just as important as actually engaging the enemy in direct tactical battles. Shogun 2, as the name suggests, takes place in 16th-century Japan, and challenges players to rise from a regional warlord to the military ruler of the country.

If you like grand strategy — or if you’ve never tried it, and think now might be a good time to get into it — you have nothing to lose from downloading Shogun 2. It’s a difficult, complex game with a steep learning curve, but it can be an immensely rewarding and satisfying experience, once you get the hang of things. And if grand strategy isn’t your thing, Tom’s Guide has compiled a list of the best free PC games across every genre.

Marshall Honorof

Marshall Honorof is a senior editor for Tom's Guide, overseeing the site's coverage of gaming hardware and software. He comes from a science writing background, having studied paleomammalogy, biological anthropology, and the history of science and technology. After hours, you can find him practicing taekwondo or doing deep dives on classic sci-fi.