Total War Saga's game director, Jack Lusted expanded on this in an interview on the Total War blog. As noted in the statement on Total War's website, these games will be standalone titles focusing on pivotal moments in history rather than entire historical eras.
The Total War Saga series of games will offer the standard turn-based campaign and real-time battles you'd expect, but with a focus on conflicts that last just a few weeks or months.
"If you've enjoyed previous games, you'll certainly be interested in Total War Saga games", Lusted said. Each game is a stand alone title that will examine "pivotal moments in history". Such moments also tend to be constrained to a tight geographic area as well. "This makes them a flawless fit for Total War games, where we give players the freedom to depart from the actual historical events and explore what might have happened had things gone differently".
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The first game of the series will be directed by Jack Lusted, that the Total War community knows well, since he used to be a fan and modder before moving on to work with the studio. He stressed that it is not a major historical release and is only an iteration on a previous game.
The concept of Sagas is to give players a more focused look at how history could have been different if events had played out differently. "There's an nearly endless list of possibilities", Jack Lusted says, who will direct the first Saga. The fact that the focus will be narrower doesn't mean that they will be short (Fall of the Samurai surely wasn't), and they will still be epic sandboxes in which a lot happens in a shorter time frame.
Total War modders have created similar projects in the past, designing maps that focus on certain wars in history. In "Saga", the focus will take on moments instead.
The new game focus is centered on "table-flip" moments where the outcome could go any one of a number of ways. This makes them a flawless fit for Total War games, where we give players the freedom to depart from the actual historical events and explore what might have happened had things gone differently. Civil wars, great conquests, rebellions and uprisings, religious movements.