Empire: Total War features a multitude of different civilizations from Africa, America, Europe and Asia. There are around fifty factions which fight for supremacy in America, Europe, India and the different trade theaters. Twelve of them are playable at the start while the others can only be made playable via modding the game. The eleven factions listed below are playable in the standard Grand Campaign whereas the United States are only playable in the Road To Independence campaign.
 Playable Factions
 Grand Campaign
 Europe, West Asia, and North Africa
Austria lies in central Europe. After 150 years of fighting between the Ottoman Empire and Hungary, Austria has taken over the control of Hungary and is striking back at the sultan. The east and south of Europe offer many possibilities for expanding. Furthermore, Austria wants to keep and defend its supremacy over the Holy Roman Empire and the German lands. However, the weakened Ottomans are still a major enemy and Russia is also eager to expand further into Europe. Perhaps the greatest threat of all is the rising Protestant power of Prussia, which threatens Austria's dominance of the German lands. The Austrian ruler will have to find the right balance between enlarging his territory and forming essential alliances.
France is a very strong power in continental Europe with several colonies abroad. The absolute French monarch fields strong armies and his kingdom is well-organized and structured with a rapidly growing population. However, France is surrounded by possible enemies such as the Habsburg rulers in Spain and Austria. In America and India the British are France's biggest rivals in the struggle for new colonies. But while foreign affairs are certainly important, domestic issues have to be taken into account as well. Eventually the French will have to decide whether they want to stay under the iron grip of their absolute ruler forever.
Great Britain is a country which is based on sea trade and the might of its navy. While the British cannot compete with continental Europe on land, the Royal Navy rules the oceans and Britain's colonies can be found from Asia to America. While Britain still has a king, his influence is less significant than that of most other European monarchs as the parliamentary (and more and more democratic) systems strengthen. However, there are many possible rivals and enemies so strategic alliances with other powers could be vital. Because they have a smaller population and smaller country size than other nations, the British have always been known to use cunning in place of human bloodshed (especially if it involves their own men).
The Ottoman Empire has existed for several centuries already. In the 18th century, its most glorious days have passed. The Ottoman armies are not quite on the level of the major European powers any more. However, the empire is still full of potential. It ranges from northern Africa over the Middle East and Anatolia up to the Balkans. While its troops might not have the most advanced equipment, they are certainly numerous. However, in the east the Persians are waiting at the Ottoman border and Austria has become an important power on the Balkans. The Ottoman leader will have to face these threats sooner or later.
The kingdom of Poland and Lithuania lies between major important powers. Both Sweden in the north and Russia in the east are strong countries and always willing to expand if their neighbours show any signs of weakness. But Poland has as many possibilities as it has enemies and problems. As opposed to other European kingdoms such as France, Poland is not ruled by an absolute monarch and the people can influence the country's actions. While this can be a cause for trouble it is also a source of strength for the country.
Prussia has only recently become a kingdom and is still a rather minor player in European politics. The small country does not have any colonies and is surrounded by powerful neighbours. However, Prussia fields a strong, organized army and could possibly turn into a mighty power in central Europe. Until then, many enemies will have to be faced. The strong Austria is Prussia's rival in seeking dominance over the Holy Roman Empire and in the east Poland's armies are still dangerously close to the Prussian borders.
Russia is a huge country with many possibilities but also huge problems. Parts of the country are still in the Middle Ages and the army is not on one level with that of the other European powers. However, more and more reforms are being made and the army is improving at a steady rate. Eventually, Russia might be strong enough to expand further into Europe, even if that results in a war with the powerful Swedish kingdom lying in the west.
Spain has been a leading power in Europe for many centuries. The Spanish conquests in America have made the country rich and strong. However, the achievements of past days are beginning to break apart. Constant warfare on the continent has left the empire bankrupt. The Spanish Armada, once unsurpassed, has recently been overthrown by the British Royal Navy. New trade markets are being opened by other European countries and on the continent France is becoming stronger constantly. Furthermore, the Spanish king does not have an heir and the Spanish Hapsburg line might end soon which could result in a civil war.
The Swedish Empire lies in northern Europe and embraces the Baltic Sea. As a result of the Thirty Years' War the country has become rich and strong. However, the huge Russian Empire is close and is reforming at an alarming rate. Furthermore, the Polish want to take revenge for past losses against Sweden. Therefore, the country has many possibilities but also potentially dangerous neighbours which will have to be faced many times before the full Swedish supremacy over the north can be established.
The United Provinces have not been independent for a long time but the country has already earned its place amongst Europe's major powers. Dutch trade ships can be found in every corner of the known world and the Dutch navy is known for its strength. However, the Spanish are not happy about the loss of the region and will use every opportunity to hurt the United Provinces. The expansionist French can become a problem for the protestant nation as well. A Dutch leader who wants to be successful has to balance healthy expansionism overseas and defending the Dutch cities at home.
The Maratha Confederacy controls a sizeable part of the huge Indian subcontinent. Its armies are powerful and efficient. However, the Marathas border the still strong Mughal Empire which lies in India's north. Furthermore, Europe's expansionist countries have gained a foothold on the peninsula. While they might only want trade for now, they might focus on using military force to establish new colonies soon. Therefore, the Marathas will have to prepare if they do not want to be taken off guard.