Total war: three kingdoms review

     

Ever since Rome 2's disappointing release baông xã in 2013, it feels lượt thích the Total War series has been lost and in tìm kiếm of something. From Attila Thrones of Britannia’s tinkering to the Warhammer games’ explosion of personality there has been wild experimentation between titles. Three Kingdoms is the culmination of that adventure.

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The release of the Warhammer games over the past few years marked a potential schism for the series, long a plaything for those very into history. Here were two strategy titles that, rather than sticking to lớn a time period like Medieval Europe or Shogunate nhật bản, were set in a fantasy world, and rather than agonising over musket accuracy threw realism out the window in favour of magic powers and RPG-lượt thích gear loadouts.


Total War’s return khổng lồ a historical setting in Trung Quốc was tinged, then, by the fact it was mix during the events of the famous Romance of the Three Kingdoms, a book that’s as much about myth và legkết thúc as it is hard facts. A lot of fans, myself included, suddenly had grave fears for the future of the series: had a fantasy sideshow, as fun as it was, spoiled Total War’s appetite for history, & left the games at the mercy of a need for super-charged hero units?

The short answer is no. The longer answer is lmao of course not, this game is amazing.


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What Three Kingdoms does khổng lồ address this potential divide is just...walk it. When you launch a chiến dịch in this new game, you’re asked whether you want to lớn play “Romance Mode” or “Records Mode”. The latter is more of a straight-up Total War game, with stuff lượt thích infantry movement handled much the same as older games.


The former follows on from Warhammer’s success by letting players get wild with their Total War, and it’s where the real fun is at. This mode speeds up real-time battles and even introduces leader duels, a first for the series where rival generals can Điện thoại tư vấn each other out across a battlefield and engage in 1v1 combat that, aside from looking amazing, can help turn the tide of battle in a heartbeat.

I preferred Romance Mode, but what’s cool is that Records Mode doesn’t feel like a lesser experience, just a different one. And it’s testament to lớn the balancing act Creative Assembly have sầu managed here, & the strength of Total War’s “overworld + real-time battle” foundations, that the game is able to lớn tư vấn both options & that both are still so much fun.

Of course, it’s also the changes made to those foundations that go some way khổng lồ letting them pull it off. Three Kingdoms just feels smarter, smoother & more responsive over the course of a campaign than any previous Total War. I’m not talking about its framerate or load times (which can be agonising if you don’t have sầu an SSD), but the overall flow of the game.

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Total Wars often struggle with their endgame and campaign progression, with little incentive for players other than a quest to “paint the map”, and a succession of ideas on how khổng lồ make victory interesting—ranging from Shogun 2’s civil war lớn Warhammer 2's complex portal system—have sầu never quite got there.


Three Kingdoms gets a lot closer, keeping campaigns dynamic và interesting right through to the very end. Even better is that, your path khổng lồ victory will be different depending on which type of faction you choose, making campaign replays a fresh challenge each time.

The balance of the game feels great as well. Whether it’s food production (used mostly as a handbrake on rapid expansion), the economy or population happiness, stuff that has previously been a frustration in a Total War game feels more generous here, as though it’s being generated more as a result và reflection of what I’ve sầu done/built rather than a limitation being imposed on me by the AI.


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Taking another cue from Warhammer, Three Kingdoms relies heavily on personality, perhaps a little too much. Your armies are now usually led by three generals, not just one, & each can be levelled up và equipped with custom gear. By the over of the game that’s a lot of man (and woman) management to be taking care of, with matters not helped by the fact the game has a limited roster of character art, which makes identifying exact characters harder than it could be (a problem that affects chiến dịch leaders as well).


Many of these characters will over up as Generals, though not all; combining Total War’s long-running family politics system with something a little more Crusader Kings II, your faction members now aren’t just put in positions of command but also have sầu their own ambitions & relationships, so if you stiông xã two generals who hate each other in the same army, you are going lớn have sầu problems.

Indeed personality extends past characters and into lớn the factions themselves, which are no longer represented by states or tribes, but by leaders, in a way that’s similar to lớn the way Civilization pits players against once another.


Three Kingdoms is utterly committed to lớn its theme, to lớn a degree we haven’t seen a historical Total War go since Shogun 2. The game revels in its Chinese setting, with a wonderfully bold colour palette lighting up the maps, gorgeously varied battle maps & music that’s appropriate without getting corny. Particular shout-out to lớn the tech tree that is literally a tree.

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That all results in a gorgeous game khổng lồ look at, but weirdly the real visual star of Three Kingdoms is its interface. I know that sounds boring, but it’s a remarkable achievement what Creative sầu Assembly have done here, and it’s more important khổng lồ a game lượt thích this than you may think. I’m continually critical of Paradox games for their interface, because it presents a barrier to lớn entry và can obscure vital information. Here, it’s the opposite: Three Kingdoms is in love with the idea of clean little mouse-over pop-ups, and I in turn love sầu the game for it.


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