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Rating: 9.8/10

Synopsis:

Total War: THREE KINGDOMS is the first in the multi award-winning strategy series to recreate epic conflict across ancient China. Combining a gripping turn-based campaign game of empire-building, statecraft and conquest with stunning real-time battles, Total War: THREE KINGDOMS redefines the series in an age of heroes and legends.

China in 190CE

Welcome to a new era of legendary conquest.

This beautiful but fractured land calls out for a new emperor and a new way of life. Unite China under your rule, forge the next great dynasty, and build a legacy that will last through the ages.
Choose from a cast of 12 legendary Warlords and conquer the realm. Recruit heroic characters to aide your cause and dominate your enemies on military, technological, political, and economic fronts.

Will you build powerful friendships, form brotherly alliances, and earn the respect of your many foes? Or would you rather commit acts of treachery, inflict heart-wrenching betrayals, and become a master of grand political intrigue?

Your legend is yet to be written, but one thing is certain: glorious conquest awaits.

ANCIENT CHINA RECREATED

Discover Three Kingdoms China, a land of breath-taking natural beauty. Battle across lush subtropics, arid deserts and snow-capped mountains. Marvel at legendary landmarks like the Great Wall of China and the Yangtze River. Explore the length and breadth of ancient China as you restore harmony to its embattled landscape.

CHINA’S GREATEST LEGENDS

Forge a new empire as one of 12 legendary Warlords drawn from China’s celebrated historical epic, the Romance of the Three Kingdoms. Peerless commanders, powerful warriors and eminent statesmen, these characters each have a unique playstyle and objectives. Recruit an epic supporting cast of heroes to command your armies, govern your provinces and strengthen your growing empire. Characters are the beating heart of the game, and China’s very future will be shaped by its champions.

GUANXI SYSTEM

Modelled on Guanxi, the Chinese concept of dynamic inter-relationships, Total War: THREE KINGDOMS takes a paradigm-shifting approach to character agency, with iconic, larger-than-life heroes and their relationships defining the future of ancient China. Each of these characters is brought to life with their own unique personality, motivations, and likes/dislikes. They also form their own deep relationships with each other, both positive and negative, that shape how your story plays out.

ARTISTIC PURITY

With stunning visuals and flamboyant Wushu combat, THREE KINGDOMS is the art of war. With beautiful UI, vibrant vistas and authentic Chinese-inspired artwork, this reimagining of ancient China is a visual feast.

REAL-TIME & TURN-BASED HARMONY

The turn-based campaign and real-time battles of Total War: THREE KINGDOMS are more interconnected than ever before. Actions in battle now have much greater consequences, affecting your Heroes’ relationship towards you, as well as the friendships and rivalries they develop with other characters. In a world where powerful allies are one of the keys to success, this adds a brand-new element to how victory is achieved.

Review:

”A Little Impatience will spoil great plans” – A Chinese Proverb.

Total War Three Kingdoms is a game I will wholeheartedly recommend to anyone that likes the epic period of Romance of the Three Kingdoms. This game is based on the epic novel, as you’ve guessed already, Romance of the Three Kingdoms. This has one of the best total war campaigns to date, rivaling the scope and magnitude of politics and scheming from its previous entries. I’ve personally loved this period and the fact that Total War went to China? It gives me hope we may see a total war set in India, or Vietnam, or Ancient South-East India. Total War must go to Asia!

Total War Three Kingdoms has an engrossing campaign that requires the player to navigate through its complex tools and UI that is a step up from previous total wars. However, it is also a step down since it requires a lot of work and explanation to figure out. Basically, Paradox Games are great for strategy, and for veteran players, they’ll figure it out. This game no doubt had inspiration from many similar features that Paradox had. I would like to see a tutorial just focused on handling the UI which can take a while to get used to. But I’ve always been wanting a UI in Total War that should combine the best of both worlds, and so far, it works.

One of the aspects I loved about the game was the artwork. If there ever was to be a total war set in Korea, 3k is the game you need and want. The battles are visually stunning, and the heroes are well voiced. I love the Chinese voice acting which is definitely a fantastic choice that CA did. They speak as they do in Historical Chinese dramas. Not many have noticed the Korean Dubbing is EXCELLENT! It is so much like LISTENING to a Korean historical drama. I love the Korean dubbing, except I want to play this game with English text and play it in Korean dubbing. I do implore Creative Assembly to allow us this option, because Romance of the Three Kingdoms is very popular around Korea and Japan. It gives us their own version of how they would have viewed this epic novel.

This was the period when Cao Cao, one of the most brilliant strategists of his time attempted to unite China. He was very much like Napoleon. Liu Bei, on the other hand, would be the equivalent of the Duke of Wellington while Sun Ce would be Tsar Nicholas of Russia. That’s who I would compare them too. I do feel the battles are a little too fast, and sometimes the unit structure of green, red and blue needs improvement. I would suggest Creative Assembly to create some fantasy style units in the way they did the heroes DLC for Shogun 2. Therefore when you get a red unit, you know these soldiers are the version of your elite units. A little more structure would be nice.

There are many excellent DLCs, the Nanban DLC, Eight Princes, and Mandate of Heaven. This game has been consistently updated with free content. The battle maps have been consistently improved, and there are faction cinematics which I approve of, though I wish there were more for diplomatic interactions, character assassinations. The other thing that I’d want is more RPG style events, more of it to be added. You get plenty in the game, but I’d want more faction-specific. You do get that in the DLCs quite often for sure. Battle wise, I’d want more emphasis on slower combat and a bit less on generals. As much as the Generals are the main heroes of this time period, more emphasis on unit collision and less on archers firing barrages of missiles. But that’s me.

Shoutout to Peter Stewart (who no longer works at CA, but I will still give him and the writing team at CA for navigating an epic such as ROTK). I envy him and the writing department that was so lucky to work on this game. Not enough attention is given to the amount of research he and the team did. The second-person narrative is brilliantly structured, and well-written prose. I do wish CA would add a feature wherein every turn you got to read Chinese proverbs from this time period, but Peter could instead write his own unique interpretation. A debate between Liu Bei and Guan Yu, for example, debating about the merits of Confucianism while an artwork displays them drinking wine in the blossoming garden. Shogun 2 had a lot of loading screen quotes, and I do wish Creative Assembly takes this narrative.

The artwork for this game is epic. This game feels like I’m in China. The game does however need a lot of lords, and if they were to make a FOTS sequel, do it during the time of the Chinese Bandit Queen, Cheng Sao taking on the might of the Qing Navy. I do think this game needs the Nanman and more Lords. I suspect we’ll get a lot more in the future. There’s the Tang Period, the Song Period, and Admiral Zheng He. But I also ask CA to add Korea as a potential entry or add in Vietnam and Cambodia. We do need larger expansions, and hopefully, we may get to India in the future. It is my sincere wish to do so. I still am waiting for CA to add Joseon Korea because a game in that period would be great!

Personally, a lot of players have had great fun with this game. I played Liu Bei, and Cao Cao got finished, and then I formed a good land for myself, but Yuan Shao and his scheming brother had taken of all China, and I had struggled to tell the members of the Liu Family to confederate with me. I attacked Yuan Shao but he had more troops than me! This is a game you will fail at from the start because the UI demands that you take your time. This is like playing EUIV in a sense. You need time. Once you get through it, it’ll be fine. But heck, I don’t feel a failure. I feel more motivated to do another playthrough. The artwork is great. The music is fantastic, so I wish it had some more KOEI influences.

Compare this to all the other games on Three Kingdoms, and this Total War entry trumps them of all. I really would recommend you buy this. If you like the setting, love China, love its culture, then this game is for you.

8.5

Author's rating

Overall rating

Design
9.0
Features
8.0
Performance
1.0
Value
10.0
Overall rating
10.0
The good
  • Its great and entertaining, excellent soundtrack
  • Impressive Worldbuilding with good graphical quality
  • an emphasis on RTS tactics
The bad
  • Complicated UI Battles need to be more strategic
  • UI takes some time to get used to
  • more emphasis on adding Korea.

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About author

Madaaworld12

Ancient History fan and fantasy book reviewer/Gaming Youtuber! DM on twitter for review requests/blog tours. Youtube | alalhambrabookreviews.home.blog/

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