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Total War: WARHAMMER III | Download and Buy Today - Epic Games Store

Introduction

Warhammer Total War III is the start of something massive, something that is an evolving process of all the previous lessons learned from the predecessor’s two successive back to back prequels: Warhammer I and II, and delivers confidently on that front. For the first time, Creative Assembly also launches itself into a full narrative campaign complete with cinematics. The prologue campaign is one of the best campaigns that the company has ever created. Warhammer III is not without its flaws, however, and that too becomes a burden on the game’s narrative structure. Warhammer III is a game that is a battleground between its sandbox nature and its narrative structure that prevents the game from achieving its full potential. It should be taken into account that Warhammer III will be receiving consistent updates and plenty of DLC, which will flesh out the narrative and improve upon weak elements of the storytelling.

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Review

The Campaign + Sieges

Warhammer III sets you on the path, one that is not too similar to Warhammer II’s Vortex Campaign but familiar at the same time. In the prologue, you play Prince Yuri, who has journeyed from Kislev to free Urson, the Bear God. Kislev has descended into an unbreakable chain of events that causes eternal winter. Pretty simple at first, right? Well, the prologue becomes more twisted and sickening in its narrative. The narrative devolves down to this: Ursun is trapped by Belakor. The story of this prologue is pretty much like an epic fantasy cinematic, and Creative Assembly should adopt more of this with continuous DLC with new cutscenes and expanding the storyline. I wish there were more of a narrative campaign for Cathay, however, on the scale of the prologue campaign. 

All the factions in the game want something out of either saving Ursun or using his decaying body for power. Without revealing too much for spoilers, the tutorial is one of the best tutorials that Creative Assembly has made. There is also impressive voice acting, and the music for the cinematics has vastly improved, carrying a strong tradition from Warhammer II’s Vampire Coast Cinematics, which had a clear narrative. Once you finish the prologue, you notice that this entire game is about corruption and the Four Demon Gods, Tzeentch, Nurgle, Khorne and Slannesh. As Kislev, you will face the brunt of Chaos, no matter what. It is a hard life being a Kiselvite, is it not? As Grand Cathay, you face yourself against impossible odds as the Grand Bastion holds against an onslaught of demon invasions by Kairos Fateweaver. 

The Grand Bastion of Grand Cathay

During my playthrough as Tsar Katerina, I did a blind playthrough. I enjoyed the many sieges that were given to me. Fighting battles against hordes of Chaos and Horde tribes was a great thing. However, the idea of capturing the Demon Prince’s soul in the Realm of Chaos every ten turns prevented me from building my empire. This game is sandbox-lite. Because the narrative is often forcing you to capture the demon souls. And often, as I expanded, the Chaos Armies started raiding my lands, and I wasn’t doing too well. Then, of course, this game is massive. But then you have to get supporters within the Ice Court, and the Great Orthodoxy often gathered way more than I could.

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I still enjoyed the campaign, but there were too many objectives that were letting me fully empire build. I want a balance. One where you can build your empire while doing things such as the Chaos Rift, which loses its special significance. Yes, you can recruit heroes to close rifts, but how often will you do that? You might make entering the Realms of Chaos far more restricted. That you have to build an army that is strong enough to enter the realm? Rather than doing it every ten turns, perhaps do it after every twenty turns. Because it seems like there’s a race to save Ursun, and I want to do it too. But the way the campaign works, it’s forcing you at the expense of the narrative. I love the narrative, but I need things to be slowed down in the campaign. The Vortex Campaign of WH2 did a better job because it allowed you to build an empire while pursuing the aim at your own pace.

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With the advisor making a solid return to the franchise, he often advises you regardless of which faction you choose. It is, after all, his job to stir trouble wherever he sees fit. He is much better at advising newer players, and that’s a good thing. The campaign often gives you goals to advance the narrative, which is a good thing. But when you are conquering the map, it is difficult to traverse from one area of the map to the other. For example, if I played Grand Cathay and I wished to go to the Empire, it would take me many turns to get there. If a teleportation device existed for humans to travel back and forth from, as opposed to a Chaos rift that allows you to take your army to the realms of Chaos, this would be a very welcome feature. 

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Throughout your campaign, you will have no shortage of facing a diversity of enemies to fight against depending on the unique lords you choose throughout the campaign. Choose Skarbrand, one of Khorne’s most famous champions. You will embark upon a journey to collect skulls for the Skulls Throne itself, wanting and waging war much like the Green skins do if you’ve played factions that require consistency with fighting battles. Too much idleness and your army will waver, lose morale and won’t be an effective fighting force. You’ll fight against other demons, against Cathay perhaps, the Empire, or the Ogres. Your goal is simple. To reclaim the favour of Khorne once again. And throughout the campaign, each Demon Lord can use the rifts of Chaos once it weakens and travel back to their realms. Claiming the soul of a Demon Prince is also common amongst most factions. But it doesn’t give enough rewards for when you travel the Realm of Chaos battling against armies. 

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Some parts of the Realms of Chaos disappointed me, for example, in the Realm of Tzeentch. It is a hardcore slog through this realm of madness. There aren’t enough dilemmas for me to give me more of an incentive to play on. For example, they could add events that show your troops mutating, your troops suffering sickness, or maybe one or two of Tzeentch’s demons take your troops when camping. More specific events in each realm relating to the attrition of your army would be more immersive. I would have also wanted cities or castles within the Realms. Because there are battles mostly in the Realms of Chaos, and there’s not enough diversity within the Realms.

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Even once you reach the major centre of each Realm, you fight an epic battle against the favoured Champions of the Chaos Gods, which can be auto-resolved if you have the right troops, but that also defeats the purpose of fighting in the Chaos Realms. There are no events or scripted diplomacy where Cathay and Kislev team up together to fight side by side, and it would make more sense because it’s rarely human armies that are going through the Rifts of Chaos. If Cathay and Kislev meet each other, they need to ally and gain. Not defeat each other because the campaign follows a more narrative approach. But the key problem is that other factions can come and steal souls from you, which beats your aim of being in the Realms of Chaos. 

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You also get survival battles in the Realms of Chaos, which gives you objectives and supplies to deal with while facing an onslaught of hordes. While satisfactory, they are experimental. I do not see them being carried forward to the Immortal Empires campaign. Perhaps they are an improvement to the Quest Battles of WH2, but it requires a lot of micromanaging and concentration, which downplays their appeal. The rewards need improvement to the player depending on which faction they choose. Of course, that being said, the Realms of Chaos aren’t easy to traverse. Your army in the Realm of Slannesh will often be given gifts to make sure you never come back and they are financially and campaign wise beneficial.

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But they don’t satisfy the urge to do much within that realm. It is a pretty environment, but the Realms of Chaos need more unique landmarks and dilemmas to make it more incentivising for the player to continue his campaign forward. That being said, it’s not exactly true. The Realms of Chaos have great visuals, great variety, and it is quite an achievement in Total War Design. 

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And this is barely scratching the surface of what seems to be a wonderful game buried underneath. The struggle between narrative vs sandbox mode is going to be an issue for some players. However, I would caution against this. Warhammer III will be the game you want it to be. You can take your time with this game, or you can play this game within a couple of hours. It all depends on how you want to play it. 

Sieges and Multiplayer

Creative Assembly has overhauled sieges to implement chokepoints, street fights and a greater extension of cities from the series’ previous iteration of tabletop sieges. While I didn’t prefer the sieges of Warhammer II, I can say that they vastly improved it upon this title. Many cities and new battle maps have been introduced, and many old city maps have been completely reworked. Altdorf, for example, is much better than the old version, although it is less dense and the unique settlements that it had are gone. A Chaos City or Fortress is much better to fight in, and the Realms of Chaos have a unique and gorgeous visual style. The music feels strong and demanding, unlike the less mundane nature of Warhammer II’s music in terms of battles. It adds to the immersion.

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From stunning visuals to reworked city maps that got rid of the 90* degree angle sieges, opting instead to go towards a mixture of 270* sieges, Creative Assembly has shown its hard work. You have 270* rounded sieges, giving you a greater variety of attack options. You can build barricades, but they cost money and supplies. And the supplies play an important role in this game as you gain more of them by inflicting damage upon the enemy. The AI is good at attacking in some areas, but in other areas, it keeps some of the total war’s usual problems.

There is a massive rework going on with the city sieges, which were previously one-walled. The Immortal Empires Campaign, which will combine all three game maps, will have reworked cities which are a blessing in disguise.

Sieges are good with multiple capture points, but sometimes the requirement to build multiple barricades can get too jarring and distract you from defending the city or fortress. While sieges have massive roads upon which to advance your troops, they get rid of some dense block of city buildings which do sometimes remove the need for the street to street fighting. 

Multiplayer has had a vast overhaul, with the ability to fight the following:

  • Land Battles
  • Siege Battles
  • Survival Battles
  • Domination
  • Free-For-All Battles
  • Ambush Battles
  • Chokepoint/Subterranean Battles

These provide ample opportunity for players to fight in, teams ranging from 1 to 1 to 4 vs 4. The battles are fun against different opponents, but the lack of Old World Factions at launch makes it feel empty when facing the same eight faction rosters against each other. Multiplayer currently has an active but disappearing lobby, as there are many people trying to play the game. Domination Mode is the mode that Creative Assembly seems to promote. From what I’ve gathered playing a few battles, the goal is to keep three capture points.

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From there, you gain money/supplies depending on the distance/damage inflicted. You can then spawn in reinforcements while trying to fight for the capture point. As a participant of a Total War Live tournament run by CA, I went through the first round and, even though I lost; it was one of the most intensive battles I fought.

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Domination mode is fun, and it is really worth checking out. As the game grows, as more players arrive, the multiplayer community will continue to grow. I can only see a positive side for this, and with Immortal Empires, I hope we can play with Old World Factions as well. I don’t understand the code that’s needed to join games with friends, and would rather prefer the option to invite friends. There is also no chat functionality which often forces you to use discord, so chat functionality would be good to add to this game. 

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Performance

This game does need optimisation in many areas. For example, when I’m pressing the inserted camera I suffer heavy frame-rate drops or pressing the N key. I also had random audio tearing from switching units to switching units during battles, and campaign audio often did tear out.

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Not randomly, but occasionally.  During turn times, I often had stuttering and screen freezes for a few seconds. Selecting battle maps in custom battles often lags when switching between names and such. The mist in some sieges do suffer from frame-rate drops, but I like the visuals of the mist, to be honest.

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Conclusion

Warhammer III is the start of a long journey ahead of us, for we are not finished with the Warhammer Universe just yet. There is plenty of DLC and new modes, mechanics, and features to be added alongside the Immortal Empires campaign, which will combine all of Warhammer’s map into one gigantic map to play with. Creative Assembly has outdone themselves in the narrative department, but there is much to be fixed. The music is so fantastic that it fits the game, and Richard Beddow has done a fantastic job on this front. I look forward to playing plenty of hours in this game, and I already love this game.

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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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