Total War: Three Kingdoms Review — The Art Of War Perfected?
The latest title from the Total War franchise, featuring characters from ancient China. Does it have what it takes to be one of the best from the series?
+ Plenty of actions can be done
+ Conquering the land is satisfying
+ Co-op mode is available even in campaign
+ Proper micro-management is rewarding
+ 'Romance Mode' freshens and gives a personal experience in war
-Small range of army units to choose from
-Might be daunting for those who are new to the series
-Loading screen feels tedious at times
Total War: Three Kingdoms Review
What Is Total War: Three Kingdoms About?
The latest entry in the Total War series is a turn-based strategy game that also integrates RTS (real-time strategy) elements. You take on a character from Ancient China, which is based on Luo Guanzhong’s Romance of the Three Kingdoms historic novel. If that sounds familiar to you, then most likely you’ll know the story from other popular games like Dynasty Warriors and, of course, Romance of the Three Kingdoms series.
There’s plenty of factions to choose from, 14 to be exact, ranging from Warlords such as Cao Cao and Liu Bei to the Yellow Turban bandits such as He Yi and Huang Shao. Each of these rulers come with their own starting difficulty, strengths and weaknesses, with the easiest out of them all being Cao Cao.
In Campaign Mode, you can choose to play Romance Mode or Records Mode. With the latter, you get a more ‘Total War’ experience, where the infantry movement is akin to the series’ previous titles. As for the former, it brings a more personal experience to the wars you fight. It’s a first in the series, where it allows for generals to engage in 1v1 combat (duel). Winning these duels can help turn the tide of the battle and raise the morale of your army. If you lose however, you might see your general captured or worse, killed.
If you’d like to play a specific scenario in the story, you can opt for the Battle mode. where it offers just that. Moreover, there’s also the option to play Custom Battle and Ranked Battles, as you’d guess from their names, the former allows you to customize on how everything is set up and the latter lets you join the leaderboard in rank.
Balance Is Everything
While the game focuses on unifying Ancient China, it’s important that you get everything in your army settled. This includes money, food, law, and even the morale of your officers (no one wants a person to defect during war, right?). Failing to do so may result in riots in your cities, or even worse, troops abandoning your army. Weather also plays a part in the game. If it’s in the winter season, expect to have limited map vision and more difficulties to wage war. Nevertheless, if you keep things in order, you will be rewarded.
When it comes to building an army, you’d also need to take account of the compatibility of the generals that you’d like to deploy. Each character has his / her own ambitions and relationships, so if you pit two people who hate each other in the same unit, you are going to have issues. I just wished that they’ve included more types of troops in the game, like an arbalest wagon for example.
An army can be filled with a maximum of three officers, with each of them capable of mustering different types of troops, depending on what you need. Though there’s a limit there, you can choose to send in another army to back you up in battles just in case the battle gets a bit tricky.
Diplomacy is key here when you take on your conquest in unifying Ancient China. Plan on how you treat the forces surrounding your city. You wouldn’t want an attack from behind while you are at war with another faction.
Having some knowledge about the Three Kingdoms story helps in some ways. How? Right off the bat, you’ll know which officers that are capable. These ‘Legendary’ characters come with unique perks as well as weapons and armors of their own, giving you an advantage. That being said, normal officers can also be trained and prove their worth to you in times of need.
Every five turns, the game will lead you to the ‘Reforms’ menu. As you can see, it is a talent tree for your factions. Each of them comes with their own benefits, so it’s really up to you on what you want to focus on. With it, you can gain access to new buildings, reduce officer salaries, increase faction support, and more.
SSD Comes In Handy
One thing that I find cumbersome with the game is its loading screens. You’ll encounter them at these very two moments; loading up your saved game and before every battle. Loading your saved file is acceptable since you’ll only have to do it once when you want to play the game but for the latter, it feels tedious.
It also doesn’t he;pt that there are a lot of cities and forces available in the map, so you can imagine how many loading screens you’ll have to endure. That being said, the problem can always be solve by installing the game on an SSD. It’s just too bad that I didn’t have enough space to do so.
Other than the issue above, gameplay is smooth. Battles are quite direct but if you want to get the upper hand in battles, a little bit of thinking helps. Each troop types have strengths and weaknesses of their own. If you see the enemy’s archer units taking down most of your spear troops, you can order your horse riders to charge and flank them to counter.
As you might have expected, if you’re breaching a city, a siege unit will come in handy in tearing defenses down. Take the time to observe enemy generals and what type of units they are bringing. Superiority in numbers doesn’t mean an instant win for you.
In terms of graphics, they look decent enough for today’s world. It’s not the best but then again, judging from what type of game it is and the scale of the world it offers, it’s pretty understandable.
If you are new to the series, you might find it tough to pick up the pace of the game but in all honesty, I feel that the game is the easiest to get into compared to its predecessor. So if you haven’t played a game from the Total War franchise, this is a good game to start with.
Total War: Three Kingdoms Verdict
Total War: Three Kingdoms can be hard at times, but with proper management and battle strategies, it is an enjoyable game. With a large world and a plethora of actions that can be made, it’s safe to say that it will give you countless hours of gameplay. If you are a fan of strategy games, this is a game that you’ll be pleased to have. For that, I am pleased to give Total War: Three Kingdoms our coveted Gold Pokdeaward.
Click right here to head to the game’s Steam page.