Waiting for the launch of Total War: Three Kingdoms (May 23), let’s take stock of the situation by reviewing some of the key elements of the new chapter of the Total War saga.
Total War: Three Kingdoms is set in China after the collapse of the Han Dynasty (2nd century AD), an event that led to the fracturing of the empire into dozens of small local potentates in constant struggle with each other.
The events narrated in Total War: Three Kingdoms, however, rather than following the historical events, refer to the narration of the novel by Luo Guanzhong entitled, in fact, “Three Kingdoms”. This aspect is especially evident in the management of the heroes, much more similar to the characters in movies like “The Tiger and the Dragon” than to their historical counterpart. Preferring the fictional narrative to historical accuracy is a choice that will surely turn up the nose of those fans who from Total War are due exactly the opposite. But don’t worry. Creative Assembly decided in fact to give the possibility to face the campaigns in two different ways: Romance and Historical, with the obvious differences.
The two main aspects in which Total War: Three Kingdoms differs from previous titles are: the strong RPG drift at the time of the management of the generals, and a significant enhancement of Diplomacy, seen by many as a weak link in the series.
“Ambassador is no pain”
In Total War: Three Kingdoms diplomacy is much more multifaceted than some of the previous chapters, but also much more immediate and intuitive. We will no longer have to guess, for example, the exact amount of money needed for our interlocutor to accept our offer, but we will have an option that will allow us to know immediately the “requirements” for the offer to be accepted.
Relations with our neighbours are enriched with new “shades of grey”, such as the possibility of creating coalitions. These allow us to maintain fairly “civil” relations with a given kingdom without, however, having the certainty of a lasting alliance, as is the case with confederations.
The various local lords can join a particular coalition but only after each member has voted whether or not to accept the “new entry”. Finally, another device that will certainly be appreciated by all, is the ability to immediately know the factions interested in having relations with us without having to check them one by one as happens, for example, in Total War: Warhammer.
Gods and Generals
As we said, the other big news In Total War: Three Kingdom, is the massive introduction of aspects typical of RPGs. Not only will each leader have a different beginning and story, but also abilities, troops, buildings and game mechanics will be partly different from those of others.
Cao Cao, for example, will gain credibility points at every turn and can use them to influence diplomatic relations with other factions not only to “please” but even to influence their choices in terms of alliances. Sun Jian, on the other hand, is characterized by the “heroism” that increases with each victory and that will provide us with bonuses regarding the costs of recruiting or maintaining troops.
Both leaders and generals have an inventory, an entourage and personal traits that provide different bonuses. Over time the generals will level up unlocking new abilities (different depending on their class) until they reach the legendary level.
A big difference with the previous Total War is that some members of our retinue will give us access to unique abilities to use, for example, during battles (such as formations).
There are several general classes to choose from, each with bonuses and maluses. Each general has individual traits and characteristics that will determine their abilities and relationships with other officers. Generals should be “pampered” to avoid that they come to cultivate a considerable resentment towards us until they arise. To avoid this, we must remember to promote them regularly and/or hand them over with gifts.
The management of the empire is quite complex, more in the style of Total War: Thrones of Britannia than that of Total War:
Warhammer. The three key elements are: population, income and prestige. We will have to balance the population ensuring that we always have a sufficient number of replacements but avoiding overpopulation that will inevitably lead to a reduction in food and the resulting insurrections. Important, as always, will be the construction of buildings to increase revenue and to increase our prestige that will allow us to climb the ranks to become one of the
The prestige will also allow us to “hire” new staff in our court.
The prestige will also allow us to “hire” new staff in our court. The members of the court can be sent to the various settlements ensuring different bonuses, all through the use of a comfortable menu that will avoid having 800 characters to move on the map. The same is true for spies now managed by a special menu.
As far as the battles are concerned, we are happy to inform you of the return of the formations. However, these can only be unblocked by making our generals level up or by choosing certain specialists for their retinue. One example is the herd manager who will give access to the cavalry wedge formation.
The battles are smooth and engaging, although some of the classic Total War problems persist (for example, an AI that is not exactly a summit). Units are well designed and animations do their job. However, do not expect, for obvious reasons, the variety seen in the two Total War: Warhammer.
Definitely different the situation of the generals. In fact, they can challenge each other to “singular tenzone” staging hand-to-hand fights with dozens of different animations. The death of the general will almost always cause the course of his army. Another interesting aspect is the possibility of having the generals disassembled/mounted by horse, allowing us for example to face groups of lancers without suffering the consequences of having loaded them on horseback.
Both the general map and the battlefields are greatly improved compared to those seen in Total War: Thrones of Britannia, a remarkable change that provides a strong personality to the game environment.
Unfortunately, there are no naval battles. The clashes, in this sense, are resolved automatically. A pity given the importance played during this period by the various and impressive Chinese rivers.
For the moment Total War: Three Kingdoms seems to promise very well with many new features, many improvements and some problems typical of the saga. Will the final version meet our expectations? We just have to wait for May 23rd.