Pending the launch of Total War: Three Kingdoms (May 23rd), let’s take stock of the situation by reviewing some of the key elements of the new chapter in the Total War saga.
Total War: Three Kingdoms – China at war
Total War: Three Kingdoms is set in post-collapsed China of the Han dynasty (2nd century AD), an event that led to the fracturing of the empire in dozens of small local potentates in a continuous struggle with each other.
The events narrated in Total War: Three Kingdoms , however, rather than following the historical events, refer to the narration of Luo Guanzhong’s novel entitled, precisely, ” Three Kingdoms ” . This aspect is evident above all in the management of the heroes, much more similar to the characters of films 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 the nose away from those fans who are exactly the opposite from Total War. But fear not. In fact, Creative Assembly has decided to give the opportunity to address 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 the previous ones are: the strong RPG drift at the time of the management of the generals, and a remarkable strengthening of the Diplomacy, seen by many as a weak link in the series.
“Do not shoot the messenger”
In Total War: Three Kingdoms diplomacy is much more multi-faceted 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 immediately know the “requirements” for the offer to be accepted.
Relations with our neighbors are enriched with new “shades of gray”, such as the possibility of creating coalitions. These allow to maintain fairly “civil” relations with a given kingdom without however having the certainty of a lasting alliance, as instead happens in the case of confederations.
The various local lords can become part of a specific coalition but only after each member has voted whether to accept the “new entry”. Finally, another expedient that will surely be appreciated by all, is the possibility to immediately know the factions interested in having relationships with us without having to check them one by one as it happens, for example, in Total War: Warhammer.
Gods and Generals
As we have said, the other big news In Total War: Three Kingdom, is the massive introduction of typical aspects of RPG. Not only will each leader have a different beginning and story, but also skills, 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 “get pleasure” but even to influence their choices in terms of alliances. Sun Jian , on the other hand, is characterized by “heroism” which increases with every victory and which will provide us with bonuses regarding the costs of recruiting or maintaining the troops.
Both leaders and generals have an inventory, an entourage and personal traits that provide different bonuses. With time the generals will level up unlocking new skills (different according to their class) until they reach the legendary level.
A noticeable difference with the previous Total War is that some members of our suite will give us access to unique skills to use, for example, during clashes (such as formations).
There are various general classes to choose from, each with bonuses and malus. Each general has individual traits and characteristics that will determine their abilities and relationships with other officers. The generals will have to be “pampered” to prevent them from cultivating considerable resentment towards us until they arise. To avoid this we will have to remember to promote them regularly and / or tame them with gifts.
Empire management in Total War: Three Kingdoms
Empire management is quite complex, more on the Total War: Thrones of Britannia style than on Total War: Warhammer. The three key elements are: population, income and prestige. We will have to balance the population by ensuring we always have a sufficient number of replacements but avoiding overpopulation which will inevitably lead to a reduction in food and the consequent uprisings. Important, as always, will be the construction of buildings to increase revenue and to increase our prestige which will allow us to climb the ranks to become one of the Three Kings of China.
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 guaranteeing various bonuses, all through the use of a very comfortable menu that will avoid having 800 characters to move on the map. The same applies to the warning lights now managed by a special menu.
On the battlefield
As for the battles, we are happy to inform you of the return of the formations. These, however, can only be unlocked by leveling up our generals or choosing specific specialists for their following. An example is a herdsman who will give access to the wedge formation of the cavalry.
Battles are fluid and engaging, although some of the classic Total War problems persist (for example, an AI that isn’t exactly a summit). The units are well designed and the animations do their duty. However, do not expect, for obvious reasons, the variety seen in the two Total War: Warhammer.
The situation of the generals is decidedly different. These in fact can challenge each other to ” singular combat ” by putting up melee combat 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 on horseback, allowing us, for example, to face groups of lancers without suffering the consequences connected with having them loaded on horseback.
Both the general map and the battlefields are vastly improved compared to those seen in Total War: Thrones of Britannia, a remarkable change that provides a marked personality to the game environment.
Unfortunately, naval battles are missing. The clashes, in this sense, are resolved automatically. A pity given the importance played during this period by the various and imposing Chinese rivers.
For the moment Total War: Three Kingdoms seems to promise very well with many new features, lots of improvements and some problems typical of the saga. Will the final version meet our expectations? We just have to wait until May 23rd.