I checked out a presentation for Creative Assembly’s next big historical title, Total War: Three Kingdoms. After being delayed out of 2018, Total War: Three Kingdoms is aiming to bring grand strategy back into the historical picture sometime early next year. The developers at Creative Assembly showed myself and others a sample of gameplay and explained what’s new this time around. Here’s my Total War: Three Kingdoms impressions!

Total War: Three Kingdoms Impressions 

Creative Assembly has been very focused on the Total War: Warhammer fantasy series over the last two years, releasing two games with tons of free and paid DLC. While they did release a smaller historical title, Total War: Thrones of Britannia, a grand historic game has been missed by a section of the fanbase. Fortunately, they are getting their wish as Total War heads to a previously unexplored area: China, between 190 and 300 C.E. The title refers to the Three Kingdoms period of Chinese history, a period of extreme strife in which China was divided by a loose alliance of the warlords Cao Cao, Liu Bei, and Sun Jian. This period was recorded most famously in the somewhat-exaggerated telling Romance of the Three Kingdoms.

The attention to detail for the setting is evident, with period-appropriate armor and weapons that definitely set the tone for a China that’s being ravaged by civil war. For Total War: Three Kingdoms, Creative Assembly emphasized that the focus was on the characters and their struggles with or against each other. At the start of the game, you can also choose whether you want a historically accurate experience or a ‘Romance’ experience. If you choose the latter, you can command generals individually and they gain legendary strength and ability, almost on par with some of the Legendary Lords in Total War: Warhammer.

In the gameplay presentation I saw, Cao Cao had gathered his forces for a siege against Lü Bu. After a grand speech, his men moved up, shifting formations with their shields to block enemy arrows. Formations are back and will be critical in battle to gain the edge over your opponent.

During the siege, Cao Cao and Lü Bu begin to taunt each other, claiming that their opponent will fail miserably and bring shame upon their clan. While prior Total War games featured context-sensitive speeches, this type of banter is completely new to the franchise and could result in some very interesting, dynamic storytelling depending on who is fighting who and what their history is. These insults keep up through the duration of the siege, so it’s not just a one-off event per battle.

While his army has crumbled, Lü Bu refuses to submit and engages Cao Cao in a duel. This is another new feature; it was possible for duels to emerge in prior games, there was no stopping other soldiers from getting involved. Here, Cao Cao’s army stays back as the two legendary generals charge each other on their horses (both are eventually knocked to the ground) and fight with skill and grace. The combat animations in the series have gotten better throughout the years but they really shone in this duel, with dodges, lunges and parries as each general chipped away at the other’s health. Eventually, Lü Bu is defeated and forced to submit. Creative Assembly confirmed that once you beat certain generals, you can take their possessions which will grant special bonuses, such as Lü Bu’s horse Red Hare.

I’m a huge fan of the Total War series and while I’m utterly in love with the Warhammer fantasy-spinoff, Total War: Three Kingdoms looks like it will draw me back in to the historical side of things. Total War: Three Kingdoms is releasing on PC sometime in Spring 2019.

 

If you’re interested in checking out any of my other E3 2018 impressions, here’s the list of coverage so far: