Welcome to our list of the best mods for Total War: Three Kingdoms. Creative Assembly’s shapeshifting Total War series sets up camp in the historical Three Kingdoms in its latest release. Between 220–280 AD modern-day China was split into—yep—a tripartite division of territories, and the era produced many legendary battles, generals and, indirectly, videogames about killing 500 warriors in one go.
But Total War: Three Kingdoms is no Dynasty Warriors game. It might not be a high tide mark for the series, but as Jody pointed out in our review, it makes several valuable additions to the formula. Hang on though, what if you want it to be more like a Dynasty Warriors game? Or more like traditional Total War games? How about slightly easier or harder?
Thanks to Creative Assembly’s modding tools and the community, such wild fantasies might yet be fulfilled. The dev team says its tools allow modding of "unit reskins, balance tweaks, new battle maps, scripted mods, new UI elements, new events, new characters, and much more."
Steam Workshop and the game’s Nexus page are already well populated with mods, so let’s sort the wheat from the chaff and showcase the best of them so far.
Beneath a Red Sky: A Battle Overhaul
Beneath A Red Sky is a collection of mods from the creators the Total War: Attila overhaul mod, Ancient Empires, and this battle overhaul mod is the gem of the bunch. Focusing on rebalancing units and emphasising realism, it greatly increases fatigue and the chances of units routing, which means fewer outright casualties on the battlefield. In the devs’ own words, here are the key features:
- A reworked 30hp system which includes a new “pushing” mechanic where spearmen and higher skilled units will push other units back
- A heavily researched missile rework, where missile speeds, spreads, and arcs are more accurate to the training level of the unit and the missile weapon being used
- Cavalry now refuse to charge against braced infantry units, which reduces the damage they take from charging spears. This means if a cavalry charge fails it’s easier to order them to retreat without taking large amounts of damage
- Morale debuff to enemies when charging, which can cause charged units to rout before contact, as well as a speed boost to routing units
- Terrain effects have been enhanced to make forests, rivers, and other difficult terrain useful for holding flanks or debuffing enemy attacks
The collection also includes a new battle camera, alongside visual tweaks for dust particles and arrow trails. It’s available here.
Cinematic Campaign Overhaul
A combined lighting and camera mod, this one’s designed to make the game more beautifiscent to gaze upon in campaign mode. It does so by tweaking the lighting at each time of day on the campaign map and changing the camera behaviour to bring you closer to the action when generals meet on the battlefield. After a few updates, the camera behaviour’s much smoother and easier to use now, although some users report taking a performance hit.
Recruited Unique Character Can Use Their Special Units
Is it even a mod if neither the words ‘immersive’ or ‘overhaul’ appear somewhere in the title? Modder Alex Zhao breaks convention with this simple fix, which allows most unique characters to recruit special units that would otherwise be locked to only their faction. You do need to unlock each character’s unique skill when you level them up to be able to access them, though. It’s proving a popular addition, with over 30k subscribers already.
So four our best Total War: Three Kingdoms mods list has included some deep, game-changing add-ons, but this one’s a purely visual mod that increases variety between individual soldiers within a unit. Flags and banners enjoy a bit more variation, along with unit clothing. There’s also a bit of light colour regrading going on in here. As modder hooveric succinctly puts it:
- More varieties for many units.
- Improved textures.
- Adjusted colors.
- Purely cosmetic mod. It doesn't affect gameplay.
10 Turns Per Year
Really, you couldn’t devise a more fitting title for this mod. By default it takes five turns to progress through a year in Total War: Three Kingdoms, and this mod doubles it. Slowing the game down to this degree means you can max out more of your upgrade tree, while seasons now last two turns each.
NDF: Ability Overhaul
Total War purists, prepare to bite into your own fist in sheer disapproval: this mod adds even more abilities to the game’s Romance Mode, and reworks existing ones. It also unlocks all abilities from the outset and ensures your AI opponent has access to them all too, so combat’s changed dramatically with this mod enabled. The mod adds 16 new abilities and reworks and rebalances 19 existing abilities. A Yellow Turban update is planned for the future.
No Death By Old Age
The best Total War: Three Kingdoms mods have the power to grant infinite life. While it may sound like a Paul Thomas Anderson movie, No Death By Old Age is a pretty self-explanatory mod which still allows characters to be killed but ensures they have a zero percent chance to die of old age. The exception is Tao Qian, because...
His death is an important story beat in Liu Bei’s campaign. Otherwise, your court is sticking around until—well, until they’re killed in battle. So still not a great deal for them.
If you use a mod that alters the passing of time like 10 Turns Per Year (above) this is one way to circumvent any weird aging issues you might run into.
Vandy’s Faction Unlocker
There are 36 factions and vassals in total in Three Kingdoms, and by default 11 of them are playable. Modder Vandy evidently finds that absolutely unacceptable, and has duly released Vandy’s Faction Unlocker to make all of them—bar the Yellow Turban Rebellion and Han Empire—playable.
It’s generally compatible with other mods, except those that edit the startpos.esf file so it’s worth checking for clashes before installing.
Dynasty Warriors Officers
With some degree of inevitability, this mod available on the Total War Nexus brings Total War: Three Kingdoms a bit closer to Dynasty Warriors titles, despite Creative Assembly stating just after the release of the modding tools that they’ll be moderating DW content. Nevertheless, here’s the feature list from modder kazamax2:
- Generals will be joining their respective faction on AI now! (big thanks to takilung for helping me out)
- Characters joining 100%
- Complete DW roster for Shu, Wu, Wei and Jin
- Sun Ce & Da qiao marriage
- Zhou yu & Xiao qiao marriage
- Zhuge liang & Yueying marriage
- Liu Bei & Sun Ren marriage (Shu faction trigger by event / Wu faction trigger by dilemma)
- Sima Yi and Zhang Chunhua marriage
- Fix general spawning at random age
- Choice to hire or execute Lu Bu when playing Cao Cao
- Guan Yu temporary service under Cao Cao
- Spawning with Relationship base on ROTK
- Reduced General Upkeep
Gift From Heaven
Our list of the best Total War: Three Kingdoms mods would not be complete without
dragons being replaced by Thomas the Tank Engine one that’s just a straight-up cheat. It’s you who ends up cheating yourself, of course, you lily-livered game-ruiners. But just the same, here’s Gift From Heaven, which gives you “all unique weapons, armors, mounts, followers, accessories at earliest possible turn”. And Yuan Shao will probably still have more vassals than you after five turns.