Ahead of its arrival next month, Creative Assembly has detailed what we can expect from Total War: Warhammer 3's first major update, 1.1, which includes some significant changes to the Realm of Chaos and the factions fighting over the daemonic souls contained within.
The Realm of Chaos is probably the most experimental campaign hook that Creative Assembly has attempted, tasking players with making trips into the domains of the Chaos gods at regular intervals. Instead of conquest and expansion, the goal in these maps is to fight your way to a climactic survival battle, with plenty of obstacles getting in the way.
It's a novelty, and for my first couple of campaigns I was really into it, but it can also be a slog, especially with all the negative traits each domain burdens you with. It looks like a lot of players feel the same way, and with that in mind Creative Assembly will be making it a slightly less punishing experience. Here are the changes being introduced with the next patch:
- The strength of the negative Realm traits has been reduced by roughly ~50%.
- Daemon Legendary Lords will no longer be burdened by the negative traits of their respective patron god.
- Traits gained in the Realm of Chaos will now be removed when a Legendary Lord completes the survival battle within that realm.
- When a player intercepts an AI Lord at the Forge of Souls, their souls will now be lost—forcing them to restart their collection. This should make it easier to disrupt the souls race.
- The protection building chain can now be used to prevent rifts from spawning in the province in which they're built.
- The rewards for gaining souls have been improved by providing additional bonuses for a limited period of time.
Letting characters avoid the negative traits of their patron god is an especially welcome change since it made absolutely no sense that their greatest champions would suffer when visiting what is effectively their home.
I'm less sure about the change to confrontations at the Forge of Souls, however. This is how you stop a rival who has beaten you to the race for daemonic souls. You have to meet them in battle to stop them from claiming the power of the bear god Ursun for themselves, after which they have to lick their wounds for 15 turns before making another attempt. I only got into this position once, and I only needed a few turns to win myself, so that seemed like plenty of time. If I was further than victory, however, I could see how it could become a pain in the arse being forced to intercept them again and again, but stripping them of all their souls seems like an overcorrection, effectively kicking your biggest rival down to last place with a single fight.
That said, Creative Assembly's objective here is one I can get behind. "These changes are intended to make the Souls race less urgent and give you the chance to approach the battlefield in different ways," the dev diary reads. "We will, of course, continue to adjust the mechanics in the future, but look forward to seeing how these changes impact your experience as you jump in after 1.1."
Another area where Creative Assembly has been fiddling is faction balance, specifically when it comes to the real-time brawls. Looking at the win rates in ranked matchmaking and the Domination multiplayer mode, there's a clear leader: the Ogre Kingdoms. These big lads quickly became one of my favourite Total War factions when I was reviewing Warhammer 3, and despite a lack of decent ranged units—aside from the cannon-wielding Leadbelchers—I always felt like I could crush absolutely anything standing in my way. Sadly they're going to be toned down, with "significant adjustments" coming with the update. Cathay, Kislev and Slaanesh will likewise be getting tweaked, though not to the same extent. We'll have to wait and see what shape the changes will take.
Bug fixes will also be included, of course, like the pesky ALT+tab crash bug, and there's a bunch of stuff Creative Assembly is still testing before it'll be ready to commit to adding them to 1.1.
Due to the scope of the fixes and improvements, the team's reprioritised DLC like Immortal Empires and the blood pack that nobody actually cares about. It wants to make sure Warhammer 3 has a strong foundation before it starts throwing new stuff into the mix. In the meantime, however, there's good news for modders. While the Assembly Kit is still being put together, a mod manager and Steam Workshop support should appear with 1.1.
Creative Assembly is also promising more big updates between DLC launches, "allowing us to address bugs, balance concerns, and other adjustments on a quicker cadence than previous games".
It's certainly not been a flawless launch, but I've been impressed with how communicative Creative Assembly has been, and how quickly it's addressed the performance issues that were introduced with the 1.0 build (and strangely absent in the review version) and taken onboard player feedback. This big patch preview is a good way of putting the community's mind at ease. And we'll have an even clearer idea of what's coming soon. After the release of 1.1, we'll be able to get a look at the "long-term" roadmap and hopefully get some clues about the DLC factions.
The 1.1 update hasn't been dated yet, but it's expected to appear in early April.