One of Total War: Three Kingdoms biggest new features involves threading character-driven drama through its grand strategic warfare. Your warlords, generals, governors and spies are all unique characters with specific personalities and will interact with one another across the course of a Three Kingdoms campaign. What’s more, precisely how they interact can dramatically affect your overall experience.
This system, known as Guanxi, is explained in our latest video exploring Total War: Three Kingdoms. Esports Legend Paul “Redeye” Chaloner returns as our guide through Ancient China, while members of the Three Kingdoms development team discuss the mechanics behind Guanxi.
Guanxi is a Chinese concept for dynamic interrelationships, and in Total War, the system is designed to reflect the personal elements of the Three Kingdoms conflict, both as described in the historical records, and dramatised in the epic novel Romance of the Three Kingdoms. “We’ve built more systems around characters so they can actually interact with each other,” says Al Bickham, Developer Communications Manager on Total War: Three Kingdoms. “You’ve got great friendships, bonds of brotherhood, oaths of brotherhood and great rivalries, stories of which are told throughout the centuries.”
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These systems are designed to be organic, with character relationships changing across the course of the game. As you move characters in your own faction across the campaign map, for example, they will encounter individuals from other factions, forging relationships which, depending upon the nature of their personalities, could have positive or negative outcomes. “One character is perhaps the administrator of a province, and another character is passing through in an Army, and then they can meet.” says Leif Walter, senior designer on Total War: Three Kingdoms. “This all creates this dynamic between the characters which then feeds into other game systems.”
For one, Guanxi can affect the rapport between you and your own generals. As the video explains, declaring war on a faction that one of your generals is sympathetic toward might cause that general to question his own loyalty toward you, possibly even defecting to the faction you just declared war on. “If you have a character who begins in your faction, he might not be there halfway through the game,” Bickham points out. “Depending on the way you play, it might not agree with him.” Furthermore, if the general does defect, that might have further ramifications for other characters in your faction depending on how they feel about the general who just left to join your enemy.
As well as affecting their behaviour on the campaign map, character relationships can also influence how they fight on the battlefield. “Friendship is really important in battle, it raises your defence for your characters,” says Simon Mann, senior designer on Total War: Three Kingdoms. “But actually, that can also lead to negatives. Say you’ve got a sworn brother, which is the maximum friendship that anyone can reach – an Oathsworn. If one of their friends dies on the battlefield, there is a chance you will lose control of that character, they’re in a fury-rage.”
Check out the full video above to discover the many ways in which the Guanxi system will create unique and dramatic scenarios for your experience of Total War: Three Kingdoms.