The Total War series has always enabled players to rewrite the course of history. Three Kingdoms is set in Ancient China in the year 190 AD. After 400 years of rule, the Han dynasty is crumbling, plagued by decades of political infighting and economic stagnation. Six years earlier, hundreds of thousands of peasants revolted against the government in the Yellow Turban Uprising.
When the ruling Emperor Ling dies, power is seized by General Dong Zhou, deposing the new Emperor Shao in favour of a puppet ruler. This event triggers a civil war that lasts sixty years, becoming one of the bloodiest eras in Chinese history.
A thousand years later, the period would be immortalised in the historical novel Romance of the Three Kingdoms. Written by Luo Guangzhong, it dramatizes the lives of the key players who fought for the soul of China. The Romance is based upon the historical records of the Three Kingdoms era, but it blends the factual events and real individuals with legend and myth, making it part historical account, part epic folk-tale.
Total War: Three Kingdoms draws from both the history of the period and the stories that emerged from it, letting players experience the game in two distinct ways. In Records mode, players assume control of one of twelve faction warlords in a historically authentic representation of Three Kingdoms’ China. This mode is dedicated to providing the experience Total War is known for, sweeping grand strategy and vast real-time battles where the player’s tactics are the key factor in victory or defeat.
But Three Kingdoms also lets players enjoy a slightly different form of Total War. Romance mode is an embellished version of Three Kingdoms’ campaign, taking the historical strategy of Total War and tweaking it to create a more character-driven experience. In Romance mode, your warlords are not simply the leaders of your armies, whose participation in a battle must be carefully weighed against their chances of survival. Instead, they are powerful, single-unit heroes, able to wade into the thick of the fight and deploy devastating abilities inspired by their descriptions and exploits in Romance of the Three Kingdoms.
Pre-purchase Total War: Three Kingdoms here.
Combining a gripping turn-based campaign of empire-building & conquest with stunning real-time battles, THREE KINGDOMS redefines the series in an age of heroes & legends.
Out on the 23rd May.
Romance mode emphasises the roles these characters played in the shaping of China’s history. The presence of warlords on the field will make battles faster-paced and more intense. Meanwhile, clashes between warlords can be as epic as the battles themselves, with players able to commit their warlord to one-on-one duels with the enemy general.
Characters will still play a key role in Records mode, particularly when it comes to diplomacy and factional relationships. In battle, however, they act like traditional Total War generals. Surrounded by a personal bodyguard, they may be charismatic leaders or talented warriors, but they are still human, and vulnerable if left exposed on the battlefield. Warlords can also still duel together in Classic mode, but these will occur organically on the battlefield, rather than being triggered by the player.
The importance of character can also be also seen in the most distinctive campaign map yet seen in a Total War game. Like the Shogun games, Three Kingdoms focuses on a single country, lending it a greater focus and sense of place. Yet China is two thirds the size of Europe, which means that Three Kingdoms also has the scope of games like Rome and Medieval.
Three Kingdoms’ campaign map is also the most detailed and dynamic Creative Assembly has yet produced. The landscape of China is instantly recognisable by its uniquely-shaped mountains, rising steeply to a point like the teeth of some giant animal, their summits and slopes covered by dense forest. Seasonal changes will coat the map in a blanket of snow during winter, and see trees erupt with pink blossom in spring. A new day/night cycle lets you watch the sun set over your ever-growing empire, and trade caravans travel by lantern light along your winding trade-routes Even weather can affect the campaign map, meaning your armies may be forced to march during rainstorms or even blizzards.
All of this amounts to the most colourful and characterful Total War yet, one that is as rich in historical authenticity as any previous Total War, but also draws from the dramatic stories which arose from that period. Embrace history or enter legend? The choice is yours to make.