Total War: Three Kingdoms (opens in new tab) might be a colossal strategy game about fighting over China and determining the fate of thousands of warriors, but it's also about making pals. You've gotta find yourself some heroic buddies to watch your back and people to support you. Watch the Lui Bei launch trailer and learn all about the power of friendship.
Jody passed judgement on it in his Total War: Three Kingdoms review (opens in new tab), and while he wasn't enamoured with it, he had quite a bit of praise for the diplomacy system. Yes, good diplomacy in Total War! What an age we live in.
I'm still closer to the honeymoon phase and, perhaps as a result, I'm a bit more keen on Creative Assembly's latest. The diplomacy is definitely one of the most improved features, though, and in general the interactions between leaders (and heroes) is considerably more engaging than it's ever been in previous Total Wars. You'll develop friendships and rivalries with people who will have their own mates and enemies, creating a network of relationships where pissing off one person can set off a chain reaction, potentially kicking off a war.
It is, I dare say, getting closer to that Total War: Crusader Kings hybrid I've always dreamed of, full of politicking and plotting. And that all ties into battles and strategic decisions you'll make on the campaign map. Character relationships, temperaments and their popularity will determine what jobs you give them or who they fight alongside in battle. It moves things beyond stats and abilities. The best person for the job on paper might be a disaster in reality.
The evolution of agents and generals into these characters will ambitions and the illusion of agency has been one of the welcome changes to the modern Total Wars, and Three Kingdoms has really run with it.
Total War: Three Kingdoms is due out on May 23.