Total War: Three Kingdoms
|Total War: Three Kingdoms|
|Platform(s)||Microsoft Windows, macOS, Linux|
|Release||May 23, 2019|
|Genre(s)||Turn-based strategy, real-time tactics|
Total War: Three Kingdoms is an upcoming turn-based strategy real-time tactics video game developed by Creative Assembly and published by Sega. As the 12th mainline entry in the Total War series, the game is set to be released for Microsoft Windows on May 23, 2019. Feral Interactive have announced that the game will be coming to macOS and Linux shortly after the release of the Windows version.
Like its predecessors, Total War: Three Kingdoms is a turn-based strategy real-time tactics game. Set in the Three Kingdoms period, players control one of the game's twelve factions, who must eliminate other factions, unify China and become its ultimate ruler. These factions are led by warlords, including Cao Cao, Liu Bei, and Sun Jian. In siege battles, players command both infantry and cavalry units. All the units featured in the game are divided into different retinues, with each led by a powerful general. The player can deploy up to three generals into the battlefield at once along with three in reserve, and players will only have access to the units that said generals have the ability to recruit. The player wins a siege battle when all the opponent generals are killed or the central point of the city is captured. These generals, which can be commanded separately from their troops, have possession of unique ancillaries, which can be looted once they are killed. For instance, Lü Bu's Red Hare can be captured and used by other generals. Generals can also engage in a one-versus-one dueling, which ends when one of them dies or flees. Each general also has different classes and specialties, granting their units with both active and passive buffs. The team also introduces the concept of "guanxi" to the game, in which each general will form social connections and relationships with other characters. Viewing concepts like "obligations, reciprocity, and trust" as important virtues, these generals have unique personalities and desires that players need to cater to. If their demands are not met, their happiness rating will drop and this may lead to various repercussions for players.
The game features two game modes. The first mode, "Romance", is based on the novel Romance of the Three Kingdoms, in which generals are gifted with nearly superhuman strength. Another mode, "Records", based on Records of the Three Kingdoms, presents a more historically authentic version. In Records, the generals have their powers removed and they can no longer be commanded separately, in addition to changing certain equipment in-game to be more historically authentic.
The game begins in 190 AD, in which the once glorious Han dynasty is on the verge of collapse. The new emperor, Emperor Xian, enthroned at the age of eight, was manipulated by the warlord Dong Zhuo, whose oppressive rule leads to chaos. New warlords rise and form alliances to start the campaign against Dong Zhuo. With each warlord having personal ambitions and allegiances constantly shifting, the champions that emerge from the ever lasting wars will shape the future of China.
The game is currently being developed by Creative Assembly. Creative Assembly had refined many elements of the game, bringing changes to both the artificial intelligence and the user interface. The team introduced the system of "guanxi" in order to make the characters and generals more important in the game, as Records and Romances, two of the team's most prominent source materials, have a huge focus on characters. Unlike previous Total War games in which characters seldom interact with each other, the generals featured in the game are actively forming relationships with the characters they meet throughout the campaign. This adds a strategic layer to the game in which players need to understand these generals before making any decision.
When the game was still in preproduction in November 2016, Creative Assembly announced that the next historical Total War title would explore a new era instead of being a sequel to any previous game. Three Kingdoms was revealed by publisher Sega on January 11, 2018 with a cinematic trailer. Originally set to be released in the second half of 2018, the game was delayed to early 2019 so that the team had additional development time to complete the game's production. Later on a new release date of March 7, 2019 was announced, which was then delayed to May 23, 2019.
Total War: Three Kingdoms received positive reviews from critics, with many specifically praised the character-driven gameplay mechanics and storytelling elements. Chris Wray of wccftech describes the game is "as close to flawless, with a fantastic balance of 4X strategy and character-focused development and emergent storytelling." IGN's TJ Hafer stated that Three Kingdoms should serve as the example for all games of its genre going forward. Edwin Evans-Thirlwell of The Guardian stated the game "...is a wonderfully torrid period epic that understands the greatest stories are written about people, not empires." Jody Macgregor of PCGamer praised the campaign elements, but found the game still couldn't break off from longstanding problems the series has always faced, claiming Three Kingdoms "is not the best Total War game but not the worst by a long shot."
The Romance mode has also been praised as bringing fascinating additions to the game, with many reviewers comparing it to Total War: Warhammer. Preston Dozsa of CGMagazine stated the game "represents the best of both the historical and fantasy sides of the franchise." Sean Martin from Hooked Gamers stated the game "is the most divergent Total War I’ve seen since Total War: Warhammer... taking what is good in fantasy and using it to compliment the historical components of the game. Denis Ryan of Rock, Paper, Shotgun stated the game draws inspiration from many games that Creative Assembly created in the past, and "despite the resemblance there really is no game which has quite the same combination of elements, nor is there any strategy game that looks this good."
Ginny Woo of GameSpot praised the art direction and graphical production, and the story is faithful to the source material but nature of the narrative and the tutorial feels like overwhelming history course. Chris Tapsell of Eurogamer also stated the game is "ambitious and sometimes overwhelming." PCGamesN's Phil Iwaniuk states the game brings issues along with innovations, noted that despite the game offers a memorable campaign, the real-time battles portion lacks depth compare to rest of the series.
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