The next historical Total War game is on its way, and the hype is real. Total War: Three Kingdoms is due for a May 23rd release this year, and with it comes a whole host of exciting new changes to the series' age-old diplomacy and character systems.
Set in ancient China and featuring many of the legendary heroes of the period, this is the first major historical title developer Creative Assembly have released in over four years, since Total War: Attila in 2015. Development hasn’t been without its hurdles, however; Three Kingdoms is making bold changes to the franchise, and fans aren’t happy with all of them.
Three Kingdoms Will Feature Two Modes: Records and Romance
Creative Assembly have done well for themselves recently, all things considered. Total War: Warhammer and its sequel Total War: Warhammer 2 are some of the best games they’ve made to date according to metacritic.com, complete with magic, dragons and walking zombie pirate ships. It seems CA are hoping to carry that fantasy momentum into their next historical title, Three Kingdoms, to boot. The game will feature two modes of campaign gameplay: Records Mode and Romance Mode.
The former is for diehard historical fans, boasting features such as increased unit fatigue on the battlefield, a more realistic colour palette and permanent character death of either wounds or old age. Romance Mode combines the best of both CA’s fantasy and historical endeavours, with a bombastic colour palette, superhuman generals straight out of the games’ source material, and active battle abilities. Read more about the Romance of the Three Kingdoms history at threekingdoms.com.
CA are doing their best to please all fans, but in doing so they may be stretching themselves a little thin.
Total War: Three Kingdoms to be Published Under SEGA May 23rd
We first saw gameplay footage of Three Kingdoms way back in mid-2018 – major praise was directed at the souped-up diplomacy system, including spies, food, coalitions and vassal systems. Major complaints included vague unit cards, battles which were too fast paced, problematic AI and overpowered generals. Since then, the game has been delayed twice, first to March 2019, and now to May 23rd, and it seems CA have been using their time wisely.
New, toggleable unit cards are now in place. There’s an optional Chinese VO for the game. Battles have been slowed down across the board regardless of game mode, and generals have been weakened to a more reasonable level. Things are looking good for May, all things considered, with CA providing weekly Wednesday streams showing off their improvements, albeit with regular client crashes (all part of development).
Many game studios have struggled with buggy, rushed game releases in the past, Creative Assembly included. Most recently we've seen Bethesda struggle with Fallout 76, which for many was in an unplayable state on day one. BioWare too have had disappointing launch days, especially under publisher EA; Mass Effect Andromeda managed to tank an entire franchise, and Anthem failed to garner any kind of substantial playerbase, lacking endgame content and locking character customisation behind microtransactions.
With this context in mind, it's uniquely commendable of CA and its publisher SEGA to delay Three Kingdoms not once, but twice, and to continue to improve the game based on community feedback. Fixing issues pre-release is and always will be preferable to day one patches and beyond. Publishers and devs alike have a reputation to maintain, after all. Take NetEnt and Microgaming - while they operate within an entirely different sector of gaming, that of online casinos and slots, the same principles apply.
With dozens of their titles available on winningroom.com, from slots to table poker, they've managed to cultivate a reputation for releasing quality, reliable titles - the AAA-gaming industry could stand to learn a thing or two from its sibling.
Only time will tell if Three Kingdoms will stand tall on its own two feet, if the delays have been worth it, and if CA can shake off their personal reputation for buggy, problematic releases under SEGA. Total War: Three Kingdoms comes out on May 23rd.
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