Total War: Three Kingdoms

This is the fourth article in a series recounting & reviewing my time with Total War: Three Kingdoms

This is the fourth article in a series recounting & reviewing my time with Total War: Three Kingdoms. Developed by Creative Assembly & Published by Sega. Our thanks go to Creative Assembly for providing the site with a review code. Campaign mode played is Romance Mode


I have spent a significant amount of time with Total War: Three Kingdoms over the last week or so. My articles so far have focused on campaign playthroughs and the narratives that have formed as they’ve progressed. Now though, it’s time for me to give my thoughts and opinions on the game as a whole.

My computer is not a top end machine, it does not contain the latest in graphics card technology or the fastest CPU on the market. It’s an older machine, which I bought second hand many moons ago, that contains; Intel(R) Core(TM) i7 CPU 870  @ 2.93GHz (8 CPUs), ~2.9GHz, NVIDIA GeForce GTX 750 Ti, 8192MB RAM. Despite this lack of horsepower the game has ran brilliantly, with little to no issues at all; I had 1 battle go a bit stuttery but I suspect that is because my anti-virus software decided to start a background scan whilst I was in the middle of a battle. Sure, my graphics settings are all down in the medium/low area so I’m missing out on the true beauty of the game; which is disappointing from a personal point of view, as some of the screenshots I’ve seen from other people are absolutely lovely to look at. However, it does work and it still looks pretty good considering it isn’t working with much in the hardware department. I haven’t come across many bugs either or had the game crash as yet. A few minor ones like the end of duel pop up saying my character had won when they’d lost has appeared a few times. Broadly speaking, everything has gone well and as it was intended to. So if your computer is at a similar level to my own, rest assured that you’ll be able to play the game fine.

“In my 3 campaigns so far, as Cao Cao, Sun Jian & Liu Bei, I’ve seen just how robust these systems are”

When you’ve played a few games in a series or of the same type, as I have with the Total War games, it is easy to forget how nuanced they are. You find a rhythm, develop strategies that work and refine those to suit the specifics of the game you are playing. Adjusting around the edges without really overhauling your philosophy. This time has been different for me whilst playing the Romance campaign mode. The power of the characters in battle is immense, they are able to turn battles around single handedly if used effectively. As a result, managing them, keeping them happy and deploying them effectively is a hugely important aspect of the campaign in a way that it hasn’t been in the past. There are a lot of systems at play in a game like this. All of them playing off one another, influencing events as the turns pass, ultimately leading you into situations that will make or break your campaign. In my 3 campaigns so far, as Cao Cao, Sun Jian & Liu Bei, I’ve seen just how robust these systems are. They’ve surprised me several times and put paid to any notion I had of having the upper hand over them. I’ve loved it. I’ve so much more to learn and it’s an exciting feeling. I’ve struggled with food production, I’ve had trouble with public order, I’ve ended up bankrupt, I’ve been absolutely flattened by a superior force and I’ve pulled off heroic and unlikely victories despite being at a disadvantage as well.

There are a few things that I feel could be improved, mostly aesthetic things rather than gameplay ones. First up is the faction colours on the map; there are 50 shades of grey… or in this case brown. It’s a bit dull so adding a bit of colour here would make it just a touch nicer to look at. The diplomacy pop up notifications that tell you who has declared war or became allies etc at the start of your turn are a little unclear I find at times. When it says that Yuan Shao has told his Vassal to join a war it doesn’t say who the war is against; in later turns when you can be getting 10 of these a turn it’s a bit of a faff working out who is doing what. So, clearing this up a bit would help. I have also found that it can be quite easy to lose track of which units are mine during battle. The colour differentiation on the icons is a bit small by default. I’d like there to be a more obvious contrast so I can tell them apart at a glance.

Luo Yang was the Imperial Capital of the Eastern Han Dynasty

Coming in the next few weeks will be the Steam Workshop and the floodgate of mods will open. There are already mods available but I prefer to wait until I can use them through the workshop rather than risk breaking anything by fiddling about with game files myself. It’s just easier. It’ll be exciting to see what the community puts out there. Creative Assembly are always watching and listening, I know they’ll be taking on board the thoughts and opinions of their fans and factoring it into their planned updates and DLC in the future. The good news for them is, when the game is this good already, they’ve got a brilliant platform to build on going forward.

In conclusion then, I absolutely love Total War: Three Kingdoms. I’d recommend it to anyone that is interested. The focus on the characters and their impact in Romance mode is great fun. The overhaul to Diplomacy and Spying really freshens them up. Plus loads of other little quality of life improvements that make the experience all the more pleasant. If you like strategy games or are just looking for something big and meaty to get stuck into… this is a game you should check out.

Next week there will not be any articles on Total War: Three Kingdoms from me. I’m going to take some time to play a bit more and plan what I’m going to do next. Maybe I’ll start a series going forward, I’m not quite sure. In the meantime though, let me know your thoughts on Total War: Three Kingdoms, on these articles and what you’d like to see from me in the future by commenting here, on  Facebook or by tweeting me @adamthomss1994. I look forward to hearing from you!


And to being Emperor of China… one of these days…

Thanks for reading.


Adam is a Writer, Editor & Podcaster here at Out of Lives. He casts a wide net across popular culture with video games & anime, in particular, featuring heavily in his work for the site. Hailing from a town just outside Glasgow, this Scotsman can usually be found roaming the Northern Realms on The Path or behind the wheel of a Supersonic Acrobatic Rocket Powered Battle-Car.
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