What is the Total War: Three Kingdoms release date? Here is all the latest Total War news from trailer to the factions and warlords you will get to play.
Total War games come in all shapes and sizes now - the meaty Warhammer fantasy spin-offs, the slighter stopgap titles like Thrones of Britannia, and even a competitive live game in the form of Arena. But Total War: Three Kingdoms is the next biggie - a grand strategy game that straddles the second and third centuries of Chinese history. It comes in a spruced up engine, too, leaving behind the Attila version that was starting to look a little creaky by the time Britannia came around.
You shouldn’t mistake this for a ‘traditional’ Total War, though: Three Kingdoms doesn’t look solely to the history books but also The Romance of the Three Kingdoms, a novel written in the 14th century by Chinese author Luo Guanzhong.
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A consequence of that is that Three Kingdoms isn’t the tale of units shuffling around the map - it’s the tale of named heroes with personalities and relationships that influence the action in Creative Assembly’s latest strategy epic.
If you’re a Total War devotee, those last couple of paragraphs have probably raised a few questions, so we’ll endeavour to answer them.
Total War: Three Kingdoms release date
If the original Total War: Three Kingdoms release date had stuck then the game would be nearly upon us. Three Kingdoms was first scheduled for autumn this year - though with May’s Thrones of Britannia to tide us over, it wasn’t too painful when Three Kingdoms was delayed. Now it’s set to arrive in spring 2019.
Total War: Three Kingdoms trailers
Total War: Three Kingdoms was announced this year with a cinematic, which sets the tone for a game about champions and warlords.
That was followed by an in-engine trailer to sooth the upset of the delay, starring one of the Three Kingdoms leaders, the siege strategist and speechmaker Cao Cao.
And finally, just before E3, we got genuine gameplay footage. It finds Cao Cao in his element, directing trebuchets to knock a hole in the wall of a city run by a rival character, Lu Bu.
Total War: Three Kingdoms gameplay
As should be clear by now, the chief departure of Three Kingdoms from Total War convention is a focus on heroes and their personalities.
“One of the things we realised very early on is we can't do the period justice without characters being at the forefront of the game,” lead designer Simon Mann told us at E3. "If you read either The Romance or the Records of the Three Kingdoms, which are two of our core sources, you'll know that it's all about the characters. The Records themselves are a list of people and what they had done, and it just shows how important people are - be they great heroes or evil villains, they're at the core of what makes this period so interesting.”
What that means in practical terms is a deep character system called Guanxi - named after a Chinese cultural concept rooted in relationships. Each character will have individual traits and personal connections, which will govern their usefulness. As your armies fight their way across their map, they’re forming friendships and rivalries. You’ll hire characters not only for their battle prowess, but for their connections.
Beneath the 11 named warlords in Three Kingdoms are two further tiers: Heroes and Generals. Total War: Three Kingdoms Heroes define the makeup of your forces - you can assign up to three to each army, affecting your unit recruitment options.
Total War: Three Kingdoms Guanxi sounds rather nuanced. Some characters are destined never to be mates, like Lu Bu and Xiahou Dun - the former of whom claimed the eye of the latter in battle. They say ‘forgive and forget’, but that’s the kind of constant reminder it’s difficult to move past.
Total War: Three Kingdoms factions
For every warlord there’s a faction - so that makes 11 in total. So far we know the names of three: Cao Cao, Liu Bei, and Sun Jian, though the characteristics of these Total War: Three Kingdoms factions are swathed in mystery.
Total War: Three Kingdoms campaign map
We haven’t had a glimpse of Creative Assembly’s romantic take on China yet - though for an idea of the dimensions, take a look at any real-world map.
There’s to be a stronger link between the campaign map and the actions taken during battle than ever before. The buildings that you create for your cities during the grand strategy portion of the game will be visible during battle. Not only visible, in fact, but flammable. In this context, burning a granary becomes a strategic decision - you’ll starve the enemy of resources, but also lose a building in a city you may take for yourself later.