Armies in Total War: Three Kingdoms may contain up to three Heroes, each of whom offers different unit recruitment options. This means your army’s versatility and unit differentiation will depend on the generals you attach to it – and presumably, that if you lose a general in battle, you may lose the ability to recruit certain troops.
That’s according to a fact sheet provided by developer Creative Assembly ahead of our hands-on with Total War: Three Kingdoms at E3 earlier today, and it underscores a clear theme that’s emerging around the game: it is all about your characters.
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One of developer Creative Assembly’s key influences for their latest historical epic is The Romance of The Three Kingdoms, a 14th-century novel that takes a – as you might guess from the title – romantic view of real events. Its characters are semi-mythical in their abilities, and accordingly, we’ve already seen how their digital equivalents can have an outsized impact on the battlefield. Most characters will be able to take on dozens of ordinary troops single-handedly (though some are better than others), but they will also have a number of special abilities through which they can buff nearby allies or confer negative effects on the enemy.
With variable unit recruitment options, Creative Assembly say the idea is to add depth to the way you organise your military: your generals’ preferred tactics and areas of expertise will be reflected in the units they unlock, as well as their in-game abilities.
This explains the three panels in the UI that we can see in the new gameplay reveal trailer. If you skip ahead to 1:10, it seems that the central (second) general has brought the heavy spearmen, while the third has brought the artillery and the archers. Now if only someone would bring the funk, we’d have a party.
CA also confirms the return of formations, and a few changes to siege battles and maps. Laying siege to a settlement on the campaign map will weaken its fortifications as well as deplete its garrison, opening up new avenues of attack – that’s important, as Chinese cities of the period were built to funnel attackers down killing corridors.