Total Warhammer 3 Champions of Chaos rethinks what being a horde means

Total War: Warhammer 3's Champions of Chaos DLC is coming to rejuvenate the Chaos Warriors, which have languished in obscurity for years

Total War: Warhammer 3 Champions of Chaos horde mechanics: the daemon lord Azazel grins while standing outside a Cathayan gate as formations of chaos warriors and daemons march by.

Total War: Warhammer 3’s Champions of Chaos DLC is about The Chaos Warriors, who were the stars of the very first DLC for Total War: Warhammer back in 2016. Back then, they were a pre-order bonus that was eventually offered free to everyone who bought the game in its first week on sale, and they played differently to the four factions included in the base game. Now, Total War: Warhammer 3’s first DLC sees the strategy game series finally circle back to the faction, which has struggled to keep pace with newer lists.

Creative Assembly tells us Total Warhammer 3 presented the perfect opportunity to finally go back to the Chaos Warriors and correct some shortcomings that the developers did not foresee in the earliest days of the Total War series. Horde mechanics, borrowed from Total War: Attila, were perhaps chief among those.

“Quite frankly, we learned a lot about horde gameplay from Warhammer 1, and we wanted to put that right with the Champions of Chaos pack, going back and addressing Warriors of Chaos in general,” DLC director Richard Aldridge tells us.

In the first Warhammer, the Warriors of Chaos were a destructive force that would storm down from the north in a scripted invasion event in the Old World campaign – highly reminiscent of the arrival of the Huns in Total War: Attila. Playing as one of the three lords included in the pre-order DLC pack, players would run Chaos as a horde faction – they wouldn’t capture settlements, but instead would add ‘structures’ to their moving hordes that unlocked new bonuses and unit types.

“Back in Warhammer 1, when the dwarves and the greenskins had a partition [on the map] that they could interact with, and the Empire and the vampire counts had a partition, people wanted to touch it all,” explains Champions of Chaos lead designer Sean Macdonald. “And the hordes always felt like they never quite touched any of it, because they couldn’t take it. They couldn’t own it themselves.”

That’s changing with Champions of Chaos, which launches alongside the Immortal Empires campaign beta on August 23. Chaos Warriors factions will be able to occupy special ‘Dark Fortress’ regions, which can be found around the Chaos Wastes and in Norscan lands, and once they do, they can construct a stronghold.

The expansion also adds a new sense of permanence and progression to Chaos armies. Rather than simply adding horde structures, players can ‘mark’ their low-level units and ascend them within the ranks of Chaos, even choosing to dedicate mortal units to a particular Chaos god. You’ll decide who to promote into your warband based on which units prove most useful to you.

“In Warhammer 3, with the Warriors of Chaos, we wanted to really say, do you have to have buildings attached to your army to be a horde? Or can we actually make the gameplay be about the horde?” Macdonald explains. “It’s not what’s attached to you, it’s about how you play.”

The Total War: Warhammer 3 Champions of Chaos release date is right around the corner, and it adds four new lords to the mix. There’s Festus the Leechlord, Valkia the Bloody, Vilitch the Curseling, and Azazel, the Prince of Damnation, who’s pictured in the image up top. The common thread that binds them is that they’re all somewhere on the journey of ascension from ordinary mortal to powerful daemon of Chaos.