Total War: THREE KINGDOMS Seem Lacklustre So Far. Could Be Just An Okay Game
We, the Total War fans have been clamouring for a China Total War for ages, I remember enthusiastic discussions about it after the release of Medieval Total War back in 2002, in fan forums and even the official Total War forum. Now, that we've got our wish fulfilled, something about Total War: THREE KINGDOMS just doesn't feel right.
Creative Assembly Has Been Wrong In The Past
Let's face it, Creative Assembly has been wrong in the past on multiple counts. Something that would be more relevant to THREE KINGDOMS, was Empire Total War. Because besides China Total War, a Napoleonic focus Total War was probably the most asked by fans.
Just because fans want it, doesn't mean the execution of the game would be flawless. CA has bombed big time in the past. In Empire, and ROME II. Adding features for the sake of fitting the theme has backfired in the past.
Like how they made a sequel that was worse than the first game (specifically limitations with generals). They were too ambitious and bite of more than can chew with not enough QA.
Creative Assembly has learnt some lessons from ROME II and Empire and have changed their approach to QA and developing their games. The old philosophy of developing an evolutionary title followed by a revolutionary title is now gone.
Most CA games are now evolutionary. Total War: THREE KINGDOMS follows on the formula Total War: WARHAMMER set with a focus on heroes and quests.
While the heroes in WARHAMMER didn't overpower armies as much, they seem to be doubling down on these hero characters in THREE KINGDOMS.
Which is why I suppose they are releasing THREE KINGDOMS with two modes. The Romance mode which puts more emphasis on heroes and a realistic mode for those that want a more conventional Total War experience.
Emphasis On Gimmicks Rather Than Strategy
The new duels seem par for the course in the Romance of the Three Kingdom lore. But it's more in line with Chinese mythology than actual warfare.
Duels don't really add much to the strategic element in battles, other than engaging the enemy general in a duel and keeping him or her away from the main battle.
Perhaps this isn't such a big feature and there are other bits of the game that add more strategy and interesting decisions (such as the different general types). But it has been part of Creative Assembly's focus when showing off the game to the press.
Show us what really matters. How has the game evolved beyond gimmicks. We've all been burnt by ROME II so such things like duels doesn't cut it for the fans.
Visuals Don't Equal Great Game
Yes, the campaign map visuals look absolutely breathtaking. It's the most beautiful Total War to date. That's been true for every new Total War game to this day (except for maybe Total War Sage: Thrones of Britannia, which is a different story).
But that's not primarily what strategy gamers look for in an excellent strategy game. If the game sucks, visual fidelity isn't going to cut it or mask the flaws (I'm looking at you Empire).
Aesthetics may sell the game more to a mass audience, but it's not going to guarantee a hit. No one should allow pleasing aesthetics to blind them from major flaws of the game.
Let's Not Jump To Conclusions
Having said all that, I'd still give them the benefit of the doubt. We've only seen and learnt bits and pieces of the game.
With Gamecom 2018 just a day away, I'm sure we'll learn more about the game, especially the campaign map.
How does trade work and the economy of your empire? How has diplomacy evolved with a character focused game? Can the AI adapt to the new heroes and hero types?
If Total War: THREE KINGDOMS doesn't do these well, I'd expect it to still do well (there's a huge Chinese fan base here that will surely get it). But gamers are going to drop off pretty quick.
I'll keep you updated as we learn more about the game... especially things that have strategic ramifications.
So what do you think of Total War: THREE KINGDOMS so far? Are you sold? Or sill on the fence?
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