The Total War franchise is undoubtedly one of the biggest in the strategy genre. Featuring iconic titles – such as Total War: Rome , Total War: Medieval 2, Total War: Shogun 2, among others – taking full control of complete units on the battlefield appealed to both history buffs and battle-tactic lovers alike. war.
However, instead of following past events, what if all the elements of the series were used to portray a fantasy setting? The idea seems out of scope, but it was what, in 2016, led to the creation of Total War: Warhammer, which would soon become one of the best games, both strategy and Warhammer, ever made.
What was a non-standard franchise title has become one of the most acclaimed series in the franchise.
In 2017, Total War: Warhammer II expanded the universe even further, also bringing specific improvements that pleased players even more. Now in 2022, Total War: Warhammer III aims to live up to the series’ legacy by showcasing a new story, adding new factions and, as always, evolving gameplay.
For 8 hours I was able to play with two factions of Creative Assembly’s newest game. The experience and news are reported in the text below, but I already say that, at the end of the event, I wanted a few more extra hours to test different formulas and, thus, reach 50 turns with an invincible army.
The return of the king
For this third title, Creative Assembly opted for a different narrative. The entire plot unfolds with the supposed death of Ursun, the God of the Kislev faction. The death of a God is an event that shakes the Warhammer universe, and every faction reacts differently. What doesn’t change, however, is that they all throw themselves into a fight in the Realm of Mortals until they reach the Realm of Chaos.
Within the access build, I was able to notice the presence of 8 factions, but I only had access to two of them: the Cathay and the Daemons of Chaos. I’ll talk about them later, but I’ll say that, of the 8 factions, 2 of them are human – Kislev and Cathay – and 4 represent the gods of chaos – Nurgle, Khorne, Slaanesh and Tzeentch. The other two concern ogres and Chaos Daemons united under a single banner.
The novelty is, however, with the two playable factions, along with the ogres. The ogres, by the way, were already present in the franchise before, but not with the prominence that, apparently, they will receive now. Within what has been shown, it is possible to note the unique mechanics designed exclusively for Total War: Warhammer III.
The Fury of the Cathay Dragon
For the news of the third title in the franchise, many fans were eagerly awaiting details about the Cathay faction. With almost no detail in the other games, the Cathay are clearly inspired by China, with units and equipment similar to those used in the oldest periods of the Asian country’s history. The Cathay even have a wall similar to the Great Wall of China .
Within the Warhammer universe, there is, in the Cathay empire, an internal power struggle. Miao Ying, described as a cold and calculating ruler, and Zhao Ming, presented as someone sociable but possibly corrupt, are the protagonists of this faction. During the event, I was able to test only Miao Ying, who proved to be a strong character both on and off the battlefield.
Members of the highest Cathay hierarchy are able to transform into dragons. Such a skill, in addition to having a cool look, guarantees extra strength on the battlefield. Miao Ying can transform into a dragon and terrorize enemy troops with ease, as well as utilize other abilities acquired as the game progresses.
Faction exclusives are in the harmony, bastion, and caravan mechanics. Starting with harmony, each unit and building corresponds to an element of Yin and Yang. The complexity of this mechanic corresponds to balancing the two counts, because if one is higher than the other, you can suffer serious disadvantages. Harmony also counts at the time of war, where troops fight better if there is a balance between their disposition on the battlefield.
The bastion, in turn, is what keeps the creatures of chaos out of the Cathay domains. It has a bar, where, upon reaching the maximum level, the forces of chaos encircle it. In the first few attacks, I was able to beat the demons with ease, but with each new siege, the forces of chaos come back more powerful, so it’s not a good idea to let the bar go up unchecked.
Lastly, caravans reward the player with amounts of gold based on the distance traveled. The way they work reminds me of the game Vagrus – The Riven Realms , where the journey works as if it were a board, going through predetermined paths.
The dangerousness of the journey depends on diplomatic relations and the security force that will accompany the merchants. If the caravan is ambushed, you can participate in the battle controlling the troops normally, just like in the campaign. Rewards increase with distance and amount of gold carried.
In Warhammer, daemons are not joined. Khorne, Nurgle, Slaanesh, and Tzeentch are, in short, armies serving a single deity. However, the Daemons of Chaos are unaware of such division, composing a heterogeneous army and, so far, unique in the franchise.
The Daemons of Chaos can rely on the forces of the other 4 Chaos Gods. Troop layout follows the best of each deity. Tzeentch, for example, offers the best ranged units in the game, essential for destroying enemies with projectiles forged by the architect of fate.
But the main protagonist of the faction is Prince Daemon. The gigantic Demon is capable of terrorizing enemies in many different ways. Like the lords and main characters, the prince is customizable, only that customization is intensified.
That way, if you want to control a more resistant demon, which absorbs most of the enemy’s attacks, it is possible to make it a tank easily, but if you want a character that does more damage, whether in melee or ranged combat, you can also modify it to suit the needs of the campaign.
The mix is what makes the Daemons of Chaos a powerhouse to be reckoned with. With each victory, you must choose which deity to dedicate the triumph to. Each of these gods grants a different tech tree of bonuses, so it’s up to you to decide what works best for your campaign objectives and your chosen playstyle. If you are undecided, offering victory to all gods is also an option – even if it is not fully effective.
I imagine this will be the choice of those who love chaos creatures, but are unable to decide which one to use during a full campaign. Of course, depending on the player, some faction will be used more than the other, but the mere possibility of creating mixed armies is too tempting.
Of course, due to the short access time, it is not possible to do a complete analysis of Total War: Warhammer III. However, the mechanics presented show that news is on the way, but without deviating from what makes this series so dear to fans.
I couldn’t play with the ogres in this build, but they, along with the Cathay, are one of the most anticipated factions. Their playstyle should be slower, but with devastating attacks that honor the fame of Warhammer’s thugs. I was able to play against some armies of this faction during the campaign, and I saw that, in addition to the slow and strong fighters, the ogres have a little more mobile options to give players work.
A novelty unrelated to the campaign is the multiplayer mode. Unlike other titles, Total War: Warhammer III will allow up to 8 players to take turns simultaneously. This eliminates the need to wait for that slower player to finish the move before the next player has a turn – a very common inconvenience in the franchise.
Even tasting this little appetizer, Total War: Warhammer III seems to have done its homework. The two playable factions show differences and quirks that will likely appeal to both Warhammer and Total War fans simultaneously. The success of the two previous titles in the series puts the bar high, but I believe this remains the fusion of Warhammer and Total War that fans deserve.
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