Smooth Gaming: Will Three Kingdoms Be The Best ROTK Game To Date?

Smooth Gaming: Will Three Kingdoms Be The Best ROTK Game To Date?
Image source: YouTube Video Screenshot

Smooth Gaming‘ is a new column to ValueWalk which will discuss various aspects of the video game industry. From AAA titles, business aspects, and independent developers who often go under-reported. ‘Smooth Gaming’ will take a multi-pronged look at the world of gaming. This week we discuss the upcoming Total War: Three Kingdoms title.

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This one was a long time coming.

Creative Assembly made the fans of the Chinese epic novel Romance of the Three Kingdoms  ecstatic in early January when they released the announce trailer for Total War: Three Kingdoms (Three Kingdoms). The English speaking west was introduced to the Three Kingdoms world with the Dynasty Warriors and the titular Romance of The Three Kingdoms (ROTK) franchises. ROTK recently released their 13th edition while Dynasty Warriors released the 9th volume in their series.

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The turn-based roleplay, ROTK introduced me into a deep tactical based simulation which opened my eyes to the epic Chinese time period where the series takes place. While Total War has delivered hours of personal gameplay; throughout the eight titles, I’ve played. These two franchises coming together is something I was delighted to see and have wanted for over a decade.

What Makes Total War: Three Kingdoms Appealing?

Three Kingdoms offers the opportunity to offer a complete experience of the Three Kingdoms era. Despite the longevity of the ROTK and Dynasty Warriors franchises; the pageantry, grandness, and epic level storytelling associated with ROTK is the perfect next step for the Total War franchise. While Dynasty Warriors has cultivated a strong niche fan base in the western world – each series has left something to be desired.

Dynasty Warriors has long offered arcade style beat em’ up gameplay and ROTK delivered a deeper roleplay experience, both were lacking something the other brought to the table. The titular ROTK game has a smaller niche falling, yet is able to capture the grand aspects associated with the novel. The gameplay allows for the player to play however they see fit, no matter how big or small the role they chose to play. If the player wants to be a cunning Cao Cao type who skillfully maneuvers through the ranks, they have the ability to do so, however, the title has never captured the graphical feel of how massive the battles were during the novel.

Three Kingdoms can fill the gap that these franchises have left due to the style of play the Total War series is known for. The sheer magnitude and scale of the battles associated with Romance Of The Three Kingdoms, along with the detailed character building of the heroes of the story, have attracted fans from around the world.

Creative Assembly will allow fans of the series to see a beautiful graphical display of battles from this era of history that no other game up until this point has been able to deliver. Players will be able to make strategic moves on the campaign map, employ subterfuge, and lead their troops into battle – while seeing these battle play out. Whether in victory or defeat, the results will set up unique scenarios for the player to respond to as they continue their quest to unite China under a single banner.

The Total War series which combines turn-based strategy, real-time tactical combat, and resource management during grand campaigns. For fans of Romance of the Three Kingdoms, this model meshes perfectly with the storyline of the novel. For example, Cao Cao’s rise to prominence careful execution in each of those three phases. Or if you want to play out the trails and tribulations associated with the sworn brothers Liu Bei, Guan Yu, and Zhang Fei — you’ll have that ability. Naturally, this is why many fans of both Total War and the novel have wanted to see the two team together for a long period of time.

Creative Assembly is presented with a unique opportunity in order to bring the property to fans that have yet to be introduced to the epic storyline, by combining the strengths of the previously mentioned franchises along with the aspects which have entertained millions of Total War fans.

Their familiarity with allowing players to play key roles in espionage and political aspects of gameplay may not be on par with Crusader Kings II, yet it grants the team the needed experience to bring those elements of gameplay to Three Kingdoms – which could open new doors for Romance Of The Three Kingdoms gaming.

Creative Assembly has taken the opportunity to revamp their diplomacy system to better represent the narrative that millions have become fans of.

The True Potential For Three Kingdoms

PCGamer details the new ‘hero model’ being utilized for Three Kingdoms:

Instead of picking a faction, as is traditional in Total War, you pick a character from a choice of 11. Playing as that individual, you recruit generals who come with retinues. You can find unique items for each character and their mounts, as Lu Bu shows in gameplay trailer. There are different classes of hero with different active and passive abilities in combat. Guardians are combat masters that can soak up damage, while Strategists can debuff enemies at range. Commanders, meanwhile, excel at buffing nearby friendly troops.The heroes you bring into battle determine the makeup of your army. You can bring a collection—five are shown in one army in the gameplay trailer—heroes and their retinues into a fight, and the units in each retinue depend on the hero commanding them. Supposedly the interpersonal dynamics between heroes will have consequences on the battlefield, and heroes will even have different levels of self-regard.

“Heroes will also allow you to adopt formations in your army, though these abilities will unlock gradually over the course of the campaign,” PCGamer continues.  If Creative Assembly follows through with further character development aspects, they will be able to give those new to the Romance of the Three Kingdoms narrative great insight into what has made the story popular around the world.

Three Kingdoms currently has a release date of March 7, 2019. For those interested in learning more about the lore, John Zhu has spent the past several years producing the 3 Kingdoms Podcast, which delivers the story in an entertaining audio format.

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Walter Yeates is a journalist who has covered a wide range of topics. In December 2016 he embedded with the First People's and Military Veterans at Standing Rock, North Dakota. Walter is also known for his articles speaking about the Modern Day Gentleman and helping young boys and men know the stereotypes around masculinity should not control their lives. He covers politics and technology for ValueWalk while also writing the 'Smooth Gaming' column. Walter can be reached at for interview requests, pitches, and tips.
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