Total War: Three Kingdoms - A World Betrayed (PC) Review

By Chris Leebody 01.04.2020

Review for Total War: Three Kingdoms - A World Betrayed on PC

Released on the 19th of March, this latest DLC from The Creative Assembly follows January's Mandate of Heaven, pack which added a new historic start date to the main campaign. The approach was praised for adding a new way to play it, without segregating the main game into separate parts. A World Betrayed now comes with a brand new start date. This time, rather than looking at events before the start of the main campaign, the year is 194CE, and the evil tyrant Dong Zhuo has been betrayed by his adopted son, and legendary warrior Lu Bu. Meanwhile, in the south of China a great member of the noble Sun family, Sun Ce, has begun his road to fulfilling the legacy of his late father, establishing the family power. Adding a number of new features, including in-game mechanics, alongside a raft of new missions and events and starting positions (including for already existing factions), there is plenty to get excited about.

When it comes to the Three Kingdoms era of Chinese history, there are definitely a number of standout historical figures that have caught the eye. Whether it is the all-powerful lord of Wei, Cao Cao the heroic Zhao Yun, or even the despotic Dong Zhuo. However, the standout figure who captures the imagination of fans of this historical time period is no doubt Lu Bu - the fearsome man who rode the legendary horse Red Hare, and was said to be worth 1,000 or more men. From Dynasty Warriors to Romance of the Three Kingdoms, his legend has been told countless times, and each with great fondness by the fans. Therefore, when it came to fan requests, being able start a campaign and see things through his eyes was definitely one of the most requested features in Total War: Three Kingdoms.

Alongside his campaign, is one set in the south of the country, with Sun Ce. That side of things does much to rectify what some criticised as a fairly empty part of the Total War: Three Kingdoms map. Now, there has been a great effort to flesh out some of the warlords down there, including the interesting 'White Tiger' Yan Baihu. The great thing about this format of DLC, as Cubed3 touched on in the review of Mandate of Heaven.

Despite there only being a few additions in terms of the roster of generals and armies, the bonus is that the new campaign start date also changes the circumstances of many of the existing lords available. Playing as Cao Cao, for example, his power base is firmly established, and set up to go on the offensive; Liu Bei has finally gained a home after roaming the land as a nomad; and Yuan Shao is looking to seize control of the northern territories after having successfully fought off Dong Zhuo. The changing contexts give a great incentive for replayability.

Screenshot for Total War: Three Kingdoms - A World Betrayed on PC

In terms of new mechanics and features, there are several interesting additional ways to play the campaigns that do a good job of switching things up. Lu Bu's faction for example, centres around a resource called 'Momentum,' which is gained through Lu Bu himself defeating generals and armies in combat. It encourages an expansive and aggressive style of play, as when 'Momentum' drops, so do the bonuses granted by it. This has the swing though of the strategic decision of spreading his territory too thin. He also has an interesting mechanic involving defeating certain officers or sets of officers, for example the two Xiahou cousins, in order to grant his faction a bespoke bonus.

Ultimately, it is just ridiculously fun to play as Lu Bu in combat. It is not an exaggeration to say he is probably worth 1,000 troops on his own, even despite having been nerfed by The Creative Assembly slightly. His attacks are deadly, his ability to kill generals is unmatched, and more often than not he can compensate even when the odds are highly stacked against him. Meanwhile Sun Ce's Wu faction operates on 'Reckless Luck', which is a degrading resource that gradually ticks down over the turns. Slowly having ever more damaging effects until eventually leading to the death of Sun Ce, Reckless Luck is recovered by completing various 'Legacy of Wu' tasks, such as defeating particular generals and armies, and conquering cities in line with the historically accurate campaigns of Sun Ce.

His faction particularly benefits from what becomes a real race against time, and gives the campaign a sense of momentum. It offers a dilemma in pushing forward and maintaining the charge, against recklessly overextending and ending up being flanked. Make no mistake: these campaigns are hard even for experienced players. However, it is a fun challenge that allows this DLC to excel. It helps that both Lu Bu and Sun Ce are very enjoyable characters to control on the battlefield. Both powerful, and filled with lots of personality.

Screenshot for Total War: Three Kingdoms - A World Betrayed on PC

Cubed3 Rating

Rated 9 out of 10

Exceptional - Gold Award

Rated 9 out of 10

Total War: Three Kingdoms - A World Betrayed is another fascinating addition to the main campaign for those who are still obsessed with this wonderful strategy title. Adding an important part of the story, and introducing some fan-favourite characters and scenarios, The Creative Assembly has once again vindicated this DLC approach. The new faction mechanics for Lu Bu and Sun Ce give an additional strategic dimension, and as with the previous DLC, the existing characters have new situations in this warring China, meaning there is an added incentive to replay the campaign with them numerous times over. This is a no brainer for owners of the game to buy this addition.


The Creative Assembly







C3 Score

Rated $score out of 10  9/10

Reader Score

Rated $score out of 10  0 (0 Votes)

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