Total War: THREE KINGDOMS - The Furious Wild (PC) Review

By Chris Leebody 02.09.2020

Review for Total War: THREE KINGDOMS - The Furious Wild on PC

A new entry in Total War: Three Kingdoms has arrived in the form of The Furious Wild - a game being described by Creative Assembly as an 'expansion' pack, rather than the smaller 'chapter packs'. Coming off the back of the successful A World Betrayed, The Furious Wild introduces the so-called Nanman tribespeople; barbarians and indigenous folk of the South-west of China. For the first time in the game, the campaign map has been expanded to cover this territory, and four new fully-fleshed out factions join the fight to rule the land, each with their own unique units, research technology and, of course, missions. Anyone familiar with this era of Chinese history will be aware of the Nanman people, especially from titles like Dynasty Warriors in which the faction was always held in high regard. Meng Huo, Lady Zhurong, King Mulu and King Shamoke join the fight - to arms.

While Three Kingdoms has had a steady stream of new content to keep the game fresh, the introduction of the Nanman people at this point is a smart move to reinvigorate the player base with a group of factions many have been calling for. As mentioned, this expansion pack does more than any previous expansion by physically expanding the playable map and finally turning some of that previously barren land, that many had complaints about, into something worth fighting over. As tribespeople from southern China, the Nanman come with a fighting style that gives a much-needed shot in the arm for unit diversity. There are over 25 additional units included in this pass. Don't expect heavy cavalry and armour-clad infantry, though. These are units designed to trek the jungles and swamps that these barbarians rule over.

The diversity here in unit types is very pleasing: axe-wielding warriors to fight on the frontlines; slingers who can navigate the battlefield quickly and are specialised in jungle fighting; as well as fire archers who can burn said jungle to the ground while the enemy is inside.

Screenshot for Total War: THREE KINGDOMS - The Furious Wild on PC

However, the real prize here is the newly introduced animal class of units - with both elephants and tigers that can be unleashed on the battlefield. It isn't the first time that such units have been included in a Total War title, but this is certainly one of the best representations of it. Not only do they look beautiful and sound amazing (like when a herd of elephants charges through lines of infantry), but they deliver a whole new way of strategising and deciding battleplans. It's particularly wonderful later in the game when the clash of styles between, for example, Meng Huo and his elephant core, is up against the cavalry-focused Cao Cao.

Starting as any of the four new factions of the Nanman people, the campaign is initially focused on the home of the Nanman in southern China. Cut adrift from the world, these tribes fight among themselves for superiority. The first goal is to conquer the 19 tribes under one banner. In a nod to what historically happened, Creative Assembly has added a new 'Confederate' option, which allows a conquered tribe to be absorbed into the player's faction. Equally, forming a coalition with a faction also counts towards this total.

What's good about this overarching initial mission is that it keeps the momentum up in the early portion and gives things a neat structure that helps with flow. Doing deals with tribes, forming alliances and, ultimately, conquering the enemy is an epic start to the campaign before the real fun begins when the Nanman step into the main kingdoms, fighting it out over China.

Taking a deeper look at the new characters, they are all a memorable bunch and as usual for every faction in Total War: Three Kingdoms, each comes with a varied playstyle. A personal favourite of many, Meng Huo, is probably the standout here. The ferocious king has a cool mechanic that gifts bonuses to his faction by capturing 'fealties' from other tribes.

Screenshot for Total War: THREE KINGDOMS - The Furious Wild on PC

These buffs almost operate as a sort of rolling momentum gameplay hook that rewards an aggressive player who is on the front foot. Like anything, though, that has a negative side, and it is always a balance to stop expanding too quickly. One of the other additions, Lady Zhurong, is known as the 'Goddess of Fire' and, as well as literally unleashing plenty of interesting fire-based projectile units, she has her 'Wild Fire' ability that gives a significant buff to her units. Again, though, this 'Wild Fire' has the chance to burn out after a certain number of turns, which then leaves her weak and vulnerable.

As always stated when it comes to Total War: Three Kingdoms, the singular aspect that has made the game so compelling thus far is strategic choice. All the new factions in The Furious Wild offer and complement this in abundance and serve up enough unique mechanics to really keep the player on their toes. The new tech-tree for these factions is also a newly implemented feature. It's roughly just a retooled version of the existing way factions research additional buffs and units. However, firstly it has had a complete visual overhaul to fit in with the Nanman style. More importantly, though, Creative Assembly has implemented a system here in which certain paths can be locked out.

Screenshot for Total War: THREE KINGDOMS - The Furious Wild on PC

This seems like a really good step, as once again it delivers that aspect strategy fans call for time and time again - forcing people to make key strategic decisions and shape their kingdom in their image. Therefore, for example, sometimes it will be a choice between a research tree that focuses on China-wide diplomacy or, as an alternative, a branch in the tree that complements the use of Nanman espionage and tribal mercenaries. It's fantastic that there is this distinct sense of carving out a path and playstyle. Conquest or diplomacy? Straight up manpower? Use agents to sow division and mistrust? The choice is always there.

It's important finally to touch on things visually here. While the raw assets haven't changed much, battle maps in this Nanman region definitely incorporate the right amount of dense forest and marshy swamps. It's a good thing too because it very much complements the faction's benefits in combat. It also just looks sumptuous seeing an entire forest in flames after executing a perfect ambush manoeuvre. The main characters have also been wonderfully designed and sound great with the tribal units standing out among what could sometimes be a rather repetitive army composition in the base game. The campaign map itself also looks simply incredible and, interestingly, the lack of developed infrastructure means players have to think hard about how they navigate around it in a way very few had to in the base release. Trekking through a forest to hit the blind side of an enemy might seem like a good move but, if it takes ten turns, suddenly there is an army out of supplies and cut off. Risk versus reward, always!

Screenshot for Total War: THREE KINGDOMS - The Furious Wild on PC

Cubed3 Rating

9/10
Rated 9 out of 10

Exceptional - Gold Award

Rated 9 out of 10

As an expansion for Total War: Three Kingdoms, The Furious Wild is a no brainer to pick up. Adding a ton of content and tens of hours of new gameplay for a mere snip, this DLC is definitely worth the asking price. The Nanman campaign is one that has plenty of drama attached with a host of faction specific missions and events and then best of all, once it is completed it is just the prologue of the adventure to come, with the rest of China to capture and a whole host of 'outsiders' to convert or conquer in the name of the Nanman. Visually impressive and with a lot of creative ideas in the mechanics used to keep the factions interesting -The Furious Wild is an excellent addition to the game.

Developer

Creative Assembly

Publisher

SEGA

Genre

Strategy

Players

1

C3 Score

Rated $score out of 10  9/10

Reader Score

Rated $score out of 10  0 (0 Votes)

European release date Out now   North America release date Out now   Japan release date Out now   Australian release date Out now   

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