Romance of the Three Kingdoms XIV: Diplomacy and Strategy Expansion Pack (PC) Review

By Chris Leebody 05.01.2022

Review for Romance of the Three Kingdoms XIV: Diplomacy and Strategy Expansion Pack on PC

Romance of the Three Kingdoms XIV launched on PC in 2020 to what Cubed3 noted in the review as suffering from "poor game design choices". The long-running strategy franchise based on Luo Guanzhong's historical novel Romance of the Three Kingdoms comes courtesy of Koei Tecmo and is part of a series stretching across a multitude of years and consoles. In recent times iterations of the series have gained what are known as Power up Kits; these are essentially expansions and DLC content which add extra scenarios, gameplay elements and strategic choices. It is therefore no surprise that RTKXIV gets its own similar addition in the form of the Diplomacy and Strategy Expansion Pack which is available now for £28.99 on Steam. This is purely an expansion and therefore the base game is also required to play. Let's take a look and see if it improves on what was an unfortunately sub-par experience.

One of the main criticisms of RTKXIV in Cubed3's previous review was that the game suffers greatly from a lack of exciting strategic options with which to utilise. Previous entries in the franchise, much loved by many players through the years, were renowned for immersing fans into this chaotic and dramatic period of China's history. What was previously a gameplay loop that tied in role-playing elements of controlling the great heroes of China, or indeed the strategic elements of forming a mighty army and empire, was instead dialed down to the most simplistic elements in RTKXIV. The incredibly interesting tactical battles were gone, replaced with battles that happen in the overworld with a minimal amount of actual agency. Strategic options are minimal, and the few interesting mechanics such as breaking supply lines to cut the enemy off are lost in the mass of numbers and buffs flying across the screen during each encounter; encounters that are to a great extent devoid of any active control.
Gone too was the inherent sense of agency the game previously gifted to players outside of battle. It used to be possible to shape how a city and region developed through building and farming, and there was a distinct impression of improvement and development. RTKXIV boiled this down to simply assigning particular focuses over each region such as farming gold, improving supplies, or increasing troops. Pick the officer and away they go, total system automation.

Screenshot for Romance of the Three Kingdoms XIV: Diplomacy and Strategy Expansion Pack on PC

So where does the Diplomacy and Strategy Expansion Pack come in? All previous titles in the series' recent history included an additional pack that fixed broken aspects of gameplay and added in much needed and requested features. In the majority of cases, fans praised how much better this makes the particular title in question. In this case, RTKXIV's Diplomacy and Strategy Expansion Pack falls far short of what it needed to achieve to actually revive interest in this game. The additions include a new feature known as geographic advantage that gives a bonus for owning particular provinces. This can be things like granting additional XP to officers, offering a better chance of successful spy missions or indeed more interestingly, allowing contact to be made with special tribes.

Screenshot for Romance of the Three Kingdoms XIV: Diplomacy and Strategy Expansion Pack on PC

These 'outlander cities' are the historical bandits that littered the country at the time, such as the Nanman or Qiang, tribes who had significant power and special units. In previous games owning certain regions granted special units from those tribes; for example elephants and horse cavalry, and these units added immensely to battles and strategies. The idea of this is really cool and what RTKXIV promises is the ability to instigate contact, grow relations and eventually earn their trust and officers. This could have added some really unique gameplay elements but sadly it just feels tacked on, not really expanding upon anything. Going through the motions with these factions simply feels like another chore to take care of as part of a wider series of micromanagement chores.

Screenshot for Romance of the Three Kingdoms XIV: Diplomacy and Strategy Expansion Pack on PC

Also labeled as a series first in RTKXIV is the addition of trade with 'outsider nations' such as Rome or India. Again, it feels like something that could have been expanded upon to really switch up gameplay. Maybe they would send special units or grant massively unique abilities. Instead it just grants more resources and some special items as envoys go back and forth. Unlike past games in which the expansions really altered things, this does not change what is sadly a mediocre base game. There are a few additional battle tactics, such as the ability to deploy false information and lure enemies into traps, but this runs against the poor AI and a dull battle system that does not garner any enjoyment out of utilising these tactics.

As far as gameplay changes, that is unbelievably the entirety, which brings the biggest criticism. The game is already priced very highly. This new expansion, priced at £28.99, and only adding just a few features and some more scenarios such as the Battle of Chibi, does not go anywhere near far enough to repair what could and should have been repaired.

Screenshot for Romance of the Three Kingdoms XIV: Diplomacy and Strategy Expansion Pack on PC

Cubed3 Rating

4/10
Rated 4 out of 10

Subpar

While any content added to Romance of the Three Kingdoms XIV is obviously welcomed, the Diplomacy and Strategy Expansion Pack sadly falls far short of what is to be expected, considering the significant cost of the additions. With just two headline gameplay features and no change to how the base game operates, this is very much a disappointing development. It would be great if Koei took stock at this point on just where the series is at in comparison with some heavy competition in this genre, and went all out to make the RTK franchise what it deserves to be.

Developer

Koei Tecmo

Publisher

Koei Tecmo

Genre

Strategy

Players

1

C3 Score

Rated $score out of 10  4/10

Reader Score

Rated $score out of 10  0 (0 Votes)

European release date Out now   North America release date Out now   Japan release date None   Australian release date Out now   

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