Total War: Three Kingdoms - Fates Divided (PC) Review

By Chris Leebody 24.01.2022

Review for Total War: Three Kingdoms - Fates Divided on PC

Fates Divided is the latest DLC for Total War: Three Kingdoms from The Creative Assembly, following on the back of the Furious Wild Nanman campaign. The latest DLC heads to the strategically important northern area of China as the warlord Cao Cao strives to reinforce his strategic position. Working against him is the noble Yuan Shao, hero of the campaign against the tyrant Dong Zhuo. As with the other DLC, Fates Divided comes with a whole new campaign start date, with new factions, new faction locations and a whole raft of new units. The DLC also revamps a few existing mechanics and therefore promises a real change in the experience of playing the expansive campaign.

For fans of this period of China, if there is one thing that really gets the blood pumping, it is what has come to be known as the Battle of Guandu. The confrontation between the great Cao Cao and Yuan Shao is one that has been etched in the mind, both in the cultural history of gaming as well as in the media representation of this time period (fans of a certain Chinese language adaptation of Romance of the Three Kingdoms will remember the famous scene). Even if it is a disappointment that there is no included set piece historical battle in this latest DLC, the fact that The Creative Assembly thought to include what is a pivotal moment in the Three Kingdoms era for fans to enjoy is pleasing.

Similar to a lot of the DLC packs up to now in Total War: Three Kingdoms, this chapter pack adds a new year in the campaign start date, and with it a whole host of new ways to play the existing factions in the campaign alongside a brand-new faction to enjoy. The 200 CE start date feels quite different to the previous dates. One of the biggest perceptions when playing the campaign with almost any faction in this date is just how 'grand' and expansive things feel. Take Liu Bei for example. At the start of previous campaigns the virtuous leader is penned in with just a few paths to realistically advance into, whereas in Fates Divided Liu Bei has his own land and is tasked with making alliances with the likes of Liu Biao and new faction Liu Zhang.

Screenshot for Total War: Three Kingdoms - Fates Divided on PC

These allies are not just beside him either, he really has to stretch his army to find them. The campaign suddenly takes on a bigger scale without even doing anything. It is similar when playing as Cao Cao too; rather than the frontline of war being confined to a small corridor and chokepoint, instead it has him battling on all fronts and having to manage this while contending with Liu Bei and Sun Ce to the south, and powerful enemies in the north.

From dwindling army supplies to taking good strategic decisions around army placement, the campaign suddenly feels more important and equally more expansive. However, where it is let down is that it does not feel as if there are as many unique missions. A lot of the life within the campaign centres around re-enacting history, while accepting the premise that Total War campaigns always take on a fictional flavour of their own. This DLC more than most does not seem to provide a lot of mission opportunities to play out those historic moments. There are certainly a few at the beginning number of turns, but events soon spiral into the territory of alternate history, which for some might prove to be a touch disappointing.

Screenshot for Total War: Three Kingdoms - Fates Divided on PC

In terms of new content in the DLC other than the new campaign, there are a few things to talk about. Firstly, there are some really good changes to game mechanics and what could best be described as fancy UI changes. The new faction council in each spring period is an excellent revamp of the previous way generals handed out missions. A small section hidden in a bunch of menus is gone, replaced with a much more visually engaging 2D representation of a council meeting. Generals in a kingdom will propose missions, with the faction leader able to choose from a selection from the likes of launching pirate raids, to increasing a certain general's satisfaction, they are small but effective ways of making generals feel like they have more of a purpose outside battles.

Additionally, faction rankings have had a little overhaul too. In prior games capturing and upgrading cities lead to prestige which in turn led to ranking up. This was an automatic process that frankly was more 'blink and you will miss it'. Now each rank will prompt the player to allocate points to different categories; from increasing trade deals to the number of armies in the field, again it is just a simple way of giving more ownership to how the campaign develops.

In terms of specific new gameplay additions beyond routine updates, the key ones are the introduction of Liu Yan and Liu Zhang. This western faction comes with a new 'inheritance' mechanic that allows Liu Yan to pass on his dynasty to his son (or indeed another general if desired), granting powerful bonuses for completing missions as the father. It is an interesting style of gameplay with his faction and it is yet another example of how The Creative Assembly have tried hard and put in the work to making each ruler feel at least somewhat unique.

Screenshot for Total War: Three Kingdoms - Fates Divided on PC

Alongside a few other unique generals added into the game, on the unit side of things the significant addition in the DLC is the 'Northern Army', a professional trained army that can be commanded by either Cao Cao or Yuan Shao when they reach level seven. They are mid to high tier units and while it is a cool extra feature, it is probably one that could have been developed a little bit further. While they have some nice designs, they do not immediately jump out as massively unique.

One feature that does not feel like it works as well is the 'Imperial Intrigue'. Essentially it is a buff for keeping the population of a nation happy. The value up to one hundred can then be spent on influencing diplomacy, for example lowering a rival in the eyes of every other faction. The problem is that it is too easy to gain and after the midgame pretty much every faction is full of it. It also does not feel like it has a huge impact on how scenarios play out, there is rarely enough of an incentive to actually use it often in the majority of situations. On the other hand, Cao Cao's new 'Schemes' that he can employ do actually feel like a tangible benefit when playing as his faction. Being able to reduce a faction's relations with every other faction by fifty per cent is a seriously powerful move, or equally to cripple an enemy's food supply. In some ways Cao Cao actually feels a little overpowered when it comes to his schemes, but it has to be said they are super fun to use.

Screenshot for Total War: Three Kingdoms - Fates Divided on PC

Cubed3 Rating

8/10
Rated 8 out of 10

Great - Silver Award

Rated 8 out of 10

Like a lot of the DLC packs for Total War: Three Kingdoms Fates Divided does not add anything that fundamentally changes things, rather it is a lot of smaller tweaks to gameplay and a few additions that add a touch of spice to the campaign. There is a new faction here, some new units there and a bundle of new mechanics and tools to strategise with. Some could be disappointed, but for £7.99 it feels like a fair price for what it includes.

Developer

Creative Assembly

Publisher

SEGA

Genre

Strategy

Players

1

C3 Score

Rated $score out of 10  8/10

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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