In Total War: Warhammer III, Chaos reigns supreme. Now counting in the third release in the incredibly popular Total War series, Warhammer III brings a fresh challenge to the table that will change the way players fight for total domination of The Fated Place.
For new players and experienced hands, there’s a lot to be gained by playing through the prologue of the game. Acting as a tutorial, this prologue introduces the basic mechanics, as well as the new late game features that can be incredibly complex without proper explanation. While you play as the Kislev as you enter the fray, there are multiple factions to choose from in general play, all of which bring unique game styles to the table. Whereas playing as Kislev or Grand Cathay are probably closest to the traditional Total War game styles, the new Chaos God factions can bring some real diversity to the experience.
Total War: Warhammer III is a stunning visual spectacle. Every single colour and shape that’s imaginable is on display in almost every shot. Vibrant maps, detailed character models and signature faction designs pop in spectacular fashion. It is a feast for the eyes. It’s perhaps its most beautiful when the fighting is at its thickest and the dazzling display of light and motion distracts you from the task of dispatching your opponents. Especially excellent are some of the new giant troops, who are a force to be reckoned with. The massive Terracotta Sentinels of Grand Cathay or the towering Legendary Deamon lords are as impressive as they are menacing.
There is a huge focus on chaos elements. And while this is probably the more non-traditional play of Total War games in general, but something very familiar for the players of the tabletop Warhammer games. The Chaos Gods of Khorne, Tzeentch, Nurgle and Slaanesh are all playable as factions and their Legendary Lord character models are excellent. You can even update their appearance and abilities by applying different weaponry, won throughout your battles. The weapon and armour upgrades for your legendary lords look special and in the case of the Chaos God factions, actually make cosmetic differences to your characters. Although that may not matter if you like Grand Cathay, who’s Legendary Lords can transform into powerful dragons on the battlefield.
Each of the campaigns in Warhammer III are rich with lore and provide titbits of backstory scattered along the pathways. As you progress further into the game, new story missions unlock which provide your faction with more detail.
Chaos portals spawn at random points across the map, infecting local regions and releasing chaos armies to trouble your defences. You can use them to travel to far corners of the map to spread your empire, or to allow buffed-up chaos armies to wander your territories so you can farm them for kills. However, the longer the gateways stay open, the more chaos spreads to your cities, making it harder for you to bring the populous under control.
Transporting your Legendary Lord through randomly spawned chaos gateways, you travel to one of the four chaos realms where you must fight your way through complex puzzles to defeat the champions of the gods and capture their souls. Each chaos god presents a unique challenge as you have to manage armies, cut off from safety, surviving minor opponents to face off against the demons of chaos in multi-tiered set piece battles that will test your real time strategic know-how and your micro-management skillsets. These challenges are not for the faint of heart and require you to divide your attention between running your all-conquering war machine and the event specific battles.
Siege battles, one of the more repetitive elements in previous outings, are now multitiered defensive minefields, which require you to think of new strategic approaches from all angles. On the attack, you’ll be splitting your forces across multiple lines and micro-managing multiple task groups to achieve victory. Defenders now have some powerful tools at their disposal to protect all levels of settlements. New defensive towers and barricades can be constructed throughout your settlements during battle scenarios, and can be used to harass, annoy or otherwise block approaching armies from easily walking through to claim victory. These siege battles, significantly improved from the walkovers of Warhammer II, are complex and highly stacked in favour of the defenders.
Diplomacy tools have also been streamlined, allowing you to make quick deals and taking the guesswork out of trade agreements. You can see the direct balance of any particular deal which shows you how likely another faction is to take up your offer. It may mean paying top dollar for a particular strategic alliance, as well as making enemies of current allies, but these can be crucial decisions in the long game of Warhammer III.
On the down side, the lengthy loading times from Warhammer II are present again, and make jumping in and out of battles a bit of a chore. While this is something that may be optimised later on, in the meantime you may want to have something to read handy while you’re waiting for the game to load in.
“Total War: Warhammer III is the ultimate strategy game.”
Trying to strip down Warhammer III to its nuts and bolts is an overwhelming task. This is an incredibly packed game that combines multiple elements to keep you on your toes at all times. The addition of the chaos elements to the gameplay adds new challenges that significantly change the playing field, carefully laid plans will need to be altered at a moment’s notice to defend your territory. It feels like you’re not only playing against the other opponents in the world, but the forces of nature as well.
Total War: Warhammer III is the ultimate strategy game. The real time battles with thousands of beautifully detailed army units, the complex city building tools, the ever-changing battle maps and introduction of staged siege battles make for the complete strategy game experience you’ve been waiting for. Whether you’re new to strategy games, Total War or Warhammer, Total War: Warhammer III is a moreish experience that delivers surprise and excitement every time you click for your next turn.
Total War: Warhammer III is available February 17 on PC.