by Sean Martin
reviewed on PC
It’s been a couple of months now since Three Kingdoms released, but it is slated as the most successful launch of a Total War game to date. And it’s no surprise really — updating the diplomacy, adding an innovative agent system and bringing empire management more in line with strategy 4x, Three Kingdoms fulfills many different roles, while also offering a rich historical campaign experience. With this in mind, a lot is to be expected of its DLC, the first installment of which, Eight Princes, was released yesterday.
100 years after the Three Kingdoms period, the Jin dynasty is faltering — eight princes and descendants of Sima Yi vie for power. At the same time, the Empress has seized control of the Emperor, and is serving as regent. You must play as one of these princes, and either make a move for power yourself, support the emperor as regent, or support the empress.
The 8 princes each have their own distinctive focus. This manifests itself in terms of their playstyle, visual design, and their unique units. While many of these are pre-existing, the two new ones are mounted crossbowmen, and most important of all, cataphracts. On top of this each prince has a unique resource, effecting trade influence, corruption, building costs and research rates, each further tailoring the playstyle. This creates a relatively interesting campaign experience, but the main problem is that the 8 princes already fit into many of the same archetypes as the warlords in Three Kingdoms’ main campaign. With this in mind, it is hard to find them especially distinctive.
In terms of other campaign introductions, alignment is also new — a resource gathered specifically through dilemmas, allowing you to focus on Mind, Might, or Spirit. Mind improves character XP and research rate, Might for military improvements, and Spirit for food production, relations and noble support (Eight Princes version of public order).
MORE OF THE SAME
Eight Princes offers a campaign experience, filled with new dilemmas, buildings, resources, a couple of units, as well as a whole host of playable characters, each with their own specific playstyle. But in many ways it is essentially more of the same, not that the same is a bad thing if you enjoyed the base game. Three Kingdoms was already pretty revolutionary for Total War, and speaking for myself, I am nowhere near tired of the diplomacy, subterfuge, or overarching campaign experience.
It might have been too much to expect incredibly new and diverse mechanics so soon after the release of the base game. Instead Eight Princes represents a few little changes and a nice dose of added re-playability. I think that in time we will receive DLC that does significantly change things and offer new and incredibly fresh mechanics, but Eight Princes isn’t that. I would however recommend it if you enjoyed the campaign experience of the original game.
Adds re-playability to campaign experience, variety of features compliment a certain playstyle for each prince
Struggles to be distinctive/lift itself beyond the original game, only a couple of actual new units