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Game cover of the Total War: Three Kingdoms

Total War: Three Kingdoms is the 13th installment in the Total War series, developed by The Creative Assembly. It was announced on January 10, 2018, and released on May 23, 2019. The game is set in China during Three Kingdoms era.

The game features two game modes. The first mode, "Romance", is based on the highly romanticized account of the era, Romance of the Three Kingdoms, in which generals are gifted with nearly superhuman strength. Another mode, "Records", based on Records of the Three Kingdoms, presents a more historically accurate version. In Classic, the generals have their powers removed and they can no longer be commanded separately.


The game begins in 190 CE, in which the once glorious Han dynasty is on the verge of collapse. The enthroned child Emperor, Xian, was manipulated by the warlord Dong Zhuo, at the age of eight. Dong Zhuo's oppressive rule leads to chaos. New warlords rise and form the coalition to start the campaign against Dong Zhuo. However, with each warlord having personal ambitions and constantly shifting allegiances, the player needs to utilize strategy and tactics to unify China and write their own history.



  • Character system has been revamped. Characters in the game are now unique entities with different backgrounds and traits. There are no dedicated Generals, Spies or Diplomat in Three Kingdoms, all characters can perform all roles. So all of the player's characters can be a spy one day, a general on the battlefield next, and a governor in the court after. The games features a cast of hundreds historical characters with some of them being famous figure with unique design.

Guanxi system[]

  • The Guanxi System (Friendship and Loyalty) is modelled after Guanxi, the Chinese concept of dynamic inter-relationships, Creative Assembly claims that the game has taken an paradigm-shifting approach to character agency. Each of these characters is brought to life with their own unique personalities, motivations, and likes/dislikes. They also form their own deep relationships with each other, both positive and negative, that shape how your story plays out.


  • Ancillary are now items that can be equipped on characters to provide bonuses for your character's attributes. A character's portrait will also change according to the ancillary equipped.

Campaign mechanics[]

  • Diplomacy is completely revamped from previous titles. To support these new aims and features, the developer rewrites the diplomacy model and AI from scratch. The new Diplomacy revolutionizes for a host of traditional features and systems from previous titles in the franchise. These include haggling deal and trade territory and ancillaries, and how AI values your offer, which affects state relationships and attitudes between different leaderships. It also add new diplomacy option such as coalition and guaranteeing vassal autonomy.


  • Events and Initial dilemma are new features introduced for player to create their own war stories during game progression. After fulfilling certain prerequisite actions, Each faction will face dilemmas to choose, marking a pivotal moment in that warlord's story. One of the options available to player is a choice reflecting what happened in history, and the outcomes will follow the events of the period. The others let player forge a alternative history of what might have been.


  • Court system revamped. It now features various new court positions, family tree, character relationship web. New faction council provides bonus and generate missions for player improve national industry, military and commerce. Player can give out Administrator position for your characters, ensuring their effective and satisfied employment in your court. People with low satisfaction and unpleasant guanxi within your court will automatically leave your faction to seek employment elsewhere and bring their own retinues and territories with them.


  • Reforms system, which is Three Kingdoms' unique take on tech tree, is refined and redesigned.


  • Undercover Network returns to replace the old Agent system and plays vastly different from assassination and espionage system in previous titles.

Battle mechanics[]

  • Extreme unit size with 240 infantry/archers or 60 horses per unit. General's bodyguard unit in Records mode can be upgraded even more horses in one unit.


  • Hero mechanic returns in Total War: Three Kingdoms. heroes in the game are unique characters that act as single unit on the battlefield. Heroes are divided into different class that provide benefits in both grand campaign or on the battlefield. Some heroes are better at buffing allies while others are duelist whom are able to hunt down other heroes. Some heroes carry their own unique armors, weapons and equipment.


  • Dueling returns with new improvement. Through dueling, the player could choose certain class of heroes to engage in one-on-one battle in front of their army. Victorious side will gain morale boost on the battlefield, which can often turn the tide of the battle.

Wu xing system[]

  • Wu Xing (Elemental Phases) is a new gameplay mechanic. The system is based on the ancient Chinese philosophy that describes the interrelationships of the five elements to view the workings of the world. Wu Xing mechanic summarize the rock-paper-scissor balance approach from previous titles, streamlining them into a closed-circuit system that affects every aspects of gameplay.


  • New art style and graphics design that inspired by traditional Chinese cultures.
  • Move Capital returns, a feature last seen in Medieval II: Total War.
  • Campaign AI rewritten.
  • Customization of user interface and unit cards.
  • The game has 700 historical characters.
Total War THREE KINGDOMS gameplay mechanics
Characters AncillaryAttributesBackgroundGuanxiPrestige (Faction Rank)・LegendaryPersonalityResilienceSatisfaction (Title Rank)・SkillSpecialisationTraitsUniqueWu Xing
Campaign AssignmentBuildingsCourt (AdministratorCouncilFamily Tree)・Diplomacy (CoalitionVassal)・Event (Initial Dilemma)・Factions (LeaderHeirPrime Minister)・Mission (Challenge)・RecordsReformsResourcesSeasonsTreasuryUndercover Network
Battle Ability (Unit Ability)・ArmyDuelingFormationFortificationMoraleTerrainSiege (Siege Escalation)・Unit (Hero UnitRetinue)・Weather
Miscellaneous AdvisorDLCsLocations (CommanderyCountySettlement)・Timeline


Portraits of the faction leaders in the base game

The game features 12 playable factions at launch, without counting DLC and FLC characters. Total faction count is 36 including vassal and NPC factions. Each faction is led by a warlord.

The Three Kingdoms[]

The Han Dynasty[]




Yellow Turbans[]

Nanman factions[]

Eight Princes[]

Eight princes DLC features of 8 Playable factions each faction lead by a prince

Total War THREE KINGDOMS factions and leaders
Warlords Cao Wei (Cao Cao)・Dong Zhuo (Dong Zhuo)・Gongsun Zan (Gongsun Zan)・Shu-Han (Liu Bei)・Wu (Sun Jian)・Yuan Shao (Yuan Shao)・Yuan Shu (Yuan Shu)
Governors Kong Rong (Kong Rong)・Liu Biao (Liu Biao)・Ma Teng (Ma Teng)
Outlaws Black Mountain bandits (Zhang Yan)・Zheng Jiang (Zheng Jiang)
Nanman King Meng Huo (Meng Huo)・King Mulu (Mulu)・King Shamoke (Shamoke)・Lady Zhurong (Lady Zhurong)
Other factions Han EmpireCai MaoGongsun DuHan FuHan SuiHuang ZuJia LongKong ZhouLiu DaiLiu Yan (Liu Yan)・Liu YaoLiu YuLiu ZhangShi XieTao QianWang LangWang KuangZe RongZhang ChaoZhang LuZhang Yang


TW3K LE.jpg

When The Creative Assembly start to develop the next historical title for the Total War series, they're very keen to create something based heavily around characters. The Creative Assembly ultimately decided on the Three Kingdoms period, which many records on specific people from the time, as well as potential larger than life characters available for each faction.

Sources used in Creative Assembly's research for the game were the famous pieces of Chinese literature Romance of the Three Kingdoms and Records of the Three Kingdoms.

The Creative Assembly then created several characters with names and unique personality traits, as well as 38 characters with unique art.

According to the Pawel Wojs, Project Art Director at Creative Assembly, the team created Total War: Three Kingdoms as a game that will break the status quo. The team didn't specifically planned for the Chinese audience for the game, but believed that Three Kingdoms needs to be done "differently" to be successful in the Western market, and if Creative Assembly "do it right, it will definitely resonate in the East."[1]


The game featured three versions at launch.



The Total War series
Shogun (The Mongol Invasion) Medieval (Viking Invasion) Rome (Barbarian Invasion Alexander Remastered) Spartan Medieval II (Kingdoms) Empire Napoleon Total War: Shogun 2 (Fall of the Samurai) Total War: Rome II Total War: Attila Total War: Warhammer Total War: Arena Total War: Warhammer II Total War Saga: Thrones of Britannia Total War: Three Kingdoms Total War Saga: Troy Total War: Warhammer III