Total War: Three Kingdoms – The Furious Wild on PC
The latest DLC offering for the exemplary Total War: Three Kingdoms, The Furious Wild, brings with it a huge swathe of new ideas and content, which is good… but also an uncharacteristic bevy of bugs and lack of polish, which is less good.
This latest DLC from developer Creative Assembly introduces an entirely new culture, the Nanmen, replete with their own faction mechanics, units, and quirks to the game. Three Kingdoms’ China in its current form was already quite varied, thanks to its previous expansions, but the inclusion of the ferocious tribes is a welcome one.
Inhabiting the dense jungles and forbidding swamps of the south-western portion of the campaign map, the Nanmen finally make the strategic layer feel complete, as that area was conspicuous even from launch in its apparent neglect.
Due to their remote location, far from the machinations of Cao Cao and company, playing as one of the new faction leaders feels quite different from what veterans may have come to expect.
The scale is smaller, and so are the stakes, and the more zoomed-in nature of a campaign as Meng Huo or Lady Zhurong has an intimate feeling and is less about empire building as it is about unification.
In order to face the growing power of the Han, the Nanmen people must come together as one, whether they like it or not. Through diplomacy, intimidation, or outright force, bringing each Nanmen tribe (of which there are 19 in total) under your yoke brings powerful bonuses and benefits, in an inventive twist on Total War’s traditional technology tree.
Upon the submission, confederation, or vassalisation of any faction of the Nanmen culture, you unlock the bonus associated with that tribe in particular. This ranges from resources and faction-wide buffs, to unlocking unique units and special abilities, and adds yet another strategic choice when deciding in which direction you should expand.
While the base Three Kingdoms was better in this regard than earlier games in the series, The Furious Wild really rewards players that engage in diplomacy, as confederation with a rival is often far more effective than annihilation. Total War, while the name of the game, is only one tool in the hands of a skilled player, and sometimes you can expand your borders without spilling a single drop of blood.
The new faction leaders are interesting and varied, with Meng Huo and Lady Zhurong in particular standing out. Meng Huo is geared towards unifying the Nanmen, gaining increased diplomatic relations with the other tribes, at the cost of a penalty to interacting with Han factions.
Lady Zhurong, instead, wields the power of the Fire Goddess. She can activate her special ability, Wild Fire, on the campaign map, granting her armies powerful buffs for several turns. After use, this ability will leave Zhurong depleted, vulnerable for several seasons, as the embers fade to ash.
King Mulu and King Shamoke round out the playable Nanmen roster, who’s mechanics focus on animals and increased unification options respectively. While interesting, Meng Huo and Zhurong are clearly the protagonists of this story, and as the two are even able to marry through story missions, and they kind of feel like the cannon way to play the Nanmen.
Along with the tribesman themselves come other, more bestial denizens of the jungle. The Nanmen regularly incorporate animal allies into their armies, and implement elephants and tigers alike as shock troops. The animations for the tigers are particularly awesome, and both are powerful and thoughtfully implemented, even if it feels awful to throw such endagered species into the meatgrinder.
Both come in a wide variety; Nanzhong Elephants bear massive war drums, beating out a rythym that inspires nearby warriors, while War Elephants use their armoured bulk to decimate formations. Tiger Slingers act like a regular missile unit, but are able to unleash their feline friends on any foolish enough to close with them, while Tiger Warriors accompany their monstrous charges into the melee.
The new content associated with The Furious Wild is great throughout, but the DLC is let down by its technical implementation. I experienced several crashes during my time with the DLC and a lot of texture pop-in that I never noticed before the update went live.
The weapons of generic Nanmen generals, bizarrely, don’t appear in combat, and so their animations look goofy instead of awesome. On the campaign map, the Nanmen bonus to movement in their home territory doesn’t seem to apply, and so navigating the dense jungle is more frustrating than it ought to be.
I even reinstalled the entire base game to make sure there was nothing on my end causing these issues, but a quick look around online showed that I was not the only one experiencing them.
These issues aren’t game-breaking, but they certainly soured my experience of the new content. They will be fixed, I’m sure, but they aren’t at the time of writing. It just seemed like this update had been rushed out the door, or not properly QA tested, leaving the offering feeling like it was of lower quality, even if the content was top notch.
It’s a shame, as Three Kingdoms impressed me with its technical fidelity at launch, and its subsequent expansions convinced me that the buggy launches of earlier games like Empire and Rome II had been relegated to the dusty pages of history.
The Furious Wild provides even more reason to return to Three Kingdoms and to lose yourself once again for a score of hours engaging in some of the most rewarding gameplay modern strategy games have to offer. But maybe wait a while, until the bugs are ironed out and some of the games rougher edges are smoothed over.
- New factions and units are fully realized.
- Livens up a previously quiet part of the map.
- Buggy and lacking polish.
- Feels rushed.
September 3, 2020