The Furious Wild is the first Total War: Three Kingdoms DLC to expand the map and proves once again why Three Kingdoms is the best the series has been since Shogun 2. By expanding down to the southwestern part of China, The Furious Wild forgoes the troops and plains of Han China in favor of the untamed jungles and tribes of the south.
The expansion not only shifts the focus away from the Chinese mainland geographically, but it also adds a new set of factions and units to play with. The Nanman tribes of the south have a completely different playstyle and objectives than any of the other factions in Three Kingdoms. This makes the expansion more akin to the race expansions in the Warhammer: Total War series than what we’re used to in Three Kingdoms.
For starters, the Nanman tribes have little initial interest in what Imperial China is up to and the early game focuses on uniting the different factions under a single banner, to then be able to tackle the more sophisticated armies of the Han Chinese. This unification is generally done by the sword: defeating other Nanman factions does not lead to them being destroyed, instead you can assimilate them and their leaders into your own court.
Honestly, I would have preferred to have more diplomatic ways of making them join your faction. While it’s technically possible to do this through some treaties and marriage, It usually requires so much prestige that you would have to have already conquered them to afford it. It’s fine for what it is, but when I played the Nanman factions I tended to eventually become boxed in by allies who loved me but refused to join me, forcing me to betray and conquer them in order to progress.
Better, then, are the changes implemented to characters and the Nanman tech tree. Nanman heroes do not fall into the rigid archetype system of the Han factions that determine what sort of units they could recruit and abilities. Instead of being a Sentinel, Commander, Champion, Vanguard, or Strategist, Nanman leaders can freely distribute points into those traits as they level up. Furthermore, they don’t earn buffs and abilities by their rank alone — you need to perform certain feats to unlock them. Slaughtering a set number of enemies on the battlefield might unlock better melee abilities while releasing prisoners after a battle can unlock another.
A similar philosophy permeates the Nanman tech tree: to advance further down into the tree you often have to complete certain missions first. For instance, unlocking the recruitment of imperial units requires that your general is a certain level, while better economic tech will have you making treaties with a set number of factions. This makes the progression of the Nanman armies flexible and fun to play around with. While the Han armies and their technology had a steady and predictable progression rate, the Nanman have a much more chaotic approach. This can make you progress incredibly fast in certain areas and, because of the mission system, you are able to focus on the things that are easily attained at your current situation in the campaign. For anyone that might have already spent hundreds of hours with Three Kingdoms, this does a great deal to liven the game up.
The new, often animal-based units are also quite interesting to play around with. The Nanman brings war elephants, tiger warriors, and other more exotic units to the fray. Though there is nothing really new to anyone who has played other Total War games — especially the Warhammer flavored ones — the new units serve to spice up the battles quite a bit.
The only disappointment with The Furious Wild is that I could have gone for a more diverse variety in battle maps. Not that the maps in Three Kingdoms are bad, but they aren’t that memorably either. While the new setting gives us some new places to slaughter our enemies in, many are just the old ones with added ‘jungle’ vegetation. The fact that A Total War Saga: Troy was just released and features some of the best maps the series has ever had just exacerbates this disappointment.
That said, The Furious Wild is still a great expansion and the new factions do a lot to liven up the gameplay and will give you another excuse to put a hundred more hours into Three Kingdoms. Highly recommended for anyone who’s itching to get back into the world of Chinese history.
A Steam key was provided by PR for the purposes of this coverage
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