It is something of a miracle that the Total War: Warhammer series exists at all. The Warhammer Fantasy line had been discontinued a scant year before the first game in the series arrived, with the line being shifted over to Age of Sigmar instead. Total War: Warhammer has kept the Warhammer Fantasy torch burning ever since. The series stands as a celebration of Warhammer Fantasy. It gives its varied factions and world a chance to shine rather than gather dust. But it’s more than just a showcase for a beloved franchise. Total War: Warhammer 3 is a supreme tactical achievement that stands alongside the best of what the Total War series has to offer.
Total War Warhammer 3: A suitable starting point
While it would usually be advisable to start a trilogy from the beginning, Total War Warhammer 3 makes a strong case for itself as the ideal starting point for newcomers. This is thanks to its engaging Prologue Campaign that does an excellent job of slowly drip-feeding players Total War Warhammer 3’s main mechanics. And it does so while managing to be an excellent adventure in its own right.
The prologue campaign features more RPG elements than might be expected. Leading to an engaging narrative that has wider implications for Total War Warhammer 3’s Realm of Chaos campaign. It is entirely possible to skip the prologue and dive right into the rest of what Total War Warhammer 3 has to offer. But you will be missing out on a unique and well-thought-out slice of the game if you do.
A reassurance, before you have time to worry that Warhammer 3 is straying too far off the beaten path. The game’s prologue is a tightly constructed adventure, with a narrative focus and multiple roleplaying choices to make. But these elements are mostly left by the wayside in the main Realm of Chaos campaign. While the mostly linear narrative works wonders for a campaign designed around easing you into the game, it would likely have felt restrictive across the dozens of hours of a regular campaign.
The careful balance struck here – trying out new mechanics and styles of presentation while adhering to the core of what makes the series work – does wonders to reduce the series’ previously high barrier of entry. Total War Warhammer 3 is more accessible than ever to newcomers. But it will also satisfy purists who would cry foul at too much RPG influence in their Total War.
The Heart of War
So, regarding the series’ core gameplay, Total War Warhammer 3 homes in on what has made the series work so well so far. And it does so while deepening its systems to ensure that it does not fall behind in terms of innovations.
The variety of factions on display at launch is impressive, as is the strength of their individual gameplay. There is something for any potential commander to enjoy here. From Khorne’s up-close-and-personal butchery, through to Tzeentch’s tricksy sorcery and Cathay’s engaging yin-yang system. The Ogre Kingdoms are a personal favorite, for when you want to tune out all that highfalutin duty and honor and just focus on being the biggest, cruelest, and hungriest version of yourself.
And it isn’t all battle and aggressive conquest either. Diplomacy – an underwhelming option in previous Total War: Warhammer games – has been overhauled and updated. Bringing it up to par with improvements made to the rest of the Total War franchise. There are more options available than ever for how you will expand your faction’s influence and deal with threats to its rule.
Beyond the campaign
Total War: Warhammer 3‘s Realm of Chaos campaign is so lengthy and engaging that you would be forgiven for thinking that it is the entirety of the game. But Total War: Warhammer 3 has more to offer. There are additional options available to you at launch, beyond just the main and prologue campaigns. Something Rotten in Kislev and Darkness and Disharmony expand your options for single-player and multiplayer campaigns. They add in optional objectives, shuffling the balance of power and map placement that players will be used to. And there’s the promise of more to come, with the epic scope of Mortal Empireson the horizon.
The Achilles Heel
Every game has its downsides, however slight, and this one is no exception. Thankfully, Total War Warhammer 3’s issues are set to become less prominent in the near future.
Fans of the series that favor multiplayer were set for disappointment on release day. The online experience at launch was plagued by bugs and connection issues. And single player wasn’t immune either. It was very difficult for many people to get the game running at all. Much less keep it in a stable state. Developers Creative Assembly have been working on performance hotfixes in the weeks since release. Hopefully soon Total War: Warhammer 3’s technical issues will be a thing of the past, and fans will be able to enjoy the game unencumbered.
A trilogy completed
Total War: Warhammer 3 is the culmination of a richly imagined and wonderfully executed trilogy. While some may have been skeptical of how Warhammer would translate into the Total War format, they needn’t have worried. Creative Assembly has pulled off something special here, tying the series off with a neat bow, while laying the groundwork for yet more factions and gameplay modes down the line.