The idea that a sequel or trilogy can better the original is an alien concept. However, there are exceptions to the rule and one such case is the Total War series. This long-running franchise is much-loved as it was built on strong foundations. Therefore, Total War: Warhammer III has been well-received since its release.
Developed by Creative Assembly and published by Sega, this is a fantasy strategy title. Fans of the franchise will adore the familiar mechanics while enjoying some fresh ideas. It has a meaty campaign, a long list of playable factions, and solo and multiplayer action. In short, it’ll tick many boxes for an awful lot of gamers.
Total War: Warhammer III is captivating.
Rarely does a strategy game capture my attention from the off. I find them to be a bit of a slow-burner, but Total War: Warhammer III was different. Thanks to the combination of wonderful cinematic, gruff acting, hard-hitting missions, and an excellent prologue, I was hooked. Yes, veterans may think “prologue, shmologue!” But, I implore you to not overlook this fine opening gambit.
Of course, this short campaign serves as an in-depth tutorial. However, it is also much more than that. You are introduced to some key characters and you’ll experience the dark world of Chaos in the great vortex in Ulthuan. To ignore this key campaign is a mistake, as it introduces you to each mechanic without being preachy. Thankfully, you soon become familiar with each strategy and tactic while admiring the lore of the land.
What makes it tick?
You open as a Prince of Kislev who must save the Bear God Ursun from the clutches of Chaos. Very dramatic, I know, but this is just the start! This then evolves where new campaigns and factions can be selected. 8 playable groups can be chosen, and each has its legendary leaders and heroes to select. You may pick from the four Chaos Gods — Khorne, Nurgle, Slaanesh, and Tzeentch. Then there is the Demon Prince, who can command an undivided Chaos empire. Furthermore, there is the Russian-inspired Kislev and the Chinese-inspired Cathay. Last, if you have pre-ordered, you can play as the Ogre Kingdom. As mentioned, the gameplay revolves around the great vortex in Ulthuan and the need to gather 4 demon souls. Once the souls are collected, you must face a final battle to decide your fate and that of Ursun.
As you can imagine, Creative Assembly has gone full bore on the fantasy aspect of the gameplay. Lovers of Warhammer will adore the attention to detail, the array of units to select, and the use of awe-inspiring magic. The combination of spells and melee allow you an array of abilities and traits that impact tactical decisions. Furthermore, battles are won and lost on the most minor of choices. Each faction you select has strengths and weaknesses and demand a unique approach. I loved the different gameplay styles and each vast campaign. Subsequently, you’ll experience betrayal, political ramblings, an empire to build, economical nightmares, and the excellent real-time strategy aspects. Each of the battles can quickly escalate, and this can become overwhelming. This is no more apparent than when you must send your hero into one of the demon’s realms.
Many fronts to fight on.
As the gameplay evolves, corruption spreads from the many chaos rifts you encounter. Here you have the opportunity to close them down or take on the challenge it presents. If you take on the latter option, and you should, you’ll go face to face with the aforementioned demons. If you vanquish your foes, you’ll steal their souls and be one step closer to unlocking the Forge of Souls. Sadly, this is easier said than done, as you must utilise the world map to forge a mighty army. This is all well and good, but time rests for no man, child, or ogre, and while you wait, your opponents step closer to collecting every soul.
Every war you undertake is a multi-faceted affair, and one of the new components introduced by Creative Assembly. The Survival battles comprise multiple stages and hours of action. Here, you are tasked with capturing a certain point and defending it against waves of Chaos defenders. What’s more, you can use portals to summon more powerful creatures. The action concludes with you duelling each realm’s champion of Chaos. Subsequently, you’ll adore the epic nature of the encounters and the unique challenges you will face.
Total War: Warhammer III is beautiful.
Total War: Warhammer III is beautifully detailed thanks to its harsh and varied landscapes. If you love the tabletop game, then you’ll adore every minor element that the developers have included. I was struck by the brilliance of the smooth gameplay and the scale of each battle you faced. Overseeing the war while commanding your troops is an amazing experience, and you genuinely feel like you are a general of your army. Moreover, the environments play a key part in any tactical decision and this was important to understand. Luckily, the excellent free-flowing camera and superb UI help you to identify each vantage point with ease.
The atmospheric and dramatic audio complements the excellent gameplay. The haunting songs enhance the deep-seated lore and the grandeur of each campaign. Furthermore, during each battle, there are bone-crunching sound effects as man and beast clash with one another. Consequently, it was fascinating to hear the roar of your troops as you advanced across the battlefield. Like the visuals, Creative Assembly has got every bit of audio spot on. From the varied and at times OTT narrative, to the excellent song choices, this is an atmospheric and chilling title that works on every level.
Unsurprisingly, this much-loved franchise has excellent controls that are simple to master. The aforementioned UI makes it easy to understand every move you make. From selecting your hero and the equipment they wear to altering the formation and groupings of your troops, it’s all straightforward. Furthermore, the prologue serves as an excellent tutorial to brush up on your skills. Therefore, every key aspect can be studied and understood before you dive into the main game.
Total War: Warhammer III has so many campaigns and unique approaches that it oozes longevity. You’ll sink hours of your time into it and you’ll barely scratch the surface. The incredible amount of lore and stunning stories will capture your attention immediately and this makes it addictive as hell. If you love real-time strategy games and/or the world of Warhammer, then you’ll need to play this game.
Total War: Warhammer III is the perfect finale.
If this is Creative Assembly’s last instalment in this series, then well done on going out with a bang. They have taken everything that is great about the previous titles and added some excellent content. It will tick the boxes for many people and is a must-play title. What’s more, it is free to play on Game Pass on PC, so you have nothing to lose. I adored it and I recommend you to buy it here! Will you be able to gather every soul and save Ursun? Forge a mighty army, battle your enemies, and step into the Chaos realms to claim your rightful prize.