There are plenty of ways to sink your time into Total War: Three Kingdoms, the latest in the Total War franchise. Now, with Three Kingdoms‘s latest DLC, you’ll creep back a little in time to fight your way through massive events before the historic Three Kingdoms era.
Mandate of Heaven focuses on the Yellow Turban Rebellion, which takes place briefly before the main storyline. While the Yellow Turbans are already a controllable group of units, Mandate of Heaven pushes the storyline back to their origin, just before the events of Three Kingdoms. The new events bring a few legends with it.
Of course, there’s Liu Hong, known better as Emperor Ling, who has a very interesting set of mechanics. As overseer in the midst of rebellion and corruption, Ling gets unique factions in the form of the Imperial Court: Bureaucrats, Warlords, and Dynasts. The Bureaucrats, of course, are bureaucrats, and hope to bring power to the politicians. Warlords are essentially militias that wish for regional soverignty. And, the Dynasts wish to centralize all power onto the imperial family. Over time, the player must balance these powers. With increased political influence, you can oust corruption from your courts — and even annex factions from the empire.
If you’re not feeling like taking a trip back in time, but you’ve got a bit of empirical FOMO, there’s still a little bit for you. In a free update alongside Total War’s DLC, all players can utilize Emperor Ling’s government style. According to the Steam page, “he must request these mandated powers from his imperial allies in order to battle the Yellow Turban threat.” Players utilizing Ling’s style may also construct the Imperial Palace, a high-cost/high-risk building that provides factionwide bonuses and a powerful unit.
On the side of the empire, there are also two more new names to control. Liu Chong, described as the “Emperor’s kin, but not heir to the throne,” is more occupied with keeping his land and people safe. He has “fortitude” that rises with battle, and “trophies” to display that grant bonuses. There’s also Lu Zhi, a scholar who can collect books for the Great Library and display them for bonuses. Certain “sets” of books can provide additional boosts.
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If you’re more apt to rebellion, there are some new treats in store in the new Three Kingdoms DLC. The rebellion’s Zhang brothers are now playable factions: Zhang Jue, Zhang Liang, and Zhang Bao.
As a whole, the Yellow Turbans receive some new resources: Zeal and Fervour. With Zeal, you fan the flames of rebellion; losing Zeal costs you your troops’ motivation and may even cause some regions to defect. Fervour, on the other hand, is more about the everyday commoner’s support of the rebellion. Much like Zeal, losing Fervour can cause troops to defect, and too much can spread across the land, causing favoritism towards the Han dynasty. You can improve Fervour by increasing the quality of life of your regions. To create the conditions necessary to overthrow the Han empire, you’re given a new reforms tree. This taps into many aspects of the Yellow Turbans’ lives.
There’s a ton of other cool stuff in the update as well. Possibly the most interesting is the “emergent AI factions,” which, according to the DLC, “begin to emerge according to key historical conditions. For example, Yuan Shao may appear, but only if The Emperor is deposed, while Zheng Jiang will begin to terrorise the northern Commanderies around 189 CE.” If you’re a history nerd, this AI feature might be up your alley.
Several notable characters from the main game become playable in the Three Kingdoms DLC. These are Cao Cao, Liu Bei, Sun Jian, and Dong Zhuo.
Both the Empire and Rebellion also have new varieties of units — 40 new units, to be exact. For instance, the Empire’s the Destroyers of Traitors, under Lu Zhi, provide splash damage. Yaoguai Hunters under Zhang Bao shoot deadly poison arrows.
Mandate of Heaven is priced at only $9.99, and will be released January 16. It’s also 10% off until the release date, so if any of this sounds good to you, now’s the time to nab it.