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I can’t quite believe it’s not even been six years since the release of the first Total War: Warhammer game. The pairing of the PC grand strategy series and the tabletop miniatures is perfect, bringing life to characterful models and letting you live out the fantasy of fielding a vast army of units you could never afford to buy.
I was already ridiculously excited for a new entry in the series, one bringing with it eight new factions to play with, and a whole new region of the world map to war over. And I’ve now played the first six hours of a campaign and my little heart is bursting with love for Total War: Warhammer 3.
Here are just five reasons why you should start clearing your calendar for weekends spent at your desktop, leading grand campaigns across The Old World.
The campaign is about a massive dying god bear
Total War: Warhammer 3’s campaign kicks off when a disgraced chaos god shoots a holy bear in the face. Not just any old bear, but Ursun, the god of all bears and the patron god of the Kislev people.
This admittedly epic opening is the seed that drives each faction's campaign goals. If you play as Kislev you want to reach Ursun to save him, while if you’re playing as the Grand Cathay you want to bargain with the bear for information. And, if you’re playing as the ogres, well, the ogres want to see what a god tastes like. I respect that.
You can’t just march up to Ursun, though. The bear was shot in the Chaos realms and to open a path to him you’ll need to defeat four daemon princes, one for each of the chaos gods. Over the course of the campaign, as Ursun lets out a death groan, portals to the daemonic realms rip open. You can send an army into these rifts, fight a daemon prince, take its soul and eventually use these to reach the dying bear and do whatever your factions set out to do.
It looks well pretty
Since the original Total War: Warhammer, developer Creative Assembly has done an incredible job of bringing the tabletop game to life. Drawing on the artwork and models of Games Workshop, every unit is full of character, from lumbering ogres to snarling daemon hounds. It’s thrilling to see your army arrayed on the battlefield and watch as it smashes into the front lines of your enemies.
The variety on show in Total War: Warhammer 3 is immense. The Kislev live in the cold northern wastes and look like Russian Cossacks, wrapped in thick fur coats and armed to the teeth with rifles and halberds. Their key weapon, though, is the armoured bears their mounted troops bring to battle. Then there’s the Grand Cathay, who are clearly inspired by the Chinese armies that defended the Great Wall - though, instead of Mongol invaders, here they’re resisting hordes of Chaos monsters. As well as archers and Jade warriors, they bring powerful cannons and heavily armed hot air balloons to the fray. The four armies of Chaos each have distinct, grotesque aesthetics, like the swollen, rotting units of Nurgle, or the brimstone barbarians of Khorne. When you see all these troops laid out in battle it’s a real spectacle to behold.
The splendour isn’t confined to the battlefield, as the campaign map is full of rich colour and detail. It’s almost a shame it’s covered with warring armies. Almost.
Diplomacy is good now
Diplomacy has always been an option (though in a game called Total War, not one I ever spent too much time bothering with). But in previous games your relationship with other factions was fairly superficial - you either gradually build your relationship, swapping treaties for military access, defensive pacts, and building up to incorporating them into your empire; or you go the other way and gradually anger each other into a war.
In Warhammer 3 the diplomacy systems have been overhauled, making the process of winning friends more rewarding. Now, for instance, your burgeoning allies can give you missions, such as attacking particular armies or towns, rewarding you with a closer friendship and a suite of new perks.
The main addition is outposts. Once you’re close enough to another faction you get the option to build an outpost in one of their territories. This new building provides a garrison of troops, helping them fend off attacks from your shared enemies, but also allows you to buy troops from their army roster. This means that if you’re playing as Grand Cathay and become close enough allies with the Kislev, you can flesh out your army of powerful archers with a frontline of war bear cavalry.
The army variety is ridiculous
Total War: Warhammer is stuffed to the daemonic gills with units. The game is launching with eight factions, the most of any game in the trilogy. You have Grand Cathay, Kislev, Ogres, and five daemon races - Khorne, Nurgle, Tzeentch, Slaanesh, and Daemon Prince.
The Daemon Prince is a special case, too. The lord of all that is unholy can recruit units from the other four daemon factions, fielding an army that plays to all their strengths. As you win battles and favour with the different chaos gods you are rewarded with different body parts to graft onto your general. There are hundreds of body parts to discover so you’ll be able to build a unique general over the course of a long campaign.
Throw in the new outposts and their ability to let you cross recruit from different factions and the armies you’ll be fielding will be more diverse than in any other game.
Plus, we confirmed with Creative Assembly that the functionality that outposts bring is going to be rolled into Mortal Empires in a future update. That’s the game mode that brings together all the armies released across all the Total War: Warhammer games. So you’ll be able to build armies that include units from every different army released in every game so far.
You’ll want to install on SSD
Okay, this isn’t a reason to be excited, it’s just a good tip, and it comes with the caveat that I was playing a preview build. The team says it’s working on improving them, but the load times in Total War: Warhammer 3 were long and frequent. Switching from the campaign mode into real-time battles and then coming back out of them again took minutes at a time on my PC. I’m definitely going to be installing the game to an SSD in future because over the course of an evening it’s easy to see how a good 30 minutes to an hour could be eaten up by loading screens.
While we would expect that Total War: Warhammer 3 would be a good time - Creative Assembly hasn’t let us down on that front so far - I came away from my preview session far more excited than I anticipated. It refreshed my love for the series and I just can’t wait to lead an army of ogres on a tasting tour of The Old World.
Featured Image Credit: SEGA
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