Review of the Total War Three Kingdoms DLC: The Mandate of Heaven

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Steam

The Mandate of Heaven DLC

Rating: 9.5/10

Synposis

The year is 182CE. The Han Empire is in turmoil, and China is slipping towards chaos. The Emperor’s court is paralysed by corruption, and a great famine has ravaged the north. In the eyes of the people, Emperor Ling has lost the Mandate of Heaven – and with it, the right to rule.

Across the land, the people band together in opposition. Led by the three Taoist brothers Zhang Jue, Zhang Liang and Zhang Bao, they don yellow turbans and take up arms. Their aim: to tear down the unjust Han and replace it with their own dynasty of harmony and peace. They are thousands strong, with more flocking to their cause by the day.

Warlords sworn to the emperor rally to his banner; warriors of great influence and fierce ability. Yet the wiser, more ambitious of them harbour their own desires… if the Han becomes too weak, who then will take the reins of power?

The Total War: THREE KINGDOMS – Mandate of Heaven Chapter Pack depicts the events of the Yellow Turban Rebellion, enabling players to engage in the conflict from either rebel or loyalist perspectives. Introducing a number of new characters and playable faction leaders, the campaign begins in 182CE, but players can choose to continue well into the Three Kingdoms period, with familiar characters entering the campaign as the timeline progresses.

Review

I was provided an early access code for the purposes of reviewing this DLC. All thoughts and opinions are my own and thank you to Josh at CA and Creative Assembly for this wonderful DLC.

Mandate of Heaven is one of the biggest DLC expansions to the already excellent Three Kingdoms Total War video-game developed by Creative Assembly. Three Kingdoms Total War is set in the Romance of the Three Kingdoms, a historical novel written in the Ming Dynasty by Luo Guanzhong focusing on the events of the fall of the Han Empire that had ruled China for 400 years.

As Liu Chong, you’ll have missions to do, and you must gain ancillaries fighting in battles. This allows you to force the AI in diplomacy to give you food and gold for ancillaries. Liu Chong is a very popular and respected solider of the Empire, and thus with more victories you will get more fame. The more fame you have, the better it is for you. It is vital you complete the early missions first.

The attention to historical detail is a fantastic detail, you will find many events telling you of all the historical events that happened during the fall of the Han Empire. Liu Chong was one of the last remaining princes that could have prevented the fall of the Han Empire at a time when the Yellow Turban Rebellion had occured. But he was killed by Yuan Shao, an ruthless and ambitious warlord that would years later fall at the hands of Cao Cao, one of China’s most cunning warlords to date. If there was a way to compare Cao Cao, he is your Napoleon Bonaparte of China. That’s how clever he was.

Some of the glorious visuals you’ll get to see when besieging cities in Three Kingdoms. You have access to siege towers and stakes!

Liu Chong is like the Ned Stark of China, of the Han Dynasty to be precise. And you really do get a sense when playing this epic campaign. I started as Liu Chong, knowing full well that greedy warlords were ready to break the Empire into their own personal fiefdoms! For the glory of the Han Dynasty, I as Liu Chong had to prevent this. I had to re-write history. The corrupt ministers that claimed to serve the Han Empire would be punished! And so we met rebels and bandits! Liu Chong proclaimed victory at every match!

This is Liu Chong’s Residence for the time being as he plots to bring back the Empire to glory

Liu Chong starts at a perilous time when the Yellow Turban Rebellion has erupted. It is Liu Chong’s duty to wipe out the Yellow Bandits and restore order. I would advise destroying Yuan Shao and his brother, Yuan Shu. The Yuan Brothers become a bit of an annoying thing in the historical novel and in the gameplay – which CA have done tremendous effort with.

The Prince of the Han Empire, Liu Chong

And the men of the Han Empire rallied behind Liu Chong, content that there was a hero in China, blessed by the Heavens that he would bring back the glory of the Han Empire. The Empire would be divided no more!

The Golden Dragons storm the infamous Yellow Bandits!
SHAAA! SHAA! SHAA!

Sha! Sha! Sha! is an Ancient War cry that is used in many historical Chinese TV programs. At the end, it becomes more challenging and I had to do re-starts. Because the Yellow Turbans and the Warlords will pick at your logistics, they wil have more troops than you. The key is to have Liu Chong making alliances in the South, removing Yuan Shao, and taking as many Yellow Turbans cities as possible. But don’t over-stretch. You take one Yellow Turban City at one time. Also make an alliance with Kong Rong. I dub him the most wealthiest man in all of China. You’ll see why.

As you can see, Liu Chong has the best heavy crossbow elite infantry. These new units really give the units of the Han a booster in the campaign.

During my campaign playthrough, there was chaos in the Imperial Capital. The Emperor had died, the Empress had taken over, and Dong Zhou (you’ll see why he was not a good man) took over the Han Empire pretending to be its protector. There is so much events happening during this time it is no wonder the Empire was unable to keep government at a functioning level.

I would have wanted to seen Liu Chong’s reaction to all the events that were happening around him. I would have wanted to seen more events from his personal viewpoint. I think a few more events would have increased the flavour of this wonderful soup, or of this campaign, that is already excellent in shape, detail and form.

As you can see, you’ll get many special events during the campaign. It does happen quite fast between turns and I wish the pace was much slower in this regard.
Special Story events also appear in the campaign!

The fact of the matter is, you may be the Prince of the Han Empire. But you’ve already got the Emperor that only runs the capital. Looters and Bandits at your doorstep. The Ennuchs running the  bureaucracy which hampes your ability in some respects. Warlords having declared their own personal empires. The people aren’t exactly going to be pleased. Liu Chong however is the sort of what if? What if he had lived, would we have seen a different outcome? That’s what this DLC allows you to do. There’s new technologies, new units, and new story missions that will keep you playing one more turn. This isn’t a mini campagin, as this is integrated into the main story of the main campaign. What happens then after that, is your choice. It will affect the story you create in Three Kingdoms Main Campaign.

This is a lush, richly detailed DLC. I loved this DLC and I cannot say anything more than do consider a purchase of this wonderful DLC. There’s so many leaders to choose from you’ll have hours of fun playing this campaign.

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