Three Kingdoms – Eight Princes DLC review (PC)

The first major DLC release for Total War: Three Kingdoms has launched with Eight Princes now available on Steam. Time for a quick look at what this new expansion brings.

Three Kingdoms was applauded for doing things a little differently in the Total War universe – we were no exception to this when we reviewed the game. The historical intrigue and drama, along with an increased role for diplomacy, added a level of depth to the strategic and tactical layers that Total War is known for, and created a beautiful blend that revitalized an almost 20 year old series yet again.

Eight Princes more or less picks up where Three Kingdoms left off, although it represents a leap forward in time with a new campaign that starts off in the year 291 CE. This makes for all-new cast of main characters, with a group of eight princes who are looking to carve out their role in history as the Jin dynasty is struggling and on the brink of civil war.

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In a complex landscape with an emperor, empress, regents and princes, the balance of power is fragile. No matter which prince you choose to play as, this gives you a couple of major choices to make. Do you support and defend the existing regime and try to uphold the balance, or do you take the situation as an opportunity to reel in a lot of power for yourself?

Although a new campaign, playable with any of the eight princes (which is great for replay value) offers a lot of new material on the surface, the core dynamics do echo a lot of what we saw in Three Kingdoms. The princes are reminiscent of the warlords in Three Kingdoms, although moral dilemmas do allow you to craft their personality more by changing their alignment in terms of might, mind, wealth or spirit – offering different ways to shape your experience and play style.

The leap forward in time also brings new units with it, representing strides made in horse-mounted combat. This means you have access to crossbowmen, but also armored units called cataphracts. The latter, especially due to their defensive strength, have the biggest impact once on the battlefield – which otherwise is a similar experience to the core game.

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You will also encounter new buildings, dilemmas and resources – some of which are specifically tailored to an individual prince or can give him special perks. These changes sound more radical on paper than they are in reality though, as Eight Princes doesn’t change up the Three Kingdoms experience a whole lot. Instead, it offers more of the excellent experience that came before it, with a distinct flavor of its own.

Considering the budget-friendly price point that Eight Princes has, along with the replayability that it offers, that should make this purchase a no-brainer if you enjoyed Three Kingdoms. If you were hoping for something very different then this isn’t it and if you didn’t like the core game then this won’t sway you either though.

Score: 7.9/10

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