REVIEW: Total War: THREE KINGDOMS – A World Betrayed

REVIEW: Total War: THREE KINGDOMS – A World Betrayed

If Imperial China wasn’t chaotic enough for you before, you’d better buckle up as the Flying General and the Little Conqueror join your roster of playable factions.

Released: Steam
Type: Single-player
Genre: Strategy
Feral Interactive
Publisher: SEGA
Release date: 19 March, 2020


I’ve had a love-hate relationship with the Total War series in the past and ended up letting Total War: THREE KINGDOMS sit on the backburner as I waited for a sale to give it a shot. When A World Betrayed was announced, I gave in, thanks to the pull of two new factions led by two of my favorite characters, Lu Bu and Sun Ce. I wasn’t sure what I was expecting, having not played a Total War in years, but what I’m certain of is that I wasn’t disappointed.

New Ancient China

As any good DLC should, A World Betrayed offers many new features to spice up its base game, Total War: THREE KINGDOMS, and even those experienced with the title will be able to find new ways to enjoy it. A new starting scenario that starts in 194 mixes things up with several new factions in a vastly different setup. Some of these factions are familiar and offer new challenges, so if you’re a Cao Cao or Liu Bei fan, there’s still something here for you. Additional story events and units have been thrown in as well, though the biggest changes involve the new factions led by Lu Bu and Sun Ce.

Duels are never a good idea if Lu Bu is present. Unless you’re Lu Bu.

“The Flying General”

No offense to Sun Ce, but Lu Bu was the ultimate pull for me in A World Betrayed. As my favorite character in the Three Kingdoms setting, I jumped into his faction with both feet and get exactly what I wanted. Lu Bu is a powerhouse of a character that’s unchallenged on the field of battle, though his faction struggles with plenty of challenges that must be overcome internally.

This faction’s starting conditions aren’t the strongest as you’re likely to end up with only a single farmland territory soon after starting. Fortunately, you’re Lu Bu, so the armies that chase after you are no match and their heads will be sent to Cao Cao as you march to retake the city of Chen. From here on out, it’s up to you to lash out and conquer a China that despises you more by the day.

Personal victories are Lu Bu’s conquests over the greatest warriors of China. They offer permanent buffs for completing “collections” of those who he has defeated in battle and serve to make Lu Bu even more powerful in battle with personal bonuses, as well as increased loot and prestige, though they carry with them a permanent cost; each of these accomplishments lowers the loyalty of those in your court and reduces your diplomatic standing with the other factions. War is not an option for the legendary Lu Bu, it’s a lifestyle.

Momentum is a unique resource for the faction that builds as you overcome your foes and decays when you aren’t. It can be used for several purposes including inspiring loyalty, inspiring commanderies, annexing settlements, and coercing other leaders. Inspiring loyalty is needed due to the complications caused by your personal victories and is one of the only truly effective methods of holding your court together in the long run. Inspiring commanderies is useful as you never get much room to breathe and sizable boosts to your economy and infrastructure are the only way that you can compete at home while your armies are always away at war. Annexing settlements is a powerful ability that lets you take a territory without fighting for it, though this is a double-edged sword as it uses a significant amount of momentum and, all things considered, shouldn’t be abused if you want to keep your realm in one piece. Coercion is Lu Bu’s preferred method of diplomacy; you can spend momentum to give a significant boost to the chance of a diplomatic ‘suggestion’ being accepted.

Lu Bu’s faction is one of the best for a straight combat approach. This is good as it’s the only approach the he has.

“The Little Conqueror”

Lu Bu may be my personal favorite but that doesn’t mean that Sun Ce isn’t plenty awesome himself. “The Little Conqueror” may not be the same level of a threat as Lu Bu in a duel, but he’s far more efficient as a leader. Just remember that he could die at any moment if you aren’t watching over the state of your realm carefully.

Sun Ce has his own template for ministerial positions. Not only are these positions different, but those he appoints to those positions work differently as well. Instead of the flat bonuses that other factions receive, characters in Sun Ce’s court offer increasingly larger bonuses as they gain experience. This makes it all the better that the faction also gains ‘shared experience’ points as characters level up, which can be spent to grant any character of your choice a massive boost of experience themselves. If you’re looking for some great heroes, Sun Ce’s your man.

Reckless Luck is Sun Ce’s unique resource and it’s built by accomplishing the goals detailed in his Legacy of Wu. When all’s going well, permanent buffs and increased campaign map speed give the faction a noticeable advantage, though if reckless luck ever runs out entirely, Sun Ce will die immediately. If that’s not a motivator to keep moving forward, I don’t know what is.

Sun Ce has a knack for building and developing a court of generals that’s hard to compete with.


I had a blast playing as both Lu Bu and Sun Ce. Both factions bring game-changing perks and complications to the table, and both offer very different playstyles. If you want to take the reins of an extraordinarily powerful personal combatant who often changes the tide of battle single-handedly, Lu Bu is a great choice. If you’re looking for a skilled leader who wields a highly talented court as well as any weapon, Sun Ce will serve you well. If neither of these is your cup of yea, or you’d simply like to break out the other factions in a new scenario, this is still a solid choice for a DLC. Either way, for any who enjoyed Total War: THREE KINGDOMS, this is not a DLC to miss.

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