More of a good thing is great, but Romance of the Three Kingdoms XIV’s Diplomacy and Strategy Expansion Pack’s price is exponentially higher than its value.
Developer: KOEI TECMO
Publisher: KOEI TECMO
Release date: 9 Dec, 2020
Romance of the Three Kingdoms XIV is the most recent of the Romance games and has been subject to varying levels of criticism since its launch. While I found myself entertained by the experience provided by it even if there was room for improvement, the Diplomacy and Strategy Expansion Pack gets a more evenly mixed reaction from me. More of a modest DLC than an expansion as we generally use the term, it provides some nice additions to the base game while being one of the most wildly overpriced pieces of content that I’ve ever laid eyes on.
Land for the Taking
Of the new features provided by Diplomacy and Strategy, I found the geographic advantages to be the most exciting and game-changing element. These provide special boons to factions that hold all of the territories in a given region. If this reminds you of continental bonuses from Risk, you’re not far from the mark.
This time around I decided to break out my favorite Three Kingdoms personality, Lu Bu, in the campaign that shares his name. As expected, the mighty Lu Bu tore through some nearby foes that were entirely unready for him and a geographic advantage was secured in no time. The Trusted advantage provided me with a fifty percent increase on foreign relation improvements, something useful even for the notoriously aggressive individual whose reins I was holding.
Though this aspect of the DLC doesn’t drastically alter the game as a whole in any way that will shake up a veteran’s playstyle, these benefits are strong enough that they’re likely to be worth the occasional detour to acquire. After all, who would pass on benefits such as increasing the chances of recruiting new officers and reducing the amount of time for them to complete their tasks?
Tribes with Some Bite
New outlander tribes jump into the fray and complicate the matter of painting China your color. Five tribes, each with a city of their own, now litter the map with absolutely absurd manpower keeping them independent. Good luck facing off against any of them until you’ve established a notable kingdom of your own and even then you’re likely to have a challenge waiting for you.
Alternatively, a peaceful route may hold many benefits for you. The outlanders can make powerful friends, and like other factions, they’re all too willing to accept your hard-earned gold and supplies if you’re only asking for a smile in return. If you grease their palms frequently enough they’ll assist you in your wars, even going as far as to send some of their notable officers to join your ranks.
Them There Foreigners
No, you don’t need to build the Great Wall to protect Chinese jobs, though you may find yourself dealing with foreign powers for some useful benefits. The advantages of these relationships are plentiful, including great treasures and the wealth that often travels with them, though your assigned officers will take their sweet time getting from A to B. They may return with items of great value to you, though they’ll be checking out the sights and using up their vacation time while they do.
Foreign powers toss in a pinch of flavor and serve as a reminder that there’s an entire world out there. I’d never thought I’d see the day that Lu Bu would meet with the Roman Empire (or Daqin as they’re known to ancient China), though here we are. Don’t worry though, if you have a vendetta against togas and would much rather deal with another culture, India, Parthia, and the Kushan Empire are all available for you to deal with as well, though it’s important to note that each of these factions requires a specific geographic advantage to unlock the ability to meet with them. If you want to be India’s best buddy, you’d do well to get pushing your rivals out of the Jiao Province.
Romance of the Three Kingdoms XIV: Diplomacy and Strategy Expansion Pack is worthy enough as you measure it as a small DLC though it’s outrageously overpriced for what you get. The little that it does bring improve the overall experience with few, if any changes that will upset current players. The geographic advantages will likely have you prioritized the conquest of one province over another to gain the benefit on occasion, the outlander tribes add some depth to intra-China relations, and the foreign powers offer a new method of achieving wealth and treasures beyond those we’ve become accustomed to. A smattering of minor content additions in several areas are also welcome. However, all of these combines are worth only a fraction of the price.
I normally avoid factoring the cost of the title into the overall review score, though this time it’s so far off of the mark that I have to knock this down from a Save for Later to a Pause. This expansion may catch your interest if you’re a Romance fan, but for all that is holy, only pick this up on a deep sale. That same $35 could get you an entire high-quality game to sink your time into instead.