Parents' Guide to

Total War: Three Kingdoms - Mandate of Heaven

By David Chapman, Common Sense Media Reviewer

age 15+

Prequel expansion offers chances to change Chinese history.

Game Windows 2020
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With most games' expansion packs, the content builds off what's already established and carries a story further down its natural timeline. Total War: Three Kingdoms – Mandate of Heaven avoids this more traditional formula in favor of giving players a new start to their story, and a host of new historic outcomes to play with. By setting the expansion and its content as a prequel while introducing new factions such as the Imperial Court and the Yellow Turbans, the game doesn't just lead up to the Three Kingdoms. It allows players the opportunity to wildly change how history unfolded by carrying over their progress from this intro into the events of the main game. It makes for some unique scenarios that offer up fresh "What If?" style takes on the otherwise familiar campaign. The result turns the base game into a wholly new experience for those that might have thought they've played through everything it had to offer.

Mandate of Heaven might mark the largest and most robust DLC (downloadable content) pack to come to Total War: Three Kingdoms, but it still suffers some of the same pitfalls of the base game. For starters, while the expansion does add a host of new factions and units, it also brings with it some tweaks to the gameplay beyond simply adding units. The game adds new resources, Zeal and Fervour, both tied to the people's support of rebellion against the Imperial forces. There are also new rules for recruitment and diplomacy. Adding these new layers of complexity to an already difficult game to learn can be a source of frustration for those that already spent a lot of patience getting the hang of the original. And much like the base game, the tutorials still leave a lot to be desired, often forcing players to learn as they go through trial and error, only to discover their best laid plans early on collapse without warning later in the campaign. But if you give yourself time to learn Mandate of Heaven's quirks, you'll find incredible strategic gameplay here.

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