I recently had the opportunity to play a demo of Total War: Warhammer 3. This game is set in Games Workshop’s popular fantasy setting and features three playable factions, Chaos, Empire, and Vampire Counts. The game will ship on September 28th for PC (Steam) at $59.99 USD/£45/$79.95 AUD for the Standard Edition or $89.99 USD/£65/$119 AUD for the Gold Edition which includes all DLC that has been released thus far as well as some additional content exclusive to this edition

The “Total War: Warhammer 2” is a strategy game that was released in 2016. This time, we are taking on the Chaos faction. The new race brings with it a brand-new campaign as well as an entirely new world map and many new features.

Total War: Warhammer 3 Hands-On Preview - Chaos

Total War: Warhammer 3 Hands-On Preview - Chaos Undivided Grants Many Gifts

I was surprised to find that Total War: Warhammer 3 would feature eight playable races at launch when Creative Assembly held its latest Total War: Warhammer 3 preview event. I didn’t expect to be leading the Daemons of Chaos, committed to Chaos Undivided, into combat. But after playing through the first 50 rounds of Cathay’s primary grand campaign mode and understanding more about what replaces Warhammer 2’s Vortex, I’m looking forward to the game’s full release.

The story of Total War: Warhammer 3 centres on the quest for Ursun, the Bear God of Kislev, who has been injured and imprisoned deep inside the Realm of Chaos by the game’s major enemy, Be’lakor. Ursun’s wounds sets everything in motion, with each race pursuing him for its own motivations, whether to repair him, relieve his misery, or transform him into a good meal.

All races begin the great campaign in the mortal world, but when Ursun wails, he creates rifts that enable all races to launch expeditions into each of the four Chaos Gods’ domains, spewing Chaos filth into the universe. If you push far enough, you’ll face their champions, who will drop souls if defeated. The only way to meet Be’lakor in a last climactic fight and determine the Bear God’s destiny is to get all four of these souls.

Total War: Warhammer 3 Hands-On Preview - Chaos Undivided Grants Many Gifts

When I entered Tzeentch’s kingdom, I quickly saw his fondness for deception. The way to his champion, the Librarian, is anything but easy, since it requires the usage of linked portals to navigate the Changer of Ways’ fragmented domain. You won’t know which ones are related until you interact with luminous patches on the map or beat one of the god’s defensive armies, which you may achieve by defeating one of the god’s defending armies.

Going blind is a possibility, but other forces are equally interested in claiming the souls. Furthermore, the rift closes after a certain amount of time, and you’ll have to wait for another to open. You may not only pick which god’s champion you want to fight when you initially enter, but you can also use rift gates to travel between the four gods’ domains.

Thematically, navigating Tzeentch’s realm matches the god’s changeable character, but I’m concerned that the gateway mechanism may get tedious after a time. Inside, you have the option of racing for the champion’s soul or assaulting other sides who are doing the same thing.

The latter has ramifications both within and outside of the Realm of Chaos – which eventually serves as a broken-off section of the map – where your kingdom may and will be invaded while at least one of your armies is chasing daemons.

Total War: Warhammer 3 Hands-On Preview - Chaos Undivided Grants Many Gifts

Nurgle’s Realm, on the other hand, is more flatter and inhabited with the Plague Lord’s minions’ tougher troops. It also causes constant attrition damage, so you’ll need to look for replenishment places on the battlefield or swap stances to keep your soldiers topped up. Other factions may have ample time to call the Gardener themselves as a result of this, but going into battle with a depleted army reduces your chances of winning.

The eighth race in Warhammer 3 is commanded by the same fallen Kislevite who injured Ursun. As a Daemon Prince serving Chaos Undivided, his race has access to troops from all four Chaos Gods’ rosters, allowing him to mix and match from the start. You may also give your Daemon Prince a name, which is a nice touch in terms of personalization.

Daemonic Glory is a resource obtained through fighting enemy troops, conquering towns and committing them to a Chaos God, fulfilling missions, and passively from constructions.

They replace research, unlocking weapons, armor, and body parts that enable you customize your legendary lord on the fly. They’re split into five tracks, one for each god and a fifth for Chaos Undivided. You get access to new, stronger troops from that god’s roster when you reach key milestones on each track. You may commit your Daemon Prince to a single deity or Chaos Undivided after you reach the conclusion of a track for extra hefty perks.

Total War: Warhammer 3 Hands-On Preview - Chaos Undivided Grants Many Gifts

It’s quite feasible to fight one battle as a tanky, plague-spewing beast carrying a two-handed maul, then another as a Tzeentch crow-sorcerer with lethal pincer arms, worthy of any Slaanesh champion.

What you can develop and whose forces you may recruit are determined by how you dedicate captured cities. Even if you meet the structural prerequisites, you’ll still need to earn the needed amount of Daemonic Glory in order to access them. To take use of the faction’s full variety of construction and troop possibilities, you may wish to consecrate at least one large city to each of the four gods over time.

Obtaining enough Daemonic Glory also allows you to use certain abilities, such as Tzeentch’s teleport stance (which works similarly to the dwarven underway), Nurgle’s plagues (which are simple buffs/debuffs that don’t come with the faction’s spreading mechanic), and Slaanesh’s seduce units ability (which allows you to pay gold before a fight to have enemy units temporarily join you, weakening your opponent).

It feels amazing to be able to mix and match body parts – each change reflected on the Daemon Prince’s character model – and troops from all four Chaos Gods’ rosters, especially because you’re instantly at war with every non-Chaos group you face.

I couldn’t get enough of seeing your shape-shifting avatar bashing into foes while fighting alongside armored Khornate soldiers, a surprisingly joyful Beast of Nurgle, and lethal but attractive Daemonettes.

Total War: Warhammer 3 Hands-On Preview - Chaos Undivided Grants Many Gifts

Grand Cathay, on the other hand, is more akin to a classic Warhammer faction, but with its own own flavor. When rifts develop, Miao Ying must divide his focus between guarding The Great Bastion, which divides Cathay from the twisted deserts of the Chaos Wastes, and hunting Ursun.

Tzeentch breaches the Serpent Gate, one of three gates that Cathay and its allies might fortify, at the outset of the campaign. You retake it on your first attempt while dealing with rebel lords on your side of the wall.

As enemy activity in the Chaos Wastes grows, so does the threat level of the Great Bastion. You may diminish it by using the Wu Xing Compass to direct the Wu Xing Compass towards the Bastion itself, or by destroying the Chaos Armies of the particular faction listed as a danger.

I usually dealt with marauders whose armies weren’t very spectacular within the first 50 rounds. You may also attempt to raze enemy towns along the wall, although this is a more difficult prospect, at least in the early game, due to high attrition and the risk of being ambushed.

Total War: Warhammer 3 Hands-On Preview - Chaos Undivided Grants Many Gifts

One of the faction’s unique mechanisms is the Wu Xing Compass, which allows you to direct the Winds of Magic every few rounds to benefit Cathay. Reaching the final stages of each direction’s progress bar comes with significant benefits, whether you opt to boost your defensive efforts or increase control in your provinces and attrition for invading enemy. Despite the fact that the mechanism itself isn’t especially complicated, it’s a useful quasi-reactive tool that may aid you throughout the campaign.

Master merchants may be recruited and sent on tasks around the world using Ivory Road trade caravans. The more miles they go, the more money they earn. These armies move independently, but you must pay attention to them when they encounter opposing troops or when an event occurs.

These include having more soldiers join them and discovering shortcuts, but you’ll also have to decide if it’s worth sacrificing one of your units to avoid battling the ravenous local Ogres. According to the creator, owning area through which they travel provides safe passage, as does having friends.

Total War: Warhammer 3 Hands-On Preview - Chaos Undivided Grants Many Gifts

Cathay also use the Harmony mechanism. Buildings, research, and events on the campaign map push the balances in favor of Yin or Yang. They give a set of benefits and extra abilities to utilize in fight when they’re ideally balanced.

When one is higher than the others, you get less benefits but also debuffs, which become more severe as you become more off-balance. Keeping melee and ranged soldiers close together in combat boosts their powers, however it may take some getting accustomed to.

Grand Cathay’s playstyle didn’t quite fit with me, while the terrain and two siege sites I saw, as well as their unit models, were incredibly stunning. Their armies begin with peasant troops and lesser infantry, but with their flying war machines and ranged infantry, they seem to be on the verge of becoming more fascinating.

Outposts may be created in ally towns, allowing you to acquire troops from their rosters, according to the developer. There will also be a campaign multiplayer option with up to eight players and simultaneous turns, as well as a grand campaign or two smaller maps that may be finished in one evening. Support for Mortal Empires is also on the way after launch, although there’s no word on when the game’s colossal map will be released.

Total War: Warhammer 3 Hands-On Preview - Chaos Undivided Grants Many Gifts

I’m looking forward to the final release of Total War: Warhammer 3 after spending 50 turns with two of the game’s factions. The possibility of being a really nasty demon kid had already piqued my interest, but the Daemons of Chaos had just added to the fire.

More significantly, if each group has as much flavor as they and Cathay, the trilogy’s end has the ability to escape the tedium that set in during the latter stages of Warhammer 2’s Vortex campaign while waiting to be repeatedly sieged. On February 17, when the game debuts on PC, we’ll see how well it all fits together.

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