Total War: Warhammer 3 Review: Friend-zoned by Demons and Bewitched by Excess
My first Total War weaves together emergent gameplay and a refined campaign
Elden Ring is out. And we love it. But don’t let that and Horizon: Forbidden West distract you from Creative Assembly’s latest strategy offering. Total War: Warhammer 3 builds on an incredible foundation and its riveting campaigns offer players a dizzying range of playstyles.
Despite being familiar with Warhammer lore, nothing prepared me for Total War’s intricate turn-based campaigns and humongous real-time battles.
The sheer value offered in Warhammer 3 is insane. Its existence on PC Game Pass continues to baffle me. 8 factions, packed with unique skillsets and units, make for near-endless replayability and satisfying campaigns.
The prologue (also a tutorial) sets up a dark prize: the soul of a dying god.
In a battle of 50 provinces, conquest isn’t the only way to victory in Total War: Warhammer 3. If played right, diplomacy could serve as a vehicle to your faction’s success. And when it comes to seduction, few can contend with Slaanesh, the Dark God of Pleasure.
With a starting bonus to diplomacy, you’re the popular kid right from turn 1.
In the name of research, I chose coercion and corruption as my weapons.
Warhammer 3’s skirmishes offer decisions of meaningful consequence
Head-on battles rarely work with Slaanesh’s powerful but scrawny units that deal bonus damage when striking from behind (cue crooked grins from the dev team). Instead, I chose to bide my time, spreading my influence of excess across neighboring provinces by establishing cults and sending heroes on world tours. Norsemen and their axes quickly fell in line, becoming vassal states that offered me tributes and melee units to aid my flimsy daemonettes.
Unfortunately, mortal pleasures aren’t quite as tempting to the warring worshippers of the Blood God Khorne.
One blood demon, in particular, had worse ideas: friendship.
Khorne’s tunnel-vision bloodlust led to a natural rivalry with Slaanesh’s eternal hangovers and riotous purple hues. My faction leader, the greater daemon N’Kari, even dealt bonus damage to Khorne’s chosen. And yet, failed battle after the other, this minor faction of crimson extended a helping hand.
I chose to sever both his arm and his peace treaty with a Norse axe.
The kids beating each other on the block attracted the attention of a hulking threat: Skarbrand, an Exalted bloodthirster. He led another Khorne faction, the Exiles of Khorne, demons who actually wanted bloodshed. Warhammer 3 surprised me once more when this titan of uncontrollable rage chose to wait at my borders for a passport.
Warhammer 3 gave me a silk rug that vanished at a moment’s notice
After a couple of hours of wooing factions and convincing settlements to switch sides, rifts began to tear into the world, granting passage into four Chaos God domains. Entering one was critical, for they held four demon souls, powers that served as keys to reach the dying god’s soul and finish the campaign. I was beaten to the punch by factions that prioritized military prowess.
A few turns later, I stepped into the Blood god’s domain, a blood race to see who slew more of his finest warriors. Alas, I was a turn too late.
An enemy faction swooped in to nab the demon soul right before I could seize it. My anguish must have been a fitting prize for Slaanesh’s greed. After failing to appease the Blood god at his doorstep, I switched tactics and used the rifts to raid Ogre camps that were on the other end of the map.
But while my leader N’Kari was braving new terrain to expand Slaanesh’s seductive influence, alarms rang at my home province.
Skarbrand’s horde of demonic bloodletters trampled upon my kingdom of whispered promises. An instantly summoned disciple army and the ability to seduce a few enemies to my side were of little help against the Exalted bloodthirster’s ambush. Dozens of maidens of ecstasy and half my province were cut down before the conqueror deemed the blood debt paid.
When all seemed lost, a lone hero arrived.
A Slaneesh sorceress returned from a perilous sea voyage with enough treasure to rebuild an empire.
Warhammer 3 is a Total War experience refined to near-perfection
My time under Slaanesh’s gaze was one of navigating sky-scraping highs and dizzying lows. My choice was deliberate and the results were unconventional if not successful. It was a marked departure from the standard human armies of Kislev, the faction that features in Warhammer 3’s foreboding prologue.
With even more diverse factions under its belt, Total War: Warhammer 3 still has so much to experience.
From a Demon Prince whose body parts can be swapped like puzzle pieces to Grand Cathay’s Yin-Yang harmony system, Warhammer 3 is a buffet that keeps on giving. I’ve yet to give the co-operative campaigns a spin but they’re certain to impress as well. With spectacular visuals and solid sound design, this package is too tempting to pass up, especially as a PC Game Pass release.
Don’t let Slaanesh’s cults sway you. Unless you want to be swayed, of course.