With the base game launching January last year, almost a full year later has seen Koei Tecmo release the Diplomacy and Strategy Expansion Packs that look to add some additional ways to try and get over on the other rulers vying for control. Is it enough of an expansion to warrant the price? Lets have a look.
Based on the Romance of the Three Kingdoms novel of the same name, ROTK looks to take that as a base and expands it’s world & characters into a grand strategy game ,with the eventual conquest of china as your chosen ruler the inevitable goal. Instead of grand battles, magic and the spectacle of renowned officers facing off, this long running series takes a step back from that and focuses on the nitty-gritty of conquest & diplomacy.
The game offers over 300 regions to conquer & 1000 offers to enlist, so you’re going to have your work cut out for total domination in ancient China. You can start a custom game, but it’s easy enough to get a game going if using the included scenarios, these will give you a goal & a choice between a few officers within it that vary in difficulty. The DLC expands on this a little with the added War Chronicles mode. This is full of bite sized battles/ scenarios to quickly jump in to and are also graded so you can compete with fellow rulers via online leaderboards. Character creation would also be another aspect to check out, the depth afforded with regards to abilities etc. Means you can create a whole host of characters to use in the game.
Rolling hills and green plains are the order of the day for ROTK, with towns, forests and mountains adding some extra visual flavour to the map that you’ll be spending most of your time viewing. Zooming down shows these have a decent amount of detail to them with likes of water etc. also well rendered. Officer detail during duels is quite good too, and the officer portraits used throughout that flash upon the screen before battle look pretty good.
Voice acting is really good when used, this could be during actions on the map or events & story segments – the sweeping musical score feel oddly recognisable. In all, the game seems to run well on PS4, then again I was playing on the PS4 Pro so it could have had some niggles ironed out due to the boost mode. Couldn’t really see any sort of visual boost really, but the clean UI and map details were perfectly fine without a resolution increase anyway. If there is actually a boost there, I can’t see it myself.
Usually when one mentions Romance of the Three Kingdoms, it’s easy to think Dynasty Warriors given that series increased popularity over the years – but in reality this strategy series based on the same story has been around longer than that. Instead of hacking through thousands of peasants, you take up the role of one of the recognisable leaders from the story and guide your land through turbulent times. There’s a lot of depth to the game that could overwhelm someone new to the series at first, but you could ease yourself in and let the AI handle something. Luckily power along isn’t the viable route to victory, with you able to build your rulers around diplomacy, subterfuge etc. As well to mix things up
The base game itself is a decent little empire builder, a little more streamlined than the ancient ones I tried and lacking an officer mode, but still has plenty of depth to keep your inner Cao Cao happy. This review though is supposed to be looking at the additional content, and it’s a bit lacklustre in truth. The seamless way it integrates itself into the base game will make it go unnoticeable for those that get it bundled and it doesn’t really create any new experiences within the same framework, just expands on what is already there. Take the Eurasian trade for example, You trade to build trust, as with others, which nets you new items etc – there’s really nothing else to it. Those getting the expansion separately will notice things like the geographic advantage system & outlander cities, as well as numerous additions to officers and War Chronicles, but it comes at a high cost for what is offered at £29.99.
Whilst we haven’t reviewed the base game before, so have only given it a brief overview here, this review is mainly to look at the newly released expansions. On that note, it’s a bit of a hard sell. If you’re getting everything bundled together, though that is a bit pricey at the moment, you could probably add another star to the rating given how seamlessly it all fits together.
If buying separately then I feel as though the returning rulers could end up feeling short changed for what is added to the base game. The price of entry being worth it or not will likely depend on just how much you have enjoyed Romance of the Three Kingdoms XIV.
As expensive & underwhelming as funding a mercenary forces attempt to scale the enemy walls without ladders.