You'll love it if:
- You love the Total War series.
- You are a Warhammer fan and love the Total War series.
- You want to command vast armies and conquer everything.
- You own Game Pass PC or Game Pass Ultimate
Not for you if:
- You want an old school quick paced RTS.
- You want to wait until the bugs and technical issues are fixed.
- You get frustrated by bad AI and bad pathing.
- Your rig might be getting a bit outdated.
Total War: Warhammer 3 review – Non sponsored – PC – Game Pass – release build
For this Total War: Warhammer 3 review I’m going to assume you know the concept of Total War games and how they play. Because going into insane detail about how a Total War game plays and how Total War: Warhammer 3 plays in comparison would make this review insanely long.
So I assume you’re here to see if Total War: Warhammer 3 is worth the purchase. Well, maybe not right now.
Total War: Warhammer 3 – Setting
From the cold wastelands to Kislev to lush verdant plains and dry deserts, Total War: Warhammer 3’s campaign map is huge and features many biomes. The prologue campaign plays out in the Chaos Wastes, but the campaign map is gigantic. Both maps are insanely detailed and really make the magical and horrific world of Warhammer come to life. So much so that even my RTX3080 was giving everything it had.
Search and rescue or hunt and devour? – Story
Let’s get smashing, but first some story – Prologue campaign
The prologue campaign serves as the tutorial for new players coming into the Total War franchise. It really goes over the basics from unit selection to some more advanced combat tactics. Veteran players, please don’t skip this campaign.
It’s also the precursor to the normal Campaign. It has so much story and cut-scenes, it barely feels like a tutorial. The painted still cut-scenes and voice acting throughout the whole game are on point. And the prologue sets the mood and explains a lot of background if you aren’t deep into Warhammer lore. It’s short and definitely worth playing through.
Pick a side and conquer all – Campaign
After the events of the Prologue campaign you are free to choose your race and tackle the campaign map. There is a roster of eight races: this sounds like a lot but there’s a caveat. Four of those races are the individual chaos gods and a fifth is the Forces of chaos which combines all four races. All four chaos races have their own unique play style and mechanics that make them entirely different to play. But their rosters are kinda small, sometimes missing some units that diminish some weaknesses the race has.
To each their own, rescue a god or simply devour it
Each race’s motivation is different but the ways to achieve their goals are completely the same. Some races seek out the entrapped god Ursun to free him of the bonds of shadow. While others simply seek to devour him and take his power for themselves, becoming living gods.
How does one achieve this? In order to find Ursun you need to collect the souls of Chaos princes in order to unlock the way to his prison. At certain times, all over the map, chaos gates open and armies of chaos pour out. You can enter such a gate and raze the lands of chaos with your army. Destroying a prince of Nurgle and claiming it’s soul.
Immense in size and detail – The world of Total War: Warhammer 3
There is so much detail in the Campaign map for Total War: Warhammer 3 that sometimes it felt like the battles with thousands of units ran smoother. Scrolling the world map or watching the turn play out came with some stutters and even an occasional crash. Simply because it’s so insanely detailed and unique in areas. During my Total War: Warhammer 3 period I zoomed in on the map and watched as volcanoes threw up molten lava and tentacles grasped around in the air.
All that beauty comes at a price
And when I say price I’m not talking about my GPU running at max while playing. For all that beauty and detail some things were cut or downgraded. The trees look horrendous when zooming in on them for instance. The cities all looked alike when I was playing; I was hoping a city devoted to Nurgle would show pustules and rot while a Slaanesh city would have cages and crab hands.
The new UI feels a bit more bland and less detailed. It’s more modern and sleek, and really red no matter what race you play with. But the little portraits, specific to your race, when conquering a city are simple icons. The quest menu is small and becomes a long list to the right side of your screen. With the new-ish UI the skill trees icons feel a bit outdated in comparison.
Improving upon the good – Gameplay changes in Total War: Warhammer 3
Going over the gameplay of Total War: Warhammer 3 would be insane for me to write here. There are a lot of channels devoted to playing Total War games that can give you the intricate details of each race and unit they deploy. So I decided to focus on some changes that I noticed while working on my Total War: Warhammer 3 review.
Breeze through the political stage with easy diplomacy
This feature can also be exploited to counter offer certain treaties. A race offers you a payment and demands military access? Simply press the counter offer button, remove the payment and auto-balance it. Usually the payment you receive will be higher and the deal will still go through.
Employ units from your allies through outposts
As I mentioned earlier some races can have a gap in their roster. An opening for a specific ranged unit or a meaty tank squad. Through diplomacy you can build outposts in the cities of your allies. These outposts allow you to recruit certain units from their roster, at a high cost, and fill in those gaps.
New siege maps with a tower defense mechanic
To be honest I’m not a fan of this one. While the maps you fight on are different for each race, they add a lot of variety when laying siege to cities of other races. But the new designs never quite hit me as fun as in previous games. Tedious to position your troops sometimes and the pathing of the AI could go completely haywire.
Furthermore there is a new mechanic where the defender starts off with a pool of build resources. You can use these to build towers or barricades to block the oncoming horde of chaos. Well, you can try. Resources are generated over time and you can build more or upgrade existing facilities. The downside is that they take some time to build, a bit too long. By the time a tower finishes the army is tentacle deep into the keep already.
Survival battles, the endgame fights for your legendary lord
Whenever you invade the Realm of Chaos you will be presented with a Survival battle. Only your main Hero can engage in these because they are the means of getting a daemon prince’s soul. They combine the supplies mechanic from siege battles with waves of enemies bearing down on your position. With the Prince as the final boss and lord of the army for you to defeat.
This basically came down to defending choke points and letting your towers wither down most of the enemy. They didn’t feel as exciting or innovative as I expected.
The realms of chaos run hot – Performance and its issues
Total War: Warhammer 3 takes a lot of your PC and changing the settings didn’t really matter for me at least. Total War: Warhammer 3 was tested on an RTX3080, I5 10700 CPU running at ultra and high presets with additional tweaks to improve certain aspects in 2K resolution. Creative Assembly has a post with solutions for the most prominent issues right here.
Become your own tech support
I had to use some of the solutions in order to get it running. Not to get it running better, but to have it run at all. When I started Total War: Warhammer 3 none of my menus had text in them, a bug that if you have an OS set in an unsupported language. The only fix to this was altering a script.
Sudden stutters, frame drops and even crashes were common. So I used their solution for that, creating an additional script that refines how the CPU runs the game.
Multiple crashes when Alt-tabbing or simply when issuing unit placements in the deployment phase.
If you aren’t comfortable with editing scripts or adding some, this might be a challenge. If you want that out of the box runs like butter experience; you won’t get it right now. Most of the issues will be ironed out later, but not right now.
Graphical and setting reverts
After doing all of the above I noticed that the game looks blurry. I went into settings and saw that it reverted everything I had changed. Including the resolution at which the game runs (1080p). Even after setting everything back, I noticed it was still blurry and not that great for Ultra, while my GPU was becoming hot enough to fry some tofu. The underlying issue was the anti-aliasing setting and running the game in 2K/4K. Turning it off made everything look a lot more crispy, just like whatever I was grilling on my GPU at the time.
Going through this a couple of times and having some crashes along the way made the whole experience a bit frustrating at times. At a certain point I just shut off my pc and ate the roasted veggies and tofu I grilled on my GPU. Below is a picture of the minimum and recommended specs you need to run Total War: Warhammer 3. Thanks to pcgamebenchmark for the image, all credit for it goes to them.
Total War: Warhammer 3 review closing words
Should you buy Total War: Warhammer 3 right now? I would say no. Wait a bit for a more stable version, or when the Mortal Empires mode releases.
If you own it on Game Pass PC or own Game Pass Ultimate: hell yes. Go play it right now and lose a weekend thinking: just one more turn. You might even get some tech and googling skills on how to get it running properly. Did you know I released an article on how to save a ton of money on Game Pass Ultimate? It’s right here and you can enjoy everything Game Pass and Game Pass PC have to offer while not spending more than you have to.