The Best Total War Three Kingdoms Mods01 Apr 2020 1
Mods have always been a huge part of the Total War experience, but since Total War: Warhammer the community has only grown larger. With the possibilities that the expanded Warhammer Fantasy universe brings, we’ve seen modders doing more than ever, filling in the gaps and creating content that CA may never get around to adding themselves. Whether that’s fan favourite legendary lords, entirely new factions, or as with the hugely popular SFO Grimhammer, an entire rework which brings the game more in line with tabletop.
But it’s not just fantasy that’s been receiving more love — Three Kingdoms is the most popular and innovative historical Total War we’ve seen in years. Also being based in such a popular historical period, and being of so much interest to the Chinese gaming community, there have been a tonne of mods. These not only add elements to make character even more distinctive, but also offer a touch of individuality to players, which feels very at home in a historical period, which at its heart, is about heroes.
What are the best Total War: Three Kingdoms Mods?
- Make them Unique (Overhaul)
- Wu Kingdaissance (Overhaul)
- Beneath A Red Sky: A Battle Overhaul (Overhaul)
- No Death by Old Age (Quality of Life)
- Vanilla Units Remaster (Quality of Life)
- Recruited unique character can use their special units (Quality of Life)
- Respec Character Skills when they join you (Quality of Life)
- SFO: Three Dragons (Total Conversion)
Total War: Three Kingdoms Overhaul Mods
For those wishing to spice up the vanilla experience, overhaul mods completely change-up aspects of the game. The clue is in the name, an ‘overhaul’ of a pre-existing game feature, either making it more diverse and interesting, or bringing it more in line with an idea of what the game is, and how it should play.
Make them Unique
The Three Kingdom’s period was filled with famous individuals, and to reflect this, there is a record of almost every named character in the game. But it can often be hard to appreciate their individuality when most of the characters use the same few repeated portraits. Make Them Unique is a mod that fixes this, creating new unique heroes alongside absolutely gorgeous artwork.
It is a mod that fills a gap, adding unique portraits, skills and items, to heroes who should’ve had them in the base game. These are figures like Dong Min (who as Dong Zhou’s brother is hugely important) or Lu Zheng (the heir to Zheng Jiang’s bandit faction). Since Mandate of Heaven, and A World Betrayed, many more have been added, which has also bolstered Three Kingdom's lack of unique female characters, with Lady Feng, Yuan Anyang, and Lady Du. Altogether it adds a touch more colour to the character-play of the Three Kingdoms campaigns.
Since Mandate of Heaven, and A World Betrayed, tonnes of characters from the setting have been brought to life with unique portraits and items. But that still leaves many, many more who still deserve them. Wu Kingdaissance is a mod which essentially reskins all the major characters in Three Kingdoms, giving them new weapons, armour, ancillaries, models, mounts, and abilities. It's pretty significant considering it has altered over 300 characters in the game, even going so far as to make previously unplayable characters, like Empress He and Liu Hong, usable on the battlefield. It adds a ton more personality and presence, to already character-filled campaigns.
Beneath A Red Sky: A Battle Overhaul
A recent criticism by many long time historical strategy fans, has been based around Total War battles becoming ever shorter and more ‘arcade-like’. Whether you believe that or not, Beneath A Red Sky is a battle mod which attempts to capture a slower tactical battle experience, as the author says, more in line with “What you would expect from an ancient battle”.
The mod itself affects a variety of changes — whether altering unit roles, so spearmen push back enemies, and axe infantry act as shield-breakers, or an overhauled fatigue system, with larger detriments on morale and combat aptitude. A full list of changes can be found in the Steam Workshop, but Beneath A Red Sky might very well be the mod for those hoping to re-capture the slower battle experience of the Total Wars of yesteryear.
Total War: Three Kingdoms Quality of Life Mods
Games are rarely perfect, and it can often be hard for developers to justify and find the time to change the little things — those tiny irritations that can gnaw away at a players in-game experience. Quality of life mods effectively look to make these tweaks, altering the little things, and smoothing the way for players to enjoy the game to its fullest. If they are doing their job well, you probably won’t even notice they are doing it at all.
No Death by Old Age
In my first campaign Lü Bu lived a good life — he murdered thousands of peasants with his nuke-spear, and married Zheng Jiang, siring a new generation of super-soldier warriors. But somehow it didn’t seem right for The Warrior Without Equal to die at a contented old age. With the mod, No Death by Old Age, you can prevent all your characters from dying peacefully, instead forcing them to keep fighting for the glory of China! This mod also wins first prize for best cover picture (Huang Zhong being the most famous ‘Elderly’ character from the Three Kingdoms period).
Vanilla Units Remaster
After playing Three Kingdoms for awhile, units can begin to look a little samey. It’s not necessarily the difference between the units themselves, but more the ornamentation of individuals within those units. Vanilla Units Remaster by Deema is a mod which seeks to make units “look better while still maintaining their original feel and historical authenticity”. This features changes such as reskinning general’s bodyguards, adding ornamental weapons to higher tier units, and just generally adding more variety wherever possible. These are little things, but they do add a further element of variety to battles. If you're looking for something a little more recent and DLC specific, have a look at this A World Betrayed Unit Remaster instead.
Recruited unique character can use their special units
In Three Kingdoms, each faction has a special unit they can recruit, and the unique heroes belonging to that faction are the ones with that ability. But when another faction gains that hero, they lose the ability to recruit their previous factions unique unit. Recruited unique character can use their special units, is a mod which ties that faction unit recruitment to a skill, meaning that even if you recruit them into your faction, they will still have access to that special unit — a way of further emphasizing their individuality as a hero character.
Respec Character Skills when they join you
We’ve all been there. After turns and turns currying favour with a faction, you finally confederate them, getting that hero character you’ve had your eyes on for the past 20 turns. But lo and behold, despite them being an outstanding warrior, the AI has for some reason decided to upgrade them as an administrator instead. With Respec Character Skills when they join you, this will never be a problem again. When a new hero joins your faction, you’ll simply have the option to re-allot all of their skill points, focusing them for whatever role you have in mind.
Total War: Three Kingdoms Total Conversion Mods
These are the really crazy ones — we’re talking Westeros: Total War for Medieval II, Third Age: Total War (also for Medieval II) or even Warhammer: Total War for Rome I (a decade before Total War: Warhammer). This where modders truly shine, using what the game has given them, as well as their imagination and skill, to fashion something completely new.
SFO: Three Dragons
I can only speak for the English language mods (Three Kingdoms has an extremely prevalent Chinese modding community) but SFO’s Three Kingdoms mod is the most significant. Three Dragons is a mod which, in the words of its creators “changes every aspect of TW:3K to be more interesting and challenging”. These changes include reworked battles, UI, units, terrain effects, heroes, literally everything you can think of.
The mod is still growing however, and though a full list of changes is listed, it has a bit of a way to go. It doesn’t yet offer the incredibly different experience that a good rework should. Many of you might know the SFO team and their founder, Venris, for their amazing work on Total War: Warhammer 1 and 2 overhaul mods, and as they continue that work (most recently the Bloodgrounds Beastmen campaign overhaul) Three Dragons represents a side project. Knowing their work, however, I do think it’s the Three Kingdom’s rework to watch, and that given more time, and their skills, it’ll become a great mod.
What are your favourite mods so far for Total War: Three Kingdoms? Let us know in the comments!