I have been a fan of the Three Kingdoms Era games [henceforth RTK] have had my attention since Middle School. Seriously, I wouldn’t have this job without the Kou Shibusawa Production. So, Kou Shibusawa, thank you, from the bottom of my heart. However, it took us thirteen damn games to get a PUK here!? Seriously? I know it’s not the first damn game to have one! So, a lot of you are probably asking “What’s a PUK?” and I’d say “Well, it’s a Power-Up Kit!” It’s basically an expansion or update to add some new features to an already deep game. This particular Power-Up Kit is called “Fame & Strategy”, and it adds both of those things right to the game. But first I should probably do a bit of catch-up for those of you who may read this, and have no idea what the hell Three Kingdoms are. The RTK franchise is based on the events that occurred in 2nd Century China. Luo Guanzhong wrote the novel in the 14th Century and is based for the most part, off of actual encounters. It is embellished, and changed for storytelling purposes, as all Historic Fiction is. But it’s a drama that’s based on the strategy of Zhuge Liang zi Kongming to divide up the land into three powerful kingdoms. Ultimately, the goal for all the lords was to unite the land. And that’s your goal in RTKXIII. If you’re an officer, you do your duties to help unite the land under your lord. Or you can be the Lord/Ruler, and do all the serious work to achieve hegemony.
This piece is less of a focus on the game as a whole, because I’ve already reviewed Romance of the Three Kingdoms XIII on Steam, though I cannot for the life of me find the link! I’ll edit it in if I do. But RTKXIII did bring back one of my favorite ways to play: As an officer. All the bookkeeping, strategy, the commerce/farming/organizing armies are fun for a little while. But I like to be the vizier, the general. I enjoy helping those plans get put into motion, and that’s just what I do in this particular iteration of the game. So we’re going to focus on the PUK: Fame & Strategy. Those two words are key to this whole PUK. The new Fame system adds a series of … well, let’s call them Talent Trees. They allow more ways to play than ever before, and I absolutely love it. You can be an Assassin! You can choose the Mercantile way of life, and amass a fortune, and play kingdoms against each other. You can choose to be a Mercenary, form your own army, and wander the land kicking asses! For whichever way you want to play, it seems to have an answer. It reminds me a lot of the website where I found a Simulated RTK game, where there were so many different ways to play that virtual Three Kingdoms game. However, simply picking a path is not all there is to it! When you select a path, there are conditions to move on in it. For example, if you’re a Duelist/General style [Fighter/Warrior], you’ll have to fulfill a series of conditions to join either branch of the tree. Like “Win 5 duels” or “Defeat 3 Units in battle” or “Win 10 battles”, stuff like that. You complete them, you gain titles, rewards, and it pushes you down the path you wish to be upon.
As you gain more fame, you’ll be able to use unique actions to your path as well, not to mention events that are specifically tailored to your style of gameplay. So it will be less you wandering as a scholar/strategist, and being stuck in a situation where you have to duel your way out of. That used to really grind my gears… Be a Bandit, be a strategist, be a noble soldier, the choice is up to you! Speaking of events, before I move on … Event Creation is back! It was in the last Nobunaga’s Ambition, and it’s here too! Create situations where you can join forces, get married, do all kinds of silly stuff. They’re pretty simple to create too. You can leave them up to chance, or set one of any other modifiers that you’d like. I haven’t messed with Event Making far too much yet, but I’m just glad that it’s here, and you can upload them onto the Internet if you want to share them, or try someone else’s’ events in your game. Replayability is one of the hardest things about the RTK games. Once you’ve beaten scenarios, there isn’t a whole lot left to do. So that’s why there’s this cool Fame system to change how you play every time if you’re into that. They even added a cool Fictional story into the main mode [What if Cao Cao died at Chi Bi, sons splitting up the Kingdom, world going on without him, etc] which I’m actually in the process of playing through right now. Spoiler: I side with Cao Pi. I do believe it also added quite a few Historical maps as well, which is also lovely.
More strategy is coming to the game, which is evident by the second half of the name! Now troops that are on long marches to battle gradually lose morale and strength, the longer it goes on. Perhaps it’s worse in the snow/through the mountains, I can’t really say. But finding a smart, tactical place to stop and rest will let you regain your strength. The last thing you want is to have an exhausted, low morale army hit the battle of Chengdu. I don’t care if your three generals are Guan Yu, Lu Bu, and Deng Ai; even with no morale, they’re still going to get their asses kicked. They might win the duels, but the enemy is going to win the war. Don’t throw all those troops away for your own pride. You aren’t Dong Zhuo! In addition, pre-battle there’s now a War Council, which I absolutely just love. You probably won’t see it if you don’t participate in battle though in some fashion. But the War Council lets your faction decide what strategy/what tactics are going to be employed in the upcoming battle. Your commander will, of course, invite who he wants to the Council, and if there’s a disagreement, you can try and settle it in a Debate [verbal dueling], and you will spend points to set up tactics for the forthcoming battle. There are plenty of options here, and depending on the terrain, the area, and the foe, you will pick what you think will be the most useful [or you have the best stats for. Either way]. These tactics have requirements on the field that have to be met before they can be used. Unlike earlier games, where you could just set them/activate them, you have to put in work, acquire certain parts of the battlefield before you can deal a violent blow to the ego of your opponent [or to their face].
I Needed This, But I Knew It: 4/5
I’ve missed the Three Kingdoms franchise, and I’m glad it’s back on console [XB1 and PS4]. I played it on PS4 and had zero problems reading the font, unlike the last two NA games. Ugh. It adds so much to the game, this Power-Up Kit, and it makes me wonder just how much I missed out on in the previous PUKs for games I owned. I think the real issue was the PUKs only were available on PC, and we weren’t receiving the PC versions of the games, just the console ones up until recently. But the Event editor, the Fame system, War Council, these are wonderful things that strategy fans will hopefully eat up. I know I did. I’m just waiting for a version of an RTK game where players will work together asynchronously in a faction, all doing deeds/performing missions at the same time, or work as spies for another faction. Now there’s a fun idea that we’ll probably never see [because let’s face it: RTK is not a big money maker over here like I want it to be]. I’ll just file that one under “Things Raga wants but cannot have because life is cruel and unfair”. I have a lot of friends who love this franchise and may not even be aware that Fame & Strategy exists. But it’s here, it’s real, and if you’re a fan of the series at all, it is absolutely worth a buy. The only thing I want is more What-If scenarios in the main mode. I absolutely live for those.