Romance of the Three Kingdoms 13 followed in the footsteps of Koei Tecmo’s other franchises and has received a massive update DLC that reworks nearly every aspect of the game. When it comes to their strategy games like Romance of the Three Kingdoms or Nobunaga’s Ambition, these expansions are usually called the “Power-up Kit” or PUK. However, this time around the expansion’s western release has been titled the “Fame and Strategy Expansion”.
For anyone who may be unfamiliar with the series, Romance of the Three Kingdoms is a historical strategy sim based on the Three Kingdoms era of ancient China. In Romance of the Three Kingdoms 13, you play as an officer and try to do your part to conquer China and bring an end to the age of chaos. You have the ability to play as either a custom officer or one of the famous officers of the time. Depending on who you choose, your place in society may be different. IF you follow what I did then you’ll most likely end up making an entirely new character to experience the game with. (Which I recommend doing because I like to self-insert, like a loser)
As you start up the game, you will no doubt notice the edit options. I recommend checking these out before you dive into the game any deeper. With the release of the fame and strategy expansion, there is now an event creator, which allows the player to create and edit events to transform the world of ROTK to fit their vision. For example, one of the many new characters in the game is Dong Bai, the daughter of the despicable tyrant, Dong Zhou. Well, I found her to absolutely adorable and was not looking forward to seeing her killed along with the rest of her family in 192 (Spoiler alert), so instead I created an event that allowed me to recruit her instead of letting her die. Crafting your own events is actually a lot of fun, especially if you share the events with your friends at the end of the day.
Along with the addition of an event editor, you can also create strategies, items, and of course, characters. Each of these options allows the player a ridiculously massive amount of freedom, and while not available on console, you can even upload custom images on PC for your characters. You can even edit historical characters, but to a lesser degree.
When you actually get to the gameplay, Romance of the Three Kingdoms 13 is split into two sections, Hero and Main. Hero is pretty much a more in-depth tutorial mode that exists to teach the player about the features of the game. I can not stress enough how helpful it is to go through this mode first before you move onto main. This is not just because it is a tutorial, but also because it is an easy way to learn about some of most important characters and events.
Once you’re finished with Hero mode and move onto the main mode, you’ll be able to choose from several different scenarios. You can add in your original characters and even create your own military force. As I said earlier, depending on who you choose will determine your position at the beginning of the scenario. Within Main alone, you will have several dozen hours of gameplay to experience, and this is also where you will obviously experience most of the changes that the expansion has to offer. The is because the expansion does not just add new features, but also completely reworks nearly every part of the gameplay as well.
After you are employed into a faction, you will be given an objective to accomplish from your ruler. While there are a handful of categories to choose from, the primary two that you will mostly be using are Domestic, which is split into culture, farming, and commerce, which all increase the prosperity of the city. The other category is Military, which is split into training, patrol, and deploy. Training and deploy are both self-evident, so I will just skip to patrol. Patrol is used to raise the fealty or population of your city. So you’ll select patrol and before you will begin, you will see several options to choose from and even the ability to ask an officer to come and aid you. Once you finish your patrol, you will have the option to face off against some bandits in the reworked duel system.
Upon completing your objective you will gain fame and honor which are used to influence other officers around you. With the new expansion, Romance of the Three Kingdoms 13 has introduced a prestige system. There are several different prestige categories for you to choose from and each has multiple levels to unlock as you accomplish the required objectives. As you level up your prestige and equip new titles, you will also unlock new abilities and stat boosts. The best thing is that there is a prestige for any playstyle or occasion, so rewarding to experiment.
This is more or less the extent of the gameplay outside of combat. You must work to build up cities, regions, and if you can make it, an entire empire. You can build friendships and relationships with your favorite historical officers. Which leads me to the obvious point that I should just make in case it is not evident by now, this is a game for Three Kingdoms fans. If you are not a fan of the Three Kingdoms or Dynasty Warriors, there is not much for you here.
The last piece of the game to talk about is combat. Battles can be fought in two ways, you can allow battles to resolve themselves on the over-world map automatically, or you can take part in the battles yourself. Usually, I would allow battles to resolve themselves if my forces vastly outnumbered my enemies. However, if our troop numbers were even remotely comparable, I would take charge of the battles and fight them manually.
If a battle is about to begin, the fight will now start with a war council, where the war leader will select an officer to devise a tactic for the upcoming fight. Battles now take place on larger maps compared to the somewhat cramped maps of the vanilla game. The strategy you devise in the war council will determine what combat bonuses will appear on the map as well. As you take control of these points, you will gain the bonuses they provide as long as you stay within the AoE aura. Combat will end when all troops of one side are defeated or if one of the main camps fall. Also, if your personal unit is defeated in battle, you will be removed from the fighting and it will resolve itself automatically.
There is one final thing I have been waiting to mention that was adding in with the expansion and that is the fact that troop morale will now decrease as they march and you will need to replenish it at your cities or garrisons. While I totally understand why this was added, I hate it. Not only do I hate it, I think it is the worst part of the game now. When it is already going to take me 6 months to march my troops into battle, I am not looking forward to having to stop and rest a city that is still one month’s time away just to ensure that my troops are not decimated. But that negative pales in comparison to the additions that I actually enjoyed.
Romance of the Three Kingdoms 13 Fame and Strategy Expansion was reviewed on PlayStation 4 and PC via Steam with codes provided by the publisher.
Romance of the Three Kingdoms 13 is a well-polished strategy game for fans of Chinese history or even just Dynasty Warriors. The combat is fun, ranking up is fulfilling, and learning about the Three Kingdoms is a great bonus.
- Not a Simple Expansion
- In-Depth Duel and Debate Systems Require More Forethought
- Troop Changes Make Wars More Difficult