Estimated reading time: 5 minutes
Romance of the Three Kingdoms XIV: Diplomacy & Strategy Pack marks the biggest update to this title since its release early last year. There have been a handful of smaller patches and updates along the way, but this is the most comprehensive change to game yet. Are they worth it? By and large I would say yes.
Now, it is worth mentioning that Romance of the Three Kingdoms XIV was one of my favorite titles when it came out. In a series that has strayed a good deal from its roots, I found this release to be more engaging than most of the prior years. Part of me still hankers for a revival of the slower-paced turn-based Koei games of old (I would snatch up SNES / early PlayStation era Nobunaga / Romance / Bandit Kings of Ancient China styled titles in a heartbeat if they were made for modern consoles).
This is the fourteenth primary release in the Romance of the Three Kingdoms series, and having played most of them over the years, I still found it challenging to acclimate myself to it. There is a ton to digest, and it can be frustrating to figure out the ins and outs of the game early on. I restarted a couple of different times back when it first came out, having fumbled about a bit before hitting my stride.
It’s been several months now since I last played this title, so I was curious to see if playing the DLC pack was going to be like riding a bike, or if I was going to struggle with the game’s mechanics again until I brushed up on things. The good news is, Romance of the Three Kingdoms XIV: Diplomacy & Strategy Pack felt much more accessible this time, even after having had several months off from it.
The core flow of gameplay is still the same, alternating between making political decisions, using turns to try and better your region, exploring terrain and of course having battles take place across all of China. Some of the tweaks over the last few years have expanded on the different troops and some of the options available in-game, but this DLC pack introduces a few very distinct bullet points. Probably the two shiniest ones are the Geographic Advantages and Outlander Cities. It’s funny – but the former was not what I was expecting. I think mentally I went to the idea of terrain advantages during combat that impact the combat, but no – Geographic Advantages are basically perks given to each province. These are pretty wide-ranging but can do a variety of things to enhance abilities or cheapen costs of certain actions.
The Outlander Cities introduce five ne tribes on the map, and while you can try to do battle with them, this is where it perhaps makes more sense to leverage one of the keywords in this Romance of the Three Kingdoms XIV: Diplomacy & Strategy Pack – Diplomacy. These are powerful holdings that I never successfully conquered, but I did learn to play nice with them and managed then to initiate trade with them (and other portions of Eurasia, such as India or Rome). This can lead to food, money, and even new officers or special items.
These certainly add an interesting strategic layer to how you expand and interface with others in the game, but it is admittedly a fairly slow-paced option. It makes sense as I can spend several turns moving supplies or units from one part of China to another, so having to send units to other regions altogether logically takes even longer. This had me in sort of a way-and-see state of passing through turns without much meaningful happening more often than pre-expansion. That said, the rewards were often so good that I was quite excited when the units returned.
There is a new mode called War Chronicles Mode, which is interesting in theory though not a mode I see myself playing a lot personally. One single game from start to finish (assuming you aren’t killed early on) is a lengthy process – I spent nearly 100 hours on my first victorious campaign last year. With more options and deeper character information, I can see that running even longer, and the new Chronicles mode is geared towards those who want smaller slices of gameplay. You find yourself tasked with specific scenes and trying to be as ruthlessly efficient as possible in securing your victory. You are then scored on how you performed, and those scores are tossed to a leaderboard. It’s an interesting idea that may open up this rather deep franchise to a new set of gamers looking for smaller slices to play through, but for me the long game with all of its various evolutions still reigns supreme.