Total War: Warhammer 3 Thrones of Decay Review | A Decisive Victory

Estimated read time 8 min read

Total War: Warhammer 3 Thrones of Decay carries a much heavier burden than what you would typically expect from an expansion pack. While Warhammer 3 has come to be considered one of Creative Assembly’s finest work, recent updates and pricing models have left a sour taste in the community’s mouth. Does this release give the game a much-needed revitalization? Check out the rest of our review.

As someone who just recently got into the fold, I’m still heavily engaged with the sheer amount of depth the gameplay has. Shadows of Change was a huge misfire mostly due to how the content and changes offered did not properly reflect the increased asking price of the expansion.

Disclaimer: I am by no means a Total War expert. Heck, I’m not even a strategy game veteran to begin with. I’m just someone who just so happen to stumble upon Warhammer 3 in what was seemingly it’s “worst” state at the time. And even then, I still had fun trying to learn what the game had to offer. Most definitely overwhelming at first, but so much more rewarding once I got more into it.

That’s why I’m entering Thrones of Decay the same way I did with Shadows of Change. Fresh eyes, and as a fresh player. No in-depth analysis as to how the game has fundamentally changed since launch, no veteran perspective on how the quality-of-life changes or systematic reworks compare to previous expansions. I loaded back into the game with only one question in mind: Am I going to have fun with what this expansion has to offer? Sure enough, I most definitely did. And based on what I’ve been seeing from the player base, I’m not the only one who thinks that Total War: Warhammer 3 Thrones of Decay is a step in the right direction.

For the Empire!

The Empire is definitely one of the more popular factions in the community even though it hasn’t been getting a lot of love in terms of content. Nice to see that this expansion changes that. Elspeth von Draken is the legendary lord. A fantastic spellcaster who rides on top of a dragon. Whatever way you picture that, she’s as amazing as she sounds.

Her entire campaign is all about getting schematics to improve your gunpowder to continue expanding the borders. The main mechanic is setting up the Gardens of Morr which allow her to improve recruitment garrisons and provide fast travel points for the army. There’s also the Imperial Gunnery School which allows you to gain access to magic-infused gunpowder units. If commanding an army who shoots death magic at the enemies doesn’t sound cool to you, I don’t know what will.

The new units are also a welcome addition. Nuln Ironsides are frontline hand gunners given the heavy armor they have while Hochland Long Rifles are exactly what they sound like, sniper units. The one very minor nitpick I have for them is that they have no reload animations. As someone who loves to zoom into the heat of the battles, it was disappointing to see.

Other cool looking models are Knights of the Black Rose which are new knightly orders. The Land Ship has an extremely cool design, but it basically acts a Steam Tank with less armor. Speaking of which, Steam Tanks are awesome. Just barge in and go boom.

Elspeth is accompanied by legendary hero Theofore Bruckner. While the legendary lord is being annoying in the air, Theofore is a powerful melee character who rides on a Demigryph mount. A very cool and strong character that you can unlock fairly early on by turn 10.

World domination through the power of friendship

What do you think of when someone says that the game is all about getting friends come together and join you in your plans for the day? Is it a huge, nasty maggot lord named Tamukhan who has a massive amount of health and deals incredible amount of damage? Because that’s what this is all about for the Nurgle faction.

The main mechanic for this is to recruit 6 chieftains in order to utilize their power alongside yours. What for? To destroy the world as we know it of course. He is a parasitic scumbag, so it fits with the profile.

In order to recruit the various Chaos leaders, you have to complete some tasks for them. You have the choice to pick which one you’d like to go first which can drastically affect how the rest of your campaign will go. Each chieftain carries special units that allows for some pretty fun combinations in your army.

The new Nurgle units Pestigors, Warriors of Chaos, and Beast Men are all well and good, but the definite highlight has to be the Rot Knights. It’s great to see them finally represented in full glory within the game.

Tamukhan is already nasty, both in gameplay and aesthetics but once he gets on his Toad Dragon, it’s so over for the enemy. They are massive monstrosities that can break down walls and run through enemy units with ease. Couple it in with legendary hero Kayzk the Befouled, another tanky melee character and you have one of the most overpowered factions in the game. Definitely one of the most fun to just mess around and power creep with.

Here comes the artillery!

Legendary lord Malakai Makaisson is an exiled dwarf engineer who flies around in a zeppelin which makes things in the battlefield go kaboom.

At the beginning of the campaign, Malakai is already at war with everyone. It makes things pretty chaotic but definitely a lot of fun to try and solve. Although, this is something that I will say shouldn’t be what you play first among the 3 factions if you’re new to the game. It’s the least beginner friendly, at least for me.

The main mechanic, Adventures of Malakai, provides your already powerful artillery with various buffs once you defeat certain enemies.

Malakai is more of a ranged support. The new units are again, about as cool as they sound. Thunderers are basically dwarfs with a shotgun. Slayer Pirates are similar to Empire Militia but they just so happen to be more powerful. Goblin Hewers are the sniper units and Doomseekers are Slayers who had a bad day so they’re just going at it with full conviction.

The Thunderbarge can be temporarily summoned in battle and is definitely one of the more powerful additions. I can potentially see it becoming a problem in multiplayer but since I primarily play the game on campaign, I don’t really have any problem on it.

Total War: Warhammer 3 Thrones of Decay winning back the battle

Other than the 3 legendary lords and their respective heroes and units, Thrones of Decay also brings in Update 5.0, free for every player. It’s a patch filled with quality-of-life changes and extensive systematic reworks that I can try to explain each one, but we’ll end up being here for quite a while.

Previous balancing updates and nerfs would always be in favor of the multiplayer crowd but it had the unfortunate side effect of bleeding into the campaign, which singleplayer gamers definitely were not happy with. This time around, Creative Assembly is finally listening to the community’s requests.

Multiple race reworks and even free lord in the form of Epidemius is all jam-packed in this latest update. Reworking existing lords that are already available in the base game is a fantastic way to help heal the wounds the community has sustained over the last few releases. This enables the players to be more inclined with spending on expansions because their initial investment in the base game is being respected and acknowledged.

DLC has always been a touchy subject in modern gaming. The idea of paying for extra content that you should’ve arguably been a part of the base game will never be 100% right. But what Creative Assembly is doing here with Update 5.0 is something that should be looked at as a prime example of how to treat your player base right.

Total War: Warhammer 3 Thrones of Decay Review Final Verdict – 8.5/10

With Thrones of Decay, I truly believe that Total War: Warhammer 3 still got so much more left in the tank as long as the developers continues to go into the trajectory it’s on right now.

It’s around the same price as Shadows of Change, but it’s definitely so much more worth it given how it delivers the changes and content that so many have asked and begged for.

Total War: Warhammer 3 Thrones of Decay feels like a proper course correction for all the mistakes that was done but more importantly, it feels like a confirmation that Creative Assembly is finally listening to the people who play their games. The future of what this can mean for the game’s updates, or a future franchise release is so exciting to think about.

This review was made using a game code for the PC provided by the publisher. 

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