Mandate of Heaven is the best kind of expansion for a replayable sandbox strategy game like the already exemplary Total War: Three Kingdoms. Rather than creating a new scenario, this prequel recontextualizes the base game and in turn serves to make it a deeper and more satisfying experience, in much the same way that Rogue One did for A New Hope.
Starting in 182 CE, Mandate of Heaven largely concerns itself with the Yellow Turban Rebellion and the earlier adventures of the principal characters of the Three Kingdoms era. Liu Bei, Cao Cao, and Sun Jian are all playable, but their starting locations are radically different and less concrete, which allows for experimental players to truly carve out a kingdom of their own.
Alongside these stalwarts are new factions, and one, in particular, presents a challenge for the most devout of Total War players in the form of the Han emperor himself: Liu Hong.
Anyone who has endeavored to keep the Western Roman Empire intact in Total War:…
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