Total War: Warhammer 3 Preview: Chaos Undivided and Complexity Unimaginable

There is a lot going on in any video game, and especially any Total War video game, and especially, especially any Total War: Warhammer video game, so please understand that when I say there is even more going on in Total War: Warhammer III than ever, it is not hyperbole and is in fact with the acknowledgment and proper respect for what's come before. I can say that with confidence because recently had the opportunity to play a preview build of the game for several hours as the newly revealed eighth faction, the Daemon Prince or Daemons of Chaos.

"It's the biggest of the series in terms of the playable races available on release, the size of the campaign map, and just the sheer breadth and depth of content that's present within this game," said Jim Whitston, Lead Battle Designer on Total War: Warhammer III, when asked about what the new game accomplishes that the previous two did not.

(Photo: SEGA/Creative Assembly)

"We've done so many new things in this game," added Mark Sinclair, Lead Campaign Designer on Total War: Warhammer III. "We already set out to do a trilogy of games, and we knew going into it that Warhammer III was going to cap off the series and feature the Daemons of Chaos in a big way. And, as Jim said, that led to significantly more content in terms of number of races. So we've got all four of the gods represented and Chaos Undivided with the Daemon Prince, so this really is the biggest, and hopefully best, Total War game of all time."

The general premise of the video game is that the godly bear, Ursun, has been gravely wounded by a mortal-turned-daemon. Every single faction on the map has its own reasons for wanting to enter the Realm of Chaos and decide the ultimate fate of the Bear-God of Kislev, but it always boils down to one thing: power. But to get there, they will need to fight off competitors and traverse dimensions in order to locate Ursun and defeat his captor. It sounds simple, but it is anything but, and my time with Total War: Warhammer III barely scratched the surface of that goal.

(Photo: SEGA/Creative Assembly)

The Daemon Prince or Daemons of Chaos faction follows the overarching story of the game's campaign about as close as any can. They are a direct result of the opening moments, twisted into a powerful demon by their actions against the godly bear. And because they are fresh to the slaughter, and rightly – arguably so – full of themself, they hold no direct allegiance to any of the typical entities of Chaos. Instead, they follow Chaos Undivided, and their whole kit and methodology of play come from that.

Rather than your standard, straightforward faction with the ability to grab certain improvements over time, the Daemons of Chaos allows players to customize their playthrough to a frankly absurd degree. Newly obtained settlements can be dedicated to one of the four Chaos Gods – Khorne, Tzeentch, Nurgle, or Slaanesh – with the ability to train certain units and build certain buildings depending on which of those is chosen. Basically, it's like a wild combination of all four factions, including the ability to mix-and-match units.

(Photo: SEGA/Creative Assembly)

Depending on your actions on the campaign map, Daemonic Glory is accumulated for one of the four Chaos Gods or simply an Undivided pool, and this asset unlocks various options and abilities over time associated with those specific pools like for example certain Khorne units and so on. As you go about unlocking these options, it also begins opening up perhaps the wildest bit of the faction: body parts.

The Daemon Prince is, as noted above, extremely new to all of this, and as such is mutable and easily influenced or swayed based on their actions. This thematic throughline functionally appears as the ability to constantly customize their form and appearance with different unlocked body parts. From the top of their head to the tip of their tail, players can swap bits in and out to achieve the look and feel that they want as certain attributes and abilities are associated with them all. One torso might offer more defense while another a specific ability they want in battle. According to Creative Assembly, the faction has some wildly large number in the billions of possible customization options available to it.

(Photo: SEGA/Creative Assembly)

"It was a lot of work, but we felt it was worth it just for the whole host of gameplay options that it opens out for us as developers and for our players as a result of that," said Whitston when asked about how much of a headache it was to all implement. "So we want a game that offers as much variety as possible because, as I mentioned earlier, the scale of the campaign is absolutely epic."

"It's also driven by a really powerful narrative this time around as well," he continued. "Within the context of that campaign, you could be playing for hundreds of hours a campaign, and we want to constantly provide the player with new challenges, new interesting stuff to tinker with, and challenges within the short term, the medium term, the long term, just to keep constantly refreshing the player's palette."

"Replayability really is the name of the game here," added Sinclair. "You can play as many different races, or you can just play as the Daemon Prince, and you will find so many different ways, so many different, as we mentioned, customization options there. Just hundreds of hours that are going to be available in Warhammer III."

Total War: Warhammer III is set to release for PC via Steam and the Epic Games Store on February 17th. It will also be available on Xbox Game Pass for PC that same day. You can check out all of our previous coverage of the Total War franchise in general right here.