Total War: Warhammer 3 may finally realize the vision of the tabletop games

Total War Warhammer 3 Katarin Daemon Khorne
Total War Warhammer 3 Katarin Daemon Khorne (Image credit: Sega (screenshot))

Since 2016, Creative Assembly has been steadily working to expand The Old World of Warhammer with the release of Total War: Warhammer, Total War: Warhammer 2, and near-innumerable DLC packs and updates. With the announcement of Total War: Warhammer 3, Creative Assembly is poised to complete its adaption of Games Workshop's world in a way that finally realizes the vision of the tabletop game as one of the best PC games available.

Warhammer built a massive tabletop following that, admittedly, never reached the heights of its later science-fiction counterpart, Warhammer 40,000 (which also has a promising game this year with the upcoming Darktide). Lower sales eventually led Games Workshop to discontinue the series through a much maligned event, The End Times. As a result, the bar was pretty low for strategy developer Creative Assembly to just make a good game. However, through time (and a handful of missteps — poor Beastmen), Total War: Warhammer and its 2017 sequel have rapidly expanded into a love letter for the franchise as a whole.

Source: Sega (screenshot) (Image credit: Source: Sega (screenshot))

For this third entry in the series, Creative Assembly announced it would be expanding the icy Kislev and giving each of the four Chaos Gods a unique roster. This was already a step above what many expected, but then Creative Assembly dropped the real bombshell: Cathay is now a full faction! The impact of this might be lost on anybody who hasn't heavily followed Warhammer for years. Despite being described in the lore as the largest empire in the Old World, with a design heavily based on Imperial China, Cathay is essentially a blank slate. There are no characters, no rulebooks, and no figures to pull from. Fleshing out Cathay adds a critically missing piece of this iconic world. It leaves room for the developers to get creative but also adds a lot of potential lore for fans.

Fleshing out Cathay adds a critically missing piece of this iconic world.

Creative Assembly is working directly with Games Workshop to bring Cathay and Kislev to life, work that'll carry over into a relaunch of the Old World tabletop sometime in the years ahead. That physical presence is fantastic but I truly believe that the real way this world lives on forever is through what Creative Assembly is doing. Sometime after launch, an update will allow players to combine all three Total War games into one mega-campaign, creating a world of endless possibilities.

It's important to note that the work to complete this universe won't be done the moment the third game is released. Factions like the Ogre Kingdoms and the Chaos Dwarfs will still need to be added. There's absolutely no way the Old World could be considered complete without Nagash as well. On the more technical side of things, plenty of factions need balancing updates, new units, or reworks. I'll continue to (politely) request that the Dwarfs get Shard Dragons. Still, it's incredibly promising and for anyone put off by the shift into the Age of Sigmar, these games can provide enduring fun in this classic setting for years to come.

Total War: Warhammer 3 is currently set to release at some point in late 2021, so with this massive update coming sometime post-launch, not to mention any time needed for further DLC or updates, we'll likely be waiting until sometime in 2022 for all of this to come together. When it's here, I'll be ready and waiting for another 100 hour+ campaign.

Samuel Tolbert
Freelance Writer

Samuel Tolbert is a freelance writer covering gaming news, previews, reviews, interviews and different aspects of the gaming industry, specifically focusing on Xbox and PC gaming on Windows Central. You can find him on Twitter @SamuelTolbert.