The best Total War: Three Kingdoms mods

Total War: Three Kingdoms is dead, long live Total War: Three Kingdoms mods. These have always been a huge part of experience playing Total War games and with every new release that pioneering community has only grown larger. We’re now seeing modders doing more than ever, filling in all the gaps and creating content that Creative Assembly may never get around to adding themselves across both fantasy and historical.

Three Kingdoms is a great entry in historical Total War – as you can tell from our Total War: Three Kingdoms review. Covering a popular historical period, especially for the Chinese gaming community, has naturally resulted in there being a lot of mods. At the time of writing at least there are over 2,500 user creations.

These not only add elements to make characters even more distinctive, but also offer a touch of individuality to players, which feels very at home in a historical period, which at its heart, is about heroes. Unless otherwise stated, all mods should be compatible up to the latest version and all expansions, but let us know if we’ve missed anything.

the best Total War: Three Kingdoms Mods

These are are the best Total War: Three Kingdoms mods:

  • Radious: Total War Mod (Overhaul)
  • Make them Unique (Overhaul)
  • Wu Kingdaissance (Overhaul)
  • Beneath A Red Sky: A Battle Overhaul (Overhaul)
  • All Factions Playable (Quality of Life)
  • Vanilla Units Remaster (Quality of Life)
  • Recruited unique character can use their special units (Quality of Life)
  • Respec Character Skills when they join you (Quality of Life)
  • 10 Turns Per Year (Utility)
  • The Gathering : Sandbox (Utility)
  • SFO: Three Dragons (Total Conversion)

Let’s check out what the modders have in store…

Radious: Total War Mod

It wouldn’t be a Total War mod scene without a Radious mod, and the renowned group have turned their attention to Total War: Three Kingdoms. This overhaul mod has everything from new units, to new campaign mechanics, better battle balance, scripting, new lore… you name it, they’ve swept their brush over it.

The mod is so big at the moment that it currently comes in two parts, and there are plenty of sub-mods available as well that have come out of the team’s fanbase – allowing you to further tailor your game.

Make them Unique

The Three Kingdom’s period was filled with famous individuals, and to reflect this, there is a record of almost every named character in the game. But it can often be hard to appreciate their individuality when most of the characters use the same few repeated portraits. Make Them Unique is a mod that fixes this, creating new unique heroes alongside absolutely gorgeous artwork.

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It is a mod that fills a gap, adding unique portraits, skills and items, to heroes who should’ve had them in the base game. These are figures like Dong Min (who as Dong Zhou’s brother is hugely important) or Lu Zheng (the heir to Zheng Jiang’s bandit faction). Since Mandate of Heaven, and A World Betrayed, many more have been added, which has also bolstered Three Kingdom’s lack of unique female characters, with Lady Feng, Yuan Anyang, and Lady Du. Altogether it adds a touch more colour to the character-play of the Three Kingdoms campaigns.

a collage of hand-drawn character art from three kingdoms

Wu Kingdaissance (V5.0.0 Nanman)

Since Mandate of Heaven and A World Betrayed, tonnes of characters from the setting have been brought to life with unique portraits and items. But that still leaves many, many more who still deserve them. Wu Kingdaissance is a mod which essentially reskins all the major characters in Three Kingdoms, giving them new weapons, armour, ancillaries, models, mounts, and abilities.

It’s pretty significant considering it has altered over 300 characters in the game, even going so far as to make previously unplayable characters, like Empress He and Liu Hong, usable on the battlefield. It adds a ton more personality and presence, to already character-filled campaigns.

a bloodied man on a horse faces off against an armoured man on foot

Beneath A Red Sky: A Battle Overhaul

A recent criticism by many long time historical strategy fans has been based around Total War battles becoming ever shorter and more ‘arcade-like’. Whether you believe that or not, Beneath A Red Sky is a battle mod which attempts to capture a slower tactical battle experience, as the author says, more in line with “What you would expect from an ancient battle”.

The mod itself affects a variety of changes — whether altering unit roles, so spearmen push back enemies, and axe infantry act as shield-breakers, or an overhauled fatigue system, with larger detriments on morale and combat aptitude. A full list of changes can be found in the Steam Workshop, but Beneath A Red Sky might very well be the mod for those hoping to re-capture the slower battle experience of past Total Wars.

a Chinese language version of the faction select screen

All Factions Playable

This is a new quality of life mod that’s come out of the Chinese community, and as such is in Chinese languages by default. There is however translation add-ons available for English, Vietnamese & Korean. Otherwise, All Factions Playable does exactly what it says on the tin – it makes every faction playable across all start dates.

It’s compatible with some other popular mods, such as Make them Unique above, but there are special compatibility instructions on the mod page so make sure you pay attention. It has also joined forces with another mod called ‘New Major Factions‘. It’s not required to use this mod, even though it’s in the required items list.

a group of dapper archers marching fowards

Vanilla Units Remaster

After playing Three Kingdoms for awhile, units can begin to look a little samey. It’s not necessarily the difference between the units themselves, but more the ornamentation of individuals within those units. Vanilla Units Remaster by Deema is a mod which seeks to make units “look better while still maintaining their original feel and historical authenticity”.

This features changes such things like reskinning general’s bodyguards, adding ornamental weapons to higher tier units, and just generally adding more variety wherever possible. These are little things, but they do add a further element of variety to battles. The creator has done several mods along this theme, some of which are more DLC specific, such as remasters for the Nanman and A World Betrayed units.

in game shot of a special character's character sceen

Recruited unique character can use their special units

In Three Kingdoms, each faction has a special unit they can recruit, and the unique heroes belonging to that faction are the ones with that ability. But when another faction gains that hero, they lose the ability to recruit their previous factions unique unit. Recruited unique character can use their special units, is a mod which ties that faction unit recruitment to a skill, meaning that even if you recruit them into your faction, they will still have access to that special unit — a way of further emphasizing their individuality as a hero character.

Respec Character Skills when they join you

We’ve all been there. After turns and turns currying favour with a faction, you finally confederate them, getting that hero character you’ve had your eyes on for the past 20 turns. But lo and behold, despite them being an outstanding warrior, the AI has for some reason decided to upgrade them as an administrator instead.

Related: Essential Total War tips

With Respec Character Skills when they join you, this will never be a problem again. When a new hero joins your faction, you’ll simply have the option to re-allot all of their skill points, focusing them for whatever role you have in mind.

Note: Some characters in Mandate of Heaven have innate skills that aren’t effected by this mod. Also, this mod may not work with Patch 1.6.1.

The Gathering: Sandbox

This is an interesting one. All it actually does is input a text input panel into the game interface. If you put in the right command however, it will instantly run a script that will affect instantaneous change. It’s a dev-tool, essentially, that allows you to bend the game to your whims at any given moment.

You could call it ‘cheating’, for sure, but in a game as narrative focused as Three Kingdoms sometimes you just want to create your own story, and you don’t necessarily want to have that story derailed due to the vagaries of the AI or some unlucky choices. There are links on the mod page that will take you to the command list, as well as some examples on the page.

10 Turns Per Year

Adjusting the amount of turns that comprise an in-game ‘calendar’ year is not a new concept, and we’re not surprised to see one released for Three Kingdoms. As there are five seasons in 3K, this mod effectively doubles the length of a year by making each season spread across two turns. There is also a 15 turns per year variant, if you’re completely mad.

This mod comes with a couple of hiccups, like for example Zheng Jiang’s portrait will look like a baby for a couple of turns. Users have also reported some weird bugs associated with playing the Sun family and generally some age-related issues still persist, so just be aware.

generic art from the sfo mod

SFO: Three Dragons

I can only speak for the English language mods (Three Kingdoms has an extremely prevalent Chinese modding community) but SFO’s Three Kingdoms mod is the most significant. Three Dragons is a mod which, in the words of its creators “changes every aspect of TW:3K to be more interesting and challenging”. These changes include reworked battles, UI, units, terrain effects, heroes, literally everything you can think of.

Many of you might know the SFO team and their founder, Venris, for their amazing work on Total War: Warhammer 1 and 2 overhaul mods. Knowing their work, however, I do think it’s the Three Kingdom’s rework to watch, and that given more time, and their skills, it’ll become a great mod. You can see a full list of changes so far here.

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