Three Kingdoms: The Battle Begins
UPDATE: This game has been shutdown and is no longer available
Three Kingdoms Overview
Three Kingdoms is an oriental fantasy game which shares its source material with the Dynasty Warriors console series. Players are given the option to join one of three warring Chinese states; the Shu, Wei, or Wu. Each nation has its own territory and must vie for control of various zones with members of the other factions. There are a total of four starting classes which are common to all three nations. Three Kingdoms has more appearance customization options than most free MMORPGs, but the generally dated graphics hold the visuals back. At level 20, players make the first class ‘upgrade.’ At level 40, each class has two branches to choose from, followed by a third and final class upgrade at level 80.
Soldier - The melee specialist. Soldiers are the easiest class to play and have the highest HP totals, making them great front line characters. 1st upgrade: Warrior. 2nd upgrade: Defender/Champion. 3rd upgrade: Guardian/Conqueror.
Scout - Cunning characters who prefer to attack from a distance. Scouts favor Dexterity over brute strength and can specialize in either Bows or throwing weapons. 1st upgrade: Archer 2nd upgrade: Slayer/Ranger. 3rd upgrade: Warden/Marksman.
Sage - The casters of Three Kingdoms. Sages are frail, but possess powerful spells, both supportive and offensive. 1st upgrade: Mystic. 2nd upgrade: Doctor/Tactician. 3rd upgrade: Shaman/Oracle.
Merchant - Businessmen who craft armor, weapons, and more importantly, siege weapons, which are used in PvP battles. While merchants are not the best fighters, they can still hold their own in melee combat. 1st upgrade: Craftsman. 2nd upgrade: Armorsmith / Weaponsmith. 3rd upgrade: Artisan Armorsmith / Artisan Weaponsmith.
Three Kingdoms Screenshots
Three Kingdoms Featured Video
Three Kingdoms Review
By Erhan Altay
Three Kingdoms: The Battle Begins is an oriental MMORPG which draws on the famous, if overused, historic Chinese time period ranging from the year 184 to 280 C.E. on the western calendar. Anyone familiar with the Dynasty Warriors series of console games will recognize key events, characters, and locations in Three Kingdoms. The same three warring nations are present: the Shu, Wei, and Wu, as are the Yellow Turban rebels and the famous general Lu Bu. The Romance of the Three Kingdoms is such a culturally rich backdrop that it has been used in movies, a TV series, and several other video games.
The North American game publisher Uforia put Three Kingdoms into open beta in March of 2009. While Uforia is also involved with NosTale, this game is their first independent release. Three Kingdoms is not a new game; it has poor visuals and limited graphic options. It is a very traditional MMORPG, which was disheartening. I was hoping for something more action-oriented like the Dynasty Warriors series. It’s too early to tell how large an audience this game will attract, but my estimates from the open beta suggest a medium population at best. The single beta server always had a players running around each area, but never seemed overcrowded.
Tale of Four Classes
After logging in (but before character creation), players must select which of the three warring kingdoms they wish to join. This decision applies to all future characters on the same server, so if you plan to play with friends, be sure you decide on a faction beforehand. The differences between the nations is purely environmental. Whether you pick the Shu, Wei, or Wu, the only difference will be in the appearance of the starting areas. When you first click the character creation button, you may be impressed with the eight character line up, but each class is represented twice – once with each gender. The four classes are: Soldier, Scout, Sage, and Merchant. Each has over a dozen face and hair style choices, but only three hair color options. The game has good pacing – you’ll level up rapidly during the early levels but with a level cap of 200, you won’t max out anytime soon. There are three key levels at which players upgrade their class: 20, 40, and 80. For a full description of the classes and their upgrade options, please see the overview tab.
The Yellow Turban Rebellion
Anyone familiar with games based on the Romance of the Three Kingdoms setting will have undoubtedly heard of the Yellow Turban Rebellion several times already. The starting area of each nation may look slightly different, but the enemies outside town are all similar. NPCs with names like Yellow Turban soldier, tactician, saber, resource manager, geologist etc. litter the hills, and you’ll be fighting them for hours on end. The repetitive enemy designs can get frustrating, especially when players get past the early teens and level-ups are become rarer. Character progression is a bit too simplistic, players only receive two stat points each level to distribute among six stats: Str, Dex, Con, Int, Wiz, Luk. Every class has only one or two important stats, which leads to cookie cutter builds. By leveling, players train skills from NPCs located in town. Skills are usually simple and can be either passive or active. Each class can specialize in multiple weapon types. For example, a Scout can learn bow, crossbow, or throwing weapon related skills. Nothing prevents a player from training in all skills, except that each costs a (increasing) amount of gold.
Kill Quests and Loot
The more efficient way to earn gold is by looting equipment and selling it to the NPC merchant in town. Enemies do drop coins, which are auto-looted, but the amount is miniscule. New players only have twenty-one inventory slots, which is a major hassle. The best way around this is to ignore worthless item drops like crafting materials (unless you’re playing as a merchant) and just focus on equipment you plan to sell. Two additional bag slots can be purchased, either from merchants or from the cash shop (when it opens). Quests also reward gold, along with experience points and items, and should always be completed. Three Kingdoms doesn’t have a ton of quests, so players will never be overwhelmed. The text and level of sophistication of quests is generally low; the instructions boil down to ‘yellow turbans are rebelling go kill x of them.’ Three Kingdoms has the standard MMORPG interface; point and click or W,A,S,D movement, a toolbar to assign shortcuts for skills and consumables, and so on. I found HP & MP regen to very rapid, which cuts down on downtime. The fact that healing items are rewarded in bulk for completing quests, and that they have no cool-down, also helps eliminate downtime.
Starting at level 10, players can participate in hourly battles between the three nations. Battles are broken into level brackets, which ensures balance. At level 10, players will also receive a quest tasking them with killing a local chief of the Yellow Turbans. Completing this quest rewards players with their first mount – a pony. What sets Three Kingdoms apart from other games in the oriental genre (like Martial Heroes and Hero Online) is that you can fight while mounted. You can also hire mercenaries ( referred to as slaves) to assist you in battle, set up a personal shop, and form guilds like many other games. Three Kingdoms: The Battle Begins is not an awful game, but it cannot compete with other 2008 & 2009 releases. Had it been released 5-6 years ago, I would have been more diplomatic with it, but as it stands, there are far too many superior games for it to earn my recommendation. Even those looking specifically for an oriental game can do better with games like World of Kung Fu or 9Dragons.
Final Verdict: Fair
Three Kingdoms is too generic to earn a higher score. Everything from the graphics to gameplay are sub-standard and have been done before. The repetitive environments and monster designs, along with simplistic character progression keep the exciting PvP aspects out of reach for most players.
Three Kingdoms Videos
Three Kingdoms Character Creation
Three Kingdoms Official Trailer
Three Kingdoms Gameplay Footage
Three Kingdoms Beginner Gameplay
Three Kingdoms System Requirements
OS: Win 2000 / XP
CPU: Pentium 4 1.8Mhz
HDD: 3.2 GB
Graphics Card: Geforce4 Ti or Radeon 9600
OS: Windows Vista
CPU: Pentium 4 2.8Ghz or better
RAM: 1024 MB or more
HDD: 3.2 GB
Graphics Card: Geforce7500 / Radeon X800 or better