Total War: Warhammer III‘s Survival Battles in Khorne’s Realm were revealed back in May 2021. Since then, there has been a lot of speculation as to how this feature would work or how armies could actually make it out unscathed. Recently, however, I was able to join a preview event that showcased a lot of what’s in store. This time, we’ll talk about the campaign structure, Realms of Chaos objectives, Survival Battles, and Be’lakor’s involvement in Total War: Warhammer III.
Note: This article is part of our Total War: Warhammer III preview series. You can also take a look at the Daemon Prince/Legion of Chaos and Grand Cathay systems, as well as our interview with Jim Whitson and Mark Sinclair of Creative Assembly.
Total War: Warhammer III preview – Campaign structure and the Realms of Chaos
Total War: Warhammer III‘s campaign narrative concerns the reemergence of Be’lakor, the Dark Master, and first among Daemon Princes. In the lore, Be’lakor was once the only champion of the Chaos Gods. After his banishment, his weakened, incorporeal state kept seeking a way back into the mortal world. Always the bridesmaid but never the bride, Be’lakor served to crown whoever was blessed as the next Everchosen.
In Total War: Warhammer III, things have changed, as Be’lakor’s machinations allowed him to capture Ursun. The dying bear god worshipped by Kislevites seems to hold the key to untold power, including a means of taking his revenge against the Chaos Gods that have slighted him. Be’lakor’s evil plots and Ursun’s fate are the motivations that drive each faction in the grand campaign. The goal is to bind the will of a champion of each Chaos God. Only then will you be able to enter the Forge of Souls where Be’lakor awaits.
To clarify, I initially played the campaign as the Daemon Prince/Legion of Chaos. I increased my reputation with Chaos Undivided and the big four, and I buddied up with the Norscan tribes so I can also recruit their units. As I progressed, I continued to amass Daemonic Glory so I can equip new weapons and armors for my legendary lord. By turn 30, I was trouncing Kostaltyn’s forces north of Kislev. Suddenly, I was prompted with an important event: the Chaos Realms have opened.
The Rifts that lead to the Realms of Chaos
Rifts to the Chaos Realms will appear on the world map of Total War: Warhammer III, causing daemonic rogue armies to spawn. These armies will be hostile regardless of being an Order or Chaos faction. Upon moving your legendary lord to the teleporter, you can choose from these options:
- Blood God’s Domain (Khorne).
- Dark Prince’s Realm (Slaanesh).
- Land of the Plaguelord (Nurgle).
- Realm of the Sorcerer (Tzeentch).
- Close Rift – This will destroy the gateway.
- Traverse Rift – Allows you to teleport to another location far from where the gateway is.
Additionally, if you don’t like what you got yourself into, you can interact with the initial Rift once more. This will let you select a different realm.
Chaos Realm mechanics and Survival Battles
You’re not the only one who’s entering the Chaos Realms in Total War: Warhammer III. Other factions are doing the same thing, which is why you’re racing against them (you could even attack their armies while you’re at it). The goal is to complete the objectives followed by the Survival Battle. In turn, you’ll receive the soul of that Chaos champion. Obtain all four throughout the campaign, and you’ll be able to partake in the final battle.
Now, each Chaos Realm has its own unique mechanic. The first example, Khorne, seems to be the easiest and most straightforward. Khorne wants blood, so all you need to do is defeat armies and kill troops. Indeed, because there are several weaker squads in the area, you can just eliminate a couple via auto-resolve. Once done, you should be able to start the Survival Battle in the Brass Citadel. If you don’t want to rush things, you could check the corners of the map to find decent weapons.
Nurgle’s domain, however, was trickier. While there, your army incurs crippling attrition. Your only recourse is to move to landmarks that will partially lower the attrition that your army suffers from. There were also pods (seen in the image below) that seemed like they would teleport you elsewhere, but these didn’t work during the preview build. Since the goal was to reach the opposite side of the domain, the AI managed to get there before I did.
Speaking of tricky, Tzeentch’s Warp-magic infested territory is all about teleportation. The idea is to reach the nexus where a Survival Battle can be fought. But, teleporters might spawn you further away. There are little symbols that can be revealed to tell you which devices are connected.
Finally, there’s Slaneesh’s lair, which reminded me of the Circles of Hell from Dante’s Inferno. Ideally, you’ll want to switch to March stance and high-tail it toward an archway, allowing you to drop down to a lower section. This is imperative, as legendary lords will race you to the center. Katarin even beat me to the punch since I spent a couple of turns replenishing before going through the Rift. She reached the center and I got booted out of the realm.
The archways/exits to the next circle might be guarded by Slaanesh’s followers, too. You can either avoid them or you can pick a fight. In my case, I found that I could click on a spot that’s close to the exit. As long as our armies didn’t clash, I could bypass those battles.
Another fun concept in Slaanesh’s domain is that She-Who-Thirsts will keep trying to tempt you. Each circle that you reach will ask if you want to continue onward or if you’d want to leave with a reward. If you decide to leave because the rewards as too good to pass up or because you can’t overtake the AI, you won’t be able to return to this land until 15 turns elapse. Here are some examples:
- Circle of Avidity – +15,000 favor (i.e., gold) and several common items.
- Circle of Gluttony – +20,000 favor; +200% casualty replenishment rate for all armies in all locations and +200 growth in all provinces (lasts 15 turns).
- Circle of Carnality – +25,000 favor; +20 diplomatic relations with all factions and +200 control in all provinces (last 20 turns).
- Circle of Paramountcy – +30,000 favor; -80% recruitment cost and -1 global recruitment turn for all armies (lasts five turns); all units in your lord’s army become rank 9.
- Circle of Vainglory – +45,000 favor; +5 levels for all lords and heroes; Dark Prince’s Paramour unique follower which gives +250 growth (local province), +25 control (all provinces), and -50 control (local enemy province).
- Circle of Indolency – +50,000 favor; Slaanesh’s Blade unique weapon; Personal Sycophant unique follower which gives +100 XP (lord’s army), +500% XP gain, +20% campaign movement range, and +25% campaign line-of-sight.
If you managed to reject all those temptations (they really are quite good), you’ll arrive in the Palace of Slaanesh. That’s where the Survival Battle will take place. You’ll advance and trounce hordes of Daemonettes and other creepy creatures. You’ll also amass favor so you can build defenses that will debuff or attack hostiles once they arrive. As you capture each zone, you’ll unlock more reinforcements to join the fray. In the Daemon Prince’s case, the last capture area unlocked a Bloodthirster, Great Unclean One, Keeper of Secrets, and Lord of Change.
Still, I felt that the Chaos Realm and campaign structure in Total War: Warhammer III could use a few tweaks prior to the release. The Survival Battles are fairly lengthy (anywhere from 20 to 30 minutes, probably more). You could auto-resolve prior to starting, but I’m not sure if this was only possible in the preview build. Still, a checkpoint save in each zone you control would be nice to have for those who want to experience these encounters. Moreover, I felt that capturing a champion’s soul wasn’t as rewarding as it seemed. It simply acted as a tally that I needed to complete, and I didn’t notice significant buffs or new units that were made available.
In any case, you can check out the rest of our Total War: Warhammer III preview series as we wait for the official launch on February 17. We delved into the Daemon Prince/Legion of Chaos faction and Grand Cathay’s gameplay systems. Likewise, we spoke with Jim Whitson and Mark Sinclair of Creative Assembly regarding their vision and future plans for the game. Lastly, you can watch the video below which shows the Survival Battle cutscenes and the introduction of Be’lakor.