Total War: Three Kingdoms PC Performance Review

Introduction - A total Abandoning of DirectX 12

Total War: Three Kingdoms PC Performance Review

Introduction 

This is going to be an ambitious performance analysis. The Total War series is one that demands more than a few hours of playtime and ships as a two-in-one gaming experience, providing players with turn-based campaigns and real-time battles. That means that there is a lot of testing to do, never mind the time we need to play the game to verify our results fully. 

With Three Kingdoms, the Total War series moves to China, taking place in the Three Kingdoms period of Chinese history, offering players with a traditional Historical version of the game as well as a version which follows the "Romance of the Three Kingdoms" legends. With this game, players will get to choose between a historical or fantasised interpretation of the Three Kingdoms era. 

Do you prefer a more traditional Total War experience, where Generals can easily die to artillery fire or stray arrows, or a more Total War: Warhammer-like setup? In the latter Generals and Hero unit take on a larger than life role, taking on entire units of infantry at once. In Romance mode, a new duelling mechanic can be used in battle to settle things quickly by taking out the enemy's leadership in single combat. Nothing rattles an enemy faster than finding out their commander has been slaughtered by "insert enemy hero/commander here".

On the tech side, Total War: Three Kingdoms takes steps forwards and backwards over Total War: Warhammer. Multi-threading has improved, but the Beta DirectX 12 support that's available in the Total War: Warhammer series has been dropped, making this a DirectX 11 only release. On the other hand, Creative Assembly has added features like TAA to reduce aliasing and give the game a cleaner appearance, improving upon the FXAA that's available in older Total War titles. Sadly this comes at the cost of MSAA support, but if we are honest nobody used those settings, as the Total War series is demanding enough without that additional sap to CPU resources. 

In this analysis, we will be looking at Total War: Three Kingdom's graphics, settings and performance over a range of graphics cards that range from AMD's ageing R9 380 to Nvidia's flagship RTX 2080 Ti graphics cards. Expect a look at both CPU and graphics performance as well as a more in-depth look at how factors like unit size will impact Three Kingdoms' framerate. 
  

Total War: Three Kingdoms PC Performance Review  

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Most Recent Comments

26-05-2019, 13:57:17

NeverBackDown
Fantastic write up Mark

I too did some limited testing and let me tell you the performance is certainly better than Warhammer 2, but man some settings are insane!

TAA in my testing easily eats up 11-12 FPS. Shadows also are extremely demanding, basically everything that was extremely demanding before still is. Though the major improvement to CPU performance is definitely helping make it a more consistent and better gameplay experience.

It looks like I'll dial down every setting except unit sizes to high. Not much benefit using more based off the screenshots.

I also would like to see separate settings for campaign and battle. They can be so much different in terms of framerates it's makes you have to take into account both modes and dial back settings.Quote

26-05-2019, 18:50:16

WYP
Quote:
Originally Posted by NeverBackDown View Post
Fantastic write up Mark

I too did some limited testing and let me tell you the performance is certainly better than Warhammer 2, but man some settings are insane!

TAA in my testing easily eats up 11-12 FPS. Shadows also are extremely demanding, basically everything that was extremely demanding before still is. Though the major improvement to CPU performance is definitely helping make it a more consistent and better gameplay experience.

It looks like I'll dial down every setting except unit sizes to high. Not much benefit using more based off the screenshots.

I also would like to see separate settings for campaign and battle. They can be so much different in terms of framerates it's makes you have to take into account both modes and dial back settings.
Thanks. Yeah, there are lot of complexities to the Total War series.

This game definitely runs better than Warhammer II, that said, the extra unit variety and the unit sizes that some factions offer do not do that game any favours. The Skaven will kill your CPU cycles faster than any of those dwarf things.

While TAA can be demanding, it is a great addition to the game. It deals with a lot of the aliasing and smooths over a lot of the fuzziness that the game has with FXAA or no AA. As nice as MSAA sounds on paper, it is more demanding and doesn't address all types of aliasing.

I'd love to have that 5GHz i9-9900KS right now...Quote

26-05-2019, 20:39:06

NeverBackDown
Playing at 1440p it reduces the need for TAA but it still does look slightly better. But with my 1080 just maintaing 60fps is enough of a task. Adding TAA drops me to the 45-50 range. So i'll stick with no TAA.

I use extreme unit settings to, which is also another reason TAA is such a big performance hit since it has to calculate for all the extra units.Quote
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