publisher : Nexon Inc.
Game mode: single / multiplayer
Multiplayer mode: Internet
Romance of the Three Kingdoms: The Legend of CaoCao is an adaptation of the fifth installment of the Romance of the Three Kingdoms series; the game can be played on mobile devices and Internet browsers. In similarity to the source material, the game is a turn-based strategy enriched with accentuated RPG elements.
The story is based on Romance of the Three Kingdoms – a Chinese epic poem about a turbulent period in the history of China – from the fall of the Han dynasty (169 AD), to the reunification of China (280 AD). The titular Cao Cao is the central character to the story; he was a politician, a militaryman, and a poet. Towards the end of his life, he assumed a royal title, having conquered a significant part of the country.
Turn-based combat is the core gameplay element in Romance of the Three Kingdoms: The Legend of CaoCao. Particular encounters are selected from a large world map, and they are divided into the obligatory ones (they push the story forward), and those that are optional – one does not have to participate in these in order to get familiar with subsequent parts of the story. Economic aspects play an important part as well – throughout the game, the player has to sustain the production of such resources as gold or rice. In the meantime, the player follows the story and takes part in conversations between the characters.
Before a battle begins, the player selects characters that will accompany them in combat. Importantly however, the stronger a given character is, the more it costs to hire them, so it can sometimes be worth to hire slightly weaker characters in larger numbers. The characters represent various specialties (for instance, one leads to battle archers, infantrymen or cavalry); additionally, they have unique sets of special abilities at their disposal.
Achieving victories earns the player money that can be spend to buy new weaponry for the subordinates; having leveled up, above all, the player can increase the maximum cost of units they recruit, so one participates in bigger and bigger battles over time.
Romance of the Three Kingdoms: The Legend of CaoCao can be played solo or in the multiplayer component. For those who prefer single-player experiences, the game offers a story mode (called here the Epic Mode), and the player is introduced into the intricacies of this mode by an extensive tutorial. The multiplayer component (Strategy Mode), consists of three modules based on PvP rules. In Siege, one conquers castles belonging to other players or defends their own fortress. The second – Incidents – is made up of daily challenges oftentimes devoted to a specific character. Coalition is the last one, and the players can set up guilds here and declare wars on other groups.
When creating Romance of the Three Kingdoms: The Legend of CaoCao, the developer devised a head-up display and a control system that are friendly towards the use of a touchscreen and a mouse and keyboard combination. Despite the simple design, the two-dimensional graphics of this game are legible, which makes it easier to distinguish between particular units and to remain informed about the situation on the battlefield. Regardless of the system one uses, the game is distributed in a free-to-play business model and microtransactions are included.