Developed and published by Creative Assembly Total War: Warhammer III Forge of the Chaos Dwarfs is the latest DLC for Total War: Warhammer III. In this latest expansion you’ll take charge of the titual Chaos Dwarfs. This faction is split into three sub-factions all vying for control over their people, looking for more slaves for their mines, and trying to build a giant drill that will break into the realm of their patron god.
The Chaos Dwarfs are the last major race from the table top game that had yet to be added to the series. At least the last that has received an army book and model range in the tabletop game. And have been eagerly anticipated by the fans ever since the series was first announced. Total War: Warhammer III: Forge of the Chaos Dwarfs has been a fun title to review. So in some regards, it has been worth the wait. Even if it might be a tad too expensive for some.
Total War: Warhammer III: Forge of the Chaos Dwarfs is out now on PC via Steam, Microsoft Store, Epic Games Store, and Xbox PC Games Pass.
Story – Going Underground
Total War: Warhammer III: Forge of the Chaos Dwarfs sees the Chaos Dwarfs once again getting up to cruel mischief. Their grand plan this time? To create a drill that will bore a hole into the realm of their god Hashut so that they can use his blood to become all-powerful. And most likely take over the world soon after. To do this they need to gather up the resources to make their drill. This then culminates in one final battle to defend the drill from waves of attackers.
Much like the previous DLC, there isn’t a hard time limit as there is in the base game. You can take almost as long as you want to do so. And whilst there is a quirk of the gameplay that adds one to it (more on that later) it isn’t as harsh as all the rift nonsense. The best word I can use to describe the story of Total War: Warhammer III: Forge of the Chaos Dwarfs is ‘neat’. As a whole it is interesting. Giving us an insight into the faction that we haven’t really had in decades and expands upon their lore in ways fans will enjoy.
The Right Write
Without repeating myself from the review of the last DLC the story here feels authentic to the setting. Feeling much like the kind of thing you’d expect during a Warhammer Fantasy global campaign thing that Games Workshop used to do. Only with higher stakes given what the Chaos Dwarfs are up to. And unlike the previous DLC, this doesn’t feel like a smaller story in a wider world.
Each story features a few additional scenes and variations to the cutscenes for their respective faction leader which is a fine addition. It makes the stories feel a little more personal. Even if they largely end up going the same direction in the end. And their presence in them feels largely cosmetic. But as you’ll remember from my review of the base game ol’ Chris will take that over how little the lords were present there. Over all Total War: Warhammer III: Forge of the Chaos Dwarfs is decently written. With some neat flavour text here and there to spice things up and add to the feel of everything. And it should hold your attention and contextualise your actions enough so the game doesn’t feel just like endless map painting.
Gameplay – Driller Killer
Much like with the other DLC Total War: Warhammer III: Forge of the Chaos Dwarfs doesn’t change up the core game all too much. Yep, it is still the hybrid Turn based/Real time strategy that we all know and largely love. The difference here is the introduction of the Chaos Dwarfs (as if that really needed saying). The Faction features three new leaders and a new unique hero who you can call upon to aid your forces and buff certain units.
As mentioned in the Story section your mission is to gather the resources needed to build a giant drill to bore a hole through reality and into the realm of their god. To do this you need win certain battles and decided if you want to use the treasure gained to give to your Lords/Heroes or use on the drill. With items going on the drill providing you with faction-wide buffs and fewer foes to fight in the final battle. To me, it is obvious the ones you’d pick but I suppose people who want a challenge can choose whatever they wish.
Politics? In My Total War!?
The Chaos Dwarfs are a very cunning group. This is best exemplified in the Tower of Zharr feature. Basically this mode represents the internal politics between the three sub-factions and the efforts of each of them to become the de facto leader of their race. You use Conclave Influence to gain seats in the tower, which in turn will grant you buffs to aid you on your quest of dominance. Think of it as a more involved version of the internal politics of the Kislev factions.
I will admit that whilst I do find this a neat feature I can’t say that I like the pseudo-time limit it puts on things. When it comes to titles like Total War: Warhammer III: Forge of the Chaos Dwarfs I want to be able to do things at my own pace and feeling railroaded into getting involved with this kind of stuff feels like a distraction. Sure, I salute the effort to give them more flavour. And gives them something to differentiate them from their non-Chaos kin. But it feels like an extra plate I need to keep spinning.
For long-time players of the Total War: Warhammer series the Chaos Dwarfs will have an uncanny feel to them. At their core, they handle similarly to the Dwarfs. They are durable, and have access to powerful infantry, but lack mobility for the most part. However, they have access to a range of different units to help them more than overcome this weakness. Like cavalry alternatives. And their siege artillery which is shockingly powerful!
However, the maximum number of Chaos Dwarf you can recruit is capped across your entire sub-faction. You can increase that cap by spending Armaments. This means for much of the early game you’ll be relying on low-quality slave units and Hobgoblins. The slave units are trash, even by trash unit standards. And the Hobgoblins function more or less like any Goblin units. And they are a decent filler. Even if they lack the raw killing power of the Chaos Dwarf units themselves.
Build a Better Death Trap
As you upgrade the unit cap you gain access to additional upgrades. These upgrades can be applied to units of that type and require an upkeep of Armaments to keep them going. And these upgrades can be insane. From giving ranged units magic attacks to making your standard infantry able to stand toe-to-toe with elite infantry. These upgrades can make your army so elite it can turn other armies to mulch in no time at all.
In order to gain armaments you need to build them at one of the three new settlement types. These types include Outposts where your slaves work to extract resources which are used to construct certain buildings and are converted into armaments. Factories which have access to higher level units and make armaments. And Towers which are your major provincial settlement which grant access to higher-level units and sources of Conclave influence.
The whole industry aspect of the title is an interesting twist on things. And it requires you to take a focused look at how you build your economy. With other Factions, all you need to do is take a few key settlements with access to decent trade resources. And maybe dedicate a couple of provinces to just making money and you’re golden. Here that isn’t an option. As if you overextend yourself and produce too much of one thing or another it can damage your future progress.
Slaves are the backbone of the economy. And are gained from battle, sacking settlements, and from trading via the Convoy system. Think of it being like the Ivory Road trade system that Cathy has in the base game. Only here it feels more of a compulsory feature rather than an optional one given sources of slaves can be slim when you are still building up. As previously mentioned, it can be easy to break your economy due to one misplaced upgrade somewhere along the line. So you need to be careful who goes where and ensure you don’t find yourself making needing more of one resource than you can afford.
Total War: Warhammer III: Forge of the Chaos Dwarfs features three playable lords. Each handling similarly for the most part. Drazhoath is your spell caster. Zhatan is your pure melee lord. And Astragoth is your spell caster melee lord. Each has their own bonuses they give to their sub-faction and their units. And each have certain local threats they need to deal with to aid their cause.
I will admit that coming off the back of the last DLC it feels weird to have sub-factions this similar to one another. Sure, it makes sense. But once you’ve played one you have practically played them all. This might change in a later update, but here and now it is a shame. And as such it can make replaying the DLC a tad bland when all you are getting is a slightly better or weaker set of units you might not end up using either way.
Going Into the Book!
As far as DLC goes Total War: Warhammer III: Forge of the Chaos Dwarfs is perfectly decent and has been a largely issue-free game to review. It isn’t without problems. The final battle was rather buggy for me; ranged units wouldn’t fire, the game kept spawning in armies it shouldn’t do to fight me. But that can be patched out. Outside of that as much as I enjoy the industry aspect it adds extra hoops to go through which can hamper expansion. And the internal politics, whilst neat, does feel like it adds a time limit where it doesn’t need one.
But these aren’t killing blows for the title. And you do get used to them after a while. On the battlefield the Chaos Dwarfs play like a cross between the Goblins and the Dwarfs. With it skewing towards the dwarfs more as your power grows. This offers more of a challenge as you need to get used to fighting with one before transitioning to the other. Though the extra steps to get there can be annoying. As a whole, it is fun enough and offers an interesting challenge to players old and new.
Graphics & Audio – Drill Music
The Chaos Dwarfs have always been an odd faction within Warhammer Fantasy. As they went for most of its lifespan without many models or an army book. They had one in the earlier editions where the models were more cartoonish and their colours brighter but they soon vanished. Only to return with new models and a new book from Forge World with most of the range refreshed minus a selection of units from the original range. With the models that were included being more gritty and dark with colour schemes. This DLC’s designs as such span both eras. And surprisingly manages to bridge them quite well.
To be honest it is clear that it tilts more towards their most recent version. Possibly because they fit with the feel and tone of the base game as well as the latter eras of Warhammer Fantasy which the base game takes most influence from. All the models are well-translated. And do a great job in recreating the look and feel of them. And given how extensive the unit roster it is no small feat to make an army that looks this good. Creating an army that has a distinctly harsh, daemonic, and frequently cruel look to them.
Slave to the Rhythm
From playing Total War: Warhammer III: Forge of the Chaos Dwarfs for this review, I feel that the units are a fine translation from the tabletop. And comprise almost their entire range. Creating an army that is, for better or worse, faithful to the source material but doesn’t take many creative risks. My main issue with them as that their colour schemes can look rather dull. And given you spend most of the early game in rather grey-looking environments it does feel like your units can just get lost in the scenery.
As far as the soundtrack is concerned there isn’t much to say. It’s good. Totally keeping with the feel of the base game. And anything else I could say would be just me repeating myself from past reviews. The voice acting is likewise good. The race as a distinct feel to it which comes from the unique language they have. Even though personally I do think that whilst it adds character to the race as a whole it does take something away from the Lords when you can’t quite understand them.
Total War: Warhammer III Forge of the Chaos Dwarfs was reviewed on PC.