The worst feature in ‘Total War: Warhammer 3’ is its bizarre patching system

One of my biggest issues with 'Total War: Warhammer 3' returns to drive me to Khorne worship

Patience may be a virtue, but in Total War: Warhammer 3, it’s not quite one that I’ve taken to. Though besieging a city for a few extra turns will starve most of its defenders to death, I much prefer charging straight through those gates the first chance I get – screw the extra losses. Likewise, I could lie in wait for a marching army and catch them in a crippling ambush, but do I really want to sit around waiting or do I want to just barrel at them mindlessly?

Spoiler alert: I’m barrelling in every time.

In most cases, Total War: Warhammer 3 is fantastic in that I’m not forced to sit around waiting for something to happen. The perks of patience are endless, but if I’m feeling hasty (see: if I fancy being an idiot), the game’s not going to get in my way. There may be a couple of “I told you so” defeat screens, but there are few cases wherein the game actively forces me to wait around.

Total War: Warhammer 3
Total War: Warhammer 3. Credit: Creative Assembly.

Well, except for one – Total War: Warhammer 3‘s infuriating patch system.

Take this week’s hotfix for the game, for example. Though it presents itself as a meek 500MB patch, don’t let it fool you: it’s the patching equivalent of the Greeks’ Trojan Horse, and by Khorne this thing will have your computer’s blood.

For reasons beyond my comprehension, installing this fairly standard-sized patch is a nightmare. In my case, you’ll download the thing as normal before it gets to work “unpacking” – an unassuming word that actually means “we’re re-writing your entire game and you fell for it”.

Annoyingly, this has been the case since Warhammer 2. These patches have all the twists and turns of an Agatha Christie novel. Sometimes you’ll reach 100 per cent just to go back to the start for seemingly no reason. In other cases with Warhammer 2, there were countless DLC launches that were ruined for me when the update decided to reinstall my game. Now that Warhammer 3 is much bigger in file size than its predecessor, this problem is made worse. I’d much prefer a larger patch size just to avoid the frustration of never knowing how long an update is actually going to take – and that’s coming from someone living in one of the worst areas for internet in the U.K.

Total War: Warhammer 3
Total War: Warhammer 3. Credit: Creative Assembly.

I’m a complete sucker for these games, but this method of patching really sours my mood whenever it throws a spanner in my plans to play for an evening. In Warhammer 2, there were countless DLC launches that were ruined when the update decided to reinstall my game. With several fixes for Warhammer 3‘s performance planned over the coming weeks, will I have to spend hours upon hours waiting on the whims of every minuscule update?

I’ve probably made this painstakingly clear already, but I’m no tech expert. There could be a very good reason that Warhammer 3‘s patching system is like this, even if there are scarce other games taking the same approach on Steam. I’ve reached out to Creative Assembly to help me understand why Total War: Warhammer 3 updates the way that it does – if there’s a good reason that the updates are the way they are, then I guess I can live with it. I won’t claim to understand the logic behind these updates, but I will say that as a player, it’s vastly frustrating nonetheless. I’m not the only one, either. From yesterday’s patch, there are Reddit threads voicing similar issues – from joking about the update timer to expressing genuine annoyance at the system.

Last of all, I know I’m being a little bit petty with this article. After 1,328 hours sunk into the last game, I think I get to be a little bit petty. But please do be assured that it’s coming from a place of love: behind an incomprehensible patching system seemingly designed by Tzeentch, there’s one of the best strategy games out there. I’ve thrown out a few hundred words complaining about one feature, but I could write ten times that number praising other elements that Warhammer 3 knocks out the park. That being said: for Nurgle’s sake, can I please just play the game?

Total War: Warhammer 3 is available on PC via Steam, Epic Games Store and PC Game Pass

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