I absolutely love this game but I have just started a campaign with Cao Cao and twice have I already been punished for not following the storyline and suffered weird diplomacy issues from the start.
Not long into the game, Tao Qian ( I think that's how you spell it) kills Cao Cao's father and the game prompts you to declare war or get them at a later point, remaining friends for now. This was the first frustrating thing that happened to me as I had already from the start of the game cultivated a good relationship with the faction. I actually like following the storyline, but because of the effort I put into the relationship, I decided that killing my father wasn't enough to break our bond of friendship. My first question, however, is why does this still happen when you are best friends with the faction? Surely the game can detect that something is a bit weird here. Why would Tao Qian kill Cao Cao's father if they are allies??
The second issue I'm having is with Cao Cao's 'manipulate positive/negative' playstyle. To summarise it, I have two factions currently at war with me who still were best buddies and still show positive ratings towards my faction. Two allies who again, I had spent time making a good relationship in order to form alliances. Suddenly they just decide to wage war on me out of the blue. The two factions in this instance are Yuan Shao and Yan Baihu.
Another really frustrating diplomatic element is that you can't attempt negotiations with certain factions and have it fail. The game has a 'make this work' button, which personally I feel removes some of the charms of trying to guess what the AI needs in order to be swayed. Whilst I do like the 'make it work' option for some things, I feel there should be some kind of sway % where fewer offerings could still produce the desired results. Total War Warhammer does this already, so not sure why this game is different.
At this point, I'm a bit disappointed with Cao Cao's campaign. It really feels as though the diplomacy, manipulation and proxy wars are just lifeless and don't really work to change what the game is trying to throw at you. Perhaps it's an AI problem or something. Personally, I think that there is an opportunity for a really unique style of play here with less military focus and more diplomacy etc, but that just isn't happening right now and the whole game is frustrating given that my best friends are attacking me constantly and can't be reasoned with.
Does anyone else have these issues or perhaps feel I am missing something here?