The heroes found in Returners come from all corners and cultures of the world. Not only does the game feature characters from the Romance of the Three Kingdoms, but it also has many from western stories and tales such as Greek and Roman mythology. With individuals from both ancient and modern history, Returners has quite a wide roster of famous figures, with an even wide range of potential additions.
We have already discussed some heroes like Hong Gil-dong - the brutal bandit leader who is ironically remembered as a righteous outlaw - and Guan Yu, a general of the Three Kingdoms era who has been immortalized through many works of literature and entertainment. There is an immense amount of lore behind all the characters in Returners, and that compendium will continue to grow as more mythical and historical figures are added to the game. In truth, we have made some predictions about who will be popping up in Returners based on factors such as culture, timeline, and country.
The potential hero being introduced this time is Zhang Fei, a mighty man in East Asian history who, alongside Guan Yu, was considered unrivaled during the Three Kingdoms era. Even among the many popular figures from that era, Zhang Fei’s fame stands out, which is why he is one of the most probable future heroes for Returners.
An unyielding spirit that stopped a massive force at the bridge
Zhang Fei grew up with Guan Yu and the two eventually became sworn brothers with Liu Bei. Together with his two brothers, Zhang Fei proved himself a strong general through many battles such as the Yellow Turban Rebellion and the Battle of Red Cliffs; of all his campaigns, however, the Battle of Changban was where he showed the most bravery and courage. While Liu Bei escaping from Cao Cao, he sent Zhang Fei to protect the backline of their forces. Zhang Fei planted himself at the only bridge the enemy could take and destroyed it as they approached. None of the enemy forces dared to approach Zhang Fei or attempt the crossing; Zhang Fei’s fierce glare alone kept the army at bay. This story is dramatized to some extent and it’s hard to get a clear telling of the actual event from the official record, but the incident is still remembered as a tribute to Zhang Fei’s gallantry.
Most depictions of Zhang Fei show him as a man with immense strength but little intellect. However, according to Chinese lore, he was from a noble family and excelled in both martial arts and scholarship; he was particularly skilled at painting portraits of beautiful women. A number of tales within the Romance of the Three Kingdoms also show that he is not as dim-witted as many now believe. For instance, at the Battle of Changban, he ordered soldiers to raise dust around them so that the enemies would be fooled into thinking that there was a massive force hiding in the dust. There were also some instances where he would gain advantages by tricking people into thinking he was a violent alcoholic. This is quite different from how he is commonly portrayed.
The man with the Viper Blade and a shaggy beard - what about in Returners?
Zhang Fei was an excellent general with a keen intelligence, and yet his depiction throughout various media has been contrary to that. There is an immense library of movies, dramas, and even musicals based on or inspired by the Three Kingdoms era; some of the most popular and long-running series are the Koei games, Romance of the Three Kingdoms and Dynasty Warriors.
In a good majority of these stories and games, Zhang Fei is depicted as a mighty hero that is all brawn and very little brain; the Romance of the Three Kingdoms is probably the main cause of this negative image. Even though his War stat is by far one of the highest amongst all generals in the game, his other stats are utterly terrible and leave him very vulnerable. In truth, he can even lose when it comes to his War stat as well. For example, Zhang Fei’s rival in the original Romance of the Three Kingdoms book, Lu Bu, has a higher War stat; in order to make up Zhang Fei’s lacking stats in the game, he is usually paired with a highly intelligent civil officer.
While Zhang Fei may be somewhat weak in Romance of the Three Kingdoms, he is a powerhouse in the action-packed Dynasty Warriors. He has the same scruffy beard and red nose in both games, but in Dynasty Warriors Zhang Fei can reliably rival Lu Bu thanks to his wide-range attacks, high damage, and sustainability. Of course, his overall stats are still slightly lower than Lu Bu, but he his specs are still relatively better than other heroes in the game, so many players chose to play him.
Is it likely that Zhang Fei will be as strong in Returners, and if so, what sort of role will he have? Let’s first have a look at Guan Yu and Zhuge Liang, who are already in the game. Guan Yu is a Disruptor Fighter and Zhuge Liang is a Disruptor Support; the skill sets of these two are specialized for PvP. Given that, it is highly unlikely that Zhang Fei will be released in the same class as these heroes. Since he wields the Viper Blade and is usually portrayed as incredibly tough, it is quite possible that he would be a Tank. Assault Tank would be the most suitable class for him, putting him with heroes like Siegfried and Richard the Lionheart; he can fearlessly take down enemies while he muscles through all their attacks and skills, aside from CC of course.
The Romance of the Three Kingdoms 13, the most recent title of the series by Koei, has more than 600 generals. Many figures left their legacy in the history of the Three Kingdoms, and it’s quite possible that more of them will be released in Returners. Of course, it would be a bit extreme if all 600 individuals were to appear in the game, but it’s fun to imagine what new heroes of lore and history will appear next in Returners.