The story begins with the Yellow Turban Rebellion, and progresses as the final objective is conquered in each of the over 10 chapters that comprise the game's story.
Players have the freedom of choosing how they want to proceed through each chapter, whether it is by completing every single mission, roaming freely across the field, or rushing straight towards the final objective.
During the end of the Later Han, the land was in chaos due to the power struggles that had erupted within the Imperial Court. In addition, repeated natural disasters and poor harvests had aggravated the suffering of the people.
In this period of turmoil, a man by the name of Zhang Jiao appeared. He began to teach the Way of Peace in Ji province and brought help to the common people, winning their hearts almost immediately.
Then in the year 184, he rises up in revolt against the Imperial Court. His Yellow Turbans rose up in every district across the land. History would later refer to this as the Yellow Turban Rebellion. The Imperial Court unsuccessfully tries to suppress them, but is defeated. The fate of the 400 year old Han Dynasty is about to be decided.
Through the valiant efforts of the Imperial and volunteer forces, Zhang Jiao, Founder of the Way of Peace, is defeated. The Yellow Turban Rebellion is ended.
But the longed for peace did not return.
At the capital of Luoyang, the Eunuchs faced off against the faction made up of the relatives of the Emperor. Using this as an excuse, Yuan Shao and others raid the Imperial palace, killing the Eunuchs.
Under cover of this confusion, Dong Zhuo of Xiliang leads his forces to the capital. He seizes control of the Emperor, appoints himself Prime Minister and proceeds to take total control and to tyrannize the country.
The lords soon began to feel themselves in danger.
Led by the noble Yuan Shao, the Anti-Dong Zhuo Coalition succeeded in defeating Dong Zhuo's forces. They soon disperse, with each lord returning to his own lands.
Dong Zhuo, who had fled to Chang'an, is soon killed by the betrayal of Lu Bu. As the chaos of the land peaks, each of the lords begins to make his move. The first to show their hands are Yuan Shao and Yuan Shu. The forces of the two become embroiled in a vicious battle with the other. The other lords soon take sides as the land is split into the two factions. However, though they had chosen sides in this battle, they still had their own desires and agendas. Each soon began to make plans to fulfill those desires.
After rescuing the Emperor from Chang'an, Cao Cao leads him to his own capital of Xuchang. His control of the revered Emperor of the long reigning Han Dynasty gives him a certain prestige.
Elsewhere, Yuan Shu's faction is gradually losing support. Panicking, he does the unthinkable. He declares himself Emperor, basing his claim on the Imperial Seal he had taken from the late Sun Jian.
He claims to be the true leader, and calls on all faithful lords to support him.
However, this gives Yuan Shao the perfect excuse against him. Shao proclaims Shu a traitor, and begins his own campaign against him.
The forces of Cao Cao defeat the armies of Yuan Shao at Guandu. The Yuan family loses momentum and eventually is wiped out.
Cao Cao is now the closest to gaining control of the entire land.
Elsewhere, Sun Quan has inherited control of Jingdong following the death of his brother, Sun Ce. His force, however, cannot extend its control to the Central Plains.
Liu Bei has yet to find a land and is currently taking refuge with Liu Biao in Jing.
Though he has ambition, Liu Bei is vexed from being unable to achieve it.
However, at Xinye, the land he has been given, a fateful encounter awaits him.
In pursuit of total control, Cao Cao moves on Jing, capturing it in the blink of an eye and continues south. Soon he arrives at Sun Quan's Yang Province. His huge numbers practically bury the banks of the Changsha.
Faced with such a powerful enemy, Wu wavers between fighting and surrendering.
Elsewhere, Liu Bei, after being driven from Jing, gains the services of the Sleeping Dragon, Zhuge Liang. In such tense times, what will this genius strategist suggest.
Now the strategies of Zhuge Liang are about to change the fates of Cao Cao, Sun Quan and Liu Bei.
The alliance of Sun Quan and Liu Bei was victorious at Chibi. The tantalizing prize of total control slips from Cao Cao's fingers and he is forced to return in defeat to Xuchang, where he works to recover.
Now is the time to chip away at Cao Cao's overwhelming advantage.
Sun Quan makes preparations to expand from Jiangdong.
Liu Bei's strategist will also not waste this opportunity. In a move to win Liu Bei his own country, Zhuge Liang quietly begins to act.
Liu Bei invades Liu Zhang's Bashu in order to gain possession of Jing, and with that success he has finally obtained the country he has long searched for.
In the north, Cao Cao. In the east, Sun Quan. In the south, Liu Bei. The world of the Three Kingdoms of Wei, Wu, and Shu had been established.
In order to break this balance, Wei takes control of Zhang Lu's Hanzhong. While Wei is occupied, Wu takes this opportunity to head toward Hefei, and Shu invades Hanzhong, which is being guarded by Xiahou Yuan and Zhang He.
Hearing this, Cao Cao travels to Hanzhong to stop Shu's forces.
Liu Bei successfully repels Cao Cao's invasion of Hanzhong. With this victory he takes for himself the title of Lord of Hanzhong.
In Jing, Guan Yu receives word of Liu Bei's victory and decides the time was right to attack Wei. He chooses Fan castle as his target.
With that, he fell right into Cao Cao's trap. By drawing Guan Yu out and defeating him, Cao Cao aimed to disrupt the fragile balance between the Three Kingdoms.
All else had been to ensure the success of the campaign against Guan Yu. And to do so, he enlisted the aid of Sun Quan, who had long desired the return of Jing province.
Guan Yu, God of War, fell at Mai castle.
As promised, Sun Quan receives a large portion of Jing province for cooperating with Cao Cao.
However, the cost of breaking the alliance with Shu and killing Liu Bei's sworn brother would not be small.
With the alliance gone, the united stance against Wei fell apart.
Elsewhere, having witnessed the changes he had planned, Cao Cao quietly drew his last breath.
He entrusted the future to his son Cao Pi.
The world of the Three Kingdoms was about to enter a new phase.