These changes may seem minor on paper, but they have big consequences in game! Besides, this new update of the balance mod boosts Engineers, starts to deal with mind-controlled Regrowth units and continues to improve user experience with better descriptions and bug fixing. An Article by Hiliadan v1. Its successor has a broader scope, which can be categorized as follow: Items priority 11 or "Decrease rewards or increase risks for high-level sites" based on the poll on the opinion of the community on balance : in the vanilla game, each site giving items was associated to only two "reward sets" see the Wikia for more explanationswhich means you could get Mythical items in low level sites or, vice-versa, Common items in high level sites. Getting crappy items after a tough fight could be quite frustrating, and conversely, getting very good items during early clearing could unbalance the game.
I had some doubts about the quality of the final product after it had lain fallow for such a lengthy period; ten years is a very long time in game development and most of the people who worked on the original games will have been long gone.
You start most maps with a city of your own and send forth armies to explore and conquer, and when you start a fight the game switches over to a tactical battle mode where things like line of sight and flanking become very important.
The world is also populated by any number of rival wizards who are trying to do exactly the same things you are, and sooner or later you end up butting heads.
You can cast spells both on the strategic map and in the tactical combat; heroes can be periodically recruited who function as slightly less powerful versions of your sorcerer avatar; and these heroes can be outfitted with weapons and items either found in dungeons or crafted in your cities that grant them special abilities in combat.
The 4X-with-a-fantasy-twist core of the game has survived the update, which was the most essential thing this sequel had to get right after ten years away from the series.
Neither can I. But that's effectively what the 4X genre has done: It took a long, hard look at turn-based strategy games, then said to itself, "Let's do that, but turn everything up to 11 first.
I think this approach was the best one to take, and one that has paid off spectacularly. Nevertheless, this is not the same game as Shadow Magic. There is one big change that did leap out at me when I started my first game, and that is a drastic reduction in the number of races and magic spheres available during character creation.
Shadow Magic had somewhere in the region of 20 races, each with its own set of units and traits.
Age of Wonders III has just six: humans, elves, dwarves, orcs, goblins and draconians. First, there is the practical problem of rendering 20 different sets of units in 3D, a much more daunting task than doing it in 2D.
Age of Wonders III might have been developed with the aid of investment from Notch 1 , but that just means the game gets made in the first place, not that the developers have unlimited resources to throw at expensive 3D art assets. Race determines both your basic selection of units as well as your general unit look and gives them some passive traits — Goblins are better at underground exploration, for example, while Draconians get some inherent fire resistance — but much of your actual unit roster will be decided by your choice of class.
Classes are a new addition to the series previously you were just stuck as a Wizard and one that has a far-reaching impact on how a game unfolds since each class plays very, very differently.
Each class gets a different set of special units that can be built in all cities no matter which race inhabits them, as well as a set of spells unique to that class. The spells and units emphasise a particular playstyle unique to that class.
Take the Dreadnought, for example, who holds the line with tough ranks of Musketeers while Engineers reload the Cannon bombarding the enemy fortress.
Then compare that to the Theocrat, a class which overwhelms the enemy with hordes of fanatically devout Crusaders whose faith protects them from the holy rays emanating from their Shrines of Smiting. So the changes to the character creation system and race roster have an element of give and take to them; Age of Wonders III has lost some of the flat out variety provided by the bloated race rosters of the original games, but each of the six available classes is more interesting than any of the old races were on their own.
Speaking of units, I should spend a paragraph talking about the tactical battles.
These work as combat always has in the Age of Wonders series; each hex on the strategic map can contain one army of up to six units, and most encounters take place between single armies and are resolved in just a couple of minutes.
A unit that tries to move past an enemy unit to attack a juicy target such as the aforementioned ranged units, which are predictably terrible in melee will suffer attacks of opportunity for every hex it moves to while adjacent to the enemy.
It can also be astoundingly epic. Many good ghosts died a second death buying time for the my heroes and Apprentices to bludgeon their way through the gates , but I evened things up with some judicious casting of the Chain Lightning and Cosmic Spray spells you can cast one spell per turn in a tactical combat, with the total number being limited by your casting points and eventually carried the day.
ICS is a syndrome whereby the most efficient way to play the game is to vomit out cities absolutely everywhere, since the more cities you have the more money you make. Modern 4Xes combat ICS by including mechanics that ensure it is not cost effective to build a new city until your empire has the infrastructure to support it — maintenance in Civ 4, happiness in Civ 5 — but Age of Wonders III chooses to ignore the problem entirely; it is never not a good idea to build a new city in AoW III, and since the location of your city has comparatively little impact on its efficiency you can build them pretty much anywhere and always see a positive return on your investment.
On its own this would be irritating, but what turns it from an irritation to something potentially enjoyment-shattering is that the AI is well aware of how beneficial having a lot of cities is, and consequently builds them nearly everywhere it physically can.
A mid-sized AI empire has around cities; a large one has around 25 with no upper limit.
I think it would have made for a much more interesting endgame. The gameplay is excellent, the maps are gorgeous even if the art style took a while to grow on me and filled with loads of stuff to do, and the accompanying music is just as lovely as it was in Shadow Magic.
There is a lot of game here.