Age of Wonders III is another sequel to the highly successful turn-based series set in the fantasy world of fantasy. Although the final part of the saga has passed more than ten years, the title still rings in the ears of players of the older generation and occupies a decent place among pearls such as Heroes of Might and Magic, King's Bounty or Disciples. In fact, the latest production of Triumph Software can be described as a neat mix of well-known mechanisms of other strategies that last years were fed enthusiasts of management, development and, above all, warfare not necessarily in fantastic landscapes. In addition to the mentioned Heroes, in Age of Wonders III we will feel King Arthur's spirit, turtles 4x, and even far-themed SimCity.
The campaign allows us to stand between two conflicting parties. We are given the opportunity to lead the people of the Empire of the Community or the warriors of the High Elves. The gameplay for both factions is made up of quite a few fairly complex and demanding missions, where we will not be able to repeat the task repeatedly. Although each mission entrusted to us eventually comes down to the annihilation of the enemy, however, the creators tried to present the whole in such a way that he did not feel tired. However, Age of Wonders III is full of its fullness only in single scenarios, where before our eyes a fairy-tale land will appear, we will prepare for the game on several levels.
Well, the player will be given the opportunity. The number of enemies, the type of terrain and the map size, the level of computer difficulty of the opponents, the number of cities, their heroes, initial raw materials, neutral units, wealth scattered on the treasure map, road network densities and distances between cities as well as their number and size. In addition, you will be able to decide whether or not we will join the protagonists selected from the already existing fan, or whether we will be tempted to create their own character. Also, nothing will stop you from deciding to completely unveil the map or top-down the automatic determination of military clashes.
Once we set all the parameters, it's time to start having fun. Since the end of the Age of Wonders era, the entire era has been used, Triumph Software has used a brand new graphics engine. The world is presented in full three-dimensional. Visually, the "three" does not diverge from the competition, but to the suggestiveness and beauty, which may boast even a strategic map in King Arthur II, the latest production of the Dutch, however, a lot of missing. Truthfully speaking, the first look at Age of Wonders III almost immediately triggers an association with the last instalment of Might & Magic: Heroes. The similarities do not end there. There are 6 playable races available. In addition to the already mentioned humans and elves, we can lead to the battle of goblins, orcs, dwarves and so. Dracons - creatures that are a combination of humans and dragons.
In addition to this general division of the creators have tempted to introduce classes of heroes within all races. We have the Teocrat, General, Sorcerer, Looter, Drednot and Ardidrida. So nothing in the classic RPG production does not preclude the master of our castle from being a goblin sorcerer or orc rogue. Of course, the choice of one or another race and class implies certain consequences, such as our character's initial stats, including talents, and the ability to use specific magic schools. These, in turn, are characterized by a division of the elements - water, air, earth, fire (destruction) and nature. Interestingly, the last two schools determine the moral stance of our hero. In other words, the magic of nature is a domain of good character and bad spells of destruction.
Apart from the possibility of choosing the kind of magic, we can also bet on expansionism (such a hero will expand the range of our lives faster) or explore (exploration). The hero is equipped with just three specializations, the choice of which belongs to us. At the end, we can play like a veteran of The Sims series to create the unique look of our leader. The menu is full of variable factors such as head shape, eye colour, complexion, hair style, eyebrows, leather or jewellery. In the final we colour the clothes, choose a name and start the adventure.
Starting the game, unless we have chosen otherwise in the menu for the creation of the board, our eyes will see a tiny piece of the map with a view of our city and the army. The rest of the world is so called. The fog of war, which obviously disappears with the movement of our units. The setting of our city, aside from the gold mine, is completely random every time. Interestingly, Age of Wonders III, unlike other turtles in the fantasy world, offers a completely different kind of main raw material. Wood, stone, crystals and sulphur are replaced by knowledge, mana, production and population. Each of these categories is generated by buildings, and actually the improvements we can install in our castle.
Of course, on the map of the world, there are many kinds of buildings supporting our lives. All chapels, barracks, forts, watch towers, farms, shops or inns are only a fraction of the possible places to visit. There were also larger buildings, such as a sunken city, magical towers, teleports, or elemental forces. It's no secret that a strategic map in Age of Wonders III is lively and very effective encouraging you to venture into its furthest corners. Speaking of exploration, the developers have been tempted by a very interesting solution. It resembles a system known from the Civilization of Sida Meier. So each of the existing cities, castles or forts has its own zone of influence, so-called. domain. It may include surrounding farms, chapels and other places for the exploitation of its goods.
With the city's development, this domain includes an ever larger area. However, to take care of more distant places, simply put on a new settlement. This is done by special builders, or rather by colonization. From a tactical point of view, it is most profitable to place another base in the neighbourhood of as many neutral objects as possible, so that the future loss zone has as many places as possible. It's only enough to connect our headquarters by road so that the armies will use less traffic points in the tragedy. Here we help other builders, who move in the direction we follow, leave behind a solidly built highway. The presented development system of our kingdom is characterized by flexibility and ergonomics.
Thanks to that, we can handle almost any map without problems. Each of our cities offers a full range of upgrades in an economy, science, defence, military, exploration or magic. Interestingly, if at any given moment we find that investing in funds in a building is superfluous, we can target the agglomeration of a given agglomeration to generate gold, mana points, learning (needed to make improvements in the research paper) or population growth. This will avoid the unproductive nature of one or another city. It resembles a system known from Endless Space, and at the same time ensures the continuous development of our lands. The increasing number of inhabitants will result in the growth of our city, and this, in turn, will lead to a larger domain. In a word, the bigger the city, the more effective the exploration and therefore the expansion.
Of course, sooner or later we will come across an opponent representing another race or class. Then we can use the diplomatic window. This, unfortunately, does not offer a particularly rich array of diplomatic lobbies. War, alliance and peace are basically all we can afford. In the case of a first contact, the status between us and the other party is neutral and it is up to us to decide what to do next. It should be noted here that diplomacy in such a modest dimension is simply superfluous, especially when all the fun is enough to cut into the trunk of other inhabitants of the land. We can build an army in every city if there are adequate buildings or improvements. Here comes another strange solution. Now each army can consist of up to six divisions. Units can not be cached within the same type, but if needed, you can attack a city or hostile units with one of our armies at one time.
This is reminiscent of a system known as the Total War, where one army could consist of a dozen or so troops of the same military formation. Interestingly, like in the British productions of the Creative Assembly, the military on the battlefield can have siege machines, rams or trebuchets. Also, the hero actively participates in clashes - casts spells and fights shorts. Breeds of races have very diverse units, which should be praised for Triumph. It's just a pity that it can not be said about the suit that can be installed in urban buildings. In the crushing majority, apart from those giving access to unique military formations, the index of improvements is always the same.
Fortunately, this does not bother you in enjoying the game during military clashes, especially during the siege. Here, the enemy acts very intelligently, does not leave the walls of a defended institution, only trying to max out our units before they come under the gate. After the victory, the captured city is thrown into the hands of brave warriors, and we, as the conqueror, are able to take them into their own lands, to plunder, to land or to make so. To migrate, that is, adapt them to our race, replacing eg the city of orcs to the seat of the people. These types of treatments have a profound effect on the moral stance of our hero, karma. Saving residents will result in "points of goodness," the extermination of citizens will shift us toward evil.
To put it bluntly, it should be said honestly that the Dutch Triumph studio duly fulfilled its obligations and provided the players with solid strategic production. Of course, there are some reservations about the technical nature of the quality of a visual setting or minimalism in the context of the illustration of the locks of particular races or the treatment of foreign diplomats, but these are not the drawbacks of the pleasure of associating with this title. Besides, Age of Wonders III makes up for the enormous playability, especially when we invite a friend to join us and join us in hot seat mode. It can not be hidden that the Dutch production, combining the best elements of other strategy games, has gained its originality and complexity, and above all it has proven that a hit over 10 years ago can successfully be restored to the present day.