Age of Wonders III is a turn-based strategy game for Windows PCs from Dutch developer Triumph Studios. The game allows players to create a political leader of their own and then set out to survive and conquer a fantasy world filled with races like humans, elves, and orcs. Since last year's release of Age of Wonders III, Triumph has kept strategy fans busy by releasing free updates and a first paid expansion called 'The Golden Realms.'
Today Age of Wonders III received another major free update - the Version 1.5 Update, as well as a second expansion: 'Eternal Lords.' The update refines an already tight strategy game with numerous tweaks and enhancements. 'Eternal Lords' adds an all-new campaign, two new playable fantasy races, and much more.
We'll have a full Steam Spotlight review of Age of Wonders III in the weeks to come. For now, check out our quick game impressions and 'Eternal Lords' DLC details!
Rule a fantasy civilization
Age of Wonders III is a 4X turn-based strategy game, a genre popularized by the Civilization series. The 4X stands for "eXplore, eXpand, eXploit, and eXterminate." Players start out on a map covered in darkness and must explore it to discover new resources, friends, and allies. They build new cities and settlements to expand their empire, exploiting the resources of the land and indigenous peoples. And your final goal is to exterminate your enemies – usually rival civilizations.
Strategy veterans will find the familiar empire building and management elements in Age of Wonders III. The game is partially distinguished by its fantasy setting, with six highly distinct playable races in the base game and even more provided by expansions. For my money, elves, swords, and sorcery are simply more exciting than tanks and airplanes.
Fantasy setting aside, Age of Wonders III's real draw is its deep combat. Players can opt for automated combat if they like, just as you'd get in Civilization. But manual combat provides a much more strategic experience. The combat here works similar to that of the Total War series, except that it's turn-based instead of real-time. Each side will order its various units to move, attack, defend, and perform other actions.
The actual movement paths prove very important. Different races have their own movement properties, so one race might get useful bonuses on specific terrains. Units will automatically attack enemies who pass within a certain range, so a careless move could lead to heavy damage. And of course, attacking enemies from behind will grant a hefty flanking bonus.
Age of Wonders III offers several ways to play. Two single-player campaigns allow players to experience both sides of a conflict between the Elven Court and the human-led Commonwealth Empire. Strong writing and voice acting help tie the story missions together. Outside of the campaign, you can engage in any number of scenarios via randomly generated maps, or even make your own maps.
Although I haven't gotten to try multiplayer yet, the various options should prove even more exciting than the campaign. You can war against up to eight other players in online games, with the default option of simultaneous turns keeping the game moving. The email-based turn option (newly added in Version 1.5) lets combatants play at a more leisurely pace. Local multiplayer rounds out the package. Co-op against AI opponents is available both online and locally.
Meet the Eternal Lords
The $20 'Eternal Lords' expansion adds the following new content:
- Frostling Player Race: Blue humanoid people who live in frozen climates. Think of them as Frost Giants, only not giant.
- Tigran Player Race: Feline humanoids that come from the desert and can change shape into Dire Panthers. Their culture resembles that of the ancient Egyptians.
- Necromancer Player Class: Create undead units like Bone Collectors, Banshees, and Ghouls. Turn existing cities into cities of the dead.
- Eternal Lords Story Campaign: Play as the heir to a fallen Frostling kingdom as he uses necromancy to reclaim his lands.
- And more! See the full list at AgeofWonders.com/EternalLords.
Age of Wonders III is a huge game all on its own, and the 'Eternal Lords' content makes I even bigger. We'll look at both the main game and its expansion in more depth soon. If you'd rather not wait, get the Age of Wonders III Collection with the game and both DLCs for $40.19 until Friday, April 17th. That's like getting both expansions free! The game by itself is on sale for $13.59 during the same time period,