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Age of Wonders 3: Golden Realms Expansion Announced

By on August 25th, 2014 9:44 am

Age of Wonders 3: Golden Realms expansion pack

Tactical combat fans take note, Triumph Studios has announced “Golden Realms”, a new expansion to their turn-based strategy game, Age of Wonders 3. While Age of Wonders 3 wasn’t a title I was entirely thrilled with, it did offer quite a few hours of enjoyment. With a new expansion now on the horizon and several patches already under its belt since my review, I’m certainly interested to see if they are moving in the right direction.

Golden Realms is adding quite a bit of content, but what I am perhaps most intrigued by is the new alternate victory condition, the Seals of Power. A lack of alternate victory conditions is one of the things I singled out as an issue in my review, and these Seals are something I’ve been interested in ever since they began discussing it back in June. Essentially, these seals will introduce a King of the Hill style victory condition by allowing players to receive points by taking and holding specific magical points on the map. My hope is that this will help cut down on the number of battles I have to face later in the game and prevent it from dragging out for too long. I may not even have to play hide and seek with the enemy leader anymore.

While the Seals have me excited, there is certainly much more on offer here. A new campaign, new maps, and a lot of new fantastic artwork for a start. New empire quests have been added, and though they call them quests they appear more like global achievements. To the victor goes the spoils, so only the first to reach these achievements will reap the rewards. The rewards themselves seem quite thematic, with for example the first true evil leader receiving a free army of evil units to do evil things with. Triumph is also introducing a new specialization called Wild Magic. Wild Magic is just what it sounds like, relatively random, sometimes overpowered and sometimes devastatingly bad, but it should certainly spice up combat and keep you on your toes.

Those looking for a bit more variety in their unit and race options are also in luck. A new race, the halflings, return from the past. Full disclosure time, I’ve never been a halfling fan in any game. They do bring a new ability called lucky along with them, and this ability allows them to occasionally avoid damage completely if they have good morale. They also have beer, ponies, and jesters… so there’s that. Aside from the halflings, Triumph is adding a new neutral race of Naga including a devastatingly obese unit called the Glutton who can eat units whole. Though if you kill him, you may be able to rescue whatever is left from his belly. That’s not all they’ve added to the unit pool either, as they are also introducing locations that can unlock special mystical buildings in your city once conquered. These locations may offer bonuses to the city itself, but they can also offer new unit recruitment options like mermaids and feathered serpents.

Despite it’s excellent tactical combat, it’s been a few months since I’ve been inspired to start up Age of Wonders 3. That may very well change this September. The Age of Wonders 3: Golden Realms expansion is scheduled to release on September 18th, 2014.

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  1. t1it says:

    Needs even more racial variety than what has been announced so far. They also need to bring the racial alignemnts back, make multicultural empires have SOME drawback. It’s so stupid every game you just absorb each and every city as there’s literally no reason not to. Also city building & upgrade variety please…
    But it’s looking good even if I’m not much for halflings.

  2. hakkarin says:

    The biggest problem for me was the lame empire management. I know this game focuses more on the battles, but there still needs to be at least SOME substance in a game like this. I wasn’t able to even finish my first game because everything had become so predicable that I did not even need to finish the game.

    • Ore says:

      Totally agree. I enjoy the building aspects of empire management and the game felt lacking there (not to mention the graphical bugs).

    • DevildogFF says:

      Yeah, I can’t even muster any desire to play this game knowing how shallow the empire management is. This expansion doesn’t look to change that.

      Sorry, Triumph, but I won’t be buying this one. Unless you pull some awesome empire management stuff out of your hat.

    • Njordin says:

      same here… it´s just shallow.

    • killias2 says:

      100% this. The empire management is less like Civ and more like Total War. I really wish developers would realize the point of 4x games.

  3. Slish says:

    What I’m most interested in: have they fixed the super-dumb AI? The AI was extremely bad..

    • Keith Turner says:

      Great question. I know there have been some patches, but I have no recent gameplay experience. This expansion will end up being a chance for me to put it to the test again.

      • Marlowe221 says:

        It seems to me that the developers have made at least SOME improvements to the AI.

        As an example, take Das24680’s first LP (Youtube, of course) of the game and compare it to his second series after a couple of patches have been released.

  4. NoldorElf says:

    The big problems in the game were:

    1. Lack of depth in the game in terms of strategic options
    2. Simplistic world (needed more to explore and to do)
    3. End game lacked unit diversity (biggest issue)
    4. Starting race made limited differences

    Sometimes the AI could be dumb, but it’s not as bad as other 4X games. For a game on launch, the AI was the “least bad” issue.

    The real issue is that AOW3 was simplistic on a strategic scale. Limited unit diversity at endgame, racial choice did not make a difference, and well, for a game that tries to be an adventure, there wasn’t much in the way of adventures.

    Tactical combat was good, but only where unit diversity allowed it (ex: not at end game). There were also balance issues.

    Fix those and AOW3 would be amazing.

    • Keith Turner says:

      I agree, I don’t think this game is beyond fixing. I don’t think we are ever going to see a heavy strategic game here, but even a little more in that area would help support its strong tactical side. Players who aren’t that interested in the tactical side are still likely better off with other titles the ugh.

      I think unit diversity may have been adjusted some post release in patches, but I haven’t played. Same with races, I think maybe they added some other differences. I’m going to use this expansion as an opportunity to test the post release changes as well.

  5. Mark says:

    Don’t Halflings and Gluttons already exist in AOW2? Its pretty hard to get excited when all they do is reintroduce old material and call it an expansion.

    I remember a time when sequels actually improved on earlier versions. Nowadays all you get is a bare-bones, buggy skeleton of a game on release and then *maybe* after several expansions and DLC you might approach a pale imitation of the previous version’s game-play. Maybe.

    So the only difference between the original and the sequel ends up being modern graphics and a lot of extra money milked out over several expansions.

    • Alien JD says:

      You just summed up modern strategy gaming perfectly.

    • Keith Turner says:

      This tends to be the case with sequels unfortunately. Age of Wonders main competition in the light strategic / primarily tactical space, the Heroes of Might and Magic series, has been doing this for years. I just recently found out Heroes VII was announced and now they are letting fans vote on which of the old factions they want in. Anything not voted for is potential DLC fodder I would guess.

  6. ashbery76 says:

    I played about 60 hours even with the issues.I will pick up the expansions.

    No mention of diplomacy is disappointing.

    • SQW says:

      Maybe there’s no point mentioning diplomacy?

      For meaningful exchange of dialogue, you’ll need a competent AI. All I’m seeing is a new race which amounts to mere cosmetic additions.

      Game devs, I’d happily pay AAA price for a 4X game with great AI and Civ I graphics. For the current crop of ‘strategy’ games that’s all window dressing and no brains, I’ve yet to spend more that 35% of RRP on any of them if at all (Warlock II, looking at you here).

      Please do the math and stop taking the road of least resistance.

  7. Klaus says:

    is this new game standalone or do I need AoW3 core game for it?

  8. Mezmorki says:

    In response to many of the comments above concerning the game’s current (and potential) strategic depth.

    This topic has received a lot of discussion on the forums and the dev’s do seem to be exploring ways to ramp up the strategic aspect of the gameplay more. There are discussions in the general form, with some developer acknowledgement in the gameplay suggestions thread, that adding more diversification to city development, making alignment/morale matter more at the empire level, making races more distinct, etc. would be good things to improve on.

    Some of these improvements have been made in recent patches (e.g. adjusting pacing, costs, adding more city building options, etc.). Others appear to be coming in the expansion (alternate victory conditions, specialized city development buildings, new dwellings, more map features, etc.).

    However …

    In part, I feel the perception that there isn’t much depth at the strategic scale is because the AI at that level is rather weak. Against a weak AI the player doesn’t have much pressure placed on them to execute a particular strategy, you can just do a little bit of everything everywhere and still win; so it feels bland.

    The AI has been improved in subsequent patches, but there is still room for improvement. In the meantime, try playing a small fast map where you auto-team 3 or more Emperor level AI’s against you from the start. It is HARD to survive and you will need to squeeze everything you can out from your cities and production, which goes a long way towards making the game much more strategically challenging and deep.

    As I’ve said elsewhere, I don’t think complexity automatically equates to depth. AoW3 is relatively simple and straightforward as far as 4X games go, no arguments there. However, this relative simplicity can nonetheless create strategically challenging and rich situations that can be tough to crack and no way have a simple easy solution, strategically speaking.

    Many of the discussed improvements on forums have been worked into post-released patches, some are coming into this expansion (Seals of Power seem awesome as an alternate victory condition), and some appear slated for a future patches. If nothing else, the Dev’s are dedicated to improving the game in a serious manner.

    Regarding races ….

    One thing that has been added to recent patches, and will continue to be expanded upon, is that each RACE now starts to modify certain CLASS UNITS in unique ways. For example, High Elf Bards (rogue class unit) or Hunters (Archdruid class unit) get Long Bows (awesome archers!), many Human class units get “throw net” (relating to their Mariner traits), allowing them to stun units. Each race has a few units its modifies in special ways. While there are only technically 6 classes and 6 races (+1 with the halflings on the way), there are THIRTY-SIX (36) combinations of the two, each of which is subtly being made more distinct and unique in their operation. A lot of folks don’t seem to acknowledge the opportunity this system affords. When you couple this with all the independent dwellings you can also acquire, there are a lot of options open to a player to get creative with army compositions and synergies to defeat their opponents.

    Obviously I like AoW3 – and it’s the first game I’ve played in years where I’ve sunk more than a few dozen hours into it. For those that tried it and we’re unconvinced, give it a try again with all the latest patches. And if you are looking for more of a challenge, definitely try playing by putting the AI on some teams. Playing 4 AI’s vs. yourself and 1 AI ally can be pretty interesting and might give a much different impression of how challenging the game can be.

    For anyone curious, here are the patch notes from the last patch (v1.2), which as you can see has a TON of changes and improvements:

    • Marlowe221 says:

      This man knows what he is talking about. If I could “up vote” or “rep” him, I would do it.

      That being said the continued developer involvement and patches is very encouraging. And let’s remember, the Age of Wonders series was always more of a Heroes of Might and Magic style strategy game than a Civilization style strategy game. Those two styles are fundamentally different – both good – but different.

      I think the developers have done (and are doing) a good job staying pretty true to the series’ lineage while also implementing some advancements and evolutions to the classic formula.

    • Mezmorki says:

      Thanks for the vote of confidence :)

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