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Eurogamer has just published a new, fairly positive Age of Wonders III preview. Here's a snippet:
It's full of things. It has all of the things. It has maps resplendent with strange magical decoration, from mysterious ruins to esoteric shrines to glowing magical nodes, sometimes so close together that you stumble out of one and straight into the other. Its strange locales are populated by wisps and trolls and goblin scoundrels. Some of its creatures are beyond bizarre, such as the cherubs that look more like naked aliens, while the leaders it offers you as avatars embody every genre stereotype you'd expect. There's a particularly peculiar opulence to its excess, something that feels closer to Liberace than Tolkien.
Whichever of its leaders you select, it's their the boots that you shoehorn yourself into as Age of Wonders appoints you as both the military and political leader of one of its factions, making you a sort of high elven Fidel Castro or an orcish Oliver Cromwell. All economics, all diplomacy, all strategic decisions, even the command of every single battle fought falls within your purview. Your task, of course, is to spread your empire across the land, expanding your influence through gentle negotiation or by rampant, naked aggression.
That means it's no great departure for the series and Age of Wonders 3 is certainly feeling like a familiar sequel, even if it has been souped-up. That's no bad thing and, for many of us a grander, prettier sequel is going to be exactly what the witch doctor ordered. We've been going cold turkey for over a decade now, with the last Age of Wonders game released in the summer of 2003, a time before YouTube, before Steam, even before Justin Bieber. This is a series that has been sorely missed.