With .dat's Disciples III: Renaissance drawing ever-closer to its North American release date, the guys at Gaming Nexus felt it was a good time to kick out a hands-on preview of the strategy/RPG sequel.
Gameplay is similar to the previous titles in many ways--players control a group of leader units on the main map, guiding them to explore and expand their holdings. Each leader can bring with them a small number of other units, the exact amount determined by the leader's skill. As tends to be the way with these games, eventually these units will encounter enemy forces, and there's no way forward but to fight. And here we see one of the biggest changes in the series, one which will probably cause some division in the Disciples fans' ranks.
Unlike earlier games, Disciples III features a fully-detailed, hex-based battle map for combat. No longer do we simply have a two ranks of units abstractly sledging it out--now each unit (including leaders) can freely roam about the battlefield. This opens up several more strategic decisions, but some may feel it does away with the simple charm of the traditional Disciples fights. I haven't spent enough time yet to make up my mind--although I enjoy what I've played on the hex-grid, I really was quite fond of the simpler (and more fast-paced) battles from before.