Disciples III: Renaissance Preview

Hooked Gamers has whipped up a two-page preview of Akella's Disciples III: Renaissance, and judging by its contents, I'd guess that it's based on some firsthand time with the strategy/RPG sequel.
The combat system has also received a major overhaul. Building on the strategy-oriented gameplay of its predecessors, the battle maps in Disciples III: Renaissance now include nodes that give bonuses to whoever stands on them. This of course means that for the first time in the series you can also move your characters around the battle map, making positioning on the battlefield important in devising strategies. Add to this the aforementioned day-night cycle and greatly increased combat scale, and you have one of the most strategy-heavy combat systems around - bold statement, I know. Yet, for all it's depth, there remains an old-school quality about the battle system and visuals that will appeal to fans of Baldur's Gate and Heroes. While Disciples' lack of decapitation and disembowelment will not satisfy the blood-thirsty simpleton gamer, its refined-yet-rustic combat animations are pleasantly nostalgia-evoking.

Winning battles is not the only way to strengthen your faction, and an increased focus on terramorphing allows you to expand your borders in a slightly Civilization-esque way. This essentially means that the stronger your capital city, the further your borders expand, allowing you to gain control over resources, mines and other strategic points; your Earth Guardians can also carry out this important task. Nevendaar's shifting borders are accompanied by nice visual effects, as the land will change depending on what faction controls it; Imperial lands become green, tree-filled meadows, Undead lands contain withered trees growing in dried-out earth, Dwarven influence creates snowy plains and so forth. The ever-changing landscape adds a welcome sense of dynamism and urgency to the global map; nothing says you're in trouble quite like watching your lands become lava-filled and scorched as the Legions of the Damned borders encroach into yours; though this effect may be void if you play as the Legions or Undead and are getting pushed back by the autumnal leaves of the Elven Alliance. Still, it is a visual treat and a welcome addition to the game.