4X strategy games aren’t typically my area of expertise. I’m not particularly proficient at micro managing endless menus and stats, and to be honest, there are very few titles in the genre that pique my interest. So why is it then that I’m reviewing the Eternal Lords Expansion to Age of Wonders III? I was introduced to Age of Wonders III only a few weeks ago, and I immediately fell in love with it. In fact, it became the first 4X strategy game that I couldn’t turn away from (aside from Endless Legend). I’ve already invested dozens of hours into the single-player campaign, and while I’m still far from being an expert, I have to admit that my attitude towards this peculiar gameplay style has changed dramatically.
Where Age of Wonders III sets itself apart is in its pacing. The balance between managing cities, resources, raising armies and going into battle is unparalleled. 4X strategy games are notorious for convoluted menus and drawn out management logistics, but Age of Wonders never overwhelms players with unnecessary busy work. Instead, the game places emphasis on battling. No worries, there’s a good amount of tinkering required while exploring the map and expanding cities, so micromanagement aficionados have plenty of material to work with.
"While most AAA publishers charge absurd prices for meager weapon packs or useless skins, developer Triumph Studios has taken a more traditional approach by providing fans a true expansion."
The base game alone offers a tremendous amount of value, and now that the second expansion is released, Age of Wonders III can pride itself as one of the strongest 4x series on the PC. The Eternal Lords Expansion introduces 2 new races, a new class, a new campaign with different endings, new heroes, new units, new spells and an overall rebalancing of gameplay mechanics. If you own Age of Wonders III, this is an absolute must.
Age of Wonders III: Eternal Lords is an exemplary piece of DLC. While most AAA publishers charge absurd prices for meager weapon packs or useless skins, developer Triumph Studios has taken a more traditional approach by providing fans a true expansion at an incredibly generous asking price of only $19.99. In fact, for sixty bucks (at the time of this review), gamers can purchase the entire Age of Wonders III Collection on Steam. This includes the base game, the Golden Realms Expansion, as well as Eternal Lords. This puts most big budget releases to shame (Ehm...I’m looking at you Evolve).
Eternal Lords is packed with features. Necromancers, Frostlings and Tigrans classes introduce various new gameplay dynamics, such as the Necromancers’ ability to capture cities and transform everyone into undead units, the Frosting's ability to freeze units during battle or the Tigran’s wall jumping skills. The story campaign revolves around Frostling Kingdom’s Arvik who awakens forbidden necromantic powers to reclaim his realm. From the onset, Eternal Lords is notably more challenging. The AI is more aggressive, and opposing units are sneakier when it comes to flanking and anticipating your moves. Even at its easy setting, Eternal Lords puts up a solid fight.
"There is so much more to Age of Wonders III: Eternal Lords, it’s impossible to cover all new intricacies and features with a single review. This is a remarkable expansion to an already superb game."
Cosmic happenings further enhance the experience. These events enrich gameplay with a sense of unpredictability, and even the most well thought out plans can be affected by a sudden onset of mist or rampaging troll armies that unsettle the lands. New mysterious map locations make exploration more rewarding and intriguing. Aside from finding tucked away riches, there are now hidden castles that can be uncovered to benefit your empire. Race governance plays an imperative role in Eternal Lords. Occupying an elven kingdom, for example, generally leads to unhappy citizens. However, as relations improve, new perks become available and can boost your economy and army units.
There is so much more to Age of Wonders III: Eternal Lords, it’s impossible to cover all new intricacies and features with a single review. This is a remarkable expansion to an already superb game. Eternal Lords is an absolute must for owners of the base game. And those who have yet to acquire Age of Wonders III, what are you waiting for? This is one of the finest 4X strategy titles on the PC.
Review by: Tin Salamunic | Reviewed on: PC