It also supports online and local multiple player modes and a level editor along with a new story driven single player campaign mode. Age of Wonders III, like the previous games in the series is a turn-based strategy game set within a high fantasy universe where the player assumes the role of a political-military leader. New to III is the greater addition of role-playing game features, where players must first choose and customize their leader, all options are dependent on the player's chosen style of play. Finally the "Warlord" specializes in direct conflict and combat tactics, utilizing effective non-magic based units and abilities. Leaders themselves and separate recruitable hero units will be able to gain experience and level up, while also being able to gain new equipment and powers. Players can also develop their alignment between good and evil based on their player's actions and the cultures the player absorbs into their empire, rather than race like the previous games in the series. Cities themselves provide much of the resources, infrastructure and host to unit recruitment, spell casting and research to unlock more of both, requiring gold, mana and or research points respectively gained through said city prosperity while also exploration. If the city retains its native population, the player can recruit units of other races besides their own while the player can at any time after absorbing a city into their empire migrate a different population to that city while also being an act of "evil" for their alignment. Quests can grant the support of independent forces for player in addition to a reward such as gold or equipment, sometimes with the choice of either given to the player upon completion of the quest. As in the case of the first game in the series, Age of Wonders III offers a story-driven campaign that is playable from two sides, the human-centric Commonwealth Empire and the Court of the High Elves. The graphics of Age of Wonders III have also changed to a fully 3D perspective with camera control instead of the isometric view the series has utilized prior. When two rival players forces engage, either in open battle or during a siege of a city, combat takes place in a separate phase of gameplay within a hexagon grid-based 3D battlefield where units are designated movement and space. Both sides take turns to move and utilize their units while also being able to grant abilities that can enhance their effectiveness in combat, including magical spells that can also be used to boost unit capabilities, summon in new units and call down potentially very devastating area of effect attacks. Units can also make use of the battlefield environment, such as defensive walls during city sieges, foliage and being able to make use of a flanking manoeuvre where attacks from a units rear can be more effective. Units are allocated "action points" used for attacking, defending/retaliating and using special abilities, separate from yet dependent on their choice of movement shown by colour coding their choice of hexes they can act within. Other options include the ability to just sprint or guard, greatly raising movement and defense respectively and evoking various different status effects such as stuns and poisons and damage enemy units that move into adjacent hexes. Before the events of the first game, the elven court was decimated by humans, an invasive race new to the Blessed Continent at the time.
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