Disciples III: Renaissance Updated Impressions - Updated Graphics, New Gameplay

We take an updated look at this long-awaited strategy sequel from the proud new owner of the Disciples property, Akella.

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You know you're at GDC 2010 when you sit down and get a demonstration of the long-in-development strategy sequel Disciples III: Renaissance from its new owner, Akella. Yes, the Russian game company has assumed full ownership of the Disciples franchise--former publisher Strategy First has quietly bowed out of the picture, though Kalypso Media will help bring the game to North America. And in even better news, Disciples III's development is done--all that remains is localizing the game for countries other than Russia.

Tactical battles in Disciples III return.

As we've mentioned in our previous coverage of the game, Disciples III is the third game in the fantasy-themed turn-based strategy series, and it deviates from the previous games somewhat by offering different playable factions. This time around, you can play as the human Empire, the demonic Legions of the Damned, and the elves (who previously became playable in Disciples II's expansion packs)--the undead aren't playable in this one. Disciples III will have 19 missions--six for each of the three factions except for the elves, who will have seven. The story begins after a shooting star--which is presumed to be an angel in disguise--descends from the heavens. Each faction reacts to this event differently--the Empire seeks to use the angel's powers to further its own religious goals, while the Legions seek to corrupt the angel's powers to resurrect their fallen lord Bethrezen...and the highly conservative elves want as little to change in the land as possible.

And now that the game is complete, we'll say that it looks considerably better than it did previously and has a much more cohesive art direction. The previous two games out of Strategy First used highly detailed 2D art, while Disciples III uses a similarly stylized, gothic art style but relies primarily on full 3D graphics and 3D renders for character portraits. However, the art is now much more consistent--all unit portraits use zoomed-in, high-resolution 3D renders that look quite good. Your hero unit, which still leads your "stack" (or war party), has a fully 3D inventory screen that will let you equip various weapons and armor that will actually show up on the model itself.

Disciples III previously had a pale, washed-out look to its graphics, but Akella has brightened up the look of the game considerably, going so far as to add day/night cycles that progress each time you end your turn from morning to noon to evening to night. For the most part, time of day doesn't really affect the gameplay experience aside from making the maps look a bit more vibrant, though time will apparently have subtle effects--the dreaded werewolves (the weapon-immune minions formerly of the undead faction) of Disciples will be even stronger after nightfall.

In addition to these tweaks, Disciples III will make additional changes to the series' formula that should offer some more strategic flexibility. For instance, while your hero unit and standard units can still gain experience levels (and your minions can still "change class" as they gain levels along a branching profession tree you build out with profession-specific buildings at your home city), your hero can now learn additional skills along a "skill board." This is a tile-based board of branching skills that includes passive enhancements and new magical powers, such as turning a powerful enemy into a harmless peasant. With each new experience level you gain, your heroes will earn two skill points that can be used to purchase two new skills. In addition, while all factions will still have numerous choices for units to join your hero, including basic foot soldiers, basic wizards, and larger heavy hitters, all units will take up only one slot in your army and require only one leadership point from your hero to recruit. Previously, certain larger units were so big and powerful that they occupied two unit slots in your retinue; now, these powerful units take only one but will cost substantially more money to recruit.

Your researched magic spells can now be brought into battle.

In addition, while you must still capture power nodes on the overland map to supply your faction with magical energy by placing a magical rod nearby, you don't need to recruit a rod-dropping unit from your town. Instead, any other hero can drop a rod at a power node to claim it for your faction. At that point, you can automatically recruit a "guardian" hero with the potential to lead a war party of up to three units at first (and more later, should your guardian actually gain experience levels). Plus, magic spells have been expanded in use. In the previous games, you had to commit turns and resources to research spells. Once you had researched them and had sufficient magical power to cast them, you could cast them only from the overland map. However, in Disciples III, you can use your town's mage tower to fashion a rune item that can actually reproduce that spell's effect in combat--in addition to all the potions and scrolls you can activate in battle.

Disciples III has looked better each time we've seen the game, and it's never looked better than now. The strategy sequel is planned for release in North America in July.

Discussion

33 comments
wariisop
wariisop

As the previous poster said, this game was awful, it is like they had no idea how to inherit one of the best Strategy games every made. I am hoping the recent patch can fix the crashing problems, but the game doesn't even use the 3D environments like one would think. The environments are just eye candy, and that is the saddest part of all.

paladin99ph
paladin99ph

game play is awful i wish they just copied the game play of disciples 2 and added some new units but they didn't...haw frustrating........

k_oldsoul
k_oldsoul

GRAPHICS LOOKS GOOD.....I HOPE GAME PLAY IS GOOD

d_vasegh
d_vasegh

Ruined Disciples II was something great and still has lot of fun We waited more than 5 years for reasonable advancement but there is nothing new else its 3D system which copied from KING BOUNTY game and Heroes of M&M Level up chain for all troops are same as Disciples 2 and there is nothing new or any improvement. It's just a grand headache by its 3D system and damned loading time crash

badrav3n
badrav3n

we waited but i think it isn't good as the 2 befor we missed the Disciples

honglong17
honglong17

i had been try this game with rus version. AND THEY REALLY RUIN IT

hudron
hudron

5 years for the sequel. Waiting... Still waiting...

HogStomp
HogStomp

I can't wait for this to come out.. The first two were awsome!!!

M_TM_L
M_TM_L

Wow the I hope the graphics are really up to pair Disciples2 was cool but that was quite a long time ago

DobsGR
DobsGR

the people demands disciples... and at last we are gonna have it

Havoc10K
Havoc10K

l'm waiting for this game for so long l think l'll orgasm when l buy it, ever since l read a few years ago the ywere making third part l was so excited about it, Disciples 2 was awesome already, altough artwork in it was inferior ti current trends, it was still awesome game, just finish it already, also l'm expecting a lot of expansions, ammount of missions is insufficient for me, especially the Elves ones, they were always my favorite.

Hellbishop
Hellbishop

Its like a master work of art alive with all the beauty of the ages. Fantastic to see they have taken the visual ambience to another level of greatness then even the spectacular haunting original. Cant wait to check out how the sound and gameplay come together with the graphics when it comes out in July. Awesome screenshots Gamespot..awesome :D

Markhales10
Markhales10

I want this game for a long time ago...

KarronX
KarronX

yeah baby finally .... its been a long time waiting :)

bartimeo8
bartimeo8

At last they announced the month it's coming out at least? Sure, took them long

vadagar1
vadagar1

this looks amazing, and great job on the website it looked awsome :) and ya, to all u bug loving peeps, don't whine plz NO game gets released without bugs NO GAME EVER, not now not later not even when we get holodecks like in startrek. bugs get fixed and this game is so much better than the truckloads of crap games we are getting this year, its a wellcome change. C&C4 sucked, Redalert 3 sucked, AvP 3 sucked, Supreme commander 2 sucked a little a good expa. coud make it wayyyyyy better.....etc. I was looking forward for a good game year BUT it seems to get worst each year, now we get 1 good game in every 10 release. Disciples III will save us all :P can't wait

Ladiesman17
Ladiesman17

I've seen the trailer of this game, & looks very promising!!

666NightsInHell
666NightsInHell

Game is good but lots of bugs where you wait and wait loading and need to restart pc , after few times i quit playing, patch 1.4 not help

Luizhng
Luizhng

I played it for some time now and was somewhat disappointed. It's really a Heroes of M&M with a "Disciples" dressing. In spite of some improvements, the "soul" of the game is lost. While I allways taught H of M&M got a little worse (linear) with each installment and long stopped playing it, Disciples games had a sense o freedom, of exploring huge maps, interacting with strong characters. It evolved as a goog fantasy novel. Now that is gone. I'll keep playing, though, hoping it will get better. It was a brilliant game, now it's just a pretty good one.

brian_13un
brian_13un

This series is really great ^_^ but too bad the Dwarves and The Undead are missing on this one ^_^

KoRniTo
KoRniTo

Nice, I'll keep an eye on this!

Riaktion
Riaktion

I enoyed Disciples 2... I just wasn't very good at it :o) Looking forward to this!

nevryn
nevryn

@ RyuRanVII: Er... read last sentence: July. As for bugs in the Russian release, I was reading some forums, and it looks to me that really the game itself wasn't too buggy. The people that got bugs were the pirates who downloaded a cracked, unfinished version, and then tried to complain saying they actually bought the game. Lesson: Don't pirate games. Also, supposedly it is being released in Australia on May 28th, but don't know how accurate that is... (Wikipedia)

DP1130
DP1130

Ecited about this one. I was a serious addict with Deciples 2. Bumbed the undead arnt in this, but thats what exspansions are for right? Come on July!! Daddy's waiting lol.

armoured_elf
armoured_elf

They already released it in russia and it was like a huge beta-test - lots of bugs, etc. So you guys are going to get it repared and stable. It is not fair at all...

_Tobli_
_Tobli_

D3 is not vaporware? Really? Whoooo

marcthpro
marcthpro

What ? a new disipline !? nice i can't wait to see how it look like

RyuRanVII
RyuRanVII

And still no release date... arghhhhh

Hakud0ushi
Hakud0ushi

I'm looking forward to it. I love this kind of game. Heroes of Might and Magic series still my fav.

Kratos2030
Kratos2030

Man, never played it but it looks awesome!

jallu2
jallu2

I hope its awesome.. i still play Disciples 2