Sierra was showing Lords of the Realm III, which is currently in development at Impressions, at the recent Vivendi Universal pre-E3 event. The game is in the pre-alpha stage at the moment, but many of its gameplay mechanics and technical aspects are already coming together. One of the first things we were shown was how combat functions in the game. Essentially, you can select entire companies by clicking on a single unit, and from there, you can tell that particular company to perform a variety of different actions. You can order it to march, charge, or even change its formation to adjust to your current situation.
In the game's first battle, large groups of footmen and cavalry are launching an attack on a castle. Naturally, these types of units wouldn't get very far without the aid of catapults or trebuchets, both of which are available. After bombarding the castle for a few minutes, one of the walls started to crumble, so the footmen were sent in to attack that particular part of the castle. However, you don't have to wait for the walls to crumble to begin your invasion, thanks to the siege tower, which can be filled with troops and then placed next to the castle wall. Interestingly, since the knight that was in charge of this particular group of soldiers in our battle was killed during the attack, the rest of the group ran away instead of trying to fight--morale factors into the ultimate outcome of a battle. While they haven't been implemented yet, you will have access to different types of weapons if your castle happens to be under attack, including siege weapons and classics like boiling oil.
Battle isn't the only focus of Lords of the Realm III. The conquest mode mixes in some Civilization-type gameplay with the real-time battle sequences. In the conquest mode, you'll have to assign vassals to parts of the land that are under your control. These vassals will have a wide array of responsibilities and tasks--they're not only responsible for essentially creating your army, but they'll also build farms to increase production and build churches to boost morale.
As you progress through the conquest mode, you can move portions of your army into enemy territory in an attempt to destroy its supplies and morale, with the eventual goal of destroying the main castle and taking over all of the enemy's land. Interestingly, there can be multiple battles at once in the conquest mode, since the computer will take control of a battle unless you decide to do so. Of course, at the same time, the enemy is trying to do the same thing, so you have to make sure that your borders are adequately protected.
We'll have more on Lords of the Realm III at E3.