Age Of Empires III is the fourth installment (counting the Spin-Off series Age of Mythology as another series) in the Age of Empires franchise. It was released in October of 2005, and is set during The Colonial Period, with seven European civilizations (Spanish, British, French, Portuguese, Dutch, Russian and German) and the Ottoman Empire as playable civilizations. There's also a version for the N-Gage phone made by Giu Mobile in 2009.While the gameplay remains similar to previous entries in the series, several new features were introduced here. For instance, the Home City feature allows shipments of troops, technology or resources to be delivered during normal gameplay. In order to be able to send shipments, the player must gain experience points which are obtained during normal gameplay. The ability to ally with native tribes was also added, with the opportunity to train units from said tribes to add to your military forces. Also, unlike in previous games, the civilizations are far more varied, with more unique units, technologies and bonuses, along with several completely unique Home City shipments. And, akin to Mythology's Age advancement system, the player must choose a Politician, who provides special bonuses, in order to advance to another Age.The game features a single-player campaign made of three acts (Blood, Ice and Steel), which follows the story of the Black family over 3 centuries as they battle against the Circle of Ossus and take part in several historical events, with the Fountain of Youth as a key plot point across the three acts. The acts are narrated by Amelia Black, the protagonist of Steel.The first expansion pack, Age of Empires III: The Warchiefs, was released in 2006 and featured three of the native civilizations of the first game as playable: the Aztecs, the Sioux and the Iroquois. It also had several other additions, such as new buildings (the Saloon and the Native Embassy), units (gunpowder cavalry, petards and spies), and the chance to advance to an alternative fifth era for the European civilizations; and unique twists to the three new civilizations, such as the firepit (where villagers can dance in order to obtain a bonus, like creating healing priests, gaining more experience and raising the population limit) and unique big buttons for many buildings.The single-player campaign, this time composed of two acts, (Fire and Shadow) which extended the Black family's lore by focusing on Amelia's father and son respectively, with Amelia starring again as the narrator and providing a cameo appearance in Shadow.Age of Empires III: The Asian Dynasties, the second Expansion Pack, was developed this time by Big Huge Games and Ensemble Studios, and was released in 2007. This Expansion Pack added another three new civilizations to the game, this time from the Far East (Imperial China, Japan and India). It introduced new unique bonuses for these civilizations, like the Export resource and the Consul.The single-player campaign this time is set in three different historical events: the unification of Japan, the Chinese landing in the Americas and the Sepoy revolution in India.After the demise of Ensemble Studios, Robot Entertainment (a development house made of former Ensemble employees) is developing the updates and maintaining the ESO service.These games have a character sheet in need of some wiki magic love.
Age of Empires III, The Warchiefs and The Asian Dynasties give examples of:
Anyone Can Die: Armies aside, a fair amount of main and supporting characters bite the dust across the campaigns. The countdown includes Francisco Delgado and Alain Magnan in Blood; Stuart Black, John Black and Warwick in Ice; Major Cooper and Pierre Beaumont in Steel; Sven Kuechler in Fire; William Holme and George Armstrong Custer in Shadows; Daimyoes Mototada and Ishida (among many others) in Japan; Admiral Jinhai in China; and Colonel Edwardson in India.
The languages used, especially in the campaigns. It can be jarring, for instance, to hear Anglo-American heroes speak (more or less) Modern English while your British units still talk as though stuck in the 16th Century.
Some of the factions give off this vibe. The Chinese, for instance, are a mix of both the Ming and Manchu/Qing Dynasties.
Anti-Grinding: The introduction of RPG Elements, in the form of the Home City and its shipments, also brought the expected problems, solved in the following ways:
Skirmish and Multiplayer matches have a cap of 30,000 XP per match.
Some campaign maps have a cap on the amount of experience you can gather, such as "Respect" (the sixth mission in Ice, where Kanyenke and John tries to gain the favour of the Lakota Tribe Chiefs). Other campaign missions, by way of being timed missions, don't let the player level up a lot, such as the first and sixth mission of Blood ("Breakout" and "A Pirate's Help") and the first and seventh mission of Ice ("Defend the Colony" and "Warwick's Stronghold").
Artificial Stupidity: The AI just loves building armies entirely composed of Mercenaries in the Asian Dynasties expansion, ignoring the fact that Mercenaries are incredibly expensive and easily outperformed one-on-one by plain, ordinary units in the later ages.
Ascended Extra: The Aztecs, the Sioux and the Iroquois were just native tribes in the original game. They were made playable in The Warchiefs and both acts of its campaign focus on the Iroquois (Fire) and Sioux (Shadow).
Ascended Meme: One of the pre-recorded taunts players can send each other is a hilariously British-accented "I'm in your base, killing your d00dz".
Author Appeal/Creator Thumbprint: One of the chief developers is an Aztec fanboy. This is why the Aztecs were upgraded to playable faction in the first expansion rather than the Inca, as most fans had expected.
Bandito: Some are available as mercenaries, while others are present as treasure guardians.
Bears Are Bad News: Black, Grizzly and Polar bears are the strongest wild animals in the original game, and will kick the ass of your explorer, once he has used his One-Hit Kill on one of them, if they are in groups. In Asian Dynasties, even the pandas cannot be trusted.
Anything dealing with the very existence of the Circle of Ossus in III:
The main reason for the Great Siege of Malta, as seen in Blood, was so the Ottoman Turks could get info on the Circle of Ossus, the Fountain of Youth, and the New World.
The Seven Years' War in Ice was an attempt by the Circle of Ossus to obtain the Fountain of Youth by using the Russian Czar to conquer the Americas for them while the Western colonial powers were distracted and weakened from killing each other.
The Ming Chinese in the China campaign landed in the Americas and fought a secret war amongst themselves before erasing almost all traces of their presence.
And then, there are more "mundane" things like Turkish outposts in South America, the knocking off of an entire Spanish Treasure Fleet, the course of the Seven Years' War and Custer's Last Stand, and how many historical characters or organizations get involved in the plot.
BFG: The Monitor, the Ottoman Great Bombard and the mercenary Lil' Bombard. Guaranteed to ruin someone's day when they start firing. Ottoman Abus guns are portable cannons and the only infantry to deal siege-type damage.
BFS: The Chinese Changdao (literally "long sword"). If you're not paying attention, you might think these guys are actually carrying a spear.
In "Breakout", from Blood, Alain Magnan comes with his cavalry to drive the Ottoman forces from Malta.
In "Temple of the Aztecs", also from Blood, the Aztec forces come to kick the Spanish out from their lands.
In "Defend the Colony", from Ice, John's Mercenaries come to defend the colony after the time is out.
Bilingual Bonus: A peculiar subversion. Native speakers of French, Spanish, German, Russian, Portuguese, Dutch, Turkish, Hindi (Indians), Mandarin (Chinese) and Japanese will have little trouble understanding the phrases used by these civilisations, as they use the modern variant of their respective languages. Native English speakers, on the other hand, are stuck with the British speaking in 16th century Early Modern English, though the American and British hero units in the campaigns and the Outlaw Riflemen mercenaries do speak Modern English.
There are a lot of units with a low base attack damage but high multipliers against certain unit types, meaning that they're pretty rubbish against anything but those specific types. Culverins, for example, are nearly useless against anything but ships or other artillery.
Skirmishers have excellent ranged damage but very low HP and melee damage. Pretty much anything that engages them in melee is likely to win.
The priests in the vanilla games do not automatically go to units and heal them, they have a skill button for it instead, which confuses players who shifted between the vanilla AOE 3 to other AOE games-not to mention being very impractical. Fixed in the expansions.
Damage Is Fire: Justified: historically, professional armies (before the invention of electricity or reliable lighting) carried various unlit wooden torches with them into battle tucked into various places that they could light up and use in night fighting or when they had to burn something. The number a given soldier will use in short succession is still ludicrous, through.
Defeat Means Friendship: The British army John and Kanyenke defeat in the the fourth level of Ice. But there's also another British army which subverts this: the one led by Warwick, a member of the Circle, who is also a renegade from the British army.
Easy Logistics: Home City shipments can't get lost at sea or delayed due to bad weather, and paying for a blockade is a one-time investment.
Edutainment Game: The first purpose of the game is entertainment, but there's plenty of historical information available, with the multiplayer interface having a sidebar displaying various historical facts. Other examples include:
The first few missions of Blood happen during the Siege of Malta.
The fourth mission of Ice has the player fighting in the Seven Years' War for the French.
Generational Saga: The campaigns of III and The Warchiefs tell the tale of the Black family.
Genre Shift: To a degree; the introduction of storylines revolving around the Fountain of Youth and the Ancient Conspiracy pursuing it is a pretty noteworthy one for a series whose campaigns had previously been focused upon the relatively accurate retelling of actual historical events, though those show up as well.
The randomized dialogue customization only amplifies it as her dialogue includes...
"Is it evening yet?"
"Hey, it pays the rent."
"You new in town?"
"And now the money just rolls in." (referring to the recent sunset)
Digging about the files for the where the dialogue is stored (Age of Empires III/AI2/homecitychatsets) shows it to drop the charade, where the dialogue of the "nice lady" is under a section headed by <Tag type="HCChat" name="'''Prostitute'''" priority="Background">
Giant Squid: Appears in The Asian Dynasties, but in a completely different manner to most media portrayals. Rather than as grossly over-sized monsters from the deep, the squids are harmless creatures portrayed about the same size as in Real Life. Additionally, they never attack you and only are only there as a food source like salmon or cod. Also, they only appear in the Honshu map, where real Giant Squid also live.
Going Native: A recurring motif for the Black family, with Morgan's Scottish lineage being infused with Iroquois, American and finally Sioux blood. Tellingly, Chayton Black in Shadow is nigh indistinguishable from the Sioux tribesmen he ultimately sides with.
Gondor Calls for Aid: In the first mission of Blood, the Knights of St. John are near defeat when the bombards show, so they send some settlers to light a signal fire to call for reinforcements from Alain.
Russian Oprnichiks are fragile and have relatively low base damage, but have a very strong anti-building attack and a huge damage multiplier against settlers. A dozen of them can cripple an enemy's economy within a minute.
The Portuguese' unique version of the Skirmisher, the Cassador, amplifies this with even more ranged damage and even less HP and melee damage compared to the basic version.
Guide Dang It: Fun fact - most ranged attacks from infantry attack at half the speed of melee attacks. Notably, that means musketeers will generally do more damage if attacking in melee rather than ranged. Unfortunately, this isn't written anywhere in the game, even with the advanced stats option on, forcing players to rely on fan-made databases and wikis for such information.
Hold the Line: Several missions in the singleplayer campaigns: the ones which end after the line is held are "Breakout" in Blood, "Defend The Colony" in Ice and "Breed's Hill" in Fire; the ones where it doesn't, and you have to defeat the enemy to win, are "Temples of the Aztec" in Blood and "Hold the fort" in Steel.
Horse Archer: The Ottomans, Russians, Sioux, Chinese and Japanese each have their own versions.
Immortality Seeker: The Circle of Ossus is devoted to finding the Fountain of Youth in Blood, whose water is said to give eternal life to those who drink it. This plot was revisited in Steel. Morgan has found that the "Immortality" granted by the Fountain of Youth is no myth, as we find out in the closing cutscene of III.
(Resigning):"No! Cuauhtemoc will NEVER surrender! ...Unless ... you let him?"
The Elmeti mercenary cavalry, who speaks Italian in a very over the top manner:
Lightning Bruiser: French Cuirassiers, Spanish Lancers, Sioux Dog Soldiers, and mercenary Elmeti and Hackapells are all fast cavalry capable of both absorbing and dishing out absurd amounts of damage.
Mayincatec: Aztec, Maya, Inca (and in The Warchiefs, Zapotec) villages all have the same type of buildings. As the Aztecs get upgraded to playable faction in the sequel, however, they get unique and more accurate architecture.
The Fort is one of the most powerful defensive buildings in the game, boasting high attack power from its cannons and high hitpoints. It also has the ability to train infantry and cavalry units. Its weaknesses are its slow rate of fire, making it vulnerable to large armies attacking it all at once, and units that outrange its cannons (e.g. Mortars, Monitors). It should also be noted that the Fort Wagon, contrary to the Fort it builds, is incredibly flimsy and can't defend itself. Even a small group of light infantry can take it down quickly.
Misplaced Wildlife: A few slip-ups appear regarding treasure guardians. Black panthers, tigers and giant pandas in Japan, snow monkeys outside Japan and Komodo Dragons in any map (none of the maps are located near Komodo).
The Musketeer: The unit is meant primarily for ranged attack with a musket, but actually deals higher damage-per-second (and receives a hefty bonus against cavalry) with bayonet melee attacks. Ranged cavalry, similarly, have an attack bonus against artillery just as melee cavalry does, but will likely do more damage against artillery in melee mode due to the higher attack rating and artillery's damage-reduction from ranged attacks.
Ninja: Available as mercenaries in The Warchiefs. They serve mostly as assassins, dealing massive damage to Hero Units and other mercenaries.
Omniscient Council of Vagueness: About all that we know about the Circle of Ossus for sure is that they are the enemy, their elite units are called 'Boneguards' and they want to obtain the Fountain of Youth. Absolutely everything else is up for grabs.
One-Hit Kill: The European explorers have the Sharpshooter and, later on, the Crack Shot abilities: the first one allows you to kill a Treasure Guardian instantly; the second is a single high-damage shot that can kill almost any land military unit (with the exception of a few mercenaries and powerful special units) in one hit (but cannot be used against villagers and ships).
Pandaing To The Audience: Averted. Pandas serve as treasure guardians here and they're some of the toughest ones around.
Panthera Awesome: Played straight. The whole package of big cats appears with The Asian Dynasties, jaguars, cougars, lions, tigers, white tigers, snow leopards and leopards, in the form of black panthers. They are all quite nasty to face, especially the ones available as trainable units.
Pirate: Both the regular kind and the Wokou (Japanese pirates) show up, the latter being introduced in The Asian Dynasties. The Warchiefs introduces a specialised building that can train mercenaries, amongst which the player can find pirates and corsairs.
Private Military Contractors: The player can recruit powerful mercenaries from the Home City at the cost of gold and a shipment card. The Warchiefs allows them to be trained at a saloon at a higher cost per unit, with their availability dependent on the current map.
Purely Aesthetic Gender: Regular villagers can be either male or female, but do exactly the same jobs with the same amount of effectiveness.
Rhino Rampage: Rhinos might possibly be the only complete herbivore in the game to be a treasure guardian. But they also do this with style; being the most powerful animal in the game.
RPG Elements: Earning experience points during a match allows the player to send shipments from the Home City. They also go towards leveling up the Home City, which unlocks a wider variety of shipment cards and various cosmetic upgrades for the city.
Savage Wolves: The wolves are enemies, appearing in most maps, second only to the cougar as animals go, bu are actually among the weakest of the animals in the games, and the explorer can dispatch a group of them with ease.
Scenery Porn: The game's graphics are a significant step up from both Age of Kings and Age of Mythology.
Separate, But Identical: Once again, averted: every civilization has its unique quirks, especially the ones introduced in the expansions. For example, the Indians use wood instead of food to train villagers, British houses spawn a bonus villager when built and cost more, and the Dutch use gold instead of food.
This also applies to the Home Cities shipment cards. While some are identical across civilizations, (extra villagers, resources...) others are unique to that civilization.
Also, all civilizations not introduced in the expansions have more powerful but also more expensive unique upgrades for their "guard" units that replace the generic third-tier upgrade. For example, the British have Redcoat Musketeers instead of Guard Musketeers and Lifeguard Hussars instead of Guard Hussars.
Shaggy Dog Story: "Ambushed!" in Shadow. This is a long, rough, labyrinthine map crammed full of War Huts stationed around the cliffsides. The player needs to get powder wagons to clear paths through trees, which can halt your progress until you get them to the area. And after all of your work in getting up, the player is taken to a cutscene where Holme screws up the entire plan, thus making the whole trip pointless.
Shoot the Medic First: Subverted. Priests, missionaries and surgeons heal units automatically, but the healing is done slowly and cannot be done while combat is going on.
Settling the Frontier: Every skirmish/multiplayer game has your chosen civilizations establishing settlements in America/Asia (with some supplies shipped from their home cities). Of the campaigns, the first few missions of Steel and Shadow are the only ones that focus on this.
Sophisticated as Hell: As mentioned above, the "killin' your doods" taunt, and this gem from the same voice actress as the Queen Elizabeth AI;
"Really... such a noob."
Sorting Algorithm of Evil: Inverted. The first three Big Bads are technically equal in threat, since they all run the same organization, but there's still a big disconnect in their day jobs, which regress from the Grandmaster of the Knights of St. John to a lowly fur trapper. As for The Warchiefs expansion, the first Big Bad is some two-bit mercenary captain, and the second is the Fort Laramie quartermaster. Makes you wonder where they get these huge armies to throw your way...
No matter what graphics level you have the game at, destroying weapons caches in the Campaign will cause them to blow up.
Suspiciously Similar Substitute: In the original game, you can build trade posts in Lakota, Iroquois and Aztec villages and get from them, respectively, native cavalry (Dog Soldier), ranged infantry (Tomahawk) and siege (Mantlet), and infantry (Jaguar Warrior) and ranged infantry (Eagle Warrior) units. In the Warchiefs sequel, the Lakota (now renamed Sioux), Iroquois and Aztecs become playable factions, and their former place in the map is filled with the Cheyenne, Huron and Zapotec, who provide you with cavalry (Cheyenne Rider), siege (Huron Mantlet) and infantry (Lightning Warrior) units.
The Chinese "Confucian Academy" Wonder can automatically produce heavy siege weapons.
The Aztec barracks are sacrifice pyramids.
Tactical Rock-Paper-Scissors: While it's less clear-cut than in the other games in the series, generally, Infantry > Cavalry > Artillery > Infantry applies. It generally gets a bit complex, but the intent remains clear.
Infantry is divided into Heavy Infantry (Musketeers and Pikemen/Spearmen) which are effective against both kinds of Cavalry, and Light Infantry (Skirmishers, some types of Melee Infantry, Riflemen, and Archers) which are effective against Heavy Infantry and Ranged Cavalry.
Cavalry is divided into Melee Cavalry (Exactly What It Says on the Tin) which are effective against Artillery and Light Infantry, and Ranged Cavalry (Likewise.) which are effective against Melee Cavalry.
For Artillery, the Falconet is better against infantry than they are against buildings, the Culverin is good against other artillery and ships, the Mortar can only target buildings and ships and annihilates those with ease.
Civilization specific units can also be effective against units that their unit archetype is not effective against.
Technology Levels: The Discovery Age, Colonial Age, Fortress Age, Industrial Age and Imperial Age/Revolution.
The Beastmaster: Explorers can get a canine companion to fight at their side. The Spanish Explorer can train more War Dogs. The Warchiefs can train animals and convert treasure guardians, so they often end up with a menagerie of wolves, jaguars and bears that follow them around and try to eat enemy soldiers.
Theme Park Version: Of the 16th, 17th, 18th, and 19th century. At the same time, no less. But they even it out by providing tons of detailed background information for every type of soldier, animal, and plant in the game's world!
They Killed Kenny: Your explorer. Technically "captured"/"fallen" rather than "killed" when his hit points drop to zero, and can be brought back either by being ransomed by the player or by having units sent to recover him. You can expect this to happen at least once per game.
Threatening Shark: Great White Sharks serve as naval treasure guardians in The Asian Dynasties. They can sink warships if you're not careful.
Timed Mission: The next-to-last mission of Ice requires you to destroy Warwick's Town Center in 15 minutes while stealing resource carts and having some settlers to collect these resources.
Vegantopia: Aside from fishing, the Japanese are the only civilization that cannot gather food from herding or hunting due to the strong Buddhist presence of that time. The Indians can gather food from any animal as long as it's not water buffalo/cow.
The Russians produce batch armies, which are cheaper per soldier.
The Chinese in The Asian Dynasties take this even further, producing mixed batches of cheap but pitifully weak troops.
The Spanish can rush enemies by spamming army shipment cards at the start. In the late game, it is possible via a combination of improvements and shipment cards to reduce the training time of their Barracks units to zero, allowing to you create instant armies with a few clicks. Just hope your opponent didn't build a lot of artillery.
There are also the minutemen: cheap and quick to train but they lose health as they live.
The Germans receive a unique cavalry unit, the fast but fragile Uhlan, for free with each shipment.
The civilizations introduced in The Warchiefs focus in this aspect (the Sioux, Iroquois, and Aztecs). However, the Aztecs pretty much thoroughly goes in rushing, as all their "big button" upgrades involve spawning a set amount of warriors, and their War Priests can dance in the Fire Pit with an improved dance unlike a typical Villager, so the production rate bonus is higher.