A welcome addition to the franchise, with some new additions and some drawbacks.
+More strategic layers than previous Age of Wonders games with Race/Specialization/Class combinations
+Unique balance of over-world construction, exploration, conquering/destruction, and tactical battles
+Strong RPG elements for a strategy game with Heroes and Leaders' leveling and meaningful choices along the way
+Interesting strategic variety with interaction of terrain and races
+Many and meaningful strategic options/choices in units (skills, abilities, looks, interactions) and cities (city types, upgrades) and empire quests
+Relatively easy to use map editor/maker
-Less friendly fire (I enjoyed how friendly fire was handled in previous games) and height advantages
-Less atmosphere than age of wonders games through slightly weaker lore, presence of magic, racial uniqueness, and music/sfx
-Story is a bit weak
-3D Models are a bit ugly
-Less races (Currently) than in other age of wonders games
The community is strong and kind enough.
The developers are continuously working on the game and listening to the players.
New races and classes are coming out.
New race relations coming out.
New balances and bonuses coming out.
More modding coming out.
Buy or No?
If you are experienced with 4x strategy games... I would get this game.
While the genre probably could use a game to revolutionize it a bit, this game does enough new things to keep your interest if you are captivated by 4x genre. You may be annoyed with some things here and there, but overall the balance is strong enough and they are working on improving the balance.
If you are interested in fantasy lore, role-playing/story-making, primarily and racial interactions... I would get it on sale or wait.
Do some research on the game first; if you find the lore interesting, purchase it if you haven't played any game in the genre or wait to see how the updates improve and add to the game in a few months. Keep in mind you can also create some interesting quests with the map editor/maker.
If you haven't really played much strategy 4x fantasy games and are curious... I would get this game now or on sale.
Your enjoyment of the game will be higher if you have an open-mind and like intricate game systems.
If you are looking for a fast-paced, mind-blowing, competitive game... do not purchase the game or do more research. The pacing is similar to other strategic games like Civilization. Also, there is nothing in here that will take your breath away, at least immediately. The engagement relies on the stories and histories that are created from the complex systems and events that occur.
AOW3 is a quality game that could use some improvements. Fortunately, the developers care so improvements are on the way. There isn't much else in the genre being made at the moment either and is better than its nearest fantasy-strategy competitors.