I read some previews, read posts in both threads here on QT3 and still don’t know where the difference is (I played Warlock 1 but never any AoW). They are both tunrbased, empire-building strategy games in a fantasy universe.
I want to commit myself to one, but I don’t know which one to choose. Or which one is better? They are different, but how?
If you’ve already played Warlock, it’s easy - AOW3.
Warlock 2, name notwithstanding, is really a coat of paint on the original. The big new feature is Exile mode. This boils down to a bunch of small maps connected by portals: you have to progress from map to map while fighting a bunch of tough critters. It’s not bad, but it’s basically a slightly different spin on the Armageddon DLC - to make up for the fact that the overall game AI is clueless about grand strategy, they throw wave after wave of tough barbarians at you. There are new units and new spells as well, but nothing that makes it a must buy (especially at $30 … again, it’s basically an expansion.)
AOW3, on the other hand, will be full of cool new things to try, especially if you’ve never played an AOW before. The main difference between it and Warlock is AOW’s tactical battles, which are quite detailed and well-done. (But also time consuming, so if tactical battles are not your thing keep that in mind.) Both are fundamentally kill-everything-on-the-board wargames, but AOW has less emphasis on city development than Warlock. AOW is also more polished than either of the Warlocks.
AoW 3 is also more “serious”, if a game with dragons, dwarves, and elves can be called serious. Warlock 2 has the same silly voices and comments as the first, as well faux-Sean Connery, who I find more grating than amusing.
I’m going to run counter and say that I’m enjoying Warlock 2 more than AOW3. IMHO, the best part of AOW3 (other than the graphics which are quite good, and definitely better than W2) is the tactical battles. The Diplo is standard swap-meet. The map generation is kinda poor (except for the actual graphics). The city development and general economy is unchanged from AOW1. The issue I have with the tactical battles is that as you are doing better strategically the tactical battles get less and less interesting. The W2 Exiled mode at least shakes up the standard 4X gameplay. Hell, skip both, buy Dominions 4 and get into a good long MP game.
Newbrof, if I had to guess I’d say that Warlock 2 is going to go on a large discount far sooner than AOW3. If that factors in to anything, I would pick up AOW3 and grab Warlock 2 (with DLC) at a big discount in a couple months. Most everything I’ve read about Warlock 2 is that it’s not really a true sequel, more like a 1.5, so if you have the original I’d probably just grab Age of Wonders and give it a spin.
Age of Wonders 3 if you like large tactical battles, competent AI, and don’t mind a more mundane setting of small differences between units.
Warlock 2 if you want a Civ 5 lite styled fantasy game with more fantastical units and powerful spells with a random campaign. Probably good if you enjoy lawn mowering the map a la HoMM while fighting barbarians and popping goodie huts like in Civ.