Leaders themselves and separate recruitable hero units will be able to gain experience and level up, while also being able to gain new equipment and powers. Players can also develop their alignment between good and evil based on their player's actions and the cultures the player absorbs into their empire, rather than race like the previous games in the series.
Cities themselves provide much of the resources, infrastructure and host to unit recruitment. Independent cities and units not immediately aligned to any player/leader are also present in the world map. Units that come from an unaffiliated city will fight to protect a city's domain, and they won't forget that they're tied to it. Many of these independent settlements aren't cities in the traditional sense, but can be alternative settlements, like a "Giant's Keep" for example. The player can conquer these holdings, which will provide units like a city, or they can absorb them through diplomatic means by paying tribute and diplomatic and/or alignment standing. Quests can also be given to players by independent forces and cities, including but not limited to clearing out wild units, searching for relics and even conquering cities and other holdings. Quests can grant the support of independent forces for player in addition to a reward such as gold or equipment, sometimes with the choice of either given to the player upon completion of the quest.
As in the case of the first game in the series, Age of Wonders III offers a story-driven campaign that is playable from two sides, the human-centric Commonwealth Empire and the Court of the High Elves. In addition to the campaign; single-player scenarios, online multiplayer, random map generation and a map editor are also available. The graphics of Age of Wonders III will be presented in 3D instead of the isometric view the series has utilized up to this point.