Released on October 30, 2001 by Take-Two Interactive under its GodGames label, Myth III: The Wolf Age is a PC and Macintosh dark fantasy real-time tactical game developed by MumboJumbo, LLC. It is the third game in the Myth series of strategy games, first created by Bungie Studios, and the first to be produced after the rights to the franchise were transferred to Take-Two in the wake of Bungie's acquisition by Microsoft in 2000. Like its direct predecessors, Myth III is a tactical game that challenges players to use relatively small groups of units in order to overcome much larger enemy forces, usually by taking advantage of terrain, beneficial unit formations, and the inherent strengths and weaknesses of particular units. It features a story-driven campaign focusing on the deeds of Connacht the Wolf, deeds which were only alluded to in the previous games, and a multiplayer component with support for up to sixteen simultaneous players, complete with both competitive and cooperative modes. One of the most notable differences between Myth III and its forebears is its graphics engine; whereas Myth and Myth II displayed two-dimensional sprites within three-dimensional environments, Myth III uses both fully polygonal units and terrain. As Bungie had done when they released their Myth II editing tools, Fear and Loathing, MumboJumbo made a conscious effort to foster the creation of additional user content for Myth III by releasing Vengeance, an application designed to aid players in creating their own maps.
When Bungie Studios was purchased by Microsoft in 2000, the rights to some of its franchises, most notably Myth and Oni, were transferred to Take-Two Interactive, who owned significant stock in the company at the time of its sale. While Take-Two continued to sell Myth II at retail for a time, they also entrusted newly-formed developer MumboJumbo, composed of ex-Ritual employees and recruits from within Myth's own modding community, with the creation of an entirely new chapter in the series. Before eventually settling on MumboJumbo, however, Take-Two entertained offers from several other potential developers interested in creating the next Myth game, including one that wanted to introduce more traditional resource-based gameplay. While their publisher had the option to utilize the Halo engine in two games as part of their deal with Microsoft, MumboJumbo ultimately chose to use Myth II's engine in stead as the basis for their new game; when asked why they had passed on the opportunity to use the Halo engine, developers Craig Goodman and Richard Cowgill cited the fact that Halo was still in active development at the time, thus making its engine "a moving target." While Myth III used its antecedent as a code base, the engine was dramatically altered in a number of ways, allowing for units to be composed of 3D models of 300 to 800 polygons each rather than simple 2D sprites, with at least thirteen unique animations per unit, in addition to increased texture quality overall.
Around the time of Myth III's release, MumboJumbo's office in Irvine, California was shuttered, and while a single patch for Myth III was produced by the developers to fix some of the initial release's outstanding issues, further support for the game and previous games in the series was halted shortly thereafter. With official development of the Myth series laying dormant, Myth III lead programmer Andrew Meggs helped broker the release of Myth's source code by Take-Two, which allowed the fan community to develop patches of their own. The 1.1 version of Myth III was released eighteen months after the game shipped by the Myth Developers, a fan development group that had sprung up around this source code release. The Myth Developers would also release a 1.2 version of Myth III before development of future patches was handed off to FlyingFlip Studios. The current fan-release version of Myth III is 1.3.1, which was released in July of 2004. After a nearly decade-long hiatus, it was revealed via FlyingFlip's twitter account that Myth III development will continue as of 2013.
Set 1,000 years prior to the Great War (depicted in Myth: The Fallen Lords), Myth III chronicles the life and accomplishments of Connacht the Wolf, a man whose legend survives in the Myth universe to the present day. Before his death and resurrection in the Sword Age as the villainous Balor, Connacht was a barbarian warrior from the clans of Gower whose victories against the oppressive Myrkridia allowed him to gather his scattered countrymen into a unified nation. Eventually, his prowess would bring him to the attention of Emperor Leitrim of the Cath Bruig Empire, who sought a way to defeat the Myrkridia and Moagim, the one who brought them forth into the world. The remainder of the game depicts Connacht's campaign to defeat Moagim and his armies, which dovetails with many important events in the Myth universe, including the formation of the Tain, the decline of the Trow, the imprisonment of The Watcher, and the death of Emperor Leitrim. Along the way Connacht is imbued with the knowledge contained within the Total Codex, gaining, among other things, information regarding the Thousand Year Cycle and his place within it. As the game ends, Connacht orders his friend and general Damas to gather and destroy any magical artifacts he can find, and to spirit away any that cannot be destroyed. He also orders Damas to keep the location of these artifacts secret from him, knowing that, as a manifestation of The Leveler, his future incarnation would surely use them for ill.
Myth III's story is primarily told between missions, with only occasional use of in-game cutscenes. Like previous games, each mission is preceded by a voice-over narration of the events leading up to the current level, which pushes the plot forward while also giving the player a general idea of the parameters for the next map. Though structurally similar in execution, the type of narrator used in Myth III is quite different from those of Myth and Myth II; while the stories of the previous games were told from the first person by soldiers who were experiencing the events of their respective games first-hand, Myth III's narrator, revealed in the game's introductory cinematic, is ostensibly a Journeyman imparting the details he has learned of the life of Connacht the Wolf centuries after the fact, thus he has no first-hand knowledge of the events he relates to the player.
The single-player portion of Myth III is comprised of twenty-five sequential missions tied together by an overarching story. Within missions the game is controlled from an isometric perspective typical to many real-time strategy games, though unlike a traditional RTS game the player is given a set number of units to use during the level. While certain missions may offer reinforcements, in most cases players will not receive any additional units after the mission begins, and will fail the mission if certain units or all of their units die. Without the means to generate units, Myth III is primarily concerned with tactical combat, and rewards players for playing to their units' strengths, utilizing the environment to their benefit, and deftly positioning their formations. Keeping units alive is desirable for a number of reasons. Not only do missions become progressively harder the fewer units the player has, units that survive multiple encounters and amass kills become more effective. These veteran units also have a chance to return in later missions if they survive the current one. Thus, it is possible to indirectly increase the difficulty of later missions by finishing a level with a high mortality rate. With the consequences of unit death being so high, casualties are pointed out when they happen by way of an in-game announcer.
In addition to general tactical considerations, Myth III requires the player to be cognizant of a number of other factors. Friendly fire, for instance, is a constant undercurrent, as ranged fire from Archers or area-of-effect explosions from Dwarves and Warlocks can easily injure or kill allied units if the player is not careful. Myth III also inherits its progenitors' emphasis on physics and a degree of controlled unpredictability, as Dwarven bottles, for example, will not always go off as planned, or may bounce before exploding, affecting a different area. Extended battles will litter the ground with blood and detritus, and, in extreme cases, a unit might even be killed by a piece of battlefield shrapnel. While combating a numerically superior enemy force is the general theme throughout the game's campaign, missions also come with their own objectives that may require specialized tactics. One level may require the player's army to hold a specified point for an extended period, while another may require just the opposite, directing the player to flee in the face of an unwinnable battle. Additional variance is provided by way of the game's difficulty settings, which adjust various aspects of the game. Scrapping the five settings of Bungie's Myth games, Myth III offers only Weak, Mighty, and Legendary skill settings.
The basic gameplay of Myth III does not change overmuch between single-player and multiplayer, however several additional mechanics are introduced during multiplayer matches. Perhaps the most significant addendum is the concept of unit trading. Prior to the start of a match, if unit trading is enabled, players are able to exchange their starting units for others that may be available, thus tailoring their unit composition to suit the demands of the match or their own personal tastes. During mutliplayer each unit has a preassigned point value, with stronger units costing more and weaker units costing less; this allows players to purchase a relatively small number of strong units, a large number of weak units, or, more likely, some combination of both. Once the unit trading phase has ended, unit composition can no longer be altered, and players must make do with the units they have for the remainder of the match. Competitive modes, which can be free-for-all or team-based, typically have clear objectives that must be met in order to win; in Last Man on the Hill, for instance, players must compete in order to be the last person in control of a centrally-located flag. Like previous games in the Myth series, any single-player campaign mission can be played with others cooperatively.
At the time of its release, Myth III contained a relatively small number of multiplayer maps and modes when compared to Myth II, especially when taking into account the amount of user-generated content produced for the game. Later patches added in a number of new options for multiplayer. Version 1.1 introduced a number of new modes, albeit ones that were already available for Myth II, including Assassins, Stampede!, and Balls on Parade. The 1.1 patch was also notable for reintroducing the Fetch and Journeyman units of games past as multiplayer-specific units; for reasons of narrative continuity, these units do not appear in Myth III's story.
Multiplayer Unit Costs
- Giant Spider: 2 Points
- Spider Cultist: 2 Points
- Thrall: 2 Points
- Ghôl: 4 Points
- Warrior: 4 Points
- Forgotten: 5 Points
- Archer: 6 Points
- Berserk: 6 Points
- Dwarven Axe-Warrior: 6 Points
- Ghôl Brute: 6 Points
- Heron Guard: 6 Points
- Journeyman: 6 Points
- Myrkridian Hunter: 6 Points
- Myrkridian Warrior: 6 Points
- Soulless: 6 Points
- Stygian Knight: 6 Points
- Wight: 6 Points
- Hearth Guard: 8 Points
- Oghre: 8 Points
- Dwarf: 12 Points
- Spider Priestess: 12 Points
- Dwarven Hero: 16 Points
- Dwarven Smith: 16 Points
- Fetch: 16 Points
- Ghôl Priest: 16 Points
- Myrkridian Pack-Mage: 16 Points
- Warlock: 20 Points
- Lyche: 24 Points
- Barbarian: 32 Points
- Spider God: 32 Points
- Trow: 48 Points
- Trow Iron Warrior: 60 Points
Myth III is the only game in the Myth series that was never officially supported in any way by Bungie.net, Bungie's free online player matching service; in fact, since the company no longer maintained the rights to the franchise after 2000, Bungie.net's servers were shuttered in November of 2001, which was around the same time that Myth III was released. Myth III is, however, supported by later multiplayer services created by Myth fans to both emulate the Bungie.net server experience and fill the void left by its closure, including the now defunct PlayMyth.net and the current de facto platform for Myth multiplayer in all its forms, Mariusnet.com.
As in past games, Light units represent the bulk of the player's forces during single-player in addition to many of the game's multiplayer maps. Most of these units will be immediately familiar to players of the previous games, however there are a few notable additions among them, including two completely new dwarven units. Many of these units have "hero" versions, which are tougher, more lethal, and faster than their base units.
Warriors are the standard melee units of the Light, being primarily notable for their shields, which allow them to occasionally block incoming attacks in order to mitigate damage. Warriors might be unspectacular when compared to other melee units, however it is worth pointing out that they are superior to their Dark equivalents, the Thrall, and that in large numbers Warriors are capable of effectively attacking a large number of different unit types.
- Unit Type: Light Long-Range Support
Crucial support units both in single-player and in multiplayer, Archers are able to fire arrows upon their foes from a distance. While their damage is slight when compared to ranged units like the Warlock or the Dwarf, Archers have much greater range than other ranged attackers, allowing them to strike from relative safety. They also inherit the flaming arrows of Myth II's Bowmen, which can set fire to the landscape and detonate explosive charges.
- Unit Type: Medium Melee / Healer
Often considered the best melee unit available to the Light, the Heron Guard is faster and deadlier than the Warrior, though not quite as fleet of foot as the Berserk. Unlike the Berserk, though, Heron Guards also come with three mandrake roots in order to heal themselves and allies, making them useful in and out of combat. The stronger Heron Guard Heroes have nine mandrake roots by default, and both versions enjoy immunity to paralysis.
- Unit Type: Heavy Medium-Range Support
Upon Myth III's initial release, the Warlock's main attack consisted of a small gout of flame thrown at its target, while the player could order the more mana-intensive fireball spell as a special attack. Later game revisions altered the Warlock to perform more or less like its Myth II equivalent, with the explosive fireball being promoted to its main attack, its secondary conjuring a ring of fire around the unit, and the flame gout attack being removed from the game entirely.
- Unit Type: Medium Melee / Heavy Medium-Range Support
Avatara are veritable renaissance men within the Myth universe, being skilled in both martial combat and offensive spellcasting, among other things. In melee encounters Avatara are able to subdue most opponents easily, however it is their potent Dispersal Dream spell that makes them truly fearsome. When cast, the Dispersal Dream causes a chain of powerful explosions that can leap from one unit to the next, perpetuating itself indefinitely as long as there are adjacent units to fuel it.
- Unit Type: Heavy Short-Range Support
Myth's signature stocky explosives enthusiast, the Dwarf, sometimes referred to in-fiction as the Dwarven Demolitionist, returns in Myth III in a form consistent with its previous incarnations in Myth and Myth II. Its main attack is, as always, an explosive bottle that is hurled in an arc toward its target. More than other units', the Dwarf's attack is unpredictable, prone to duds and unanticipated results. A normal Dwarf carries four satchel charges as well, while a Hero carries eight.
Clad in heavy armor and wielding impressive battle axes, the Dwarven Axe-Warriors are among the few dwarves actually suitable for melee combat. Given their stature, Axe-Warriors are not as mobile as many other melee units, however they make up for this deficiency with surprising durability. Axe-Warriors are also, to an extent, resistant to explosive damage, allowing them to be used in conjunction with Dwarves more comfortably than most melee units.
- Unit Type: Light Melee / Heavy Short-Range Support
Though they are builders by trade, the Dwarven Smiths are nonetheless fairly potent in combat situations. Their main tools in this regard are their smelting torches, which can be used as improvised flamethrowers; this is a particularly effective weapon against large groups of incoming melee units. Use of this ability is controlled via a mana bar, and thus cannot be used too liberally, however Dwarven Smiths can also use their smithing hammers when need be.
Probably the best pure fighting unit on the Light side, the Berserks are fast on their feet, fairly durable, and quick with their swords and axes. While they don't have the healing abilities of the Heron Guard, Berserks can attack so quickly that their blows will often interrupt the attacks of other units, preventing them from taking damage at all. For this reason, groups of Berserks are very powerful, as they can close the distance quickly and lock enemies down with their fast strikes.
- Unit Type: Light Melee / Light Medium-Range Support
The Hearth Guard is something of a hybrid unit, with both melee and ranged combat capability. In close, Hearth Guardsmen attack enemies with their spears, while at a distance they throw them at their foes. The Hearth Guard are perhaps most comparable to the bre'Unor of Myth II, and like that unit their split focus on both melee and ranged attack means that they are not particularly strong in either category, though they can transition between the two roles quite naturally.
Journeyman (Multiplayer Only)
Myth's classic healer unit, the Journeyman is only available during competitive multiplayer matches due to the time frame of Myth III's single-player campaign. The Journeyman unit functions much as it did in the past, being a dedicated healer that possesses six health-restoring mandrake roots to be used on himself and others. Though not a fighting unit by any means, the Journeyman is very durable, being both resistant to explosive damage and immune to paralysis.
Dark units are primarily opposition during Myth III's single-player missions, though they are mixed together with Light units during multiplayer. Map variants described as "dark" typically feature unit compositions with a heavy emphasis on Dark units. While the armies of the Dark in Myth III feature many returning units from previous games, there are several new additions as well, including a number of new Ghôl and Trow variants.
The basic cannon fodder melee units employed by the armies of the Dark, Thrall are slow to move and slow to attack, though quite numerous. Since they have no ability to actually outmaneuver their foes, Thrall are often simply thrown at their targets in large quantities in hopes that they will overwhelm them. Unfortunately for the Thrall, their sluggish pace allows most ranged units ample time to fire upon them as they approach before falling back to continue doing so.
- Unit Type: Light Long-Range Support
The semi-ethereal Soulless are the Dark counterparts to the Light's Archers, hurling poisonous javelins at enemies over long distances. Soulless do not have any secondary ability, as Archers do, however their innate ability to levitate above the ground gives them a surprising amount of mobility. Simply put, Soulless can traverse certain terrain types that are impassable to most other units, making them a serious nuisance to melee units without a ranged support.
- Unit Type: Heavy Short-Range Support
Consisting of undead corpses filled to bursting with various diseases, Wights are among the mort feared of the Dark's reanimated hordes. With their bodies being grossly malformed by the pestilence wracking their frames, Wights cannot move very quickly, thus it is a common practice for them to be hidden underwater until foes pass by. When it finds a target, a Wight will plunge a dagger into its own skin, erupting in a violent explosion while coating the area in paralytic pus.
Resembling in many ways the Myrmidons of Myth: TFL, the Forgotten are fast-moving undead that carry iron blades in each hand. Rumored to be all that remains of a tribe of cannibals that once occupied Forest Heart, the Forgotten can be found in significant numbers there and in the ranks of Moagim's army. Though they are much more mobile than the Thrall, they are not exceedingly durable, so a large group of melee units can usually deal with them quite well.
Often placed as defenders due to the ease with which they can be misidentified as mere suits of armor, Stygian Knights are in fact living beings that have been magically bound to these suits. Thanks to their lack of actual flesh, Stygian Knigthts are resistant to damage from most traditional melee weaponry. As a side effect of being hollow, however, they are quite vulnerable to concussive damage, and therefore should be kept away from Dwarves, Warlocks, and the like.
- Unit Type: Heavy Medium-Range Support
Lyches are the vengeful spirits of long-dead sorceresses that have been brought back to life through the necromancy of Bahl'al. Having been put to death centuries ago by those mistrustful of magic, in their current state they have nothing but contempt for the living. Lyches attack with a slow-moving projectile that causes damage over time to those within its area of effect. The best defense against this attack is to simply keep moving in order to avoid it entirely.
The Hunters are considered lesser Myrkridia, having become less lethal and aggressive than their kin due to years of sating themselves on helpless humans. Unfortunately, even a lesser Myrkridia is extremely deadly by any other standard, and Hunters tend to travel in packs led by a strong, dominant male. Hunters are reasonably quick and reasonably strong, especially considering their slothful nature, but not quite as intimidating as more virile members of their race.
Distinguished from Hunters by their signature gray skin, Myrkridian Warriors are stronger, quicker, and more durable than their cowardly brown cousins. A pack of Myrkridian Warriors is roughly on par with an equivalent number of Berserks, both in terms of speed and strength. Their only real weakness is their tendency to descend into a crazed bloodlust when severely injured. When this happens, a Myrkridian Warrior will lash out at anything nearby, including other Myrkridia.
- Unit Type: Heavy Melee / Heavy Medium-Range Support
The largest Myrkridian specimen known to man, the Myrkridian Giant towers over others of its species, being roughly equal in size to the colossal Trow. They are thought to be more intelligent as well, carrying with them magically enchanted skulls that explode on impact when thrown. These skulls are often used as an opening salvo before the Giants wade into combat themselves. Their combined melee and ranged abilities make them extremely deadly opponents.
- Unit Type: Heavy Medium-Range Support
By far the most elusive members of the Myrkridan hordes, the Myrkridian Pack-Mages are rarely seen by humans, perhaps due to their relative frailty when compared to other Myrkridia. What they lack in physical conditioning they make up for with their intellectual capacity, as Pack-Mages are known to wield powerful magics. This most commonly takes the form of bolts of lightning fired from their hands, though some Pack-Mages wield even greater powers.
- Unit Type: Light Melee / Light Medium-Range Support
The most ardent enemies of the dwarves of Myrgard and Stoneheim, the Ghôls are gangly, ape-like humanoids that occupy the eastern hill lands. Their greatest asset is their speed, which allows them act as scouts and harassment troops for the armies of the Dark. Their bodies are not particularly sturdy, so they usually should avoid fights with melee units they do not outnumber. As a special ability, Ghôls can pick up and throw items, like explosive Wight packets.
- Unit Type: Medium Melee / Light Medium-Range Support
Unlike garden-variety Ghôls, the Ghôl Brutes are suitable units for use in open melee combat thanks to their better-than-average size and musculature. They are still not the best melee units in the game, but their improved stats make them more directly comparable to other melee-focused units. As a bonus, Ghôl Brutes inherit their race's propensity toward picking up objects from the battlefield for use later on, which can be an ace in the hole for more crafty players.
- Unit Type: Heavy Medium-Range Support
Deriving power from the Dark Gods worshiped by the Ghôls, the Ghôl Priests, while somewhat underdeveloped physically, possess arcane knowledge that others of their kind lack. In combat, they can form a magical projectile that is hurled into the midst of their enemies, creating a magical vortex that stuns and damages enemies for the duration of its effect. This vortex can also pull in debris from the battlefield, detonating satchel charges and creating additional chaos.
Enslaved by the Trow to build their colossal temple complexes, the Oghres of Myth III are large melee units that essentially act as stand-ins for the Mauls of Myth II. Like the Mauls, Oghres are extremely durable, attack with slow, powerful strikes, and have respectable movement speed. Due to their resilience, it is typically wise to first soften Oghres with ranged attacks before engaging them with melee units, as even a single attack from one is nothing to scoff at.
Trow Iron Warrior
Easily the most powerful melee unit in all of Myth III, the Trow Iron Warrior is an ordinary Trow equipped with a massive battle hammer and clad from head to toe in a thick suit of iron armor. Iron Warriors attack by swinging their hammers in a wide arc in front of them, which can level multiple units in a single blow. Fortunately, this attack, as lethal as it is, can be avoided once initiated, as there is a brief wind-up period before the strike is actually unleashed.
- Unit Type: Heavy Melee / Light Short-Range Support
Trow Priests are just as formidable in physical combat as one would expect from a member of their species, however this proficiency is augmented further by considerable magical talents. Priests have the ability to use the Dream of Subjugation, which they use specifically to dominate the minds of their slave caste, the Oghres. In addition, they have been known to stomp their feet on the ground with such force that nearby creatures are temporarily stunned.
Without their iron armor to hinder their movement, the Trow can move much more quickly, tracking down even the fastest of enemies with ease. And while they cannot attack more than one opponent at a time without the aid of their iron war hammers, a single kick from a Trow is still enough to kill just about anything. Unlike the Trow depicted in previous Myth games, Myth III Trow do not turn to stone until their health bar has been fully depleted.
Though they are not undead, the Spider Cultists of Myth III bear more than a passing similarity to the Ghasts of Myth II. There are two reasons for this, the first being their extreme frailty for a melee unit, which makes them one of the least threatening units in the game. The second reason is the properties of their attack, which gives them a chance to paralyze their enemy on hit. Unlike the Ghast, however, this effect is unfortunately not guaranteed.
- Unit Type: Light Medium-Range Support
Devotees of the Spider God Syrkrosh, the Spider Priestesses are ranged units that hurl small glass vials that burst on impact, spreading a poisonous concoction around a small area. The main effect of this substance is paralysis, which leaves affected units helpless against subsequent attacks. The Spider Priestess' attack is somewhat less advantageous on its own, however, and like dwarven molotovs, her vials have a slight chance to hit the ground harmlessly.
While one of the weakest units in Myth III physically, Giant Spiders are also among the fastest. They are additionally capable of crossing certain terrain types that other units cannot, further increasing their mobility. Because of these two facts, Giant Spiders are very adept at taking out enemy ranged units, especially when said units are caught unawares. It is also worth noting that they are one of the only units that can track down and kill Soulless situated on steep terrain.
Fetch (Multiplayer Only)
- Unit Type: Heavy Medium-Range Support
Omitted from Myth III's single-player mode for narrative reasons, the Fetch were patched into the game's multiplayer post-release, where they function more or less as they have in previous games. The calling card of the Fetch is its ability to project lightning from its fingertips, causing significant damage to its target and any creatures nearby. This attack can also deflect other projectiles, making the Fetch a vexing foe for Dwarves, Archers, Soulless, and the like.
Critically, Myth III was received fairly positively overall, and a few publications even went as far as to call it the best game in the series. The game scored lower than the previous games in the series in aggregate, however; many critics noted that the game was released in a fairly buggy and unpolished state, and that its multiplayer was lackluster in comparison to Myth and Myth II. Several reviewers also criticized the game's unit A.I., which they found to be suspect in some instances. In spite of these issues, Myth III was deemed more often than not to be a worthy continuation of the Myth franchise; the single-player portion of the game and its story were often cited as its greatest strengths, and the graphical upgrades Myth received were met with similarly positive comments in most cases.