Age of Wonders III received a positive reception on release. Adam Smith reviewing for Rock, Paper, Shotgun called Age of Wonders III “solidly constructed”, praising the customization options and map generator for being able to “create interesting and attractive worlds”, along with the battle system, calling it “cleverly… integrated”. Sean Engemann of Cheat Code Central noted the choice and variety of play, stating that “it bears the hallmark only a few empire building games have–the addiction to take ‘just one more turn'”. Maxwell McGee of GameSpot also enjoyed the combat, feeling it was “where Age of Wonders III really shines”, calling them “tactically rewarding” in addition to “streamlined empire management”, yet was critical of the initial releases familiarity between races, their units and how they play. Colin Campell reviewing for Polygon noted the degree of strategy within the gameplay, stating that “this is truly a grand strategy game; brains are a non-optional component to victory”, positively commenting on the level of shifting difficulty and events throughout the average game before concluding that it is “tough to wield so much power, but control is hard-earned. As it should be”.
Richard Cobbett of Pc Gamer also noted the general streamlining of the gameplay yet still called it “far from an easy one… Age of Wonders III takes no prisoners in either its strategic or tactical game”, with the core gameplay as being “immediately engaging” for players. Cobbett went on to mention certain comparisons to Civilization V, noting the emphasis strategic battles, that “Age of Wonders III isn’t remotely trying to be Civ 5 and its pace and your ability to roll with the punches is to its credit”, however in regards to other features in the 4x genre he was critical of them in the game as “feeling overly clipped”. Joe Robinson of Strategy Informer also drew comparisons to Civilization V but felt the game was still “more creative with the fairly rigid ‘Civ’ template”. Rowan Kaiser at ign however was not favorable of the story campaign mode due to what he considered “too-huge maps and insta-fail conditions”, instead preferring the “small, crowded maps that forced more tactical battles”.
Reviews for the Golden Realms expansion were positive, with an average critic score of 82/100 on Metacritic. Tom Chick for Quarter to Three praised the addition of the Halflings and their unique gameplay compared to the other races and the new Seals of Power victory condition, calling it the “best-case scenario for how to do dlc”. The Eternal Lords expansion similarly received a positive response, with a Metacritic score of 80/100. Daniel Starkey for GameSpot praised the new races and class and the variety they added to the base game and the addition role-playing elements, concluding the review by stating “Strategy game legend and Civilization creator Sid Meier once said, ‘Games are a series of interesting decisions.’ By that metric, Age of Wonders III: Eternal Lords is excellent”, yet in reference to McGee’s earlier review for GameSpot stated that it still “carries a few problems over from its core game.”
By March 2016, Age of Wonders III had sold 500,000 copies.