Results 1 to 1 of 1

Thread: Age of Wonders: Planetfall review by Rick Moscatello

  1. Registered TeamPlayer
    Join Date
    Post Thanks / Like

    Age of Wonders: Planetfall review by Rick Moscatello


    Overhyped But Eventually Good

    Age of Wonders: Planetfall review by Rick Moscatello-aowsplash-png

    I played Age of Wonders to death back in the day, over 15 years ago. It was the standard of fantasy 4x games, providing a deep world and awesome system that didn’t get stale after hundreds of hours of gameplay. The genre really hasn’t changed much since Age of Wonders III came out, only minor tweaks here and there.

    So I was pretty excited to hear that the original (more or less) developers were putting out another sequel of sorts, in a science fiction setting. While most sci-fi 4x games involve space ships and planetary conquest, Planetfall is strictly planet-bound, negligible space activity at best. This didn’t worry me, since the developers have already shown they can do a great game under these conditions.

    Adding to the excitement were many enthusiastic previews, saying the game is loaded with awesome. But now I have the final game in my hands (subject to numerous but minor bug fixes/patches), it’s time to see what the latest 4x game with a great pedigree is all about.

    One big issue is all the “fluff,” is completely new. When playing a fantasy game, you generally know what you’re getting with dwarves, elves, goblins, and whatnot, but now the “races” are factions, with names like Vanguard, Dvar, Kir’Ko, Amazons, Assembly, and The Syndicate. Even if you eventually get the rough idea that Vanguard are American-style humans, Dvar are Communist-style Dwarves, and Amazons are basically elves, it’s still a bit of a culture shock and you’ll spend some time fumbling around trying to figure out what you’re supposed to focus on.

    Age of Wonders: Planetfall review by Rick Moscatello-aowresearch-jpg

    The game comes with two tech trees you develop simultaneously, focusing on military and social development. Once again you’re going to have trouble figuring out what’s going on, as names like “System Regulation” and “Electron Impact” aren’t nearly as suggestive as things like “fireball” or “the wheel.” For better or worse, the trees are really more like bushes, accidentally researching the wrong thing isn’t going to set you back much at all, although it also means you can “beeline” to whatever techs are most suitable to your faction, safely ignoring what doesn’t interest you.

    Offsetting this is most techs just don’t do much for you. Most military techs provide “mods” to your troops, but you’ll have to pay quite a bit to get those mods actually on your units, making them fairly sparing, and most society techs will only help out a colony (i.e., city) or two at best…you’ll want top tier troops for sure, but past that things don’t usually matter (most mods basically just give a +10% to damage, for example).

    Age of Wonders: Planetfall review by Rick Moscatello-aowbattle-jpg

    The highlight of the game is the tactical combat. Armies here max out at 6 units, although adjacent armies can participate in combat as well. The focus then is on small scale tactics, handfuls of troops supported by large vehicles/monsters/whatever. Adding to the support are “operations,” which function much like battlefield spells, providing support from afar. The battles are played out on pretty and detailed maps, and you’ve several options for using “auto” to speed things up (at some point, it does get a bit tedious conquering a world a half dozen soldiers at a time…).

    Operations are paid for by “energy,” one of the four resources of the game (the others are cosmite, research points, and influence). Energy is the main choke point, as you’ll need lots of it to support operations, lots more to buy new units, and still more for other things; you’ll often devote your colonies to produce energy. Cosmite is only for units and mods; you’ll have shortages here too, but there’s almost nothing you can do about it. Research points are only good for research, but influence helps to deal with the minor races.

    In addition to the major races (who play by basically the same rules as you), each planet has minor races, sub-factions who don’t do much but assign quests and take up space. Become friends with them and you can trade influence for equipment or special units. They’re a good source of “things to do” while you’re building up your bases to get the top tier units so you can finally do some serious conquering of the major races.

    The AI plays the major races well enough, but does like to “turtle,” putting everything on defense, dragging out the game until you can finally put together a military force capable of defeating a defensive position—somewhat difficult due to the hard cap on army size and the considerable defensive bonuses a colony can get.

    Age of Wonders: Planetfall review by Rick Moscatello-aowhero-jpg

    There is also a major campaign game, but it’s pretty weak (truth be told, I never finished the main campaign of AoW3 either), the strength of the game is in the fully “random” scenarios, which you can customize to a great extent. You can also customize your starting hero (in addition to putting mods on your hero, equipping him with weapons, and even putting him in a vehicle if you want).

    While the game is refined and there are no glaring over (or under) powered abilities, there’s little here (beyond putting leaders in vehicles) that hasn’t been done before. That said, if you put the time in to really understand the various factions and how to use their abilities to the utmost, there is a depth here more than one can see just by looking at the rules and options.

    Bottom line, if you’re looking for a good 4x game, don’t want to play in the fantasy style (where AoW3 is still tops), and don’t mind a few bugs (which will be addressed eventually, I’m sure), Age of Wonders: Planetfall is the best sci-fi 4x game that doesn’t put you in space.

    Overall Rating: 81
    Attached Images Attached Images Age of Wonders: Planetfall review by Rick Moscatello-aowmods-jpg 
    Last edited by Doom; 08-17-19 at 04:05 PM.

Thread Information

Users Browsing this Thread

There are currently 1 users browsing this thread. (0 members and 1 guests)

Tags for this Thread


Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts