Community Review: Age of Wonders Planetfall

community review age of wonders planetfall

I grew up with Age of Wonders as Heroes of Might and Magic meets Tolkien, so it's still a bit of a weird flex seeing xenomorphs battle not Space Marines and mechs while fat Professor Xaviers roll around mindcontrolling people.

In case you're wondering what the X-Men reference is about, I wasn't joking:

Anyway, Age of Wonders: Planetfall. It's been warming seeing the reception to the series, which I've always taken a liking to as a kid. It's a series that cops a bit of flack from time to time, mostly because it's misunderstood or misrepresented. The game's quite easy to bill as a 4X, but it's probably better appreciated as a 4X-lite. Age of Wonders has always had a heavy focus on combat, so much so that the comparisons to Civilization will always leave fans a little disappointed.

Age Of Wonders: Planetfall Is For Civ Players In A Hurry

For the last week or so I’ve been playing Age of Wonders: Planetfall, the latest game in the long-running 4X series. It is, somehow, the first one of these games I’ve ever played.

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That's also why I like the HOMM comparison, because the games had a very similar approach in terms of what their focus was. I've seen some people make allusions to Alpha Centauri, which sounds admirably, but I know in my heart is miles off-base. Planetfall simply isn't trying to be that kind of game.

But is it a good Age of Wonders game, and do all the different pieces work together? Luke enjoyed it, and he was able to enjoy it on its own merits and not in comparison to what other games do or don't do. I'm interested to hear in your experiences, and whether you're new to the series, fans of the original AoW games or the recent reboots. Did you like Planetfall, and would you recommend it?


Comments

    Going to pick it up today, I'm a big fan of Civ games and want something a bit less full on as Stellaris to play for a while.

    I’ve got it on PS4 and I’m enjoying it - it looks great, and there’s lots of mechanics to get your head around. I haven’t played the earlier games - my comparison would be the “endless” games on steam coupled with a kind of “X-com lite” for the tactical battles (although they can be auto-resolved from the world map, eg if your forces are overpowering).
    Pretty fun so far, and a great strategy game for a console.

    Reminds me a lot of Civ: Beyond Earth, actually - a more combat-focused one, of course. This feels like a fairer comparison as the Planetfall diplomacy options are better this time around and Beyond Earth was nearly impossible to resolve without combat.

    I don't think the Kotaku review was 100% fair around the ability of Planetfall to do in-game storytelling through events and choosing where to go on the map and/or who to negotiate with/kill. I haven't gone far enough in to see any kind of branching story differences between my choices, so far, but even the illusion of it is enough for me at the moment. Most choices are illusions in games, the key is whether it fools you for long enough.

    Mechanically: compared to AoW3, I'm a big fan of the non-randomized tech upgrade options, but some of AoW3's shortcomings have persisted along with Planetfall. Minor gripes around design decisions on unit movement etc, or how to display really important information like line of sight/unit ranges - they still haven't perfected those UI elements. Otherwise, it's Civ:BE again, really. A sci-fi skin to the otherwise very similar game.

    Special mention to the soundtrack, which I'm digging. Future synth chill. Like Tabula Rasa.

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