Good news! Niantic’s latest game has just touched down in Australia. Based on the extremely popular Settlers of Catan board game, Catan – World Explorers borrows heavily from Pokémon Go and Harry Potter: Wizards Unite to make an AR MMO that “turns the world into one game of Catan”.
Players start out by choosing one of three factions (the usual red, blue and yellow), and then need to walk around to collect resource cards and build to get their team the most victory points each month. As well as collecting resources, development cards, unlockable buildings, common, uncommon, special and personal settlement cards, you can also amass mini game cards.
In the mini games you need to throw dice (in the same way you would a Poké ball) at the game board to collect bonus RP and XP.
Because of the 2020 of it all, players are each given a totem which they can send out in their place in exchange for in-game currency. Of course, if you can’t collect everything in the real world, you can always pay your way to victory, with plenty of new and exciting in-app purchases to discover.
There is a lot going on here. There are a lot more elements than in Pokémon Go, and it’s not as intuitive. Like any good, challenging board game, it’s going to take time and more than a couple of tries to get the hang of the mechanics.
After playing for a couple of hours, I still don’t really get it. It doesn’t yet feel like a Catan game. All the Catan elements feel a little forced. I imagine you’d have to be particularly keen to persist to the part where it starts to make sense.
That said, I can see myself growing to enjoy it once the penny drops and it starts to flow better.
It’s not going to be like that glorious time in 2016 when Pokémon Go launched and everyone was rushing to catch Magikarp. But it adds a nice extra layer to walks. I’m excited to see how Catan fans find it, and what kind of community builds around the game.
Are you looking forward to playing? Which faction will you join?