It did not take long for me to have a liking to Age of Wonders: Planetfall. From its six over-the-top sci-fi factions spewing lasers, acid bile, and character all across the randomly created planets to the way it succeeds to finely balance its pacing involving a conventional 4X campaign and XCOM-style tactical battles, there is plenty to praise. A little more sense of tech progression and deeper foundation building would not have hurt, though.
The far-future setting has layers Of complexity without feeling. Hundreds of years back, the galaxy-spanning Star Union collapsed, and every one of the interesting and different factions of Planetfall represents some splinter group of survivors that went their own way in the aftermath. The Vanguard are standard-issue humans who’ve been in cryosleep since before the collapse, and they offer you an excellent starting point both to their recognizable style of traditional warfare with guns and tanks, and the fact that they know about as much about the present state of things as possible on your initial campaign. But if you would like to become odd, there are loads of intriguing alternatives, like the melee-focused insectoid Kir’ko, along with the creepy-as-hell cybernetic Assembly.
You are able to get to know every one of those factions through a handful of well-written, quest-driven story scenarios set on pre-made maps that help flesh out their location in the galaxy. I found these to be the most entertaining portion of Planetfall, hard me to explore ancient ruins, get to understand named and voiced personalities, chase prohibited secrets, and browse occasionally complicated politics that often pit different ideologies within precisely the exact same base faction against one another. The 1 The downside is that after I looked past these hand-crafted scenarios (where there are 13 in all and take anywhere between one and several hours to finish ) the arbitrary maps that make up the beef of Planetfall felt missing in comparison. You will find a number of victory conditions, from political unification to deploying a doomsday device, but with no purposeful storylines steering me I simply wasn’t as excited to get there.
Turning the Tide
On The other hand, getting to the conclusion has a fantastic flow whether you’re on story or arbitrary maps. Developer Triumph Studios has triumphed in dramatic a catchy design balance, with conflicts usually lasting around three to five turns. This is long enough to create some excitement and allow for fun and tactical decision-making, but fast enough that each turn does not get bogged down with several XCOM missions’ worth of battle. Other hybrid 4X games may learn a great deal from Planetfall in that section.
And the conflicts are a Whole Lot of fun, too — especially considering how Interesting and different each of those factions are the plasma begins to fly. The Vanguard feel to be a fairly typical XCOM squad, relying on shooting lines and overlapping areas of overwatch to gain ranged superiority. The Kir’Ko couldn’t be further from this, dishing out high melee damage and hive-mind abilities that enable you to strike in clusters. I loved how every military forced me to alter my thinking and create new doctrines.
While the device Variety available through the technology tree is strong (not factoring in the wild and lovely unbiased units you can recruit on every map to change things up further), I believed I had been missing a feeling of meaningful progression at times. It’s true that almost every node of army research expands your own arsenal, but it’s mostly side-grades for what you presently have. Units can be updated with up to 3 offense, defense, and service modules in addition to gain experience over time, however a device together with three late-game mods does not do far more damage than just one with three ancient game mods, they simply have more functions available. Later-game elite units can pick up this idle somewhat, however they felt like specialists than direct upgrades. I never got that strong feeling of updating my spearmen into swordsmen in Civilization, or kitting out a XCOM group with plasma weapons for the first time. That takes some of their inherent excitement out of progressing down the tech tree.
Mapping the Stars
The Things I typically found myself performing on the campaign map weren’t as interesting as what I was doing in battle, either. Base building is rather simple, with a couple of decisions to make about how to specialize in different sectors that come under your control. I’m not against streamlining logistics management at a game with so much going on, but handling my colonies nearly felt hands-off occasionally. It gives me the impression of something I want to do in the background to support my armies, instead of an interesting challenge in itself. When you dive into the specifics, the fine tuning available with manual population management does not even feel that impactful. Even when playing on the Experienced difficulty, I never had enough issues with unrest to actually have to deal with riots — if I was paying a great deal of focus on my happiness.
While they may sometimes be boring to Play, Planetfall’s randomized maps are never boring to look at. Each World kind, from feral wilderness to destroyed urban sprawl, generates a Strong sense of location with clever use of colour and ecological detail. Each faction pops with interplanetary pizzazz, treating us to a Truly crazy, wonderful, and sometimes delightfully disturbing machines and creatures. Planetfall even Requires a concept as generic as a futuristic Distance rifleman and provides it enough flair to seem handmade and interesting. All the time, the musical score does a fine job setting The disposition of danger, exploration, and striving ahead from the face of decay.