Age of Wonders: Planetfall

Review

Standing on your spaceship command deck, the sight is spectacular! There lies in front of your eyes one of the planets from the old Star Union Empire, led by the Empress Carmania, the leader of your ancestors. What were the reasons for the fall of this Empire, and are there any survivors who could help you understand.  It’s time to find out, as you’re about to land on the first planet of Age of Wonders: Planetfall!

Age of Wonders: Planetfall is a 4x strategy game with a turn-based combat system, developed by Triumph Studios and Published by Paradox Interactive on the 7th of August 2019. The game is available on PC (steam), Xbox One and PS4 platforms.

I must say up front that I haven’t played any of the previous games in the series and therefore, I’m not able to make any comparisons with the previous titles.

The game consists of 14 missions, including a tutorial. Whether or not you are familiar with this genre of game, I strongly suggest playing the tutorial, which is a small mission and will take you around 45 minutes to an hour to complete, and will give you a good understanding of all aspects of the game.



When you are done with the tutorial, it will be time for you to choose between one of the three planets available to explore. You can choose your difficulty from Beginner, Advanced and Expert, as well as whether or not you want to have your hero resurrected after losing a battle.

The game has two phases; the first one is basically to grow your Empire, and the second is the turn-based combat phase. At the start of each game, your spaceship will land on the specific planet and create your base colony. You first goal is to acquire more lands surrounding your colony by sending a unit to a sector and building forward bases and claiming these territories. As your main colony grows, you’ll have the ability to annexe these specific territories to that colony and choose what type of industry it will support: Energy, Production, Food or Research. The energy is basically the currency in this game and therefore, you must make sure you have enough of it in your treasury to buy new units and strikes during the combat phases. In terms of research, you have two trees; one for the Military, and the other for the Society. Both have 9 stages of research, with each stage having 4 researches to acquire. 

As you move forward, you’ll be able to purchase new units and structures, as well as operations. But you must have plenty of energy and Cosmite (essential material) at your disposal for your military units and gears to produce new buildings after discovering new society research.

You’ll be able to move your units and start exploring the planet, eventually meeting other races (as well as your own) who will give you quests that will help you discover the story of the planet. But be aware that the first time they meet you, your relationship will be fragile as they will most likely doubt your intentions. You can start with a diplomatic approach using the diplomacy tab, or just become a war mongrel, attack them and take over their territories. I must say that the Diplomacy options are very good and easy to use.

Which takes me to military units. You can merge up to six units, including a hero, to create an army. You have to make sure you have enough energy to create a unit, while equally ensuring that you have enough energy to keep your units alive. What I really like about the units is that you can customise them as you find new technologies. Yes, you’ll get new units with specific technology, and you’ll also be able to upgrade these units by adding additional technologies through the unit mod slots, of which there are three per unit. For example, your space marine starts with a machine gun, but by adding electrified ammunition and rail accelerators, your unit will now fire some sort of deadly electric laser. And there is plenty of variety, which is fabulous! Regarding your heroes, you can also purchase and change they primary and secondary weapons. All units will gather experience as they survive on the battlefield, but your heroes will gain experience points which you can use to purchase special skills for them.

The second phase is the turn-based combat and all you have to do is to move either one unit, or an army comprising six units, onto the tile where an enemy unit is located. If you have other friendly units next to the defendant or enemy figurine, they will automatically join the fight with you and vice versa.  During each turn, all units have 3 action points which they can use to move around, use weapons and activate abilities too. If you eliminate all enemies, you’ll be the winner! You’ll be fighting in different environments, including in deserts and on water, which is a lot of fun. Operations are also available in turn-based combat as long as you have enough energy points, but use them wisely as you can only use a few per battle.

Also, as you move from planet to planet, you’ll be playing different races (6 in total, plus the Paragon faction) which gives you a bit of novelty as you have to learn about each of the races, units and research. One point I forgot to mention is that all maps (planets) are randomly generated, which gives you plenty of replay-ability. There is also a multiplayer mode.

Splendid graphics and smooth soundtrack. The game runs very well and you’ll be stuck to your screen for hours on end. The only annoying thing I encountered was the constant reminder that I have still units with movement left in them, either in battle or on the main map; this kept happening even after ticking the box to not be reminded. There are plenty of options and your can rebind keys if you wish to do so (thank God for that)!


Positives

+ Great Graphics
+ Single and multiplayer mode
+ Customise your heroes and units
+ 7 races with their own units
+ Good and easy technology trees
+ Great gamepedia
+ Achievements and trading cards

Negatives

- Annoying reminder before ending a turn if you haven’t moved all your units.

Review Summary

Dive headfirst into Planetfall, an exceptional strategy game! A must-have for all fans of the genre.

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Zeepond Rating: 9/10

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