E3 2019 Hands-On – Age of Wonders: Planetfall
I must admit I have never played an Age of Wonders title as I’m not the biggest strategy fan when it comes to base building, base and unit management, and slow tinkering. I have dabbled with Total War: Warhammer a bit, but it never grabbed me. The strategy games I enjoy most focus more on the combat with some base/unit management and tinkering; games like XCOM are much more my speed. Luckily, Age of Wonders: Planetfall encapsulates the depth of the Age of Wonders strategy management, with combat more like XCOM. I found myself leaving the demo quite surprised and intrigued.
Age of Wonders: Planetfall is the new strategy game from Triumph Studios, creators of the critically acclaimed Age of Wonders and Overlord series, bringing all the exciting strategic turn-based combat and in-depth empire building of its predecessors to space in an all-new Sci-Fi setting. As one of the heirs to the shattered Galactic Empire known as the Star Union, you emerge from a cosmic dark age to craft a new future. You travel to one of the many lost worlds of the old empire, where you will find many marvels among the remnants of this once great civilization.
It would be almost impossible for me to detail and remember everything that went on in this demo. There was so much to it between races, factions, customizations, general management, combat, encounters, and so many other nuanced things that it was a lot to take in for a beginner. Not to say that I was completely lost or wouldn’t be able to figure it out, but the depth of this strategy game is vast.
In the demo I was able to play as The Assembly faction, who are a cyborg-zombie race that reproduce by patching themselves up with body parts and machinery from the battlefields. The character designs are fantastic and pretty disturbing seeing these Frankenstein creatures pieced together with robot parts. My mission was to track down and kill Michael Valentine, a commander for The Vanguard, which are a race of mechanized humans that include units such as power armored soldiers, tanks, and bi-pedal mechs. Michael, much like my T1ANN3 – 2, is a hero on the battlefield and will provide buffs and ordinance commands. If the hero gets killed, you will lose any buffs and extra moves making fights much harder.
The combat, as I mentioned before takes heavy inspiration from XCOM. While you still get multiple units and different types of classes in the fights, the general combat is where the similarities come on. Cover will indicate whether you’re fully covered or on half, line of sites indicators are available, shot chances, and much more. To be fair, I have not played the other Age of Wonders games and perhaps they still play like this, but the developer himself compared it to XCOM and I agreed.
After my victory, which was not easily acquired, I was able to see what the over world map looked like. It reminded me a lot of the bits of Total War: Warhammer I have played where the map is splintered into regions and you must take control by building or fighting for the land. You will meet many races, you will have to fight for territory control, and you will have to be prepared.
There are six main playable races in the game, six secret technologies to mix and match, and there are five NPC factions for you to ally or go to war with. In the campaign you’ll get to experience all of the playable and non-playable factions, trace their origins, and build a new future for the Star Union. The races are all very unique and intriguing. There is an insectoid race that was once enslaved by the Star Union. Apparently the Star Union found out that the Kir’Ko had a hive mind which is what made them formidable. They destroyed the main hive leaving the Kir’Ko lost and easily enslaved. Now that the Star Union is falling, the Kir’Ko are forming together and on a quest to rebuild their hive mind.
Another race is the Amazon’s who are a race of female warriors who ride dinosaurs into battle. The Dvar are an old and mysterious race who evolved to survive anything; no one knows what they look like outside of their armor. All the races have unique stories and motives in this story and I am very intrigued in playing through them. There is so much to this game that you must check it out for yourself, especially if you’re a fan of strategy games in any capacity. Whether you’re a newbie like me who mostly only play XCOM or a diehard AoW fan, there seems to be everything here for you. I encourage you to check out their Discord and socials to found out more because there is a ton to go over.
PC, Xbox One, PlayStation 4