Review – The Settlers: New Allies

‘I’ve heard good things from Ubisoft Dusseldorf, fomerly known as Blue Byte, from my WayTooManyGames colleagues, namely due to their excellence in making immersive city builders, like the Anno games. As in, games where you build cities. A builder. For cities. That’s it. I’m writing this obvious remark because someone may have missed the memo during the development of The Settlers: New Allies.

The Settlers: New Allies Construction

The UI is decent, the graphics are great, the music is excellent. It’s the gameplay loop that ain’t great.

People really like city builders, or games we are just told to build and manage things for as long as possible. Just look at Cities, the new Pharaoh game, or pretty much half of the mobile games your mom plays (the other half is probably Candy Crush). People also really like real-time strategy games, as you can see by the revival of the Age of Empires series, as well as Total War and the Warcraft III remaster (well, it wasn’t very good, but it exists). We were facing a shortage of RTS games a few years ago, but I’d argue that we’re pretty satiated as of now. We don’t need average-at-best RTS games to make us forget about the demise of Ensemble Studios anymore. The problem is that The Settlers: New Allies thinks you do.

At first, you start off a new savefile and do the common stuff you’d do in a city builder. You set up a lumber mill, mine rocks, build a few houses, tell the fisherman to fish, the usual fare. Everything is really slow, since you have to move resources to building sites via dirt or stone roads, and then tell specific units to build them, but it’s the core gameplay loop you’d expect. You’ll quickly realize everything is actually very simplistic, perhaps a bit too shallow. The Settlers: New Allies covers the basic elements from its genre, with logistics being annoying, but not complex. You barely have to think about building more houses or do anything else to PLEASE your citizens. Nope. Once your precarious infrastructure is set, you’re then told to… create military units?

The Settlers: New Allies RTS

Man… I just wanna build stuff, not break stuff.

From that point on, The Settlers: New Allies becomes a real-time strategy game, because yes, there are other armies on the same map, and the main objective isn’t to create the biggest and most sustainable civilization you can, but to come up with enough of a decent supply chain to be able to finally research and recruit units to kill everyone else in your vicinity. Its the most bare bones RTS experience I’ve had since playing old-school Command & Conquer on my Sega Saturn. It just doesn’t fit well with the city building premise The Settlers: New Allies is also trying to convey. It tries to please two vastly different kinds of audiences, and, as a result, ends up failing in both fronts.

It’s sad, because the game itself isn’t bad. There is a lengthy campaign (albeit one with bland maps and objectives), its UI isn’t terrible, and its presentation is stellar. It looks great, with absolutely gorgeous lighting effects and usage of color. The sound design is also top notch, with good music and voice acting. The foundation is there, but the execution just isn’t that sublime. Oh, and to top things off, microtransactions. They aren’t inherently mandatory, and the game barely makes an effort to remind you that they are present, but for crying out loud… microtransactions. We’re in 2023, guys. Be better.

The Settlers: New Allies Maps

Maps are small, but The Settlers: New Allies “makes up” for it by adding annoying gateways that require a toll, giving you a fake notion that there’s more out there to unveil.

Can you have fun with The Settlers: New Allies? Well yes, absolutely. It’s not a terrible city builder, nor is it a terrible real-time strategy game. It’s just utterly mediocre on both fronts, resulting in a game that fails to please two completely different audiences. The classic case of a jack of all trades, master of none. I also have to commend the developers for a truly gorgeous presentation, decent tutorial and a user interface that isn’t half-bad, despite being made with a largely forgettable gameplay loop in mind. We have enough city builders and strategy games out there right now. Just get one of each and enjoy their vastly different purposes. You don’t need a game trying to be both at the same time.


Graphics: 9.0

The Settlers: New Allies may be heavily flawed, but I really liked its colorful and detailed visuals. It also runs extremely well.

Gameplay: 6.0

It’s too simplistic as a city builder, and too convoluted for a strategy game. Both gameplay styles do not mix well. Even though the UI is decent enough, the overall gameplay just feels lacking.

Sound: 9.0

Pretty good music and voice acting. Just like the visuals, this is an area where The Settlers: New Allies stands out. Problems lie elsewhere.

Fun Factor: 5.5

It tries to be a city builder and a real-time strategy game at the same time, thus it never manages to fully deliver on either premise. It’s not bad, far from it, but it feels excessively simplistic. Also, microtransactions. Hooray…

Final Verdict: 7.0

The Settlers: New Allies is available now on PS4, PS5, Xbox One, Xbox Series S/X, PC, and Nintendo Switch.

Reviewed on Intel i7-12700H, 16GB RAM, RTX 3060 6GB.

A copy of The Settlers: New Allies was provided by the publisher.