With a history going back twenty years, it’s safe to say that the Age of Wonders series has seen many changes both small and large over its two decades of history. But no set of changes have been as big or drastic as those introduced with Age of Wonders: Planetfall.
The latest game in the series release in 2019, twenty years after the original Age of Wonders, the game differs from the previous entrants in the series in many key ways.
If you’re new to the series, or an old hand looking for that strategy fix, here’s how Age of Wonders: Planetfall differs from those that came before it and what’s new in the game.
Sci fi vs Fantasy
The Age of Wonders series has, until now, always historically been set in fantasy worlds. With a lineage going back to predecessors like Master of Magic, there’s always been a strong link between this kind of strategy game and fantasy universes.
Age of Wonders: Planetfall heads in a different direction, with the main influence behind the game being a sci fi universe. Populated with factions but ones that deviate from any fantasy template, it’s a breath of fresh air for a genre that’s so heavily invested in fantasy worlds.
Hand in hand with the new direction is the change of magic systems, as in for the first time, there isn’t any. Instead research, technological abilities, and combat abilities fill the gaps left by a more sword ‘n’ sorcery approach. While you won’t be calling down giant whirlwinds or lobbing around fireballs, it doesn’t mean that there isn’t colour and flavour to be found in Planetfall.
What’s a far-flung sci fi setting without a bevy of races, each with their own motivations, appearances, and individual rules? Age of Wonders: Planetfall brings a colossal range of bizarre races to the table, from cyborgs who want to steal your organs, angry bugs, and of course; dwarves.
The world the game itself is set on differs from previous ones, not only is it filled with sci fi trappings, species, and events, it’s divided up into sectors. Each sector has two biomes which produce resources for you to exploit. This makes even the planet itself feel a lot more futuristic than the adventure-esque games of the previous installments.
When you attack with a unit, or are attacked, you’ll get to fight in tactical combat. Unlike some of the previous entries in the series, the game now zooms in on a tactical view of the area, where individual control of your units is undertaken. Playing in a turn based fashion, if you’ve played XCOM you’ll be familiar with some of the basics, but Planetfall’s unit variety and abilities mean it’s unlike any other tactical game out there.
We touched upon there being no magic in Age of Wonders: Planetfall, but that doesn’t mean you can’t unleash hell. A specific tech tree called the ‘Doomsday Tech’ allows factions to research ultimate destructive power. This skill tree, once unlocked, might just be the way that your faction stands ascendant above the other races.
Age of Wonders: Planetfall is without doubt an Age of Wonders game, with a similar focus on strategy, heroes, factions, and combat, but it’s a unique entry into the series. With an altered premise and setting, and new abilities, builds, cities, and units, it’s a new era in the Age of Wonders franchise.