Age of Wonders: Planetfall E3 2019 Hands-on Preview

I got the wonderful chance to play Age of Wonders: Planetfall at this year’s Electronic Entertainment Expo.

The game is essentially a science fiction take on the classic turn-based Age of Wonders series, and I’ve been particularly excited to finally get my hands on the game. I have fond memories of the predecessor series, so I have high expectations of this sci-fi follow-up.

From the get-go, the visuals in the new entry are astounding, from the overworld map to characters, animations, local battle maps, and more. Everything looks meticulously planned, designed, and crafted well. I really couldn’t get enough of just seeing the units do their thing each turn. The environments are destructible too!

If you haven’t played an Age of Wonders game before, imagine a turn-based, 4X strategy game but when you enter battle, you have to manage your units and fight XCOM style. It’s pretty bananas, and somehow it all works – despite the insane number of levels of tech behind these games.

Age of Wonders: Planetfall offers six unique factions: the Vanguard (a military like human faction), the Amazons (all-female faction that controls animals and wildlife), the Assembly (a cyborg like faction), the Dvar (space dwarves), the Kir’Ko (sentient insects that overwhelm with big numbers), and the Syndicate (slaves that are good at diplomacy and sneaking).

As you can expect, each faction has wildly different enemies, abilities, and so on – and I obviously love the Dvar, because dwarves are the best race in high-fantasy. This is basically sci-fi high fantasy, I guess – but I digress. There are also NPCs you can interact with as you try to lead your people to victory.

As with any 4X, you’ll have to build, negotiate, develop new technologies, and typically – fight your way to dominance. The build I played at E3 was absolutely solid, and I didn’t really notice any issues with performance or gameplay. Despite the game having more time for polish, it felt like I was playing the finished game.

There are a number of game modes planned for this already massive game, including a single-player, full-fledged story campaign, random map generation, skirmish, and of course, various online multiplayer offerings. There are also various ways to achieve victory, like any proper 4X game, including conquest, diplomacy, and doomsday tech.

The balance between empire building in the 4X mode and the turn-based, tactical strategy combat in each small battle really play out well together. If you’re worried about being overwhelmed with all of the various mechanisms in the game, don’t – the game is a breeze to play, and is absurdly fun.

Progression in Age of Wonders: Planetfall is quite robust, just like its forebears, and I really couldn’t get enough of the game. There is a story where you can uncover the secrets of the fallen galactic empire, discover the fate of lost people and tech, and fulfill your grandest sci-fi conquering desires.

Honestly there is so much promise here in Age of Wonders: Planetfall, I’m kind of wondering how I’ll ever be able to finally complete the game myself. There’s all the other factions I haven’t touched, customizable units, and more. I can’t wait for the full release next month.

Age of Wonders: Planetfall will be coming to Windows PC via Steam on August 6th.

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Owner and Publisher at Niche Gamer and Nicchiban. Outlaw fighting for a better game industry. Pronouns: Patriarch, Guido, Olive, Catholic

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