Age of Wonders: Planetfall – Star Kings
Triumph Studios / Paradox Interactive
It’s been a year and some change since Age of Wonders: Planetfall debuted, and it’s been a wild ride. Planetfall managed to pull off some game mechanics in unison that have been neglected for a long time when it comes to 4X games. It not only coupled strategic gameplay along with X-COM-like tactical combat, but also added in diplomacy, covert operations, many different technology types (and modifications that you could apply to your forces), cool races, and much more. It quickly became my favorite, go-to 4X game.
Triumph Studios recently released the third expansion in the game’s Season Pass, and it’s called Age of Wonders: Planetfall – Star Kings. Among other things, it features a new faction called the Oathbound to the already loaded roster, and boy, are they nifty.
You can think of the Oathbound as space knights who are determined to bring peace to the galaxy (and unite all of the races under one banner) from the ashes of the fallen Star Union. These honor-bound folks wear powered armor and you can even outfit your heroes in gigantic mecha suits which serve as vehicles.
Of course, the Planetfall universe is a violent place full of lots of rowdy aliens, so all that uniting usually has to be done through force. Luckily, these galactic Galahads wield powerful arc weapons (think: Futuristic lightning weapons) and potent abilities.
One of the things that I immediately found super-cool about the Oathbound is that their heroes can act as the lords and ladies of individual colonies, thereby giving them unique buffs. This lends a fair bit of personality to both the heroes and the colonies they have an interest in protecting and fits very well with their knightly flavor. All you have to do is build a Throne in a colony and you can assign a hero to it.
The next thing I found very useful and unique was that their starter units, Paladin Aspirants, can be upgraded. If they are handled correctly, once they gain a certain amount of experience you can promote them (sort of like knighting them in medieval times) into giant mecha suit-wearing units that are much more powerful on the battlefield. This encourages players to carefully invest in their lower-tier units instead of recklessly throwing them at the enemy.
Precognition is one of the more powerful faction characteristics that the Oathbound have up their metallic sleeves. It’s a buff that you can gain from either Scryer/Watcher units, or, from operations and can give you some nasty advantages over your competition. It effectively allows units to dodge a single incoming attack. When stacked with other abilities, such as intuitive Strikes, you can really rule the battlefield.
All of this battle-goodness is balanced by the Oathbound’s reliance on melee attacks. However, you can still focus on skills that can boost your units’ defensive and survivability traits, sometimes at the expense of more offensive buffs.
On the strategic map, there are new landmarks called Grail Configurations that will appear randomly throughout a game. Once they do, they will feature a multi-part questline that factions can take up. If you’re lucky enough to secure one of these rare finds, you’ll receive some hefty bonuses for your faction.
If all of that weren’t enough, there are some interesting new forms of Wildlife. First up, there are the evil counterparts to the Oathbound which are called Apostates who have turned their backs on nobility in their unquenchable quest for power. Next up are parasitic rock aliens called Psionica that look like something out of a 60s Star Trek episode. And finally, there are the Mycelians; pieces of farming equipment that have been taken over by sentient fungal creatures.
In all, the Age of Wonders: Planetfall – Star Kings expansion brings a lot of excellent and unique content to an already phenomenal game. It’s an excellent way to cap off the end of Planetfall’s first season. I hope (and pray) to see an announcement for a second season sometime in the future.
Age of Wonders: Planetfall has some pretty good looking graphics that make its 4X gameplay truly shine. However, you want to have a pretty beefy gaming PC or gaming laptop in order to play it at a decent framerate. So, you may just want to invest in a decent gaming rig:
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