Age of Wonders: Planetfall - Invasions Review25 Jun 2020 0
Age of Wonders: Planetfall - Invasions Review
Released 26 May 2020
Age of Wonders: Planetfall was a capable game, but it always felt a bit single-minded. The extremely restrictive and attrition-focused combat where you constantly lost units never sat right with me, and the actual campaign strategy layer was always a bit bland and repetitive. It was still an enjoyable game, just not the kind of game I could play for endless hours like Civilization, XCOM, or Total War. The latest DLC tries to change a bit of that up, by adding a new endgame crisis and more regenerative units in the hopes of providing a new experience, and it ends up adding a fair number of fun stuff but adding some balance issues in the process.
Invasions is the second DLC in Planetfall's repertoire, bringing a race of shapeshifting lizards to kick the tiny sandcastles the other races have built since the collapse of the Star Union. Like Revelations before it, it adds a completely new faction with a unique trait -- this time sonic weapons -- alongside miscellaneous additions such as world events, another NPC minor faction, and additional missions and scenarios.
The main piece of the DLC are the Shakarn, a new race of space lizards determined to crush all human (and non-human, if we're being honest) empires. Wielding a new type of sonic weapons with powerful mods, regeneration, and a holographic tech that can be used to mimic other races on the battlefield, the Shakarn can field a variety of small and large units that can be weak at low tiers but surprisingly effective when combined.
Unlike the vanilla factions, the lizards can get a lot more out of espionage and diplomacy. As a DLC faction with sonic guns that don't actually benefit from any secret tech bonuses that much, their infiltration bonuses synergise much more with that sneaky and manipulative style of gameplay. That is especially meaningful in the new Conquered World mode where one single big civ faces an alliance of small empires, as they can set up the stage for an eventual flipping off the tables.
However, Invasions' actual name comes from the new Voidbringers trans-dimensional invasions, an end-game event where massive armies spawn across the world and can only be beaten by destroying their spawner beacons. You can choose to either fight them or submit to them, becoming an enthralled faction that helps them conquer the world.
While theoretically the invasion was meant to be a 50/50 split where the factions have to face this growing threat, in all of my campaigns that actually ended up as me versus virtually every single NPC faction because they always decide to be enthralled as they can't win on their own. Bad balance aside, it is a cool concept that successfully throws a wrench into proceedings late in the game, not unlike Stellaris' many end-game crisis.
Aside from that, you also get new world events like solar flares and space storms that add modifiers to the map and scatter loot around, as well as a new NPC faction called the Therians which are basically space furries (humans that modified their genetic makeup by fusing human and DNA together). All in all, it's a fairly standard package that mimics Revelations' structure, but feels more interesting due to its overpowered lizard race.
All in all, Invasions is a good DLC if you can't get enough of Planetfall and are intrigued by space lizards, as it does not change anything that is already established aside from the new endgame crisis. Paradox and Triumph seem to be going for an additive approach, instead of the mix of new features and reworks that the Swedish grand strategy titles are famous for, so the value of Invasions is pretty much based on how much you want to get out of the game and how interested you are in the new stuff that is added. You can safely skip the DLC if you're not enamoured with Age of Wonders, but if you're a fan of the 4X game, you should definitely give it a shot.