Age of Wonders: Planetfall - Revelations Review26 Nov 2019 0
Age of Wonders: Planetfall - Revelations Review
Released 19 Nov 2019
There's something especially fascinating about old, primordial civilisations. From Warhammer's Necrons and Tomb Kings to Stargate's Ancients, the concept of an all-powerful yet forgotten race that somehow became "extinct" has an almost irresistible allure (and a lot of narrative potential).
Age of Wonders: Planetfall's first DLC is focused squarely around that: a long forgotten species that all of a sudden finds itself alive in a ‘new’ old galaxy. Taking a cue from the main game, Planetfall's inaugural expansion brings the Es’Teq into the fold -- a rough, long-entombed race that is suddenly awakening all over the galaxy.
These aliens believe in furthering life through death, and wield a new Secret Technology called Heritor that’s capable of powering Entropy weapons, which can easily annihilate entire squads with enough charges.
This new technology is one of the main features of Revelations, available to players as a new option that goes with the original Secret Techs. Based off a new mechanic called Essence that represents a foe’s life forces, you build up Essence Charges by dealing damage with Entropy weapons. These charges in turn can then be used to trigger special support abilities and increase damage. These act as an interesting aspect in the tactical layer, and can quickly snowball with devastating effect during long battles.
The Heritor and Essence aspects serve to push the concept of the new race, but aren't that novel -- they seem to take elements from the Xenophage, Synthesis, and even Celestian techs, such as the perks that spread buffs between connected units or the "Drained" husks that can be raised when a unit dies in battle, and remain as part of your army when returning to the strategic campaign map.
Alongside the new technology comes The Forgotten -- a discarded branch of the Es'Teq condemned to eternal slumber that end up awakening as well (because reasons). These twisted creatures possess an extremist view of the universe, devouring their way through existence to stay alive. The player can either befriend them or attack them, offering an uncommon degree of freedom and creating interesting stories based on your tolerance of savage single-minded hordes.
Rounding up the content comes a new campaign and scenario, each focused on the new faction in different manners. The storyline follows one of the sole survivors of a dying Syndicate house as they stumble upon Heritor tech and the awakening of the Es'Teq. The scenario adds a new world choice -- a Tomb World -- where Es'Teq ruins litter the ground with the expansion’s new map mechanic - Anomalies. These new map nodes are points of interest that can be explored with a hero and Army, forcing you to spend several turns in place in exchange for a free tech, unit, or resource boosts. It further populates a game that was already more engaging than most Civ clones, and can easily catapult your progress by orders of magnitude if you're lucky. Tactical combats can be a bit trickier though as you don’t get reinforcements via adjacent armies, so the army you take with you needs to be good.
Last but not least comes new units, bringing unique sinister designs like the golem or the creepy Eater of the Dead. Joining Planetfall's already sizable unit pool, these new tactical options merge flawlessly with the general Es'Teq theme and help flesh out their race via rather distinct troops. They're not going to change the way you play, but they added some welcome variety to further populate a world that is already filled to the brim with soldiers, mechs, bikes, giant insects, amazons, pegasii, and space dwarfs.
In the end, Revelations is a fairly modest DLC. It’s no small thing to add in an entire new race and units to go by, but you also wouldn’t be completely wrong in thinking it was a fairly light expansion. Still, it’s purpose is to flesh out existing game content in ways that are meaningful and worthwhile, and in that sense it succeeds pretty well without over-complicating the scope. A quick shout out must also go towards the free patch that came with the game, which included a lot of quality of life features including ways to make navigating around large empires much easier.
All in all, a pretty decent first DLC outing, and one that should be seriously considered for anyone who’s been enjoying Planetfall up till now.