Age of Wonders: Planetfall by Triumph Studios

Oddly enough the original UI works well.

The windows can be resized by the player etc.

And it looks good at high resolutions.

I think SM is a better contender for modernisation lol.

I’m finally clicking a bit with PF. I always buy AoW games and then never really like them so I’m glad I’m finally getting some of my money’s worth.

It just occurred to me that planetfall’s voidbringer endgame is actually a sci fi spin on the ancient horror idea but with a timer instead of an exploration trigger, and I’ve played quite a few voidbringer games -

I confess I haven’t played it in ages, but that’s good to hear.

Good point. I mean, I love SM, but it looked like ass when it was released so I’m sure it’s aged terribly.

Also fairly challenging to get running.

I’ve decided to come back to PF (you can guess why) and with a huge delay I can confirm it works fine on deck. Medium textures, low shadows and low SSAO, Antialiasing, and bloom on, but no reflections. I think even SSAO can be comfortably turned off as in 1080p resolution and mostly top-down view it’s not something you notice. I get comfortable 40 fps. I play with the controller scheme and it’s fine though there are some issues. In general, I had no issues with mouse emulation on SD for similar games - Europa Universalis 4 and Endless Legend worked perfectly fine for me after some tinkering with hotkeys.

With AoW3 I think the bigger issue would be UI size. You’d have to manually override the UI scaling limit in the config file to make it comfortable for the small screen.

I forgot how well campaigns work. Took me a long time to find my footing and remember how do you play the game, but I’ve finished the second Kir’ko mission.

It’s great how every map feels a campaign in itself, with multiple objectives and usually multiple endings. It’s also randomly generated, I understand. While usually campaigns in games like this are very reductive, here most mechanics are intact, including diplomacy, and there are plenty of ways how it can go.

These campaigns are so meaty I can totally see how you can buy this game, play the campaign exclusively and have a lot of bang for you buck. In AoW3 I never felt like that cause the campaigns were more limited and some decisions were just bad (like the final mission for “good” elves could go very wrong).

I have been playing the campaign myself after easing back to the game following the Age of Wonders 4 announcement. Given the time I spent on the second Vanguard map last night, and feeling woefully unhappy at how much I was seemingly losing, I’ll happily restart and try again. To me, each scenario really does feel like a game all to itself with some constraints (ie: faction leaders). I completely agree about how great the multiple objectives and multiple endings are. One complaint though is how it does seemingly throw so many objectives all at once. Part of me would like to just get on with the game and skip a bit of dialogue short term then revisit later.

Ah Planetfall… Time and again I play it for a bit, start to understand the systems, just start to figure it all out and really dig in, then I drift away to some newest shiny. I think about playing it often though.

Maybe it’s time to try to pick up the campaign again. I think I was on Dvar. But then everyone said I was doing it wrong and single random scenario was the way to go. And then there is that Empire mode thing which I guess is a mix of both.

Empire mode is quite good for just playing quick(ish) scenarios and comes with objectives for that scenario that give you benefits as you progress. It’s quite good and you can come back and not skip a beat. Losing doesn’t come with a penalty, you simply don’t get the benefit of the win.

I’ve played Planetfall for about 45 hours and it finally clicked after winning two games on relaxed.

The first was as a Synthesis Syndicated. I spent the early game aggressively settling. Initial build order was scout, farm, settler, then units for the second stack. With three scouts I was able to grab a lot of pickups and supplement production.

I was trying to find the second syndicate settlement so I could get to three by turn 10 or so. And I lucked out! There were two neutral syndicate settlements near by. I was able to grab both and made treaties with the AI syndicate neighbor to buy myself time to start grabbing land on his border.

When he finally ended the treaty due to our close borders, I declared war and was able to steamroll him pretty fast. Between the three cities I grabbed from him and the couple I settled in the meantime, I was up to 10 cities by midgame. I left half of them producing energy/research and focused on the secret tech victory. I was able to end the game before any AI could push far enough into my empire.

The second game was even quicker. The map had special objectives to eliminate the spacers, and the the satellite modifier that made the whole map visible. I played as Xenomorph Assembly. The game was pretty casual, testing out the faction and secret units against the independents as I moved towards the target bases.

Now I’m pursuing the revenge on the syndicate mission as psynumbria Kirko. This will be my first game trying to take on multiple AI. After that, I’m going to up the difficulty and try out Heritor Oathbound and Voidtech Amazons.

A few thoughts:

  • I agree with others that the doomsday victory would be more interesting if it played more like the seals, with limited world map locations that could accept the doomsday buildings. Otherwise I like the doomsday victory as the medium-length alternative to the relatively quick scenario objectives in empire mode. It seems a lot quicker than trying to paint the map.

  • Both games I focused on half the units and about 1/3rd the tech, and that seemed to present an acceptable balance of complexity and effectiveness.

  • I like customizing the game and picking the AI opponents. That helps control the variables and cuts down on all the mod-faction possibilities that some people find confusing. I like the idea of putting the AI on teams as a way of increasing the difficulty. I also like playing against multiple similar AI factions rather than a random mix, for similar reasons.

  • I made a bunch of heroes before starting empire mode, and I like that those heroes can be recruited mid-game and gain experience between games just like the leader. It’s been fun to promote heroes from the previous mission to the commanders in the next one. Generally speaking, empire mode provides just enough continuity for me to build backstories into the game.

  • Planetfall avoids one of my biggest gripes with most 4xs: the time the AI spends moving between turns. It’s short enough that I hardly notice for most of the game, which really helps me stick with it.

  • I find the game is generally very straightforward with its information. It takes some time to parse out all the details, but the maps, unit cards, etc. are all pretty helpful. And I really enjoy the map. I know I’m in the minority here.

  • I tried AoW3 many times but it never clicked with me. The game’s mix of classes and races tripped me up: why would there be goblin and dwarf dreadnaughts? Did they train together in dreadnaught academy? How’d that happen? Weird or not, that hang-up kept me from really digging the game. By comparison, I find the Star Union backstory and tech/mods in Planetfall much easier to comprehend and interact with.

  • My one wishlist item for AoW4: make the game more about playing against the map. I’d rather race the AI factions to a goal than have a straight-up war of conquest. Triumph already does a great job of this with their maps and victory conditions, so really this is a request to double-down on that.

  • Actually, here’s a bonus wishlist item: I’d like to see a quick battle mode, as in the Total War series, that allowed the player to select the map, units, and spells/operations for a one-off tactical match. I think that’d go a long way towards helping people absorb the unit and mod variety.

Erm, yes!

I finished the first campaign for this game last night ending what was stubborn desire to overcome the tedious nature of the various maps. There’s a couple of nice things about that campaign. I really like how the heroes carry over from the first map to the second map for each faction, including their gear. And a chance to respec :-) I also like the way the final mission is delivered with the opportunity to play as all the earlier commanders and seeing the effects of the choices (or some of). I ended up playing the map as Assembly anyway because the Commander and the second hero I had developed were wickedly strong giving me a major advantage above everyone else from the start.

But… the maps can be such a nuisance. The second Amazonian map with the constantly changing biome. The second Syndicate map with teleporters everywhere and tiny land masses of 3-4 sectors (thank goodness for their stealthy floating tanks). And the Assembly map which like the Syndicate replacing water with lava, a relative lack of floating units to traverse said lava and no teleporters to get around. And then the final map with the constantly spawning autonoms and paragon units, not to mention allies (and enemies) being defeated due to other means.

It short, that campaign felt more like an exercise by Triumph to test just how soon a player would get the shits with it and stop. I perservered, but at what cost to sanity? Well, I suppose the Revelations campaign awaits now with new toys to try out again, so this will be a bit more fun, I think… I hope.

Personally I never play campaigns in strategy games like this - I will always beeline straight for the sandbox/board game mode and never leave. But some campaigns can be fun when done well and when they act as a tutorial of sorts, I suppose. I can’t think of any specific examples honestly, but I’m sure I’ve thought that before.

I don’t know if I ever even clicked the Campaign button in the Planetfall menu now that I think about it.

I’d actually forgotten this game even had campaigns outside of Galactic Empire mode. I don’t have much use for pre-scripted missions in strategy games, personally.

In a sense, I agree. I remember with Age of Wonders 3, I grew bored with the campaign in that game after the second map and never revisited. I probably will one day, before game 4 comes out, maybe. Campaigns are not a strong part of the game. I played the Planetfall campaign though to see if it builds on some context behind the various factions, secret tech, commanders, that sort of thing. There’s always a bit of a roleplay angle I like to bring into both AoW and Planetfall.

The vanilla game campaign isn’t particularly pre-scripted. There are some events that fire which leads to some dialogue. And occasionally there’s a decision which might have ramifications later on, either within the particular world, or later within the campaign. The map does have some constraints, but it is randomly generated each time. So for instance, the second syndicate mission will always have small islands plus lots of teleporters and the same AI factions, but the landscape itself will vary which can make a map harder or easier, depending on the seed.

You don’t have too many days left to make that happen.

The strangest thing is that the original campaign, i.e. AoW1, is genuinely interesting.

As is the Shadow Magic one.

And I’d say Golden Realms and Eternal Lords had decent campaigns.

HoMM 2 also had really fun campaigns, both on the good and evil side. Now, granted, I’d already played a lot of the game with just scenarios before I ever tried the campaign, but still, when I eventually tried it, it was great. The expansion campaign was good too.

I’ll be the heretic here and say that I actually liked Planetfall’s campaign. I think they did well to tie the choices you make together between missions. Alas, now I don’t remember any details. I do have a memory of building up heroes for different factions and then they’d come back in the later missions depending on the choices you made re: the overarching plot. But it’s a fuzzy memory.

The tension I feel is that I really want to keep building heroes across missions, and you need some kind of outside structure for that. But locking yourself into one faction is no bueno because by the time you’ve gone through three maps you’re really tired of using the same ability at the beginning of every battle.

For HoMM 2 (and 3, IMHO) the campaigns work really well because each map is very distinct and puzzley, so it’s a different beast.