Fantasy 4X sequel Age Of Wonders 4 is out now
Classic series returns
Is there worse box art than that for the first Age Of Wonders, back in 1999? Probably - but I still wouldn't have seen it and bet on the series continuing 24 years later.
Yet here we are. Age Of Wonders 4 is out today.
It's quite good, too. Here's an accoldates trailer:
Age Of Wonders 4 is a strategy 4X, in which players harness different kinds of magic to help them explore, expand and exploit their way towards exterminating rival fantasy factions. There are elements of roleplaying games, too, as you customise your faction with spells and via responses to random story events. These "might turn your farmers towards money worship or see your necromantic raider goblins stacked to the hilt with swarm-friendly magic ask to become a faction of pacifists," as Sin says in her Age Of Wonders 4 review.
Sin enjoyed her time with the game, though she preferred the flavourful side quests to the large military rumbles, in which "the sheer breadth of powers and spells and status effects can become sort of alienating".
Given equal power levels, you sorely need to know what every unit can do, necessitating a lot of memorisation or plain trial and error. But army sizes are limited to six units, making losses expensive and slow to replace. Nearby armies will back each other up, so by the time you're in a real war you'll regularly be fielding 18+ units, and things quickly get messy and frustrating. The UI is generally clear and covered in well-linked tooltips, but with three or four races and a dozen unit types in a fight, it's a lot to analyse in a system that's at its best when it's pacey and smooth.
I'm just happy the key art is better. Age Of Wonders 4 is out now and available from Steam for £42/$50.