Age of Wonders 4 Hands-on Impressions

Age of Wonders 4 Hands-on Impressions

By  Luz Victoria - 28th Apr 2023

Will you be the ascended Champion or the tyrannical Wizard King?

Age of Wonders 4 Hands-on Impressions

After nine years of waiting, it's time to delve into the magical world of Age of Wonders and fight your way to victory in each new coming world and battle. With various customisation choices, build opportunities, and win conditions, will you attain victory through peaceful means or will you use other, more aggressive methods to show off your expertise?

Age of Wonders 4 is a 4x title by Triumph Studios and Paradox Interactive that includes light turn-based strategy and RPG elements. Before delving into the world and starting wars, we first need to talk about…

New In-depth Customisation

This new Age of Wonders entry features very in-depth customisation — so much that it blew my mind Not only do you have typical changes like facial features, body types, and more, but you also have the opportunity to change your race's entire qualities, including physical and otherwise. This means that with the new system, you can now make barbaric Elves and sophisticated Orcs, because who is going to say no?

Although none of the physical characteristics matter — a welcome addition — you can also change body and mind traits as well, which is a buff-focused attribute you'll have to select to ensure you can reign victorious on the battlefield. Proper building can start from here, but Age of Wonders 4 suggests you first play with RPG elements in mind and then start min-maxing your race, advice I recommend taking — have fun first before you start number-crunching.

In customisation, you can change practically everything about your Faction, from their physical attributes to culture and even the type of magic you will be casting. This works as the customisation for your army and it ensures that the game has plenty of replayability — by choosing different Faction options, you will have the opportunity to explore with different playstyles, all of which differ a surprising amount. Order Affinity builds focus on hidden powers that you need to awaken within your army, whilst those that are connected to the Astral Affinity will have to focus more on magic and spellcasting.

Manage Your Empire

Manage Your Empire

Become a worthy ruler of your lands by reigning supreme against your foes. Once you've built your character and selected from a vast range of customisation, it's time to enter into the match and focus on your strategy — will you focus on Mana or Gold? Will you focus on Production or Draft? As you jump into the game and start building City Structures and exploring, you'll need to make the decisions that are best for you and your plans toward victory.

That said, Military victory isn't your only option when it comes to winning. Through expansion, you can grow and succeed without having to engage your foes in fights often — if at all. Diplomacy options allow you to form alliances with the other players and Free Cities will work to bolster your resource production and get larger claims over the land.

The strategy portion isn't difficult, and that's a plus for anyone that is new to 4x and the Age of Wonders franchise in general. Managing your resources and properly annexing will ensure you snowball harder, but Age of Wonders does its best at explaining to you how to succeed and laying out a plan of action without making it too simplistic for genre veterans.

Battle Other Empires

Once you've found enemies to challenge, engage in turn-based-style combat that will have you control a group of units against your foes. Recruit other armies nearby to ensure that you can win the battle with ease, and compare your strength against theirs.

Age of Wonders 4 includes a nifty system that allows you to measure your army's strength against your foe and gives you an overview of how the game thinks the match will unfold. From a risky battle to a riskless one, the more units and strength you have, the more you will be able to pass the fight without any worries.

Although it is a bit simple with the way it informs you about how the fight will end — and it is seldom wrong — it makes the game very accessible, which is a welcome addition to a title that already has so much for newcomers to get used to. This ensures that players that don't want to have to do the maths and run the calculations won't have to, all the while letting Veterans focus more on other aspects or learning how to win disadvantageous battles.

A War Between Mortals and Gods

A War Between Mortals and Gods

The Ancient Wizard Kings have escaped from imprisonment and have come out with a vengeance — they will rule the lands by sheer force if they must. As a champion of the people, you will take control of the mortals in order to foil their plans and ensure that you and yours can thrive without these tyrants running rampant.

The Story Realms will slowly unfold a narrative that also works as part tutorial over the first couple of worlds you complete. Fight against the Ancient Wizard Kings and also take part in their ranks, as some of the levels will ask you to play as part of the Godir that wish to usurp the lands from mortals. The story elements take part at the beginning of each match and in-between in the form of the newly added Events — get quests and clear objectives to get an upper hand, all the while surviving the randomly generated ones as well.

Completing the stories isn't difficult, but thankfully, you can play it in either Easy, Normal, or Hard modes to ensure that you can manage it according to your skill level. These worlds are relatively small and adept players will be able to wipe the floor with the A.I. in no time, but it's a welcome addition nonetheless — tutorials incorporated into narrative elements are always welcome. Reign supreme and win to unfold the narrative, allowing you to…

Ascend to the Pantheon of Magehaven

As you succeed and win each battle, you will be able to ascend your character to the Pantheon of the mages, Magehaven. This world allows you to use your Factions once again in later worlds or encounter them as recruitable heroes or enemy Factions to fight against.

Better yet, unlock new items as you complete each new match — Age of Wonders 4 scores various elements in your gameplay, including how many times you levelled up, how many enemies you defeated, and even if you won. By doing so, you can use your points in the Pantheon Progression tab, which unlocks various cosmetics, traits, and even origins.

Each new level unlocks worlds, and you can use the various unlockables to change your playstyle for your next run for even more in-depth customisation. From different traits to origin stories, you will affect your build and world, allowing you to experience a new run once again, even after you've tried every culture.

Verdict

Age of Wonders 4 is a great title. From the accessibility to the customisation, from PvP to PvE, there is little reason not to pick it up if you like the 4x genre. Turn-based battles and world-building strategy at its finest. Take part in the war when the game releases on the 2nd of May!



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