A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this game.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Age of Wonders: Planetfall is a science fiction themed turn-based strategy game available on Xbox One, PlayStation 4, and Windows-based PCs. The game features large scale battles between different factions, ranging from military space jockeys to dinosaur riding amazons to cyborg zombies and even swarms of insectoid warriors. These turn-based battles use a variety of attack types, complete with special effects and explosions, though not much on-screen blood or gore's shown. The game does feature some minor moments of sexual innuendo, some characters are shown smoking in the game's art and cutscenes, and there's occasional use of profanity in the game's dialogue.
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What's it about?
AGE OF WONDERS: PLANETFALL is set in a galaxy that's trying to rebuild. Once it was home to a vast empire of wealth and wonder, with the Star Union serving as the crown jewel for this era of expansion and exploration. Then a mysterious cataclysm struck without warning, causing a storm of chaos that disabled all interstellar travel which left many colonies stranded on harsh worlds cut off from one another and leaving the Star Union in shambles. Now, centuries later, as suddenly as it begun, the storm has passed and the pathways to the stars have opened once more. But this is the dawning of a new and different era. New factions have arisen from ashes of isolation as the galaxy's inhabitants were forced to evolve. From the cannibalistic undying cyborgs of The Assembly scavenging for raw organic materials to the once enslaved insectoid Kir'Ko, liberated from galactic slavery at the cost of their hivemind. There are the tribes of Amazonian geneticists astride their dinosaur steeds, bending nature itself to their will, and industrial dwarven miners of the Dvar with their profit-driven goal to strip planets of their valuable resources before moving on to the next. Finally, there's The Vanguard, the last remaining vestiges of the Star Union, awakened from centuries of cryosleep to try and restore the Union to its former glory. Players will choose a side and expand their empire through exploration, diplomacy, and of course, use of force as they go to war on an interplanetary scale. Can they can reign supreme as they seize control of the spaceways and lead the galaxy into a new age of enlightenment?
Is it any good?
For the past decade, this popular strategy series has taken gamers through grand scale battles of swords and sorcery, but it's now taking to the stars for a tale of interplanetary conquest. While Age of Wonders: Planetfall's sci-fi setting adds lots of new creative encounters and abilities to the mix, it's also clear that it hasn't abandoned its fantasy roots. In fact, a lot of the factions feel like classic fantasy roles with a futuristic coat of paint. What might have been a druid before is now a geneticist in tune with nature. A roguish thieves' guild has evolved into a galactic Syndicate of devious merchants. And those hearty dwarvish miners? Well, they're still hearty dwarvish miners … but this time in power armor with giant drill tanks. This isn't just a reskinned fantasy game though. The game seamlessly blends its familiar fantasy elements with a futuristic setting in a way that should appeal to fans of both genres. Besides, who hasn't wanted to ride into battle on a laser-mounted dinosaur before?
In terms of gameplay, Planetfall is simply stunning, but also a bit overwhelming, because there's a lot more strategy involved. Between battles, players must build and maintain their diplomatic relations with other factions and even other species, while harvesting resources and choosing which skills might turn the tide of war in their favor. There's a lot to keep track of, so one small misstep or poor decision might come back to haunt you far later down the road. There's also a lot more strategy involved in battle as well. Skirmishes are smaller in scale but take full advantage of the environments. Blown out buildings and other rubble can break line of sight and provide great cover if used correctly, and the variety of abilities from each factions' units gives lots of tactical options to use in surprising and fun ways. Learning the strengths and weaknesses of each faction is a daunting task, but it's also a rewarding one. Strategy fans should buckle in tight and enjoy the bold new direction that Age of Wonders: Planetfall takes the series into.
Talk to your kids about ...
Famileis can talk about violence in video games. Is the impact of the violence in Age of Wonders: Planetfall affected by the over-the-top science fiction style of combat? Is it less realistic because you have robots and dinosaurs fighting each other on alien planets? How does the fantasy/sci-fi violence compare with more realistic portrayals of violence on the battlefield?
What are some of the reasons the nations go to war? How can diplomacy and compromise keep tensions from boiling over?
- Platforms: PlayStation 4, Windows, Xbox One
- Price: $49.99
- Pricing structure: Paid
- Available online? Available online
- Developer: Paradox Interactive
- Release date: August 6, 2019
- Genre: Strategy
- Topics: Dinosaurs, Magic and Fantasy, Robots, Science and Nature, Space and Aliens
- ESRB rating: T for Blood, Fantasy Violence, Mild Language, Suggestive Themes
- Last updated: August 05, 2019
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