Is there worse box art than that of the first Age of Wonder, back in 1999? Maybe – but I still haven’t seen it and I’m betting the series will continue after 24 years.
However, here we go. Age Of Wonders 4 is released today.
It’s very good too. This is a trailer for Accoldates:
Age Of Wonders 4 is a 4X strategy, where players harness different types of magic to help them explore, expand and exploit their way to the annihilation of rival fantasy factions. There are RPG elements too, as you customize your faction with spells and via responses to random story events. These “might turn farmers into money worshipers or see your raiding orcs stacked to the hilt with the swarm-friendly magic asking you to become a faction of pacifists,” says Sen in her Age Of Wonders 4 review.
Sin enjoyed her time in the game, though she preferred the tasty side quests to the big military hype, where “the breadth of powers, spells, and status effects can become kind of alienating”.
Given equal power levels, you desperately need to know what each unit can do, which takes a lot of memorization or simple trial and error. But army sizes are limited to six units, which makes casualties expensive and slow to replace. Close armies will support each other, so by the time you’re in a real war, you’ll be regularly playing more than 18 units, and things quickly get messy and frustrating. The user interface is generally straightforward and covered in well-correlated tooltips, but with three or four races and dozens of unit types in battle, there’s a lot of analysis in a system that’s at its best when it’s fast and fluid.
I’m glad the basic art is the best. Age Of Wonders 4 is out now and available from Steam for £42 / $50.