Age Of Wonders: Planetfall — Revelations DLC Review
I'll cut right to the chase: Age Of Wonders: Planetfall stood tall as one of the best games of the year when it launched back in August. At the time, I was more than a little worried that Paradox's involvement might lead to unnecessary cosmetic DLC masquerading as expansion.
Turns out those doubts were wildly unfounded. Age of Wonders: Planetfall — Revelations greatly expands the base experience and adds in a very satisfying level of extra content for the price.
Age of Wonders: Planetfall — Revelations: What Do You Get With This DLC?
The first of three DLCs to launch for the strategy game, Revelations kicks off the season pass content for Planetfall, which will continue through the fall of 2020. It's similar in nature to other Paradox-published titles, such as Battletech. That being said, fans of Planetfall can expect these expansions to be oozing with more content than we got from Harebrained Schemes earlier in the year.
While there are only two missions in the Revelations DLC, I got well over 10 hours out of them; there's an absurd amount going on in both. If you do absolutely everything — completing every objective and annihilating or making peace with all other factions — expect to hit high-double or low-triple digits in turns for both missions.
Aside from the campaign expansion, there's a new tomb-based Heritor scenario as well. You can bump that hour count up, and, of course, the DLC adds some new map content to all areas of the game.
If you're wondering: yes, Triumph Studio's odd obsession with killer animals continues in Revelations. Joining the evil penguins from the base game is the dreaded megasow and her evil piglets in the DLC.
Further, the Eater of the Dead is a new Tier IV faction unit that can be acquired by spending influence, and it's an absolute beast. This flaming, psionic, essence-devouring monstrosity will set you back 150 influence and costs cosmite upkeep every turn. But oh, my — is it ever worth the price!
Unfortunately, Revelations doesn't offer a new playable race, though that's being saved the next DLC expansion. Here, you're still stuck with the base factions for the new missions, but that's less of a drawback than you might think.
There's still plenty to do in the mini-campaign while playing as a disgraced Syndicate member working alongside a Kir'ko to discover the Forgotten. These are degenerate cast-offs from the Heritor who didn't go into slumber because of their corrupted ability to gain essence by consuming bodies.
The duo's goal is to wield the power of the Heritor. Waking up a long sleeping race of ancient sci-fi warriors heralded by waves of robotic killing machines will obviously make you think of Necron, but that's not really what's going on here.
Although they want to annihilate all computer-based AI and don't mind draining the life essence of non-believers, they are more benevolent than they seem, and the story takes some twists along the way.
New Planetfall Mechanics in the DLC
Aside from the unfolding story found in the new campaign missions, there are some big additions to Planetfall's base gameplay. Most notably, the additions come in the form of anomalous sites.
These expanded map locations offer a different take on the standard dungeon-delving concept. Instead of a straight battle to get resources like in previous Age Of Wonders games, these sites require a multi-turn investment with different options available depending on your faction and secret tech.
A site normally takes between 3-5 turns to complete depending on the options taken, which means one of your hero units will be unavailable for an extended period of time. That's a big risk to take since you won't have one of your most powerful armies available for exploration or defense. Particularly in-depth anomalous locations may take even longer to complete, but the rewards are worth it as shortcuts are sometimes offered with a reduced chance of success.
This new mechanic adds a clear RPG element to the game, and it works based on previous choices made in the mission. If you brought a specific hero to the fray, they might be able to decipher old runes to bypass a security system. If you made peace with another faction, they might battle the guardians for you. Basically, you get the turn-based strategy equivalent of the storybook segments from Pillars Of Eternity.
It's such an obvious fit for the previous Age Of Wonder location delving mechanics that I have to wonder if it was intended to be part of the Planetfall base game and got culled due to time constraints.
The best part, though, is that these sites have a lot of fun with unintended consequences. You might cause a time loop to prevent people from dying in a spaceship crash only to discover they wanted to be dead, so you have to kill them a second time. Whoops. At one location you can even marry a robot, who, ahem, "services" you in public without any scruples about decency or social norms, resulting in a big stat boost but coming with a major (and permanent) morale decrease if they die in combat.
With the addition of the Forgotten and the Heritor also comes a new essence-based combat style. It must be built up through successive attacks and chained together for various effects over time.
Of course, there are a variety of new unit mods that play off this mechanic. The Corrupted Incarnation mod, available by befriending the Forgotten, has some fabulous tactical applications if you like to play like a ravenous ghoul of a necromancer, eating corpses to regain health and power new abilities.
Obviously, you will only notice the difference between those essence abilities and any base game effects if you manually play most battles. Auto-completing them won't reveal these mechanics. Since many players just click "auto" and move on, some of the objectives in the second Revelations mission revolve around using those new tactical operations in combat, combining secret tech directly with game mechanics.
Outside of unit skills, essence can now play a role in locations on any map, even outside of the campaign-specific DLC mission.
Essence gash locations are now in the mix, capable of negatively impacting your regular units and causing reduced energy gain. But they also give your new units extra essence every turn so they turn into combat powerhouses. When utilized properly, gashes are extremely useful for defense or quick bouts of offense before returning your units to home base to recharge.
Age of Wonders: Planetfall — Revelations DLC: The Bottom Line
- Adds some excellent mechanics to extend the life of the base game
- More than 10 hours of new campaign missions to play
- New enemies and an extra faction to curry favor with during scenarios
- No new playable faction in this DLC
- Only two missions
While two missions and an NPC faction may not seem like much for $14.99, there's a surprising amount of new content to play with in the Revelations DLC for Age of Wonders: Planetfall.
Since the new anomalous site and essence mechanics are added to the base game as well, you are getting potentially dozens of hours of extra content between the campaign and randomized scenarios.
If this is what we're getting in the first, smallest DLC of a planned three-part arc, I can't wait to see what comes to Planetfall in the next part of the season pass.
[Note: A copy of the Revelations DLC for Age of Wonders: Planetfall was provided by Paradox Interactive for this review.]