Age of Wonders 4 | Launch Trailer | Last Chance to Pre-Order!

Much of AoW4's overarching structure will be familiar to anyone who has ever played a 4X game before. From building cities to researching technology to exploring the map to meeting friends and rivals, the overall shape of the game is, perhaps unsurprisingly given the series’ age, staunchly traditional.


Where AoW4 gets freaky, though, is the way it implements its fantasy setting. You get hero characters who can be levelled up and equipped with loot. There are spells you can cast at a strategic level that grant perks and even units. The tactical battles have swords and arrows, but also elemental magic, animals and dead dudes. There are even story missions you can work through. It’s great!

Another thing I really like about the game is that, while there’s a lot to dig into—city management, battles, exploration, diplomacy, RPG stuff—the game, like Planetfall, moves fast. I don’t know if that’s because of its scale or maybe just that I’m already so familiar with 4X stuff that I’m blowing through parts of it, but the game’s pacing just felt really solid; I always had something cool to do, and never felt like I was bored, or stuck waiting for a particular piece of research or construction. The game’s interface, at once instantly-familiar for 4X veterans and always prodding me when a decision needed to be made, helps here.

So yeah, I really like AoW4! It’s maybe not the finest example of the sub-genre—I still think, nearly a decade on, that Endless Legend remains a masterpiece—but it’s certainly good enough at everything it’s trying to do that I regret never having dabbled with the series sooner.