Paradox has had a wonderful run with Age of Wonders: Planetfall. Every expansion has had a respectful level of quality and each have added to the game immensely. This does not change here – Star Kings is the best one yet. It creates an interesting and fun faction, a challenging new campaign, and an outstanding new mode that has created a massive foundation that the whole game stands on. This expansion develops and fortifies the base experience so much that I almost feel like it’s required now for the full Planetfall experience.
The most important and massive addition for this Age of Wonders: Planetfall – Star Kings expansion is the new Galactic Empire mode. This is the kind of experience that the game has needed for a long time. It’s a long-term campaign in which you attempt to create an empire by conquering planet by planet. There is some slight overall progression too; you can carry over heroes to each planet and have the ability to combine tech trees together.
There has not been a really fun objective-based game mode like this in Age of Wonders previously – at least not one needing any kind of length and commitment. It’s fun to finally be able to work towards something instead of just playing a collection of random skirmishes. It feels like you’re building and progressing towards something, which is incredibly satisfying.
I can’t state enough how much I love this mode. It’s so good that I can see myself exclusively playing this now whenever I jump back on. It really is a great addition and is exactly what Planetfall needed.
This gameplay update is accompanied by the new grail system, which now puts end-game landmarks across the map that require multi-level quests to unlock. These have some great bonuses so they’re worth it compared to regular landmarks. It’s a fun side quest to complete while playing and can really turn the tide of a match when unlocked. My only complaint with them is that the quests involved are pretty unimaginative and kind of busy work. However they are a good addition to the overall flow.
You’ll be interacting with these new systems with a new faction, the Oathbound. These are essentially the arthurian ultimate good guys in the universe; basically they are mech suit-wearing knights that have a code of honor and respect. They defend the weak from all evil and attempt to create peace in the universe.
This may sound a little plain in concept, but Planetfall really does not have an unadulterated good faction, so it fills a hole in the fiction and fits in well.
The Oathbound is a heavily melee-focused class; one with serious focus on combat buffs and vehicles. Many of the units have these giant mech suits that act as vehicles and their tech tree is filled with buffs for them. However most can only attack at very close range. They may be powerful but the challenge comes from getting close enough to the enemy to utilise them.
Their art design is wonderful, creating this cool mix of medieval knights and a sci-fi mecha design to create a really distinct look. They look nothing short of cool, super distinct from every other team and are – sitting here now – probably my new favorite, especially aesthetically.
Oathbound are a challenging faction, and at least from my experience are a little underpowered compared to the others. I have found that if another army has any ranged capabilities at all, it can be quite tough to counteract, especially if they have a lot of flying enemies.
The campaign of Star Kings has an interesting story again, but it seems like Paradox is becoming less inventive with these. I found myself taking in many of the same objectives in this add-on, as I have in the last two expansions, relying so much on fetch quests and killing roaming groups of enemies. To its credit though, this Star King campaign feels much more difficult to what has come before it, which is a welcome change compared to the last two which felt overly simple.
Despite some minor gripes, Star Kings is the best expansion for Age of Wonders: Planetfall on Xbox so far: Paradox has only improved their output with every new content drop and this latest addition keeps to that trend. If you enjoy Planetfall, Star Kings is a no-brainer pickup. It truly adds to, and improves, the game in ways that feel almost necessary now for the full experience.