Revelations is an awesome start to Age of Wonders: Planetfall’s expansion packs, with a sizeable story campaign to make it through and some serious gameplay updates. It manages to offer sensible additions to the original formula that add to both the entertainment and complexity of the strategy in a game. It builds an extra layer of depth that the game needed, increasing the variety of quests on the map. And interlaced with all the improvements is an interesting and engaging sci-fi story that introduces and explains the new additions.
The main campaign of Revelations has you playing as a member of the syndicate faction; a prince looking to restore the name of his family after a betrayal framed them for a crime. During his imprisonment he meets an alien soothsayer who leads him to ancient religion and culture that bring his family back from disgrace. It has surprising depth and choice, more than much of what was in the original game. The development team seem to have been more experimental with the type of quests they’ve pushed out for this storyline, and many of them offer alternative gameplay then what is typically done, pushing the boundaries of the strategy game elements. Choices appear often in this journey and they have a much bigger impact. Throughout there is a constant battle between the two sides of this ancient religion and there are actually different endings depending on how you lean.
There is genuinely engaging lore and factional intrigue expressed through the well written dialogue, and it is both sharp and occasionally witty. I was shocked at how much I was invested in what was happening by the conclusion of the new campaign. It’s genuinely one of the best narratives they have told so far in this Planetfall universe. It thoughtfully works with the new tech line and mechanics, focusing on their place in the universe as the story develops.
That new tech line is that of the “Heritors,” an ancient religious cult that uses the power of entropy to revive dead opponents and applies curses to the enemy. Abilities on this line are unique to almost any other playstyle that was originally available in the game. It heavily relies upon taking advantage of the enemy and using their weaknesses against them. It’s an incredibly fun addition that is sure to mix up matches both online and in single player. I can imagine many players are going to love the abilities that allow raising enemy units to serve them – it’s great fun to see a whole squad turn into mindless husks. The new NPC faction, “The Forgotten”, is a creepy undead version of ancient Heritor people, they offer great new modifications and some really metal looking units, some of which are insanely powerful.
By far the greatest addition to this expansion is the anomalous sites, which give the game a fantastic addition to the overworld strategy that it desperately needed. I can’t imagine going back to Planetfall now without this, it feels like a totally natural inclusion to the experience. They are essentially sites that you can send units to, and inside are short written adventures you go through, with the choices you make costing resources or requiring waiting a certain amount of turns. In the end however these often offer serious benefits – anything from access to research, units or giant caches of valuable resources. They have different ranks of difficulty to complete, and the hardest ones offer some of the best rewards on the overworld map.
The only complaint I can levy towards the anomalous sites system is that the rotation for the scenarios they tell is not as big as it should be. I often began seeing the same old choices and stories pop up over and over again. Yes, it allows frequent players to remember the rewards and risks, but it kinda loses some of the excitement of it over time.
If Revelations on Xbox One is a sign of what is to come then this game will be in safe hands. Understanding what needed to be revised in the original, this expansion helps flesh out the lore and gameplay of Age of Wonders: Planetfall. It provides phenomenal gameplay improvements and one of the best campaigns the game has. I’m beyond excited to see what comes next for this war-torn sci-fi universe – if it’s just as good as this then it’s worth the wait.