A deeply fantasy strategy experience | First Impressions - Age of Wonders 4

Participate in diplomacy, combat, research, and empire management gameplay to create a deeply immersive and strategic role-playing gameplay. With updated graphics and refined gameplay mechanics, Age of Wonders 4 promises to be a worthy successor to the critically acclaimed Age of Wonders III, offering players even more depth, complexity, and replay value than ever before.
Age of Wonders 4 starts off with the faction and realm creator, both of which are highly immersive elements that further enhance the role-playing aspect of the game. While players can definitely choose from one of the many options, they can create their own based on their playstyle or role-playing needs, and the options given are abundant. It is a game in itself that completely surpassed my expectations and gave me plenty of options in shaping my desired faction to play with and realm to play in.
As for the actual gameplay, players start off with a city, which they can build upon to expand to other surrounding land, which are grouped into provinces. As the population expands, so does the city. Along the way, they will meet other factions, and smaller factions called Free Cities, engaging diplomacy in various ways. The diplomacy is very well done; it's comprehensive with all the logical options you would expect from a diplomacy system and adds another layer of strategy and immersion of being a leader to the game.
Age of Wonders 4 offers a wide variety of units and structures, each with their own unique abilities and strengths. Each city will have their own unit line-up for players to build and it is predominantly determined by the race-type of the city. Heroes — starting with the faction Ruler — can lead cities and armies, and more can be recruited to your empire as you play.
There are random events and quests which constitute a big chunk of the role-playing aspect. With random encounters, events, giving players the option to approach it in various ways. These choices matter and will affect how your empire is shaped, both directly and indirectly.
Battles between units can be approached in two different ways. It can be auto-resolved, or done manually. When in manual mode, the combat system is another separate game of its own, with a switch to a tactical layout of the hex tile they’re in, and these different units and heroes can use different abilities to defeat their enemies. Players will need to carefully consider the strengths and weaknesses of each unit, as well as the terrain, flanking, and other factors (such as being in a city siege), in order to come up with a winning strategy.
The winning conditions are defined by the player, either by military where you need to defeat all factions; expansion where you need to take over a huge portion of the map; magical prowess – which is basically researching enough tech and completing the objectives; or achieving the highest score when the game's predefined turn limit ends. Every condition caters to a certain playerstyle and benefits players of all types.
As a first time experience, the whole learning curve is very accessible. Even though Age of Wonders 4 is extremely complex and has many different layers to it, the tutorials are nicely done and enhance the whole initial starting experience instead of annoyingly interrupting the player. It also helps that the game is straightforward when it comes to the logic behind the resources, diplomacy, and warfare.
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