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Strategic blunder

Updated on: 26 February,2023 01:58 PM IST  |  Mumbai
Jaison Lewis |

In its bid to make a simpler game, The Settlers: New Allies, may have lost the plot along the way

Strategic blunder

The Settlers: New Allies

The Settlers: New Allies
Rating: 2.5/5
Developer: Ubisoft
Publisher: Ubisoft
Platform: PC
Price: Rs 5,000

Settlers have a long history of delivering solid RTS or Real Time Strategy games that feature robust tech trees and gameplay. The new Settlers game, called New Allies, is supposed to be a simplified down version of the game that tries to take the best elements of a strategy game and boil it down to something anyone can play. While this sounds great on paper, in practice, what you get is a watered-down experience that reeks of indecision and even some desperation. 

The RTS landscape isn’t too crowded right now. There aren’t many new titles from the big studios, and some of the best names have all but disappeared. We do get one-off updates like the recent Age Of Empires one from Microsoft. So having a new Settlers game is quite a treat for an RTS enthusiast.

So, what’s different about New Allies? A lot, actually. For one, the game is designed to be super simple. This means the tech trees have been chopped up, and the story mode is short and designed to show you how to play and nothing else. There is also a focus on multiplayer and micropayments for boosts and cosmetic add-ons. While some of it works, others are just plain bad. 

What’s Bad? The Settlers: New Allies feels a bit rushed; the game is buggy and, on several occasions, just hung. It also has a reliance on being connected, and the game has no offline mode where you can challenge the AI. The PVP mode is supposed to have AI opponents, but it is not intuitive enough to choose your opponent or the maps where you want to battle. The Skirmish section is also inaccessible without being connected to the Internet. The game, on two occasions, did not autosave enough, reverting me back several hours when I was just starting on a map. So, it is essentially broken and needs a few patches to fix issues. 

The only section where you can do any sort of battle without the Internet it’s the story mode. The story of the game is pretty bare bones; it only exists to teach you how to play. The character voice actors have done a terrible job. They all sound like they are reading from a sheet. There is no emotion or chemistry between the characters in the story mode. You are not going to care about anything that happens, which is very sad because the developers could have really drawn the audience in here despite all the flaws.

The camera is also very close to the game, so getting a bird’s eye view of your kingdom is not possible. Most RTSs offer this view which is particularly useful when you have settlements all over the map. 

The game has some natural RTS shortcuts, like creating and numbering troops. However, these shortcuts are not highlighted, and your teams don’t get tiny numbers next to them. So even if you happen to use it, there is no way to tell the groups that you have made. Needless to say, this game is not going to make the competition circuit. 

What’s good? The graphics are actually pretty good. They aren’t cutting edge and a bit cartoony, but they work well in the game. I like the idea of having residents that you can’t directly control and go about their day. I also particularly like the way the game lays out its city in hexagons. I feel it makes layouts a bit easier and more intuitive, especially since all building in the game needs to be connected to a road. 

Overall, the gameplay is not bad, and it is a playable game, but it just lacks the depth that most RTS games have. There are no complex technology trees to follow and fawn over. Instead, you have to figure out how to get the resources you need to survive. These can be obtained through trade or by making the buildings that create them. 

The Settlers is not a very bad game, and it is playable and fun. However, some controversial decisions made by the game will leave some RTS fans and gamers fuming. That said, it is not a game I would buy for full price. There are plenty of good RTS games available that can easily outshine this one. If it did find its way into the bargain bin with some DLCs thrown in, I might be compelled to pick a copy up. For now, I think I will stick to Age of Empires.

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