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Classic RTS Game The Settlers trying to find its place in a brand new World 2022

Ubisoft’s had a few stabs at overhauling the original The Settlers over the years and now finds itself giving it another shot with a full reboot of the game 11 years after its last outing – this time, with any luck, it may get things right.

The Settlers

It was pushed back to 2020 at the time, but now it’s coming to home computer and console by all accounts in just a couple of months. Was the extra time enough? And is there still a place for The Settlers in the current pantheon of strategy gaming greats?

Anno 1800’s series debut has raised the bar for more than a decade since its introduction, as both an RTS and economic management simulator. The base game already offered a rich setting and deep system features, but the development team is picking up the pace with each new season of DLC. Northgard has arrived to follow suit by revamping production chains to immerse players in its Viking setting, focusing instead on its meeting-by-meeting decision-making.

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Ubisoft Düsseldorf cites the third and fourth Settlers games as specific inspirations for this reboot, but they are steering clear of historical factions in favor of fictional civs which is a style that has been the series’ M.O since the fifth Settlers game, Heritage of Kings.

The Settlers is the game that pioneered removing direct individual control over the individuals in your game’s society. (The closest analog in Civ is probably Civ 4’s barbarians, who have since been replaced by roaming hostile individual units.) This concept takes a little getting used to — you can no longer tell every person you meet what to build, where to work, etc — but as with everything else it comes with significant upsides. Engineer are like builders, increasing your kingdom’s land borders by expanding its territory and searching for rich veins of wood or stone that will let you forge your civilization into one well-tended machine.

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In addition to that, the only units you have direct control over are military ones, which are divided into ranged, melee, support and siege categories. There is one option of melee units (one that is neither defensive nor offensive), a single option in the ranged category and then two different types of siege units. These basic units each have obvious strengths and weaknesses; hence battles are more about deploying the right unit in the right situation than complex maneuvers.

For Factions to generate new troops they need to build structures that require a certain resource specific to the Faction and will train units one at a time.

Compared to Anno, The Settlers’ is a lot more simplistic when it comes to managing finance. This isn’t really bad though as one shouldn’t really even bother with them in general. Just let your accountants do the work for you and you can easily be on your way to managing something more meaningful without dealing with too much hassle!

For instance, food is used to power a special building buff but it seems as though it serves no other purpose. It isn’t a necessary part of upkeep like energy and there is no production rate that appears related in any way to whether you have this resource available; nor does it appear important to upgrade military units or buildings for end game.

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The Settlers

In The Settlers, you’ll play as the leader of a small village. You’ll need to gather resources and develop your town but you have to be careful because at that time there were a lot of enemies attacking different territories – therefore you have to protect your people by building walls and creating an army in order to defend yourself. There are three phases in this game: gathering resources, developing structures, and creating a strong army.

It’s a very dry economic system. Even though improving roads and donkey transport is touted as one of the shiny new features, the number of citizens in your city seems to be the main factor in slowing down the flow of goods around your settlement.

You may get more citizens by building facilities for them to live in and then waiting for them to be churned out. However, since citizens don’t seem to require food as a resource, it’s pretty easy to just spam buildings and generate unlimited amounts of these passive non-citizens to serve your needs. It isn’t an intuitive model but it’ll do for now.

Our Settlers of Catan experience has not been entirely satisfactory. The entire preview was limited to segments of tutorials and skirmish modes. Although 1v1 skirmishes are only really enjoyable for the most serious competitors, a 2v2 and team battle mode will fit the bill too by providing much more action, akin to that in MOBA games nowadays. On top of this there is an onslaught (frenzied) mode where you fight off waves of incoming enemies and a campaign which usually include bespoke rulesets and scenarios; these are always great fun to play with friends so they can be a redeeming factor too!

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The Settlers

But there also exists a danger that The Settlers has come too late. Simply put, there are plenty of great games that offer a more focused experience when it comes to other civ-building RTS games like Northgard or Age of Empires, or economic sims like Offworld Trading Company and Industries of Titan. Some classics are simply meant to be kept preserved in the nostalgic realm of Back in The Day, and like any great game, The Settlers has yet to prove whether it can reinvent itself for modern strategy gamers.

As we have already mentioned, The Settlers will be released on Steam on March 17th, 2022. However, those who want to try the game before it goes live can now do so since there is a closed beta available for testing.

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