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The Settlers: New Allies Review

I’ve never played a Settlers game before this one.  Most of the reviews that I’ve read about The Settlers: New Allies all say that it’s one of the weakest (if not THE weakest) entries in the “The Settlers” series.  Despite that, I’m actually quite enjoying it!  However, some areas can definitely do with improvement. The Settlers: New Allies is the latest installment in the Settlers series for 13 years.  You get to explore, discover, claim and defend beautiful oases whilst building a thriving population of happy inhabitants.  Things have been dumbed down in The Settlers: New Allies when compared to previous installments.  However, that isn’t always a bad thing, especially not for newcomers.  Welcome to our The Settlers: New Allies review!

A new beginning

You begin The Settlers: New Allies by rocking up on the shore of an island after fleeing your home town of Ylesse following a military coup.  With the few crew members that you were able to save, you need to find a new place to call home.  You must establish accommodation, construct supply chains to produce goods to store in the warehouse and manage the well-being of your community.

The Settlers: New Allies is a mix of city-building and RTS (real-time strategy).  The aim is to build a thriving colony by gathering resources, constructing buildings and managing the population.  There is also a combat system where you defend your home and resources against enemy attack.

For example, I’d spent about three hours on the massive tutorials and was in the Practice portion only to get stuck.  This was because I’d run out of lumber but lacked the resources to build a sawmill to produce more lumber.  Also, the sawmill needed lumber to be constructed.  As such, there was nobody skilled (such as a lumberjack) to do it.  The reason there were no lumberjacks was because I needed to build a training academy first.  That training academy, of course, required lumber…you get the picture.  As such, there was no other option for me but to restart which was a shame as I essentially lost all my hard work.  It would have been nice to have had a manual way to source lumber, like in Factorio.  In Factorio, for example, instead of using mining drills to extract a resource, you can literally chip away at it and source it that way.

I’m not hungry

There are a number of mechanics that make up the basis of The Settlers: New Allies.  These are resource management, settlement building, unit training, research and combat. One bizarre feature relates to how food is implemented.  The population doesn’t seem to actually need food.  Food is merely used as an incentive in order to boost productivity and seems to be totally optional.  You could literally never produce any food nor feed the inhabitants and it wouldn’t appear to affect anything negatively.  I’m not talking about a Sims-level of needing regular feeding, but you would expect people to at least need feeding once in a while.

On the subject of food, it is also possible to grow crops pretty much anywhere.  For example, according to the logic of The Settlers: New Allies, it is somehow possible to grow wheat in nothing but pure sand!

Taking up arms

Battles can happen in one of three ways.  When two settlements meet, when you attack an enemy settlement or when an enemy attacks your settlement.  There are also bandits who either come to you or who you happen upon by chance.  There aren’t many battle options beyond sending your troops in to fight with swords or the option of launching a large arrow at them, causing mass harm.  Either way, every battle feels the same as any other and there isn’t much in the way of variety.  The only differences tend to be the number of soldiers that you might face at a time.

The fight mechanics in The Settlers: New Allies are based on a rock-paper-scissors system.  Each military unit has a strength, weakness, and immunity to one of the three combat types: ranged, melee, and siege.  Ranged units are strong against melee units, melee units are strong against siege units, and siege units are strong against ranged units. In addition to the three combat types, units also have different stats, such as attack, defense, health, and movement speed. These stats can be improved by researching technology, equipping gear, and leveling up the unit.

Engineers appear to do all sorts, from building things to bringing and retrieving goods from places.  They are responsible for building structures, creating decoys, mining for supply veins and claiming new land in order to expand the collective territory.  Engineers are extremely valuable, however, they are vulnerable to attack and, unless accompanied by soldiers, they will perish both quickly and easily.

Ways of Play

The Settlers: New Allies allows up to eight players to compete online in a variety of modes.  These include modes such as deathmatch, team deathmatch and capture the flag.  There is also a ranked leaderboard.  Generally, the multiplayer mode is good fun although there is occasional lag which disrupts the experience.

There is a lengthy campaign mode in addition to skirmish and multiplayer modes too.  As such, there is a wide variety of things to do in The Settlers: New Allies. For example, there is a range of maps and scenarios, each with their own challenges. There are also four different factions to choose from, each of which has its own strengths and weaknesses. Another interesting aspect is that there are randomized elements, such as the location of resources and when events occur. As such, no two games will ever be the same.

Visually impressive

Visually, The Settlers: New Allies is impressive.  The environments are lush and vibrant and the characters are well-designed with good attention to detail.  For example, if you zoom in closely, you can see each courier actually carrying the correct amount of each resource that they are supposed to.  If the number is large enough, the quantity is split across several couriers.  This is a nice attention to detail.

As with almost all Ubisoft titles, the constant, gentle background music fits perfectly in with the setting and overall theme of The Settlers: New Allies.  The whole auditory experience is fine-tuned to perfection based on the on-screen action.  If you encounter an enemy, the music becomes tense and the tempo increases.  When everything is good and serene, the music slows down to reflect this.  There are frequent occurrences, however, of random, too-loud, disembodied voices stating random things.  Worse still is that there is no context to them and no way of knowing who they belong to, which detracts from the immersion.

Conclusion

If you are a newcomer to RTS games, then The Settlers: New Allies is a great introduction to the genre.  The beautiful visuals, simple gameplay and pleasant atmosphere make for a great place to start. However, more experienced players will likely find it less enjoyable. This is due in part to there being too much focus on battle and not enough on production chains and construction.  Furthermore, small common-sense-related details take away from the experience, the main one being that the inhabitants don’t require food.  Instead, food is used as an incentive for some reason, causing production output to increase.  In summary, if you are new to the RTS genre and aren’t looking for a deep, granular experience, then The Settlers: New Allies is a great place to start.  More experienced players, however, might want to give it a miss in favour of better-established titles.

Pros:

  • Great, thorough tutorial.
  • Beautiful visuals.
  • Excellent sound.
  • It’s very satisfying to build things and see them working.

Cons:

  • Lack of attention to detail (such as crops growing in pure sand and humans not needing food).
  • Random, too-loud, disembodied voices seemingly from nowhere.
  • Too much focus on combat and not enough focus on production chains.
  • No option to speed up time.

Grade: 6,5

The Settlers: New Allies is currently available through Amazon Luna and GeForce Now. This review was made by Mus from PapaBear Gaming. You can check out his channel right here. You can follow him on Twitter by going here. That was it for our The Settlers: New Allies review.