Desmond was not a nice man. He was Vanguard, so Old Man Mordaith was instantly inclined to like him. But there was something off about Desmond. Looking back, it was likely his spooky mask. It seemed like a creepy gas was filling this face covering. That is the Essence. We still aren’t exactly sure what Essence is. But those of the Heritor philosophy sure lived and breathed the stuff.
Revelations, the first DLC for Age of Wonders: Planetfall, adds a whole new set of tools to aid a faction in bringing about their version of perfection. A new Secret Technology, more landmarks, extra critters to fight, a brand new NPC faction, and mysterious anomalies that can be researched. The new mechanic brought in by the Heritor Technology focuses around the movement of Essence – the spirits of the dead – which is used for a variety purposes from increased defences to bringing the dead back to serve you.
Revelations comes out on November 19 and is launching at a suggested retail price of $14.99 USD. But let us dispense with the physical and mundane trappings of things like time and money, you want to know about our blue spooky ghost pals.
Death and Rebirth
While factions are essential, I would argue that it’s the Secret Technology mechanic that makes the game so diverse, so it was good times seeing such a new creepy technology introduced in the first DLC for Planetfall. The Heritor technology brings us screaming into the ven diagram section between religious cult, high tech futurism, and necromancy.
I was a bit skeptical at first. The necro-style play already had two faces in this game, after all. I mean, I’m always down for more necro-fun times. But I was worried the Heritor technology was going to feel too similar standing next to the already-established Xenoplague and Syndicate technologies.
Fortunately, these fears were unfounded. The high cost of dying is something always skirting the edges of the Old Mans brainbox. From where I am sitting, while the Heritor technology can pull off resurrections earlier and more reliably, they also are more costly. A fair trade-off.
The Heritor units are fun, too. The Siphoner rapidly became my favourite go-to unit. Cheaper and available early compared to the dreamy-but-more-costly High Lord, this unit is where you start really playing with the Essence mechanic.
Strangely, there isn’t much to say about it as it is reasonably straightforward. The Essence is drained from one unit (usually enemies) and stored in the attacking unit. Then you can impress your friends while spending Essence charges for a variety of effects, which typically have stronger results depending on how many charges are currently stored. More importantly, my beloved Siphoners are adept at transferring charges around to other units.
Many of the Heritor units also have an ability that allows them to enter a defensive stance, which will generate one charge point. Very useful for my angry turtle strategy.
But combat is only one way that the Heritor technology shines. There are hauntings and spiritual manipulations galore for your eyes to consume. Marvel at your power as you send the spirits of the long-dead to annoy the local Dvar guilds. Oh, their fuzzy little hats were all askew when their productivity dropped, and their populace started getting cranky.
The Doomsday protocols of the Heritor, Final Rapture, are a simple thing to understand. You kick it off and non-Heritor colonies start mysteriously losing citizens as your ranks of The Drained start growing. (So mysterious.) Also, you enjoy a variety of combat boosts, as one would expect from these game finishers.
In conclusion, the Heritor tech is an excellent addition to the armoury of any Planetfall player. I predict this tech will mesh nicely with all the existing factions, granting you some unusual combinations for both melee and ranged builds.
Wonders and Madness
While sometimes a little hard to see, there are purple shafts of light on the map. These anomaly sites allow for hero driven multi-chapter events, which provide different story options and rewards.
Digging up an anomaly requires constant supervision from a hero and can lead to some interesting developments. My leader, Desmond, wound up married to a rather attractive companion bot. It gave him a permanent boost to morale, but warned of permanent mallus should Val ever pass away.
There is a bit of fun pressure that comes with these sites. You have to decide if you want to take the time to research them now, or risk rivals getting them first. Do you dare the potential risk from the sites combined with the possible chance of falling behind on exploration? It’s a tough call, depending on the circumstances. Fortunately, there are hero abilities and operations to help you with them.
While out looking for your next exciting dig site (or dating opportunity) you may come across a new band of rabble-rousers called the Forgotten. These are the jerks that didn’t precisely cut it to be among the ‘living’ with proper Heritor folk. Best use caution when dealing with them.
Places to See, Essence to Drain
For you lore junkies, we have lots of fun new things to go with Revelations. Behold the might of the long lost Es’Teq dynasty as a ten-hour campaign allows you to explore the Heritor calling. A meaty chunk of interactive story that could be well worth the price of admission with the DLC. Also, there is the Tomb World scenario, something that I’ll be looking to try as a co-op multiplayer game with some brave souls at some point.
Lots of exciting things pepper the landscape. Insane robots called reapers, mad gene-modded piggies running amok, and some crazy new locations. For people who love finding new strategically important positions, you will find great rewards for making use of Imperial Defence Sites. As I am usually a diplomatic player, I find the addition of Holopads very exciting. A pickup purely focused on influence and diplomacy? Yes, please. Grabbing one of these goodie boxes found on the map will grant you more influence over the various factions.
You Cannot Resist the Call
Revelations is a solid first outing for the Planetfall DLC line. I know many were hoping for a new faction, but with the diversity found in the Heritor technology, I think most will be satisfied. This DLC manages to bring new exciting things to the game without the soul-wrenching feeling of power creep.
8/10 – In Essence, an excellent first DLC. A good job that the team should be proud of balancing so well.
Review by Joshua Smith (Old Man Mordaith)
Edited by Jesse Roberts
The developer provided a free code for review purposes.