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    The Settlers: New Allies review

    Need to Know

    What is it? An RTS/city builder hybrid with a once-beloved franchise name.
    Release date Feb 17, 2023
    Expect to pay $60/£50
    Developer Ubisoft Blue Byte
    Publisher Ubisoft
    Reviewed on Core i7 9700K, RTX 2080 TI, 16GB RAM
    Steam Deck N/A
    Link Official site (opens in new tab)

    The Settlers’ raison d’etre, back in the series’ ‘90s salad days, was to make building cities and armies fun and accessible. In a period when Command & Conquer was as ubiquitous as COD is today and Age of Empires was life itself, it made sense to see cute characters in chocolate box towns offering an alternative to younger or less experienced strategy players. I was one of them—happily building up Roman cities in 1998’s The Settlers III without the faintest clue about supply chains or damage stats. It was a foot in the door to the harder, more thoughtful stuff. 

    Unfortunately for The Settlers: New Allies in 2023, once you’ve walked through that door and spent any amount of time with the harder and more thoughtful stuff there’s really no going back to this. 13 years after the last Settlers release, Ubisoft Blue Byte, a talented studio with many fastidiously crafted Anno games also to its name, can’t seem to find a way for the cutesy aesthetics, paper-thin combat mechanics and city building to all come together in a modern context.

    (Image credit: Ubisoft)

    And there is some value for genre newcomers and younger players, too. What might seem oversimplified to one player might be a handy entry point to another, although those aforementioned technical issues don’t discriminate by experience level. 

    Maybe I’m looking for positives this hard simply because it’s so difficult to kick a game that seems so earnest, and so keen to make you like it. It feels like shooing away a dimwitted and badly behaved but extremely cute puppy. Longtime Settlers fans are perhaps better served by the upcoming Pioneers of Pagonia, whose developer Envision Entertainment includes founders of the original Settlers games. But for greener strategy players who don’t want to be subsumed by complicated mechanics, or just nostalgic armchair generals in dire need of relaxation, there’s something here. If you have the patience.

    As seen on PCgamer

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