The Settlers: New Allies Preview – Third Time Lucky?

The Settlers series is finally making a comeback, and this time the game features a whole host of improvements over last year's beta

After multiple delays and a rocky beta, it looks like Ubisoft’s long-awaited reboot of the classic city building franchise titled The Settlers: New Allies is finally about to see the light of day. The beloved series of RTS games enjoy a rich legacy going back to the original game’s debut on the Commodore Amiga way back in 1993, but any efforts to revive the series since its last mainline installment in 2010 have been met with a lot of obstacles. It all culminated in a closed beta held in January 2022 that was widely panned and eventually led to further delays. However, a year down the line and after a bunch of wholesale improvements, it looks like the game might finally stand a chance of delivering on its original promise. Read on to find out all the details about the upcoming game including gameplay, factions, and all the changes from last year’s beta.

The Settlers: New Allies – Gameplay

Gameplay Modes

The Settlers: New Allies is a city building RTS (real-time strategy) game that will feature three distinct gameplay modes at launch – Solo, Hardcore, and Skirmish. Solo mode will highlight the game’s campaign, which will unfold over 13 separate missions. Skirmish mode will allow up to 8 players to team up against the AI or each other on one of the 12 maps available for selection (which is certainly an upgrade over last year’s beta, which only had 6 maps to choose from).

Last but certainly not least, is the much improved Hardcore Mode, previously known as “Onslaught” mode. Hardcore mode will feature the same 12 maps available in Skirmish mode but will also introduce gameplay modifiers and conditions (including resource availability and victory conditions) allowing for more customizable and challenging experiences. Should some of the missions prove too hard, you can invite a friend or three to help you out in co-op mode.

Economy

Perhaps the single biggest departure from the 2022 beta is the new economy system in The Settlers: New Allies. The beta was not well received by the player community for a number of reasons, but by far the biggest gripe was the game’s economy system or lack thereof. The challenge of building a thriving economy has always been part of the allure of The Settlers games and naturally, players were not too happy about the dumbed-down system in the new version. Fortunately, it looks like the developers took the feedback to heart and have consequently expanded and improved upon the in-game economy in a variety of ways.

The new economy system in The Settlers: New Allies is built around the twin pillars of Tools and Research. Tools have many uses and are very important in the early game, but they are consequently easier to produce. The Research tree has also seen a complete overhaul, now featuring multiple tiers and specializations that allow the player to improve their economy and units. Each research tree comes with its own gameplay modifiers that can alter how the player approaches the game. Finally, several new research options have been introduced for various abilities including offensive, defensive power, reclaiming resources after demolishing buildings, and more.

Controls, Balancing, and other Upgrades

Besides the sweeping changes to the game modes and the economy, The Settlers: New Allies now also comes with a whole host of other fundamental upgrades. These include an upgraded Save/Load system, more ways to traverse the map, the ability to set your military units to patrol or hold position, a new Forester building, customizable keybindings, and the feature to invite friends to private matches. All of these are rather basic as far as features go, but they were sorely missed in the lackluster 2022 beta. The early game in multiplayer has also been rebalanced by the introduction of ‘Neutral Bandits’ that protect the roads between players, thus preventing the unfair rush tactics that plagued the beta’s PvP mode.

The Settlers: New Allies – Factions and Story

The Order special unit

The basic storyline of The Settlers: New Allies is fairly straightforward, like most games in the franchise – the Elari people are forced out of their homeland and must now venture into uncharted waters and unfamiliar territory in order to settle a new land. The Elari face many difficulties in their quest for survival, not least of which are the bands of ruthless raiders which roam the land. Including the Elari, New Allies will feature three distinct factions, each with their own unique aesthetic as well as powerful faction abilities:

  • Elari – The Elari are described as a culture of friendly and open people who prize the spirit of cooperation and optimism. They are known to be masterful artisans and builders, and require less food to operate their farms, windmills, and residences. The unique faction ability of the Elari is a magical arrow used by Elari arbalists.
  • Maru – The Maru are a race of peaceful people who live in complete harmony with the land and the sea and value the spirit of altruism. They are skilled sailors and traders, and also boast the capability to foretell future events by observing the shapes of the clouds and the bends of the grass. The unique faction ability of the Maru is placing hidden traps.
  • Jorn – The Jorn is a clan of hard-working and robust people that relish a challenge and prize the bonds of family and friendship. They are well known among travelers and traders for their legendary feats full of food, drink, and entertainment. The unique faction ability of the Jorn is the combat jump.

Each faction in the game will also feature its own unique ‘The Order’ special unit, with individual skills and stats.

The Settlers: New Allies – Release Date and Platform Compatibility

The Settlers: New Allies is set to release on February 17, 2023 on PC via Epic Games Store and Ubisoft Connect (formerly known as Uplay). Versions for the Xbox One, PlayStation 4, Nintendo Switch, and Amazon Luna (Amazon’s cloud gaming platform) are also in the works and set to release at a later date. The developers have also confirmed that the game will feature cross play and cross progression across all the different versions of the game.

New Allies – Developers

To say that The Settlers: New Allies has had a troubled development history would be somewhat of an understatement. First announced at Gamescom 2018 under the name “The Settlers” by German developer Ubisoft Düsseldorf (formerly known as Blue Byte), the game was initially set for a 2019 release. However, development suffered many hiccups and the game was delayed until January 2022, when a closed beta was held over the period of a few days. The response for the beta was fairly negative, with the new game garnering plenty of criticism for its barebones mechanics and excessive focus on combat and military. As a result, the game was delayed indefinitely once again.

A little over a year later, the game is reemerging with numerous alterations and improvements based on the beta feedback, as well as the rebranded title of The Settlers: New Allies.

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