Much of what once was is lost, because now no one remembers it. It’s been a long time since the last Settlers game, and I felt compelled to quote old Lady Galadriel. This was a city building series from the late Amiga era; When it appeared in MS-DOS, it charmed the first audience of computer games and over the years became the economic antithesis of the dominance of Age of Empires combat. The Settlers’ relatively steady stream of games came to an abrupt halt in 2010, never to return. There was an attempt at a remake of The Settlers: Kingdoms of Anteria in 2014, but the beta feedback was so hostile that Ubisoft canceled the game. People who have played it have said that it definitely lacks The Settlers DNA.
The Settlers: New Allies won’t beat New Allies either. This feeble attempt to return to the roots while simplifying economic concepts is mostly disappointing. The blood of Númenor was spent on the Blue Bight’s magical touch. Let me explain why.
Faced with a faceless enemy
The Settlers: New Allies is a clumsy tale of survival and colonialism set in a fictional tropical archipelago. Leading a merry band of refugees from a medieval coup d’état, you join forces with a peaceful native tribe, fighting bandits and unearthing your shared history. The story is presented through short but extremely terrifying cutscenes full of really amateurish dialogue. It looks almost like a script generated by ChatGPT. Even if all the nuances of a game created in Dusseldorf, Germany were lost in translation for an English-speaking audience, it wouldn’t be THAT bad.
For most of the campaign, you’ll be fighting regular thugs without any character or impact. You know they’re bad because the game tells you so, even though they’re mostly just resting on their islands, you keep landing your forces. The historical part of the plot about ancient ruins and origins is also laughably generic. It feels like the developers were walking on eggshells, trying to come up with a story that wouldn’t upset absolutely anyone. The result is incredibly soft, which you can immediately forget about.
Optimizing the road network for victory
Comparing its mechanics to the older Settlers titles wouldn’t be fair due to the age difference, but pitting The New Allies vs. Year 1800 (2019), a previous Blue Byte title published by Ubisoft, would make perfect sense. In short, The Settles: New Allies feels like a step down in most ways. Its economic ruleset is simplified to the level of general real-time strategy. The economy is, of course, resource-based, but the complex interdependence is muted. For example, food is completely optional for your colonists. It only improves certain workshops and mines, helping to increase productivity, but is not necessary for population growth or support. Drinking water does not exist as a concept at all. Even the recently launched facelifted Pharaoh looks more modern in this regard.
Your typical settlement in The Settlers: New Allies revolves around warehouses. They act as resource hubs for anything you guys grow, mine, mine, forge, or fish. The speed of transportation of raw materials and processed goods between resource nodes and warehouses is a measure of economic health. An inefficient road network can easily clog everything, tie up more workers and slow down the manning of military units. In addition to optimizing routes, building additional warehouses, and manually adjusting the resources stored in each, you can pave roads with stone and adjust the donkey cart production chain for significant speedup.
Power is people
People are the main but infinite resource. The influx of fresh settlers is limited only by the available living space, which is easily corrected by mass construction of cheap housing. And since the settlers don’t need food or any other care, you can grow your colony practically for free. Basic settlers only carry goods, but can be upgraded to engineers or soldiers. Engineers build things and (slowly) push the boundaries of your settlement, preventing super-rapid expansion that would simplify things to the point of absurdity.
Setting up a metalworking chain and building a training ground will allow you to assemble basic melee and ranged troops. This process is very slow if you don’t stack your weapons beforehand. Specialized troops such as healers require rare items that you may lack resource nodes for, but this can easily be fixed with a trade. As with everything else in this game, building a large army takes time. Or wastes time, rather. The Settlers: New Allies would greatly benefit from a game speed slider. The average campaign mission can easily last two or more hours.
Zing is not here
Battles are frequent, but the principles of warfare are basic. There are no nuances or subtleties like formation, and the usual tactics are frontal attacks by massed troops. Healers are auto-healed and manual abilities aren’t really necessary if you’ve purchased a few major troop upgrades. In most missions, bandits are completely passive or at least completely predictable. They either sit in their villages waiting to be destroyed, or send precise waves of troops at regular intervals.
The Settlers: New Allies is a game that is completely devoid of any challenges, except for the need for patience. It is simple, slow and too generic, as if the target audience of the developers were absolute beginners. It also feels a bit rushed and “cheaper” than the old The Settlers games. I still vividly remember the beautiful visual design of Settlers III. I’m sure I’ll forget about the visual accuracy of New Allies by the time I finish this article. “Zing” simply does not exist.
- Suitable for absolute beginners.
- Multiplayer can be fun with the right opponent.
- Simplified to the point of absurdity.
- A generic story full of terrible dialogue and bad acting.
- The lack of a boost slider makes later missions a pure challenge.