Identifying what works and what doesn't in Age of Wonders: Planetfall is difficult to do based a brief gameplay demo, but from what we got to try at E3 2019, it seems the latest installment in the Age of Wonders series is on the right path. But don't mistake this game for Age of Wonders IV, as it has more in common with a spinoff title than a full-fledged sequel. It's a great thing, though, as Age of Wonders: Planetfall's sci-fi setting is just what the series needs.

Turn-based strategy games, and especially 4X games, have been around for decades, and even the Age of Wonders franchise first launched 20 years ago. But the thing is, Age of Wonders never seemed to reach the same level of popularity as games like Civilization series. Perhaps that's because it's been entrenched in the fantasy genre. Whether or not switching out the tropes associated with mysticism for the futuristic warfare in Age of Wonders: Planetfall is a good idea, it's certainly refreshing and needed to revamp the age-old series.

In our hands-on time with Age of Wonders: Planetfall, we played as The Assembly, a faction of cyborg-zombies who only want to conquer worlds and use their enemy's bodies for their organs. Considering the type of races that have appeared in previous Age of Wonders games, like Goblins, High Elves, Dwarves, and Humans, throwing a species like The Assembly into the mix is an already intriguing way to distance Planetfall from the rest of the series. Plus, it appears that Age of Wonders: Planetfall won't skimp on the lore aspect either, as each faction's story stems from the Star Union in a unique way that has yet to be revealed.

As for gameplay, developer Triumph Studios is looking to expand the use of the world map than what strategy gamers are typically used to, and this is being done through the Sector System. While Age of Wonders: Planetfall is filled to the brim with factions, commanders, customization options, and tech trees, among various other upgradable elements, one of the main things that stood out in our demo was the objective. In past Age of Wonders games (and even other 4X titles), it was almost always about taking over the city, but now, with Planetfall, the Sector System changes everything.

Giving players what's essentially a secondary objective is like rewarding support classes in shooter games. Sectors - which are comprised of Wilderness, Landmark, Dwelling, and Secondary (though that's not the official name) - not only alter the landscape of the world map but also adjust how a person approaches the game; they can use each sector for different purposes, such as diplomacy, research, production, and so forth. It's a welcome addition to the Age of Wonders series, along with Planetfall's sci-fi setting, and coupling that with features like the Doomsday Tech can usher in a new era for the long-running franchise.