The Settlers 2022 – How Ubisoft declared war on one of my favorite game series of all time and defeated the economic real-time strategy game series with a dumb Age of Empires-Clone
I started playing the Settlers on Amiga 500 when the first installment came out and played it for thousands of hours alone and in Split-Screen Multiplayer with my friends. I also played each and every Settler Version from then to today and although the version 1-4 were my favorites, I still found some fun and at least played each part from 5 to 7 for more than 100 hours. Overall, I may have experience with the Settlers Series near 10k hours of playtime.
And today I started the Beta Version of this new Game, that got somehow the marketing of “The Settlers”, and I don’t know exactly, how it came to this misunderstanding in the marketing department.
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The Settlers Beta Test – Negative Signs in advance – But I had doubts.
I was a bit negatively influenced by a video of a famous German gaming news outlet named GameStar, which was very disappointed and talked very negatively about this game. But I often have very different opinions than this magazine and so I was very unsure if this negative approach was matching the real game experience and if it wasn’t just some kind of very personal decision of this particular tester or if Ubisoft just did not buy enough ad space to get a more positive preview. And so I urgently wanted to test this on my own, get the real feeling, and wanted to go as open-minded as possible into this beta test.
And I was wrong, somehow even more wrong, as in most cases before.
This is somehow a nice middle-class spin-off from Age of Empires, reminds me a bit of the old game “Knights & Merchants”. But my gosh, who thought it was a good idea to send this to market with the well-known and very old and fantastic brand “The Settlers”? I am sorry to be that harsh, but Ubisoft is completely losing track here. I don’t know how and why the connection to Volker Wertich, the original head behind The Settlers, was lost in the process of making this game. But I can’t imagine how hard it must have been for him, to see something like this getting labeled as “Settlers”.
Let’s start with the good points. It did not crash, it did not lag horrible, at least in the very early game. The graphics were quite nice, although I wished to get the opportunity to scroll into the world more and the turning mechanics wouldn’t be limited to 15° angles. I liked the random variants of the village houses and the feature to create some kind of archway above the street if you position houses with a road between them and did rotate them accordingly. The overall impression was a bit Settlers-like, but I missed the more 3dimensional map design that Settlers always had, with Settlers walking slower uphill, etc.
This is, what you get, if you order Settlers on Wish
But the rest? I could spend hours over hours talking about what this game is not. But most important and upfront, this is not comparable to any Settlers game before, and I mean that in the most negative way possible. This is what you get when you order Settlers on Wish…
The masses of available wares, the complex economics, the intriguing fine-tuning of transport and storage, the focus on micromanagement, and the organizing of the many different jobs of the settlers, these were the main factors that made The Settlers different from any other strategy game, business simulation or real-time strategy game. It was a mix of all this and much more, summing up to a very special sauce, that was always entertaining and demanding. On top, there were endless maps, several different tribes with different buildings, differing wares circles, and even a sense of a completely different culture. But this game has nothing of all this. This is just a hollow shell with the old honorable name on it.
This beta version shows a game dumbed down to the most possible and worst form of what Settler once was. The wares, reduced dramatically. The selection of available houses shrank down to a caricature of the even worst installment of the series before and so far away from the old parts Settlers 2, 3, or 4.
The Settlers – A very emotional game – but in the worst possible form
This was a very emotional beta test for me, as I am such a long-term fan of this series. I played for some time between 30 and 60 minutes, and I had to press Alt+F4 to quickly leave this dishonoring program. I am almost 50 years old, but I had tears in my eyes from the disappointment. At least the game was able to wake some emotions in me, but it was the worst outcome possible.
If Ubisoft does not come to a clear mind and stops this failed development of this game, or if they give this halfway mediocre game at least a different name and give the Settlers brands to a different team, which has a clear vision of what Settlers was and means, I do fear, this was the last and final installment of one of my top favorite game series of all times. At least the last time, I would take a look at something with the name “The Settlers” on it.
Ubisoft failed so hard, again… it hurts.