An approachable 4X experience.
For those of us who dream of world domination, there's nothing quite like a good strategy game. But sometimes we don't want to spend hours micromanaging every detail of our empire. That's where The Battle of Polytopia comes in: it's a streamlined 4X game that still manages to be engaging and challenging.
Once you've completed the tutorial, you're set loose on a map full of potential enemies. You choose one of several civilizations to control and work to expand your territory to every corner of the map. You can play against AI opponents or other human players. When playing online, players can choose between ranked or casual matches, depending on their preferences. Ranked matches are more competitive, with players earning or losing points depending on the outcome of the match. Casual matches, on the other hand, are more laid back and allow players to practice their skills without worrying about their ranking.
All the basic mechanics you'd expect from a 4X game are present in The Battle of Polytopia. You can build units, improve tiles, and explore the map. There's even a tech tree that you can invest stars in (stars are produced by your cities each turn). However, the game does have some weaknesses. Because every civilization has access to the same tech tree and generates more stars each turn than they can use, the late game can become repetitive and frustrating. Once both sides have amassed armies of equal strength, the gameplay lacks the depth and excitement of the earlier stages. Despite this, The Battle of Polytopia is still a fun and engaging game, particularly for those who want a simplified 4X experience.
Even on larger maps, games won't take more than a few hours unless you end up in a long-running stalemate with an opponent. The balance of the game is intriguing, with the only real difference between the world leaders being which tech they start with. In The Battle for Polytopia, players can spend stars to research new technologies, which range from unlocking new units to opening up new buildings for purchase. Researching allows players to gain a better understanding of the game, as each technology provides a new advantage or bonus.
Researching can also help players gain an advantage in combat. By researching new technologies, players can gain access to different types of weapons, armor, and other combat upgrades. This allows players to customize their troops in order to seize the upper hand. In addition to researching new technologies, players can also research certain buildings. Buildings are essential for players in order to progress through the game, as they provide resources and bonuses to aid in your campaign.
The game's presentation is simple, with stylized polygons representing the different units and terrain. While effective for the most part, it would have been nice to have a way to rotate the camera, as late-game cities often hide units and buildings. As the map becomes more crowded with units vying for control, the art style can hinder the player's ability to make strategic decisions.
The Battle of Polytopia offers simple and straightforward gameplay mechanics that are easy to grasp. This makes it a great choice for anyone who is new to the 4X gaming genre and looking for a relaxed introduction. While the lack of distinct personalities for the different leaders makes the game feel a bit bland–with no extra incentive to attack anyone who isn't nearby–the art and music are enjoyable, if somewhat simple. That said, for those who have already delved deeply into this type of game, it may not hold their attention for long.