by Sergio Brinkhuis
reviewed on PC
Items and honor
Special items can be bought from both the Al Zahir and Lord Richard Northburgh, representative of the Empire in the island region. These items come in many variations. Early on, the most useful ones will boost your ship in some form or another (speed, turn-rate, repair etc) but later ones can even add the ability to grow new types of crops on existing islands. Also helpful are the Letter of Marque that will allow you to pirate upon ships from friendly players, and items that can force enemy players to sign a peace treaty with you.
These items are not paid for with hold, however. They can only be bought with ‘honor’. Honor is gained by accepting and successfully completing missions given to you by Lord Northburgh, Al Zahir and even your population. Honor points are also given when your population reaches new milestones. Besides using honor to buy special items, you can also use it for gaining access to new trade goods, higher level items, bonuses to your diplomatic efforts and much more.
The series is known for its incredibly detailed game world. Dawn of Discovery reaches new heights in this area, showing a level of sophistication not often seen in the genre. No matter where you look, there is always some well-crafted animation to be seen or spectacle to be enjoyed. Hawkers selling their wares in the market place, workers rolling barrels to and from their workplace, it is all a feast for the eyes. And this time around, it is not just the trees, animals and people that move. Many buildings have charming animations that help breathe life into the game. The icing on the cake is the cathedral, a gigantic latter-game building that will make you gasp for air when you first see it being built.
Equally impressive is the game’s user interface. The construction interface is both responsive and intuitive and rarely feels ‘in the way’ when you are in a hurry to place new buildings. Any information a budding emperor might want is available with a click of the mouse. Interface panels smoothly slide in and off the picture, offering relevant information exactly where you would expect to find it. A great example is the way your population’s needs are presented. Click on a house, a panel will slide open and show what needs have been fulfilled and how close you are fulfilling the ones that keep them from reaching the next ‘level of civilization’.
Dawn of Discovery is an unexpected gem. I had expected more of the same, which I got, and then some. The only small gripe I have with it is that the campaign maps get reset between missions. After each mission that you play on the same map, you see your own buildings disappear and be replaced by ones placed by the game. Considering the quality of the rest of the game however, this is a minor detail.
They series have always delivered solid gameplay but never before did it come this polished and with so many cool new additions. The honor system, the special items, the addition of the Orient as both a trade partner and new culture, there is a lot to discover. Having played the game for two days, I am still discovering new things and finding new ways of achieving my goals. So while the overall game is still very much the same, Dawn of Discovery feels every bit as fresh as playing the very first game for the very first time. Beware: this game will churn away at your time and you will love every minute of it.
No Pros and Cons at this time