A handful of new features expand on an already great colony survival title but are they worth the price?
Genre: Simulation, Strategy
Developer: Ludeon Studios
Publisher: Ludeon Studios
Release date: 24 Feb, 2020
RimWorld is easily one of my favorite games to come out in the last few years. It’s a fantastic strategy-simulation in the same vein as Dwarf Fortress that typically begins with your colonists crashlanding on an Earth-like planet, though there are plenty of options to change this up if you so choose. Going forward, you’ll be utilizing the talents of your hand-picked but randomly-generated colonists to build a settlement that will meet their needs and prevent the violent factions from wiping them out. My colonies have both overcome, and eventually succumbed to, many trials in the past, not the least of which was a dry thunderstorm that burned my wooden settlement to the ground and a particularly nasty pack of wolves that broke through my defenses and at my residents.
Needless to say, seeing what’s hopefully the first of RimWorld’s DLC released had me excited to give it a go.
The Empire Rises
The majority of the new features brought by Royalty come from the existence of a powerful new imperial faction. You’ll be introduced within a few days of starting up via a particularly easy quest that involves rescuing a noble from a mad animal; with my first colony it was a raccoon, the second had a goose. Once the feral beast of diminutive size has been dealt with, a transport will arrive to carry the noble away to safety. Whichever colonist you chose to accept the quest will then be granted the title of yeoman, a psychic implant, and several points of favor with the empire.
Titles grant many benefits, not the least of which is being able to call on imperial troops for support in times of need. Earning a title often goes to your colonists’ heads though, and they’ll start making increasingly more demands on your colony. This means you’ll be building fancy bedrooms for them to sleep in and even fancier throne rooms for them to yell at people in.
Psycasters, the term used for those with psionic implants, are able to activate powerful abilities that can buff them or their allies and cause their enemies a lot of grief. At first, your psychic colonists will be able to push themselves beyond their physical capabilities, but later they’ll be blasting their foes with their energy and making them puke everywhere. Yes, you read that right.
A More Civilized World
The existence of the empire dramatically changes up the political landscape as well as the setting itself. The earlier builds of RimWorld had the feel of a desperate colony trying to survive in a harsh and wild world, though the many updates since have brought it more in line with crashlanding on a much more civilized world than we had originally thought. The empire is the most notable of these changes to date and it brings some interesting flavor to whichever procedurally generated world that you may be living on at the time.
I did like that much that is on offer is optional and that the new quest system can be dipped into at your leisure. You can try to do each and every one that is offered to you, pick and choose based on your own risk-reward analysis, or ignore it altogether. As a matter of fact, if you feel like staging your own little rebellion of sorts you can act against the empire as well. Many of the rewards the empire would bestow on you can be acquired in other ways and, if you don’t want titles and favor, you can choose to receive only offers for quests with immediate and tangible benefits. This is one of the biggest strengths of Royalty; it’s optional and you can choose how deep you want to dive into its new features without interrupting your classic RimWorld style.
RimWorld – Royalty is a good DLC but not a great one. I was expecting more for twenty bucks but Ludeon Studios has steadily improved the game since its release with free updates so I can’t complain too much about it. It does feel like something of a forced donation for past work though. That said, the new features surrounding the empire and psionics are entertaining enough and their features being optional means that it really does only add good content to the title. I can’t think of anything that would actually get in the way of anyone’s enjoyment, though The world feels more populated and established than before which may certainly be a hit for some and a miss for others. Overall, I’m glad to see Royalty arrive and I hope to see more DLC in the future, but unless you’re specifically trying to support the developers, I would wait for a sale on this one.