The Settlers: New Allies is out now on PC, and – in a series first – is on its way to Xbox One, PS4, Switch, and Amazon Luna (and Xbox Series X|S and PS5 via backwards compatibility) on March 23. The Settlers: New Allies resurrects and revitalizes the series after a 13-year absence with a new, modern take on its classic real-time strategy formula - and whether you’re building your first settlements in its 13-mission campaign or testing the waters in its PvP Skirmish mode, you might notice a key difference from other build-up strategy games you might have played: the Carriers.
In most RTSes, you might create a worker unit, who then goes about various automated and directed tasks, like gathering resources or building structures. In The Settlers: New Allies, your settlement’s entire population is represented on screen at all times, and the most basic civilians act as automated Carriers. If you need wood moved from the sawmill to the warehouse, they’ll spring into action – which happens constantly, because all materials and resources in The Settlers: New Allies need to be visibly carried in real time from harvesting operations to your settlement’s warehouse, and then again from the warehouse to construction sites, trading harbors, or wherever else they’re needed. If a stone quarry you’re building (for example) needs two people to staff it, two Carriers will permanently transform into its workers. And if you want to create a soldier to fight or an Engineer to do just about everything else, one of your Carriers will step up to be trained and transformed into the new role.
The end result of this is a settlement that’s continually buzzing with visible activity, where you’ll need to carefully manage the economy – convert too many Carriers into soldiers, for example, and the movement of goods will slow to a crawl, which will then hold up any construction or harvesting efforts. Fail to build enough roads from your warehouse, and a big work order might create a traffic jam as Carriers line up to shoulder materials and take them to their destination. (You can also speed them up a bit by building stone roads and donkey-pulled carts, attract more by building Residences, or see where your materials are by clicking on your warehouse or the relevant destination/harvesting operation.)
Engineers, Soldiers, And Other Professions
Of course, Carriers wouldn’t have anywhere to go if you didn’t turn the wood and stone they gather into hammers, and use those hammers to train some of them as Engineers. Where Carriers run entirely on autopilot, Engineers are controllable civilian units who can construct buildings, survey mineral fields to discover mining deposits, and expand your borders to give you more space to grow. They can also interact with Landmarks like collapsed mines and witch’s huts, which yield useful resources to the first player who reaches them and delivers whatever item they need. Engineers can even steal from enemies, assuming you can get them close enough without getting killed.
Your Engineers can also build decoys and defensive towers to protect your settlements from attack, but otherwise they’re easy prey for enemies – unless you accompany them with a few soldiers, who can also be recruited from Carriers once you’ve mined and processed enough iron and coal to make shields, bows, and axes. These in turn produce Guardians, Rangers, and Warriors, respectively, and each of the game’s three factions also has a unique unit with special abilities, which can be recruited with gold to give your armies an edge in battle. Speaking of gold, it can also be used – along with gems – to recruit even more advanced units, like soldier-healing Ritualists or the mystical members of The Order, who can wreck enemy settlements a lot more efficiently than your standard troops.
Your resources can also give you an edge via the Academy, a structure where you can trade items like fish or bread for research into faster engineers, tougher troops, and better defensive structures, among other perks. This is also where you can unlock some active soldier abilities you can trigger during battle, like giving Ritualists the power to slow enemies with sticky ooze. Each Academy has protection and crafting research trees, along with the option to add one of three specialized administrative trees geared toward settlement defense, claiming and holding territory, or offensive power – so if you’ve got the time and deep-enough pockets, you may even want to build one of each.
Story, Skirmishes, and More
The Settlers: New Allies lets players pick between three factions, and the campaign’s 13 missions will give you a chance to see what all three are capable of. The story centers on the Elari, a faction of hardy crafters and builders out to find a new home after fleeing a civil war, but you’ll also have a chance to play as their new allies: the nature-loving Maru and the battle-hardened, Viking-like Jorn, each with their own perks and distinct units.
This in turn will prep you for Skirmish mode, where you can pick any faction and test your construction, economic, and martial skills in 1v1, 2v2, or 4v4 matches against human or AI opponents across 13 PvP maps. You can usually win these matches by quickly building up your army and steamrolling enemy settlements, but that’s not always the best path to victory – sometimes, for example, you can beat your opponents by hitting a production quota before they do.
Players looking for a more curated challenge can also check out Hardcore mode, a series of handcrafted, high-difficulty PvE scenarios that rotate out on a weekly basis and push players to think fast to defend against aggressive enemies and tight time limits, usually while at a disadvantage, like fighting two factions with no allies.
The Settlers: New Allies is out now on PC, is available for purchase from the Ubisoft Store, and is included with a Ubisoft+ subscription. On March 23, Xbox One, PS4, Switch, and Amazon Luna players can dig into the game with console controls and cross-play (and backwards compatibility on PS5 and Xbox Series X|S). Xbox One, PS4, and Amazon Luna preorders are available now, and Switch preorders begin on March 15. For more on The Settlers: New Allies, visit our dedicated news hub.