Literally a museum piece
Turning a whopping twenty-one years old this year, the Settlers Three is, in my humble opinion at least, the peak of Blue Bytes’ acclaimed series. Released in 1996 it’s admittedly not aged well but thanks to the folks at Good Old Games we can still enjoy it today. I’m going to be honest here, I’m extremely biased. This game was the building blocks for my video game addiction, it lit the fires of passion that still burn today. It was, essentially, baby’s first strategy game.
Now that description might suggest a certain degree of simplicity, you’re thinking ‘well if a kid could play it how challenging could it possibly be to me?’ Well, naysayer let me point out one small detail, I could play it but that doesn’t mean I was particularly good at it. Certainly, it’s a straightforward strategy in terms of mechanics; you have your chain of resource productions that allow you to recruit troops to sally forth and gain victory. The difference with Settlers is the amount of emphasis Blue Byte placed on the reality of building a new civilisation and gathering the resources required.
Of course being 1996 there’s only a certain level of realism one can reach but the manner in which Blue Byte approached it is one I’ve not seen until stumbling across Valhalla Hills earlier this year. It’s a refreshing change from the established archetype of strategy games that has come since the early 2000s. Rather than having your resources vanish into thin are and become an ever growing number, they’re left on the ground outside the home of whoever produced them for your labourers to fetch and take where they’re needed.
So from the humble beginnings of a single guard tower and a pile of resources, a settlement is formed. Woodcutters chop down trees to produce logs, logs go to the sawmill and the planks produced there to the building site for future expansion. It sounds complicated but it’s perfectly simple and incredibly quaint. I love watching the carriers form paths from following the same routes over and over, etching out the beginnings of civilisation with nothing more than their feet.
A comfortable learning curve that doesn’t increase too quickly that it feels unfair but not so slowly that you feel you’re not being challenged, Settlers 3 settles into that happy medium between the two. You’ll find yourself getting lost in the act of raising civilisation from a handful of settlers right up until you see the top tier enemy army swarming over your borders like heavily armed ants.
Alright, let’s throw off those rose tinted glasses and cut to the meat of it. At its heart, Settlers 3 is a great game. That’s it. It’s great. Go buy it. Why are you still reading these awfully constructed sentences? Why aren’t you clicking the link back there and buying it? The gold edition is less than most strategy games on the market with a bucket load more content. For your hard earned cash you get four races, five campaigns, a slew of fan made maps and scenarios as well as official ones and all the adorably huge noses you could want.
It’s worthy of being in a museum so it’s worthy of being in the library of any strategy lover, so head on over to Good Old Games and pick it up and play what is essentially the 1996 strategy version of For Honour.
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