The Settlers: Rise of an Empire is a real-time 4X game. The fundamentals of 4X are expansion, exploration, exploitation, and extermination. The player must manage a settlement using a resource model based on gathering, manufacturing, and currency. The settlers have various needs that have to be fulfilled to keep them happy. If they lack something, they will go on strike.
Rise of an Empire adds several new simulation elements to the series. Winter puts a stop to grain harvesting and fishing, and settlements that rely on these for food will need to plan for storage and production accordingly. Female settlers have been included for the first time. Unlike the Amazons in The Settlers III, these are spouses that are available for all races, not a specific race. Settlers now marry, an occurrence heavily influenced by the player through town celebrations and fairs.
Also new to the series is the Knight character, an in-game unit that represents the player's leadership to the common settlers. In addition to being a tough military unit, the Knight is central to undertaking quests, and the Knight's level of promotion marks the overall progress of the settlement. With each promotion, the player gains access to new buildings and military units, but the settlers' needs will also increase, reflecting a higher standard of living. There are six knights to choose from in the game. Each of the knights has unique gameplay traits that distinguish them from each other.
In the game there is a campaign consisting of sixteen missions across the game's four climate zones. There are also two types of custom maps: Free Settlement maps are sandbox-style simulations where the player can build up a city in peace, and Quests maps involve a series of objectives that must be completed and may or may not involve military action.
The game features races from Medieval Europe (such as the Vikings), as well as Northern Africa. The campaign mainly involves a war against the evil Red Prince and his right-hand lady, Crimson Sabatt. Throughout the campaign, the player must attempt to gain allies in the fight against him and put a stop to his quest for dominion over all the lands.
Critical reception Edit
Reviews on the game has been generally mixed. While most reviews have praised for its graphics and animations, the disappointments were due to its over-simplistic gameplay compared to its predecessor. In-game lagging and crashes have also been noted.
A beta test for the game was released by GameSpot available to its members.
A Demo was released by Ubisoft on August 23, 2007. The Demo includes "two maps: a tutorial and a skirmish map".
An expansion for the game - The Settlers: Rise of an Empire - The Eastern Realm - was released in April 18, 2008 in Europe. This added a new climatic zone, tropical, which has a monsoon season which prevents grain from being grown and fish from being fished from the turbulent waters. In addition, embellishment objects were added to allow a player to beautify his or her settlement.
As well as these new features, a new campaign was introduced which makes use of the new climatic zone and adds a new knight - Saraya. This campaign revolves around defeating the evil goddess Khana, her cult and the hypnotized mogul Prahphat (leader of the region) in the distant land of Hidun.
The Settlers Gold Edition was released on September 30, 2008. This edition contains both The Settlers: Rise of an Empire and The Eastern Realms on one disc.