The Settlers: History Collection PC Review

Go back and experience strategy simulation history with, well, The Settlers: History Collection.

By Daavpuke, Posted 10 Dec 2018

The Settlers has never quite aspired to be a billboard title, but it definitely has garnered enough affection to be counted as an iconic series. Publisher Ubisoft has therefore decided to launch The Settlers: History Collection, to archive what this strategy simulation game has brought us through the years. It turns out that the quality of each game separately fluctuates wildly and the effort of grouping these titles together has done little else but isolate that a few games go a long way.

The Settlers: History Collection encompasses every numbered game, regardless of them holding the actual numbers. Things got weird around the middle of the series and the game went with subtitles instead. As such, the first game dating back to 1993 is quite different than the last, which still released all the way back in 2010. It’s been a while since the franchise has tried to come out into the spotlight.

 

The Settlers,History,Review

 

Visually, for pretty much every game, the collection comes as is, with some upscaling for modern devices. For the oldest two games with mostly simple pixel art, the upscaling comes out clean and well playable on modern monitors. For the middle titles, there is definitely some grime and visual glitches that come with going big, such as muddy textures in The Settlers III or clipping hero models in The Settlers VI. The Settlers IV is a unique case, where the game still looks smooth, but the interface is so tiny that it is strenuous to play, painful even, with an overlay that only takes up a minuscule corner of the screen. Yes, this collection is easier to get into rather than having to go back to the older originals, but, no, the transition isn’t any more than serviceable; not that it needs to be.

For gameplay, Ubisoft has put in some effort to transition the series for modern controls, i.e. mouse handling and keyboard shortcuts. It is, however, still possible to go through the lot with the traditional settings as well. This modernized input makes it a lot more tolerable to go back, particularly to older games. Selecting spots on the map, going through building options, connecting roads; it’s so much easier to just point and click than go through the motions of fiddling with buttons. Additionally, all titles are compatible with modern operating systems effortlessly. It’s just a matter of clicking the play button and starting up, with perhaps a few visual options to set up first, as most iterations start with low resolutions.

 

The Settlers,History,Review

 

As a series, The Settlers has always had town building as a core mechanism, some more simplified as others. In most cases, taking up more territory by increasing borders with outposts is leveraged by expanding the colony and making sure not to run out resources. Settlers need an economy of food, stones, cloth, iron and so on to not only thrive but also erect some defenses against neighboring enemies. Another common recurrence is the concept of roads to connect buildings, to make them functional. In later iterations, the franchise opted to focus more on named heroes, rather than just a civilization as a whole, to varying success. While The Settlers V is rather clinical about its approach and harder to return to, The Settlers VI and its optional hero pool makes that more palpable. In either case, this more personal feel to town building is what has made The Settlers special throughout time. A town feels more like a community on each mission, with the added caveat of having to murder other people who aren’t down with the family vibe. As strategy games often feel detached, however, this people-oriented approach to building facilitates staying attached and playing through the gigantic amount of content present here.

The Settlers: History Collection not only catalogs every main game, which comes with multiple campaigns, added skirmishes and even multiplayer for some, but most of them also store expansions with even more missions and options. More so, since every single iteration already is worth literal dozens of hours of material, this one assortment can be enough for someone to keep playing virtually forever. No kidding, any one game will take up the better part of the week to mainline, let alone go through all the extra material. Multiple games also come with a map editor or a way to customize free play, for those who want to dive in as deep as possible, even if not all the games are equally worth it.

Moreover, there’s value in The Settlers: History Collection to come to terms with how the series has stood the test of time. In short, the strategy titan started strong with its unique idea, then sort of stagnated through time, dropped in quality by trying to rekindle its fire, to ultimately going back around and being worthwhile once more. Going through all seven titles is an interesting showcase to see just how the franchise sort of fell out of time. By some margin, however, The Settlers II is the purest yet most cohesive game the bundle has to offer. The sequel looks better than the original, is clear about its rules, expands upon the base idea and doesn’t dilute the experience. The Settlers II is the top pick to go back to. For the other ones in this package, here’s a quick rundown from best to worst:

 

  • The Settlers II
  • The Settlers VII
  • The Settlers VI
  • The Settlers I
  • The Settlers III
  • The Settlers V
  • The Settlers IV

 

The Settlers,History,Review

 

If there is a downside to bringing back the series with The Settlers: History Collection, it’s that publisher Ubisoft only did the bare necessary work to create a fully functional and easily plug and played bundle. Instead of one whole that cycles through iterations, each game is a separately contained entity. Additionally, as a uPlay product, it’s strange that only the final one really does anything special for the services, by adding challenges and rewards. There are also no mentions of spinoffs, such as Champions of Anteria, which has connections to The Settlers name. Just being satisfied with clicking a button and getting to play strategy game history right then and there will have to do.

Is The Settlers: History Collection an unforgettable entry that will burst the series back into the light? Not really, no, but it is the next best thing: A solid display of a thorough and intimate strategy simulation series that is comfortably adapted for modern times. There might have been more frills attached, but what is there already is bound to entertain for an immeasurable amount of time already, with some entries being more valuable to go back to than others. There is, still, no question that there is plenty of Settlers in this thing to enjoy for anyone. This series really is, and always was, something special.

Daav Valentaten, NoobFeed (@Daavpuke)

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General Information

Platform(s): PC
Publisher(s): Ubisoft
Developer(s): Blue Byte
Genres: Strategy
Themes: Simulation
Release Date: 2018-11-15

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