Old World

Posted:  Oct 16, 2023
SDHQ BUILD SCORE: 
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Review

Old World was provided by Hooded Horse for review. Thank you!

Some of the most popular strategy games in the PC space are of the 4X genre, which stands for eXplore, eXpand, eXploit & eXterminate. These were the principles that many popular strategy games rely on, such as Sid Meier's Civilization and Humankind, all of which take place on a hexagonal-grid map. Old World is no different. The game was released on Steam last year, but the support is ongoing! It has even got a new DLC, adding Egypt as an empire to select. As a strategy fan, I was so excited to check it out, and I am glad I did.

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While on the surface, Old World may look like another Civilization clone, and the base game mechanics function very similarly, it has a few tricks up its sleeve that help separate it from the 4X pack.

While Civilization is a fairly straightforward strategy game, largely relying on managing the economy and military, Old World goes deeper. It presents choices you can make during your reign to influence your empire. You'll be familiar with these choices if you've played Crusader Kings, Stellaris, or other games in that ilk. For example, you can choose who to marry and how you might respond to certain happenings in your empire; you can set "ambitions" for yourself, giving you a target you must aim for. These elements give you bonuses (or penalties) depending on your choice. This adds another layer to the game and helps break up what sometimes could feel like a monotonous experience.

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The economy also has some depth to it, requiring you to control workers and cut down forests or mine quarries to expand your cities. This makes the world feel somewhat interactive and dynamic, rather than just placing a building in a spot and forgetting about it.

In single-player, you can play a game on a randomly generated map or in the historical scenarios that the game offers, featuring famous battles and empires from bygone years. In multiplayer, you can play via hot-seat, LAN, online multiplayer, or through the cloud in asynchronous play, which is similar to mobile games or the old "Play-By-Email" that Civilization games used to offer. AI is also supported in multiplayer.

And for the most part, playing Old World on the Steam Deck is possible and enjoyable!

Old World - Steam Deck Performance

While Old World doesn't support controllers, there is a preset controller layout for Steam Decks, and this works just fine in my experience. You can navigate the menus with the touchpad and use the analog and face buttons to do most of the in-game actions.

1280x800 is a supported resolution so we can play without black bars. We also have UI scaling in the "Accessibility" menu in Options, which lets you change the UI from tiny to unusably large so you can find the right scale for you.

Recommended Settings - 40 FPS

In my experience, the graphics don't seem to change much in Old World with the different settings options. Upgrading the "Render Quality" setting adds shadows to the units, and terrain quality adds some extra detail to the tiles, but once you do that, you introduce quite a bit of slowdown. The other settings might be visible on a larger screen, but on the Steam Deck, you just can't see any minor details they might add.

Because of this, I'm recommending that you keep the settings as shown in the following screenshot with a refresh rate of 40hz and a TDP Limit of 10W.

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Click to enlarge the image

This produces fairly clean and nice-looking visuals while allowing you to maintain 40FPS and an OK battery life of just over 2 hours. Sadly, we can't do much else to improve the battery life, as the game is largely CPU-bound. Lowering the TDP further introduces somewhat annoying stuttering. If you can live with that, by all means, you can lower the TDP to perhaps 6W - 7W and maintain 30FPS. However, the stuttering will be fairly constant.

Regardless of what you decide, one setting that is an absolute MUST is setting the Fog of War (FOW) quality to Low. The visual difference is negligible, but there is a huge performance hit associated with the Fog of War on an unexplored world, and the Low setting largely eliminates the performance losses.

Accessibility

Old World offers a few accessibility options, like the aforementioned UI scale, which is very useful for handheld users. There is also a colorblind filter, scaling for the font size of pop-up text, the ability to disable the scrolling background on the main menu, and the ability to remove flashing effects in the Fog of War.

The game does support 16:10 resolutions like 1280x800, so it won't have any black bars, and it does support cloud saves. Unfortunately, there is no native controller support, but there is a controller preset that works well automatically selected.

Conclusion:

As someone who has played every Civilization game since the first release, I enjoyed the new elements that Old World has brought to the table. I love that the game took elements from larger-scale strategy games and integrated them into the 4X formula. This additional layer of depth helps you keep focused on the game, and there are a few other differences that help its replayability. If you're into strategy games and want a new one to play on your Steam Deck, give Old World a look!

Our review is based on the PC version of this game.

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SDHQ's Build Score Breakdown

Old World brings some new ideas to the 4x Strategy genre, and it runs pretty well on Steam Deck too!

Build Score

Performance: 
Full StarFull StarFull StarFull StarNo Star
VISUALS: 
Full StarFull StarFull StarNo StarNo Star
Stability: 
Full StarFull StarFull StarNo StarNo Star
Controls: 
Full StarFull StarFull StarNo StarNo Star
Battery: 
Full StarFull StarNo StarNo StarNo Star
Noah Kupetsky
A lover of gaming since 4, Noah has grown up with a love and passion for the industry. From there, he started to travel a lot and develop a joy for handheld and PC gaming. When the Steam Deck released, it just all clicked.
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