As you visit the collapsed worlds of the Star Union, you’ll notice they are filled with survivors. The game recognizes the following NPC factions (NPC is short for Non-Primary Combatants):
- Autonom - Robots from the emergency services that have developed their own autonomous AIs after the central network of CORE went down.
- Growth - Intelligent plants escaped from biotech company Terra Tech. They strive to live in symbiosis with other life forms. Not for people with tenctaclephobia.
- Paragon - The former governing and elite classes. They’ve survived the collapse through life extending augmentations and therapies which are now faltering. They haven’t lost their arrogance and entitlement though.
- Psi-fish - Mysterious floating aliens that have become more prevalent after the collapse.
- Spacers - Mutated descendants of the urban populations. Their society and religion were shaped by gaming culture, as the empire population was entertained by extreme VR experiences. With the networks gone, they seek their thrills in the physical world.
The NPC factions are far from the sitting ducks from previous AoW games; they can’t be ignored. They might have alien savage societies, but are in the majority at the start of the game.
- 1 Mechanics
- 2 Autonom
- 3 Growth
- 4 Paragon
- 5 Psi-fish
- 6 Spacers
When expanding you’ll soon run into one or more of the factions. You might decide to approach them in a friendly way, so you perform quests for them and improve relation and influence – which you can then use to ask faction armies to give up important structures for you to use. Each NPC Faction has its own set of quests and narrative flavor.
If you decide to remove an army belonging to an NPC faction by force, it means war with the entire faction and a hit on your global reputation. Be careful not to start too many NPC wars as their bases and dwelling will start to spawn invading armies and your colonies might be overrun.
Just as AI Players, NPC factions lay claim to unowned Sectors around their habitats. So even if you try to avoid them, conflicts of interest with your NPC neighbors will soon start to appear: if you settle in sectors next to their dwelling your relations with them will suffer.
NPC factions will make demands based on their relation with you and based on the stage of the game. Small and early offenses can be made right by payments in one of the key resources. Soon demands will escalate and include demands that you hand over sectors to them. If you decline demands, relations will go further south and you are at risk of attack.
As in AoW3 there are stacks garrisoned at NPC dwellings, and ones patrolling territories. This time NPC factions will also launch invasion attacks. This is associated with an event. An extreme version of NPC attack events are Boss events, extra strong armies that have named Boss characters with high level unit mods and henchmen.
Unit rosters and assets
Each NPC Faction has at least 5 unique units, including a Tier IV as well as a set of unique Mods and Operations you can acquire from them. Depending on your relation level you can recruit NPC Units as auxiliary forces. The higher your relation, the higher the level you can recruit. This recruitment costs additional influence.
The ultimate friendly goal is annexing a faction’s Dwelling to your city. These dwellings have resource yields comparable with the Golden Landmarks (the highest-level economic structures in the game), and the units of the faction are unlocked for production.
This is not all, NPC interaction comes into play with PvP interaction too. You can mess with the NPC relation of other players through Covert Ops and of course they’ll play a role in achieving particular victory conditions.
The Robots providing emergency services within the Empire were run by the Conscientious Omnipresent Regency Engine CORE, but when it faltered during the Collapse they relied on internal backup processors. In the centuries since then, these robots have linked up and developed into a new collective of sentient beings. They called themselves the Autonom.
The Autonom have thermal and kinetic Weapon Groups. They are all about form connections to buff individual units. They seek to build a large peer to peer network of autonomous entities
The Autnom are a bit Retro-droid in their design, visually they are distinct from other Imperial units in that they use lots of round shapes. They are very easy to identify. They all float or fly. Metals and Paint look worn since they have been active and moving around since the fall of the Empire. The Autonom share flickering lights in a consistent the amount indicates its intelligence / network capabilities. i.e. Golem = single light, Network Controller = lots of lights.
The network mechanic
Since the fall of the Empire, all Autonoms, possessing limited neuro-linking, have developed autonomous consciousness, making their own decisions, but some of their cooperation still exists. The Autonom Network Controller Units and Monitors direct and enhance the other Autonom in battle by providing them with valuable information on their targets.
Using the Initialized Connections Buff, all Autonom units in the army are buffed. This buff can scale up to three levels (luckily each autonomy unit can only use this ability once per battle)
- Level 1: +10% accuracy and +2 arc resistance.
- Level 2: Networked units gain one level of stagger impact.
- Level 3: +20% increased damage to all attack and +1 range on ranged attacks.
Autonoms work closely together; be careful not to camp as the units will buff each other quickly! See the unit abilities for additional Network effects.
- Sentinel: Cute Ranged moving turret droid. The Sentinel’s Calculate Targeting Ability raises its accuracy and critical hit chance by 10%, all Networked Units also gain this effect.
- Golem: All-purpose Sentry and crowd control Bot. Its Tactical FACE is a Forcefully Applied Contact Explosive (the golem points a little arm out and blasts the target with high impact stagger). Its BOMB Body Originating Mass Blast Ability blasts all adjacent hexes. Handy to have as a melee based crowd control robot.
- Monitor: Support Unit. In addition to its network establishing function it has the ability to heal ALL networked units on its side for 5HP PER LEVEL. Imagine encountering a large group with a couple of these as support.
- Justicar: Police, Judge and Executioner Robot rolled into one. Sentence target gives all Autonom a damage bonus on target. Its punisher missiles (which funnily launches from its neck after rotating its head backwards) is indeed punishing using High Impact and Demolisher (200% damage to obstacle) perks.
- Network controller: Next to the aforementioned Network ability it has a cool “Contact Tech Support” action, which summons an Autonom unit to its aid. The Network Controller’s shield Projection adds 4 shields for 2 turns to all networked units.
At their Home Base, you can acquire Autonom mods and units. One of the most interesting ones is the Autonom Network Connector, which allows non-autonom units to benefit from the Networked Buffs when equipped!
When starting close to the Autonom, don’t dismiss these cute looking robots, or EXTERMINATE will be the last thing you hear.
During the expansion of the Star Union, expeditionary forces stumbled across a planet unlike any they had discovered before. This faraway planet was completely covered in alien jungle, a jungle that appeared alive beyond the normal capabilities of plant life. This jungle formed a single entity, all plants interconnected into a massive collective sentience, reacting and even predicting the actions of the scientists that studied it.
Seeing the value of this hardy, rapidly expanding plant species, they started cultivating and genetically altering it to use in their terraforming efforts. They developed a new strain of this plant life, which has a long and complicated scientific name, but is simply referred to as the Growth. The Growth was unique in that, if it was allowed to grow big enough, its sentience became more sophisticated and it would be able to form symbiotic bonds with wildlife. This was dangerous to developing colonies, so efforts were made to always keep the Growth in check.
They deployed the Growth to their terraforming colonies, with varied success. The Growth allowed for rapid development of local flora and fauna, as long as it was kept under control. On some planets however, the Growth grew out of control and developed too much, taking over large parts of the planet and forming symbiotic bonds with the local wildlife through the use of pheromones and mind-altering pollen. Intelligent life was equally affected, there are stories of colonists disappearing into the wilds, lured by pheromones, never to return as they are absorbed into a symbiosis with this alien Growth.
After the Collapse, planets seeded with Growth were left to grow unchecked and the Growth thrived, rapidly evolving and growing into maturity. Over time, giant Mothernode clusters formed on these planets, which serve as central hubs for the Growth and are seen as the main source of the Growth’s sentience.
The Growth faction is divided in two sides, the flora and the fauna. The Growth has formed symbiotic bonds with local fauna, namely giant bees, to the benefit of both sides. The Growth is able to communicate through a telepathic bond formed by the expulsion of specific pollen, though their behavior and motives are obscure at best, and its intelligence can only be guessed at.
The Growth strives to achieve symbiosis with all life forms it comes across, its armies are often supplemented by various forms of wildlife that it has recruited to its cause. It lures them in with pheromones and releases mind-controlling spores to sway their allegiance. Even intelligent life is not safe to these persuasive methods, as many a stray colonist never returned to their colony, being absorbed into the Growth symbiosis.
Despite their unique form of communication and their tendency to benevolently absorb life into their symbiosis, diplomacy is possible with the Growth, though some of their requests can be rather interesting...
The Growth has strong melee capabilities in both of its Bees as well as the Vine Bud unit. This, combined with their use of pollen to cause regeneration and healing in units, makes them quite strong up close. Their ranged units are not to be underestimated however, with both the Flowering Node and Seed Cluster being able to rain down heavy biochemical damage at long range. These ranged attacks can lower the Kinetic and Biochemical resistance of enemy units, making them even more vulnerable to melee attacks, resulting in great synergy within the lineup.
The synergy between the Growth and the Amazon is quite strong due to their mod compatibility, as the Amazon is the only player faction that has access to Plant units in their main line-up!
- Worker bee: The worker bee is the most common animal that can be found with the Growth. These bees have a nasty sting they can use in defense, but their main utility comes from a special kind of pollen they carry with them, that has strong regenerative properties.
- Soldier bee: The Soldier bee is the main animal defender of the growth. Swarms of these protect the growth from all hostile threats. Their corrosive spit can melt through armor at range, and they have the same nasty sting for when enemies dare to get too close.
- Vine bud: This unit is the smallest member of the plant family of the Growth. It's vines are deadly when it gets close to enemies, and it can summon small versions of itself, Vine Sprouts, in combat. These Sprouts are stationary but have strong melee attacks, perfect for area denial and setting up traps.
- Flowering node: The Flowering Node is the first true ranged units in the Growth line-up. Using its Noxious Pollen ability, It can release deadly pollen in a area of effect at range, dealing biochemical damage and poisoning units. Additionally, this attack causes an Allergic Reaction in units, which lowers their Kinetic and Biochemical resistances, very powerful in this lineup! The Allergic Reaction is also caused by its main attack; Allergenic Spray, which is a single target attack where it sprays pollen directly at a target over long range. This versatile unit has one more trick up its... petals? as it can deploy a spray of Pheromones that can mind control non-Mechanical units, causing them to switch allegiance until end of combat.
- Seed cluster: The Seed Cluster is a unique unit in Planetfall, as it is a tier IV repeating artillery unit, the only one of its kind. It has a Seed Bomb attack which targets a single unit at range, but the main threat from this unit is its Seed barrage ability. This ability is very inaccurate but hits an area of effect, which means this unit doesn't target a unit as much as a general area, and unleashes a deadly barrage, hitting pretty much anything nearby, staggering and slowing them. Both of these attacks also cause Allergic Reactions in units. It can release a great deluge of pollen from itself, coating the entire battlefield in Pollen which cleanse friendly units from status effects and heals them each turn, for a few turns. This ability is very powerful in keeping a Growth army alive.
- Plant roots: The plant units of the Growth all share a strong defense mode; Plant Roots. This defense mode gives them extra armor and makes them stagger immune until their next turn, so you cannot stagger these units out of defense mode! This makes them very resilient when they dig in. This defense mode is shared by a few other units as well in Planetfall, most notable the Amazon Arborian units; The Arborian Sentinel and the Arborian Queen.
The Growth Dwelling is a large, overgrown area of jungle that ferociously spreads, despite hostile terrain, hazards or hostile lifeforms. The dwelling is formed around the Mothernode in the center, which is the main nervous system of Growth sentience.Thick vines spread out from this center, spreading jungle like flora and clusters throughout the sector.
It is up to you whether you chose to cooperate with them, to the downfall of vegetarians, or purge them from your world like the Star Union of old!
The Paragon once were the elite citizens of the Star Union empire. After the Collapse, all interstellar trade and communications ended, leaving the surviving citizens marooned on their worlds. The upper-class Paragons (named after the company that provided their cybernetics, Paragon Augmentations), fell from boundless hedonism to a state of survival. They were no longer able to connect with CORE, the administrative heart of the Star Union with the Emperor at its center. Overtime, the disconnected augmentations that gave them eternal youth and super human abilities started to falter, with many Paragon descending into madness and decay.
The Paragon still hold onto their elite status with fanatical devotion, even after all else has decayed. In the ruins of their once great empire, clusters of Paragons formed into potent groups, often taking control over the remnants of Imperial elite forces. They are led by self-proclaimed prophets which see themselves as rulers over their own little cult of Paragon, preaching about bringing civilization where there is none left.
The Paragon are a bit snobbish and elitist in their dealings with other factions, but for those that are willing to indulge their posturing, diplomatic relations can be established.
The Paragon faction is actually divided in two sides. On the one hand you have the elite citizens, the true Paragon. Their high-grade augmentations have kept them alive and in perfect physical condition through centuries. On the other side are the Imperial forces which served as an elite guard to the Paragon and their interests during the time of the Star Union, such as the Imperial Soldier and Imperial Guard. These soldiers are also augmented however, due to the lower quality of these augments, they have started to degrade and falter. The Imperial soldiers are bare shells of life now, only kept functioning due to their augments. The Paragon have direct control over their puppet forces, using their own augments to control them and directing them in battle.
The overdrive mechanic
The unique mechanic of the Paragon faction means that the Paragon can overdrive the augments of Imperial Infantry. Overdrive changes the damage channel of the attacks of Imperial Soldiers from kinetic to arc damage and gives them 'unstable augments' which causes the soldiers to explode in a burst of arc damage on death. On top of that, each unit gets unique bonuses when they gain overdrive as well. All in all this makes a well balanced Paragon army a deadly force to deal with, crowd control is your friend when Imperial Soldiers with overdrive are charging at you!
Because of the unique divide in their units, fighting the Paragon faction can be quite challenging. The Imperial Soldiers form a defensive line around the Paragon, protecting them while the Paragon buff the soldiers and rain strong ranged attacks down on their enemies.
- Imperial soldier: The Imperial soldier is a standard infantry unit with a firearms-based assault rifle and a grenade which change to arc based weapons when the unit gets overdrive.
- Imperial guard: The Imperial Guard is a classic praetorian inspired melee infantry unit which has strong melee attacks and great defense, though due to the nature of its shield it's vulnerable to flanking attacks. When it gains overdrive it becomes a lot more scary, as it gains faster movement speed, increased shields AND stagger resistance AND the Pulse Slam ability, which is a powerful area of effect melee attack that deals devastating damage.
- Imperial heavy soldier: The Heavy Soldier is an infantry unit in a mechanized suit armed with high caliber, powerful weaponry. It functions as a form of infantry based artillery, raining down area of effect attacks at great range. When the unit gains overdrive its attacks deal significantly more damage.
- Paragon fanatic: The Paragon fanatic is clearly suffering from its centuries long immortality, as he has gone ever so slightly insane. Regardless of that however, they can still be very strong units to go up against. Besides the ability to overdrive Imperial soldiers, it also has phase augments, which allows them to instantly relocate in battle. Their targeting jammer augments disrupt enemy targeting, making the fanatic one of the hardest units to hit in Planetfall. The combination of these augments allows it to stay safely away from the main fighting, overdriving its soldiers to do all the work while it gets in a few flanking shots.
- Paragon techno prophet: The Paragon Techno Prophet is the self-proclaimed leader of a group of paragon units, it floats above the battlefield in a throne like construct, looking down on friend and enemy alike. Its abilities come from it's floating throne, allowing him to overdrive groups of units at a time or call in reinforcements from outside the battlefield, summoning more Imperial forces into battle. It's most powerful ability allows it to connect to a old Star Union military satellite in orbit, calling down a blast of Arc energy, dealing massive damage to any enemy force. Having long lost the knowledge of where this power comes from, this is seen as a godlike power by the Paragon.
The former vehicles of the Star Union are often used in Paragon armies on the world map, but are not officially part of the Paragon faction and therefore cannot be bought from their dwellings. These vehicles can be found as rewards however on the world map. Your own Commander could be driving, flying or walking around in any of these!
Paragon Dwellings are former citadels of the Star Union, huge mega-structures in a sea of ruins, the skeletons of the high rises the Paragon Elite used to occupy. The Paragon and their Imperial guard still live in these ruins, in their madness they are holding on to what they see are the fleeting last traces of civilization in this apocalyptic time.
Will you endure their snobbishness and form an alliance with them to gain access to all their goodies? Or would you rather cast down their false prophets, put them in their place and show them some real power?
The Psi fish were encountered as the Star Union expanded its hyperspace network. A new age of space travel dawned when scientists discovered a way to artificially create spatial rifts. Launching sub- FTL ships carrying massive Gravity-Bombs, G-Bombs for short, additional rifts were opened in systems with resource rich worlds. Once connected to the Nexus, these bridgeheads led to the discovery of further natural rifts and the Union’s extension started to explode as new areas of space were discovered and chartered each day. During that time, first contact was made with a sentient alien life form, a race called the Kir’ko, which the Union eventually subjugated, and the first sightings of the otherworldly Psi-fish were recorded in deep space. After the collapse of the Star Union, Psi-fish sightings became more frequent on surviving planets. They’ve been the bane of many colonies, and often like to hang out on Cosmite Nodes.
The Psi-Fish are a highly intelligent species with an otherworldly mindset and a strong instinctual drive to propagate and evolve. Their psionic power manifests naturally for them through their connection to the Void.
The Psi-Fish Host is a daunting sight as it moves across the world. They levitate gracefully through the air (or vacuum) with a threatening calm. Their psionic power radiates off of them in waves, felt even by those not psionically gifted.
Their evolution is unique: Each step of their evolution process, from the seedling Chrysalis to the imposing Medusa, fulfils a different function in the Psi-Fish shoal. Together they act as a singular force, capturing their prey and using them to nurture their offspring as they grow ever stronger.
The effect on their targets is proper sci-fi horror material. But the Psi-fish are not evil, they are curious, intelligent creatures who can be negotiated with. Their horrific acts are generally the result of the many misunderstandings associated with inter-dimensional contact. Use diplomacy and convince them you’re not fish-food.
The bonds mechanic
Psi-fish have the ability to Bond with other creatures with the strength and effect type depending on the particular Psi-fish unit. The effect is always positive Psi-fish, while the effect for the target, can uhmm… vary. The casting creature can once per turn, to change the target of its Bond. If the Psi-fish is staggered, the Bond is cancelled.
The effect can be positive or negative for the receiving creature. The other side cannot do anything about being Bound, save staggering or using anti-status effect abilities. As some form of relief, a unit cannot be the target of multiple Psi-fish Bonds at the same time.
- Crysalis: The Chrysalis is the fetal stage of the Psi-fish. The Siren can impregnate and cocoon biological units, which then turn into the Chrysalis in 2 turns. After the Chrysalis is matured, it can evolve into a Spawn.
- Spawn: The Spawn is the infant form of the Psi-fish. Burst forth from a Chrysalis when it has grown, it floats across the world in swarms surrounding the more mature Psi-fish creatures. They have medium ranged mental attacks that it uses to take out their prey’s mind, rending them vulnerable. Their Fascinating Bond ability blocks enemies from performing actions except move.
- Hunter: This creature is a nightmare. Considered the most powerful Tier II unit in the game. The Hunter is a fast moving, agile creature that shoots through the air, homing in on its prey. It is capable of linking its mind with its prey, stunning it before moving in for the kill. The Hunter can evolve into a Siren.
- Siren: These are unsettling presences to behold as they fly through the air. The Siren has an enticing call, which it uses to lure its enemies closer before implanting them with one of its eggs. When it attached its mind to another creature, that creature knows its end is nearby.
- Medusa: The Medusa is a huge and awe-inspiring sight. The vast amount of Psionic power needed to keep it floating radiate off of it in waves. To look at it directly is to look into the face of Insanity. It changes it temperament at an instant, able to soothe its allies at one moment, and to unless massive Psionic power to its foes the next.
Psi-fish are otherworldly fish, living in an upside-down waterfall. Their dwellings are always located at sea. Maybe this environment is resembling their home most.
Their units float across to land just as easily. So if you pick a fight with them, you’d better have a navy, ideally a psionically protected navy, that can damage ethereal beings. Good luck!
Spacers are gangs of raiders, who roam the ruined worlds of the Star Union looking for anything of value. They originate from the Star Union’s mega city masses that were kept in check with limitless virtual entertainment and nutrients laced with pacifying chemicals. After the Collapse brought the population violently back to reality, they were left to survive in a devastated and lawless universe.
The strongest, craziest and most ruthless survivors formed tribal gangs. They fill their days with raiding, debauchery and perverse rituals as a replacement for numbing bliss the Union once provided.
Not all humanity has left the Spacers though. They can be negotiated with; their NPC quest lines allow them to restore somewhat of a civil society and join your colonies.
The design of the Spacers combines elements of post-apocalyptic raiders and some form of a twisted VR gamer culture. Although the ultra violent (and likely other obscenities) VR world their ancestors inhabited has been offline for generations, elements are still embedded in their language, culture and religion.
Spacer units are highly reckless and aggressive and reply on buffing and explosive AoE damage. Spacer units carry effigies. When a unit dies, they drop this totem-like object, marking the place of the unit’s death. Other Spacers get rallied by Effigies, as these static “unit” automatically buffs one of friendly units every turn, granting a +25% boost on damage for that turn. The effect of the effigy can be boosted even further.
- Pschyo: The fearless Frontline maniacs of the Spacers. They rush the battle field with an improvised mace in hand. Its Berserk Chemicals give Fast Movement and Damage out put of +25%. (which can be further buffed by effigies)
- Truck: The assault cavalry of the Spacers. A pickup truck with scavenged guns welded to its bed. Reckless Crash is a melee attack with high impact stagger and knock back on light units. When in a tight spot the drivers will blow the truck up in a big explosion, it will blow up when it HP reach zero too. Unbeknownst to the drivers, they won’t re-spawn as in the virtual words of old.
- Melter: This disfigured mutant, wants everything to look as horrific as himself. It has a precision -and AoE corrosive attack called Acid Bath.
- Hellcopter: This improvised aircraft drops burning high explosives on enemies and has make shift laser good at taking out other aircraft. Its Crash Down passive means will seek out a nearby enemy and crash on top of it when its shot down.
- Junk ship: The spacers don’t limit their raids to land... Has the ability to board (commandeer) other ships.
- Prophet: One of the craziest units in the game. Its madden rant causes psi damage by passing armor and has can lead to broken minds and insanity. It can debuff enemies with mark of the Effigy. Making it easier to hit and making the target drop a Spacer Effigy on death. Its Effigy Hysterics ability will boost the Damage bonus of all effigies on the map. When it gets killed it leaves a Power Vacuum. All Spacer infantry types get the Power Grip ability which allow them to become the new Prophet if they reach its carcass.
Spacer dwellings are large shanty towns. But they have some very useful gear for players seeking to establish friendly relation with them.