AD 2460 is a fascinating, independently developed online browser based 4X strategy game, that has actually been around for quite a while whilst still remaining under the mainstream radar to a large extent. Developed by Fifth Season, a small Norwegian studio not really known for anything, it’s clear a lot of thought and time has gone into this surprisingly deep F2P game, and continues to go into it to this day, with regular updates happening every few months to keep the game fresh and the community engaged. Whilst it’s a million miles away from the 4X heavyweights Paradox Interactive and Firaxis Games, there’s undoubtedly a lot on offer here, and worth a look for devotees of the genre.
First off, the amount of depth to this game is truly astonishing when you compare it to traditional F2P fare. Whilst most games in this genre are content to be simple city builders, with extremely limited PvP raid elements, AD2460 has gone adopted the 4X approach whole hog, with seemingly endless bars, sections, upgrades and menus. Right from the very beginning, the main menu features 6 different options, with 9 graphical buttons, and within each of them sits a whole bevy of options, trees and number boxes. The sheer scale here is impressive, and the game feels more like an amalgam of Stellaris and EVE, rather than more basic F2P and mobile options. This is a real credit for such a small developer working within this model. There are a whole host of ways to play the game and build up your empire, and the mid and late game is far more diverse. Explore, expand, exploit and exterminate are all present and accounted for, in a manner that is really central to the game and its progression, and this really reflects well on AD2460.
Another refreshing change the AD2460 offers is in its implementation of micro-transactions. Absolutely none of the resources locked behind a pay wall make an impact on gameplay and progression. All upgrades, building and resources are developed within the F2P environment, and cannot be rushed or enhanced with the use of real world money. Instead Fifth Season have chosen to use the system to provide visual flourishes and creative touches that don’t actually impact gameplay. This is not a new idea, it’s everywhere in the MOBA world, and in titles like Overwatch. What Fifth Season lacks in comparison here though is the mass appeal of games like DotA and LoL, or the upfront purchase cost of Overwatch. That they’re happy to use the same model is a real credit to the developers, and the fact that they remain profitable is a credit to the game. The social element of AD 2460 is also significant, with a number of alliances available to the player and a permanent chat bar.
Sadly AD2460 becomes a bit too much of a halfway house to really satisfy either party. The depth that is on offer is great, but far too overwhelming for the average casual F2P MMO player. The relatively barebones approach to tutorials and introduction compounds this, and it is all too easy to get lost in the opening moments for anyone who’s new to the format. Similarly veterans of games like Europa Universalis and Civilisation will be underwhelmed by the long-term scale of the game. The nature of the game just means there are far less options for progression, which gives the game diminishing returns to a much larger extent.
It is also somewhat dated in appearance, looking like a much more limited version of Stellaris. Given that the running of the game, like many 4X entries, is essentially akin to a full running spreadsheet simulation, it’s not too impactful when you’re in the main interface. When it comes to the battle screens (fully automated, with no player interaction and limited tactical input) this becomes incredibly evident, and really impacts the enjoyment and the suspension of disbelief necessary for this kind of game. If 4X games are your thing, and you’ve either already burned through your steam library or are a bit cash-strapped, there’s a lot of potential enjoyment in AD2460, If this isn’t you however, be aware that there are some high entry bars to get past, although these don’t include the classic financial bar which the developer should be praised for.