Catan: Console Edition Review (PS5) – If there’s one thing I love as much as, maybe even more than video games, it’s hobby board games. Catan was one of the first games I bought for my collection many moons ago and is a firm favourite at family game night.
Now, coming from Nomad Games is a digital, PlayStation 5 version of the trading and building phenomena, so grab your sheep, gather your wheat and let’s Catan!
For anyone who has not played Catan, it’s a popular board game that was first released way back in 1995. I know, it’s 28 years old, it was also known as The Settlers of Catan back then before it had its name shortened to just Catan.
It’s a game with a shared board, where users race to ten points by building roads, settlements and cities and trading with each other where necessary. Well, if you can get your stubborn family to relinquish their highly sought after clay anyway.
Catan: Console Edition Review (PS5) – We Built This City on Stone and Wheat!
Friends Beyond Cardboard
The one thing the Console Edition has over its cardboard counterpart is the ability to include AI players and it’s suite of multiplayer features.
I would much rather roll real dice and sit across the table from my opponents, however, with Catan being a three-player game at minimum, that is not always viable. Up steps the Console Edition, where I can play solo, or just me and the missus and play against a wealth of AI opponents and online Catanians.
It does mean, with no setup time that we can play Catan more often than we would have before.
From a gameplay perspective Catan has all the bells and whistles one would expect. Cross-play online multiplayer, adaptive, intelligent AI, challenges and an online ranking system.
It’s a nice suite of features but I did not find anything that stood out really, it all works and is functional but I feel the developers could have gone a bit further, with expansion material and other features to make the release an all-in-one Catan digital experience.
There were a few things about the gameplay that irked me too. The app that allows you to see your resources and cards, away from your opponents gaze, is quite good when it’s working. However, let your phone go to sleep and it will stop tracking all together.
Unlike other board game apps like Ticket to Ride, which is brilliant, Catan just uses a web browser link and I think it could do with a little tweaking to make it more user friendly.
Having to refresh it manually all the time is annoying and sometimes it stops functioning all together. A few games I have had to resort to using the on screen UI and that reveals my cards to my opponents which is less than ideal.
My other complaints are more skin deep, I found the soundtrack boring, the sound effects grating and repetitive and some of the art very basic.
Don’t get me wrong, the board and the actual play area look and perform great but the character art is very simplistic. In the end I turned off the confirmation sounds and played alternative music that was not so stale.
These issues are by no means game breaking but a bit of extra work here and there and the presentation side of Catan: Console Edition could have been spot on. Oh well.
A Charming Board, Full of Life
On the flip side of that, I adored how the board looked, how the dice roll across the many hex types of the 3D map and how you can see all the workers working hard gathering the resources you need to succeed.
The many camera angles and well animated environments really add life to what could have been a very dry and dreary game.
We found that the AI for the competitive players was just about bang-on. They made good decisions where required and took skill and good tactical decisions to beat. Even for Catan veterans like us, the many inbuilt, custom characters were very apt opponents and by no means pushovers.
Having a variety of players to play against, even when playing solo is a massive boost to someone who loves this game.
Could Have Been Amazing
Catan: Console Edition has a great suite of multiplayer and single player features that means you are only ever a click or two away from a game. However, I think the phone app needs a bit of tweaking and found the sound work, at times, tedious.
The Console Edition will never replace my cardboard version of the game but if I ever find myself wanting to play Catan alone or with only two players, I will not hesitate to fire up my PlayStation 5.
Will you trade two sheep for a wood and a stone? Let’s build!
Review code kindly provided by publisher.