Age of Wonders 4 Primal Fury is a small, but mighty expansion

The Primal Fury DLC adds a welcome layer of D&D-esque roleplaying

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If you give a goat a staff, he’ll use it to spread poison and devastation across the land. That’s what I did in Age of Wonders 4’s Primal Fury DLC, and it was pretty fun. For me, anyway. Everyone else was poisoned and devastated. 

Primal Fury is closer to the Dragon Dawn expansion than it is to Empires and Ashes. It introduces some new – and clever – ways to play, and even though they don’t dramatically change campaign goals or how you approach battles on a large scale, they do deepen Age of Wonders 4's strategy and even add some rich roleplaying elements.

Praying for victory

A brigade of mammoths faces down an army of magical creatures on a purple plain

One thing I appreciated about Age of Wonders 4 when it first released is how it adds some natural guideposts that give each campaign a sense of structure – faction goals, hero quests, and half a dozen or more other little objectives that keep campaigns from turning into endless slogs of waiting and attacking. Primal Fury adds new heroes, cultures, magic, quests, and deities, which is pretty standard stuff for Age of Wonders, but Primal Fury evolves these features in smart ways. 

My hermit goat worshipped a crow god who manifested in giant, glowing trees around the map, because of course they did. Finding these trees and choosing to continue worshipping the crow gave my army welcome little boosts and also directed my city planning. The crow demanded shrines, so I gave him shrines and received special bird magic and a crow summon in return. Several other benefits came along with this package, most of which incentivized food production and grassland terrain, which shaped how I interacted with the landscape beyond just designating which plots have mines and which get something else.

The other six primal deities have equally expansive influence over everything from how your budding civilization grows to what skill types you learn and which units you can recruit. These unique styles come with another added bonus. Free cities you ally yourself with have their own cultures, which you need to keep in mind as you divide the map between you and figure out a hierarchy. My rugged dwarf neighbors were nice and all, but was it really worth giving up my grassland buffs just so they could have some mines? No, it wasn’t, so I turned them into vassals. 

It’s a small change in how you manage relationships, but one that lends a welcome sense of tension to alliance building that you’d expect when two very different cultures try working together for a cause.

A touch of TTRPG

A stone stronghold stands alone in the middle of a verdant plain

The new gods, leaders, and tactical approaches deepen Age of Wonders 4’s already-rich sense of roleplaying even further. Take one early incident in the Primal Fury-exclusive Stormwreathed Isles realm as an example. Two factions approached me after the first few turns of my first goatkin campaign, one representing ancient elves and peaceful harmony with nature and the other keen on sowing chaos with the elements. In that run, I played as nice, order-loving goats who preserved the world, so I sided with Serena the good elf and ended up with a completely different playstyle and campaign than I would have with Nimue, the Stormcaller.

Diplomacy and the like are standard features in any Age of Wonders 4 campaign, but Primal Fury ties them and the other choices you make more closely with every aspect of your playstyle. It unfolds like a proper roleplaying experience and surprised me with how much it felt like playing a D&D campaign at times. That’s before even getting into Primal Fury’s appearance options. I played as a goat leading goats, but I could’ve opted for a minotaur or even a wolf that resembled something like a cute, brown badger more than a fierce lupine warrior.

Primal Fury adds two new tomes that don’t have quite the same far-reaching effects, though they are certainly handy to have around. The Fey Mists tome conjures a mist cloud that shields your troops from prying eyes as they travel across the map and even protects them from ranged attacks. The Stormborne Tome, unsurprisingly, grants you power over storms, and it also lets you turn your army into naga – half-serpent water warriors.

These aren’t what you’d want to buy the expansion for, but they’re a welcome touch anyway. The same goes for the new mounts and wildlife-themed unit types, which round out the expansion in a thematically fitting way.

Age of Wonders 4 Primal Fury might not sound like much on paper, with just a few gods and two tomes alongside smaller upgrades. These small enhancements tie all of Age of Wonders 4's parts together neatly and add welcome new layers of strategy to every campaign. Plus it lets you build a magical goat empire, which is almost better than everything else in the package.


The publisher provided the copy of Age of Wonders 4 Primal Fury used for this review. Age of Wonders 4 Primal Fury releases on February 27, 2024.

Contributing Editor

Josh is a freelance writer and reporter who specializes in guides, reviews, and whatever else he can convince someone to commission. You may have seen him on NPR, IGN, Polygon, or VG 24/7 or on Twitter, shouting about Trails. When he isn’t working, you’ll likely find him outside with his Belgian Malinois and Australian Shepherd or curled up with an RPG of some description.

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