Age of Wonders 4: Eldritch Realms review – It’s tentacle time

Eldritch Realms offers another well-executed power fantasy
Triumph Studios / Paradox Interactive

Everyone seems to scream “I hate it here” on this battlefield: My own units are half-dead from the march through the Umbral Abyss, a new and highly dangerous environment type, and my foes… Well, the weirdly attractive, tentacled horror that leads my troops simply opened her mouth and spat some facts in some sort of terrifying language and now they’re all going bananas, attacking each other or cowering in fear. She’s the only one having a good time – but I guess that’s what happens when you look into the abyss and the abyss blinks back at you: Everything else seems like a relaxing walk in the park. Or float in the park? She doesn’t really have legs anymore.

That’s what awaits you in Eldritch Realms, the fourth and final DLC included in Expansion Pass 1 for Age of Wonders 4, the turn-based strategy game created by Triumph Studios and Paradox Interactive.

Like its predecessors, Eldritch Realms is filled to the brim with additional content that will provide tons of variety to your playthroughs. Let’s begin with the unknowable horror in the room: You get to play around with a new ruler type, the Eldritch Sovereign, which comes in a variety of styles – you can opt for the classic Cthulhu-inspired look with lots of face tentacles, go for a more human or undead style, or make a more insectoid being. In any case – they look abhorrent, like they are supposed to.

Age of Wonders 4 screenshot of an Eldritch Sovereign.
This is the most presentable Eldritch Sovereign I was able to create. / Triumph Studios / Paradox Interactive

Eldritch Sovereigns are unique in a variety of ways. On the battlefield, these entities are powerful sorcerers, wielding devastating magic orbs at immense range and towering above friend or foe. Their hallmark in combat, however, is their array of psychic abilities that drive enemies mad and completely diminish their capacity to resist your forces. Whether you drive them into madness or take control of their minds directly, playing as an Eldritch Sovereign you always have a nasty trick up your sleeve. 

On the campaign map, this new ruler type has access to a unique resource: Thralls. They can be sacrificed in Eldritch Rituals, which are versatile sorceries that can be wielded against cities and armies with devastating results or even used on your own forces for beneficial effects.

Where Dragon Dawn’s Ancient Dragon rulers feel like majestic beasts tearing through enemies with their mighty bodies and flames, these Eldritch Sovereigns truly allow you to role-play as an unassailable, unfazed horror capable of unleashing powers beyond mortal comprehension.

Part of that, of course, are new Tomes of Magic you get to use in this DLC. Very on brand here is the Tome of the Tentacle, allowing you to recruit tentacled Constrictors that pull enemies to their doom and to summon tentacles anywhere on the battlefield, ravaging the enemy’s back ranks. Taking things up to eleven is the Tome of Corruption, which contains a Major Transformation that will have your entire race exchange its legs for floaty tentacles. It also enables you to summon twisted mirror images of enemy units, confronting them with their worst nightmares and comes with the ability to convert buffs into debuffs or outright steal buffs from your foes, which is just devious and fun. And if you’re at that point, you might as well become a world-ending menace and intentionally summon Umbral Nests spitting out Umbral Demons to haunt your neighbors. You can even build a throne in cities that will make attackers go insane as they close in on its ceaseless whispering of Eldritch secrets. So. Good.

Age of Wonders 4 screenshot of an Eldritch army.
Eldritch Sovereigns tower over the battlefield. / Triumph Studios / Paradox Interactive

Balancing things out is the Tome of Cleansing Flame, allowing your units to inflict terrible burns and drowning the battlefield in cleansing fires that only hurt the heretics and leave everyone with sufficient faith and zeal unharmed.

All of Age of Wonders 4’s expansions so far have been superb at finding a particular theme and power fantasy and executing that to perfection in the systemic environment the game offers – and Eldritch Realms is probably the best example for it yet. It just feels so great to commit to a style and keep rolling with it.

Eldritch Realms brings some mechanical additions to the game as well, among them being the Umbral Abyss, a new layer similar to the underground but about ten times as deadly. Overrun by Umbral Demons, the Umbral Abyss is slowly killing anything that’s not Umbral Demon and – the most devious part of it all – it steadily expands, spewing forth new demonic hordes. Though you can make common case with these villains and even summon them on purpose, if you’re willing to fully commit to the lures of corruption, they are going to be a persistent threat during most of your “normal” campaigns.

You can’t build regular Outposts in lands touched by the Umbral Abyss, so your only shelter will be beacons of light that spawn after the destruction of an Umbral Nest – any offensive deep into demonic territory will be a risky and challenging affair. Of course, there are some unique and powerful rewards to be gained from such business.

Age of Wonders 4 Umbral Demon.
The Umbral Abyss houses creatures like this FromSoftware-looking abomination. / Triumph Studios / Paradox Interactive

Another fresh feature is the Cosmic Happenings system, which instigates global crises players and the AI must contend with. These contain unique enemy units and, once again, bring some cool rewards for those overcoming the danger.

Throw the two new race forms, two campaign realms, three new realm traits, new OST, and other additions into the mix and you’ve got quite the enticing bundle of content once again. I’d also like to emphasize that the designs of the Umbral Demons in particular are extremely neat – they are wriggly, unsettling, unnatural, and disgusting, just as you’d want them to be if you’re a tentacled freak obsessed with forbidden knowledge.

I was a little bit disappointed with Primal Fury after Empires & Ashes managed to raise the bar so much following up on the already great Dragon Dawn, but Eldritch Realms definitely brought things back on course to round out Expansion Pass 1.

Age of Wonders 4: Eldritch Realms superbly serves the power fantasies of wielding evil, ancient knowledge and becoming something otherworldly as well as fighting against such abyssal horrors, finding a nice balance between fresh content and mechanical additions.

Score: Recommended*

Version tested: PC.

Age of Wonders 4: Primal Fury is available on June 18, 2024, on PC, PS5, and Xbox Series X|S as a standalone DLC or as part of the Expansion Pass.

*We’ve opted for a recommendation system instead of a scoring system for singular Age of Wonders 4 DLC packs and are aiming to provide a scored review for the entire Expansion Pass once all of its parts are available.

Marco Wutz


Marco Wutz is a writer from Parkstetten, Germany. He has a degree in Ancient History and a particular love for real-time and turn-based strategy games like StarCraft, Age of Empires, Total War, Age of Wonders, Crusader Kings, and Civilization as well as a soft spot for Genshin Impact and Honkai: Star Rail. He began covering StarCraft 2 as a writer in 2011 for the largest German community around the game and hosted a live tournament on a stage at gamescom 2014 before he went on to work for Bonjwa, one of the country's biggest Twitch channels. He branched out to write in English in 2015 by joining, the global center of the StarCraft scene run by Team Liquid, which was nominated as the Best Coverage Website of the Year at the Esports Industry Awards in 2017. He worked as a translator on The Crusader Stands Watch, a biography in memory of Dennis "INTERNETHULK" Hawelka, and provided live coverage of many StarCraft 2 events on the social channels of as well as DreamHack, the world's largest gaming festival. From there, he transitioned into writing about the games industry in general after his graduation, joining GLHF, a content agency specializing in video games coverage for media partners across the globe, in 2021. He has also written for NGL.ONE, kicker, ComputerBild, USA Today's ForTheWin, The Sun, Men's Journal, and Parade. Email: