New jungle terrain and extra decorations for towns, such as the arch of triumph and victory column, spice up the look of Eastern Realm missions.
The look and feel of the Eastern Realm maps make their missions stand out from their predecessors. New music has a decidedly Asian feel, like the sort of tunes you would hear during an adventure movie while the hero is visiting an exotic bazaar. All of the new Far East terrain is a blend of the Middle East and India. Desert plains and the odd scrub brush coexist with lush grassland and jungle. Everything is very detailed to the point that the game gets a bit choppy when scrolling through the densest jungles, although this isn't a bad price to pay for a game this attractive. The tropical settings culminate in atmospheric storms that build up to regular monsoon seasons where the rains are so heavy that you can't fish. Both European-styled buildings and the settlers themselves appear to be exactly the same as in Rise of an Empire, however, so the overall appearance of the game isn't strikingly different this time around. It's a bit jarring, too, to have the eastern flavor of the maps here mixed in with European buildings and characters. At times, it looks like somebody plopped a medieval Bavarian village down beside the Bay of Bengal. These new maps are also available in three new custom solo games and in online play, both of which are otherwise carried over unchanged from Rise of an Empire.
If you felt like The Settlers: Rise of an Empire ended about a dozen hours too soon or really needed some jungle maps, then by all means pick up this Gold Edition for the Eastern Realm expansion. Otherwise, you can probably satisfy a Settlers craving more cheaply with a replay of the original.