I love Civilization. More than 20 years ago, with a certain degree of shyness, I would ask my grandfather to let me play the first installment on his computer during family meetings. I played the second entry for years with my friends – usually, in our favorite, WW2 scenario. It's not surprising that I adore Civilaztion 6. It's one of my favorite games, even, and I regularly go back to it.
And so, I was absolutely stoked to see a growing fad for Civilization clones. Sure, there's no shortage of 4X strategies (exploration, expansion, exploitation, extermination), but they usually use science-fiction, or even fantasy as setting. When it comes to a realistic, historical setting, Sid Meier's series hasn't really had much competition – but that's bound to change. Right now, you can play an early version of Old World (available only on Epic Store, so it's easy to miss), and next year, Humankind will be released. I played a few hours of Humankind recently, and while there's still a lot of work to get done, I have a good feeling about it. Because it won't just be a clone of Civilization.
IS IT GOING TO BE OKAY?
Of course, it's difficult to say much today about whether Humankind will be a success or not. The game from the French Amplitude studio is still far from finished, not to mention that getting to know any complex strategy requires a lot of time – after seeing what's what, I'm not surprised they'd decided to postpone the release.
Civilisation must look good…
- beautiful graphics;
- a lot of freshness, it's not just a clone of Civilization;
- trying to show history with more realism;
- a few references to games from Paradox Studios;
- I'm not a huge fan of the extensive, turn-based battles;
- ...but it's just a demo, so there's probably nothing to worry about yet.
...and even though looks aren't everything, Humankind looks like a million dollars. Beautiful and great cities, fantastic graphics, atmospheric music. It doesn't take a PC-games specialist to know that Steam is full of banal and crappy games. There's so many of them it's easy to get lost. Humankind is a visibly high-budget game. That's nice news, especially for those who don't like indie games.
But let's start with the basics. Humankind that may resemble the Civilization series at first, or even second glance. We build cities, pyramids or factories, fend off invasions, with the gameplay spanning the entire story of mankind. We start at the very origins, and follow the next stages of the development of our civilization. Despite appearances, however, the game from Amplitude is not a clone of Sid Meier's series – the closer I looked, the longer I played, the more differences I saw.
Civilization must have high replayability…
...and Humankind looks promising in this respect. I really like the general idea that we don't choose a particular civilization, culture or nation at the beginning. It's a classic approach in Civilisation, and the new pretender to the strategic throne offers something different, seemingly a lot more interesting. We start as a tribe of hunter-gatherers and freely explore on the map for the first rounds, gathering resources – again, unlike in Civ, you don't start the game by establishing the first city right away. The game considers the entire period before humans settled down to cultivate land and engage in horticulture. We can chose from 10 cultures of the given era. There's six eras in total, and in every case, we assume a slightly different identity. Each of them, of course, offers different bonuses, some of which stay with us until the end of the game.
The demo offered only a few cultures. We could play as the Egyptians, whose specialty is building; the Babylonians, who have the highest intellect and are great with science, and the Mycenaeans (the same civilization as in Trojan War: Troy) are specialists in warfare. The next era (unplayable in the demo), brings Romans, Goths and Huns.
The creators boast that we potentially have a million different combinations of different cultures, which of course sounds cool as a slogan, and probably won't be that amazing in practice, but I still appreciate such capabilities. First, there's not many Romans in modern era – it's sort of fun in Civilization, but a more realistic approach shouldn't go amiss. Secondly, it will enrich the mechanics (although I'm a little concerned about the balance), and introduce a role-playing dimension.