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Game preview 18 June 2020, 19:17

author: Adam Zechenter

Fans of Civilization, Celebrate! Humankind is Looking Good

The creators of Humankind still have a way to go, but their vision of human history already looks interesting. The French studio develops the game for fans of Civilization, but it will definitely be more than a clone.

Slated for release: August 2021.

Paradoxical fashion

There are a few things in the gaming industry that we can always be sure of. There will be a new Call of Duty in the autumn, Ubisoft's next big game will be heavy on micropayments, and fresh ideas will instantly find imitators. Take Slay the Spire, for instance – this original card rogue-like was released in full version only a year ago, and today, we can play more or less similar clones (Monster Slayers or Monster Train). It's all the more surprising that it took so long for creators of these strategy games to use the great ideas from Swedish studio Paradox. It changes with this game.

In Humankind, we have to make difficult decisions reminiscent of Europa Universalis or Crusader Kings. For example, after a big battle in our city, many crippled soldiers may appear. It will be up to us whether we greet them with ovations (celebrations and additional bonuses for several tours) or try to use them for different work, reducing the cost of producing some units.

It may not be the same calibre of decision as in CK, which I wrote about in the preview of the third part, but I'm glad that even these "hard" 4X strategies lean a little towards role-playing. When I played Stellaris, a huge part of the fun for me was actually getting the feel of the civilization, experience its ups and downs. Then, there were the stories generated by the game. I don't think Humankind achieves this kind of potential yet, but as I mentioned – it's only an early version of the game, so who knows, maybe at the premiere we will get a strategy that not only plays brilliantly, but also generates interesting stories?

But these aren't the only Swedish influences that are easy to spot in Humankind. In the game, we will have to constantly consider the stability of our civilization. The solution is similar to Europa Universalis, and it means that if the development of your civ is too fast, it may bring about more troubles than profits.

A civilization must have an identity…

...and Humankind is not a simple clone of Civilization. Have I told you about it? I've mentioned Swedish influences before, but there's more to unpack. Take combat, for example, which resembles the solutions known from Endless Legend. When our army, usually composed of several units, attacks the enemy, a small arena will be set on the strategic map, and we will be able to deploy our troops and face the enemy in turns. Interestingly, larger battles can take more than one turn of global gameplay – which nicely underlines their monumental significance. I always felt strategy games don't clearly show that many wars were ended by merely one or two major battles – although Humankid isn't going to change that, it attributes more significance to battles that take more than a single turn, and I loved that.

However, after considering the details, I have to say the combat wasn't really to my liking. The idea itself is cool, but implementation was limping – the clashes were not clear and too slow, but, again, I understand that we only saw an early version of it. . I am convinced that the creators are well aware that battles need improvements.

City development, on the other hand, is quite interesting in Humankind, and it's quite distinct from Civilization. First of all, the boundaries of the settlements are really large. At first, it was hard for me to get used to the idea that I could build upgrades (of mines, for example) so far from the centre – for someone raised on Civ, it was quite surprising. But it's a step in the right direction – after Civilization 6 introduced districts, the creators of Humankind also draw attention to the fact that ancient cities were often tantamount to nations, and their influence could be felt far beyond the city walls.

As you can see from these few examples, the creators of Humankind decided to make the game a little more realistic than Civilization. It won't be possible to lead a civilization as Ghandi and nuke your enemies, or defeat the Romans with a Polish empire – at least I can't see that happening. Will this approach work? It's hard to judge right now because on the one hand, it sets the game apart from its competitors, but on the other, it may lack its own identity – after all, realism itself is not an advantage of the game in and of itself.

LOTS OF CONTENT

Humankind looks like a big game. There's a ton of cultures and civilizations. But what I saw in the demo was just part of the mechanics. I haven't seen religion, diplomacy, nor trade – all these elements will be featured in the full version of the game.

Historic sandbox

Good times to be a player Maybe we're even facing over-abundance. I still haven't had the time to play Old World, and it's just one of the dozens of games I've installed over the last months and haven't even launched. That's why I'm still not sure if Humankind will ultimately be a truly riveting experience for me in 2021. It's too early to make such judgments.

During the presentation of the game, Amplitude staff emphasized that their goal is to create tools that players will be able to use creatively. First of all, our most important task will be to collect points of fame – our civilization will be able to do great things, as well as inflict evil. Wage war or achieve progress through science. Build a home, or burn the cities of your enemies. One way or another, the world will remember. The question today is: will the players still remember Humankind a year or two after the release? I certainly hope so.

Adam Zechenter | Gamepressure.com

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