[note: It has been brought to my attention that their were factual errors in this post. Those errors have been corrected. Thank you and enjoy the E3 coverage!]
I haven’t been apart of the Civilization franchise for a long time, but Civilization IV pissed off my bladder when it haphazardly drained ten hours of my day. It’s a game that offers so much to players that building a world is possible, but like Rome, nothing can be built in a day. Because of this, newcomers may find it difficult to find the willpower and time to establish themselves as dictators or cultural icons.
But, no fear, Civilization V is here! It offers one less roman numeral column and a bunch of tweaks to the beloved Civilization gameplay that will excite/anger veterans; and hopefully, bring in new world leaders to battle over territory and technology.
Hold on ladies and gents – there is a lot of content here.
As the demo began, I wondered what to expect, thinking that Civilization IV’s mechanics were good enough, and making a fifth installment seemed like it would be overkill. However, once they unveiled the map, my skepticism was abolished. It was vibrant, detailed, and the fog of war was made of clouds instead of the standard ominous black veil.
On top of this, the land mass looks a lot more functional. Civ IV’s square tile system gave the game an obvious board game-like feel, but Civ V’s transition to the hexagon tileset (go Heroes of Might and Magic!) gives Firaxis, and map makers, the ability to create more realistic relationships between land and sea. Players will be able to navigate the lands easier and will allow them to focus on positioning troops and cultivating their lands.
Troop positioning has taken a radical turn in the game as well. The demo confirmed that players won’t be able to stack troops, but their position and terrain will provide bonuses (like previous Civ titles). The demo showed a single infantry unit battle three opposing units before being eradicated. This ups the ante on developing defensive and offensive strategies, especially with the hexagonal tileset.
Another feature on display was the social policy feature. This feature allows players to spend culture points on different policies to provide benefits to their nation. Religion has been moved into this category to provide a more “direct benefit.” It wasn’t on display during the demo. After players master a number of the six social policy trees available they can build the utopian wonder, and win a cultural victory.
The demo moved on to finally reveal the tech tree in all of its glory. I wasn’t able to quickly jot down everything, but the tree is still massive.Players can still select a technology they want to focus on by clicking on it, and their nation will focus on researching the prerequisites necessary to learn the tech.
It offers players the capability to specialize without all of the micromanagement. If you are a person that enjoys punishing yourself, this isn’t a requirement. Players can still choose to research techs at their leisure if they wish to do so.
Cities now have the capability to fight back against opponents without troops stationed in them, and their HP must be reduced before infantry and take them over. After doing so, players have the choice to Annex the city (and increase unhappiness), create a puppet (a city that operates as an NPC with a focus, and less happiness), or burn it to the ground.
City states are also available throughout each map as well. These NPC controlled mini-nations aren’t trying to win the game, but they provide extra resources and allies for players willing to treat them kindly.
They also showed the city specialization option, another feature returning from past series. Instead of manually selecting citizen and resources focuses, players can command cities to provide extra food, culture, or technology with the click of a button.
However, like the technology focus mentioned above, players aren’t forced to use this option. Also, alerts that occur when workers, research, and buildings are finished have been moved to the right side of the screen and they float down and are much bigger than before. Also, clicking on them will assist the player in queing up the next building, technology, or other asset.
The demo ended with a wonderful nuclear explosion. To be honest, it was an extremely successful show. The game is looking great and the available options for newer players will make draining your day much easier. All of the new tweaks are shaping up to make a fantastic game.
It’s impressive that a game as complicated as Civilization has taken on the terrifying buzz word “accessibility,” and they have applied it well. It’s a game that lends itself to having a myriad of options, so it seems only natural to have set-ups available to ease in new gamers, but that doesn’t come at the cost of complexity.
I’m looking forward to seeing what Firaxis and the modding community have in store for such a promising game. If today’s demo at E3 is any indication, I have a supply of spaghettios and diet soda waiting in my closet to feed my newborn nations.