Humankind: The new king of 4X strategies


 

It has been 5 long years since the release of the latest, the sixth part of the famous Civilization series. But tomorrow, fans of the 4X strategy genre can look forward to a new Civilization. However, it is not called Civilization and the studio Firaxis Games does not work on it either. The new Civilization is the game Humankind from Amplitude Studios, who are no newcomers to the field of strategy. For example, they have titles such as Endless Space or Endless Legend on their account. This time, however, they embarked on a really very ambitious project. French developers have created their own Civilization, which is better than the original.

  • Platform: PC

  • Date of issue: 17. 8. 2021

  • Developer: Amplitude Studios

  • Publisher: Sega

  • Genre: 4X, turn-based strategy

  • Czech localization: No.

  • Multiplayer: Yes (online)

  • Download data: 27 GB

  • Game time: one game approximately 8 hours

  • Sales version: Digital and physical

  • Price: 1 199 CZK ( Xzone )

  • More than just a clone

At first glance, Humankind looks like a mere clone of the famous Firaxis series. You build cities, fight, explore new technologies and try to outperform your opponents. However, every aspect of the game differs from the competition in some way, which makes this game so unique. Although cities use so-called districts, the whole building is a bit altered. In Humankind, you first set up camps, and only then can you create the city itself.


Once you build a city, the whole territory in which it lies is yours. While in Civilization it is sometimes a race to find the first to work on a given raw material, everything is much calmer here. In addition, you can connect additional camps to individual cities, which will give you more land, but it is not free. Any such connection will reduce the stability of your city, which can easily cause a riot at low values. But it is also not possible to take the path of clean urban construction, because the number of your cities is limited. Once you exceed the number, you will receive a major penalty in the form of reducing the influence, which is an absolutely key resource in this game. So it's important to balance between setting up camps and building new cities, and that's something I really enjoyed at Humankind.


I have already mentioned the influence, but of course, you also collect other raw materials in the game. The main ones are food, production, money, and science. Each of them is important for the prosperity of your entire empire and you can maintain balance by building buildings, neighborhoods, or even organizing events. In addition, in the game, you will also find luxury raw materials that have their own bonuses and especially strategic raw materials that are important for the construction of some buildings or units.


An integral part of the 4X strategy is the technology tree, and it must be said that the one at Humankind is really huge. You can explore up to 93 technologies in 6 eras (Civilization VI has "only" 77). Technology research has always been my favorite mechanic in Civilization, and Humankind is no exception. You have to choose carefully which technology you will explore first and plan a lot of moves ahead. Compared to the series from Firaxis, there is one significant difference, because you do not move between the eras through the technological tree.


Multicultural driving


This brings us to the most interesting part that developers are very proud of: mixing cultures. While in Civilization you choose one nation and play with it until the end, in Humankind you start as a universal nomadic tribe, but in each subsequent era you choose one of the nations that you gradually mix together. Each nation has its own unique characteristics and it is important to mix different species. In one era, for example, a nation focused on the prosperity of cities will be more useful to you, other times on the military. The only thing I should stick out at Humankind is this. Mixing nations is proof that even one mechanic can change the whole genre. Once you try it, you won't want to go back. Thanks to the choice of cultures, each game is completely unique, which significantly increases replayability.


So what does the beginning of the game look like? You simply create an avatar and choose the characters controlled by the artificial intelligence you want to play against. Each of them has certain characteristics according to which they will behave. One can be aggressive and treacherous, another can be friendly and loyal. In addition, you will also find a rich setting here regarding the size of the world and its content. But if that's not enough for you, just turn on the very detailed map editor and create your own.


As I mentioned, you will take on a nomadic tribe right in the game and your task will be to get the first star. You can do this by either killing game, increasing your population, or discovering a certain number of remnants of previous tribes. Although this phase is quite fun, it is really very dependent on chance. You may be unlucky, the game will throw you in a not very suitable environment for building a camp and there will not be much game or food around. But it is a problem that is also in Civilization and it is rather a feature of the genre, which is difficult to avoid.


When you get your first star, you move into the ancient era. This time you will choose a nation and mainly your task will be to collect 7 stars out of a total of 21 possible, this is the same for all other periods. The stars can be obtained in various ways: by killing units, by research, by the number of inhabitants, or, for example, by the amount of money earned. But the important thing is that the game will never let you focus purely on one aspect. You have to combine all things differently, which also plays a role in choosing nations. I must say that I liked this concept very much and I would not be angry at all if the rival Civilization took it over.


The story of the human race


So we've already explained how the game works, but how can you win? This is another big difference compared to Civilization, where there are several ways to win. In Humankind, you can end the game in several ways (explore all the technologies, send a mission to Mars, the move limit will pass…), but you can only win in one way: you will gain the most fame. Although Humankind is a strategy, it contains a certain amount of story, which is a little different in each game. The whole game is simply about how far your nation will go, what trail it will leave behind. And it is fame that is an indicator of your actions. You will receive it for the stars you have won, the wonders of the world you have built or the tasks you have completed, and all your efforts are going to get it as much as possible.


You will see short cutscenes between the eras, and the voice of the narrator will accompany you at virtually every decision. And you will make a lot of decisions. Story events are waiting for you, which can be solved in various ways, as well as laws. For example, you will have to decide whether to allow child labor or let the children study. Each choice will have a major impact on your entire game, as well as the policy of your nation, which is gradually changing. In this respect, the game is slightly reminiscent of Frostpunk, but the developers do not burden you so much with the moral side.


From the beginning, you will really enjoy the narrator's comment and add a certain charm to the game, but unfortunately, the announcements will soon start to repeat and as a result, they are more to the detriment because they look quite annoying. The same goes for story events, but there is always some element of chance in them, so even if you come across an event you have already seen and choose the same solution, it is not a guarantee that you will achieve the same result.


Comprehensive but accessible


Another important aspect of the whole game is, of course, diplomacy. Gradually, you will discover other nations and establish relationships with them. The possibilities of diplomacy are quite diverse, but still completely clear. The problem with some strategy games is that they have diplomacy so complex that no one knows it. But the developers at Amplitude Studios have found the perfect balance between a number of options and clarity. In addition, artificial intelligence behaves quite logically and I did not have a major problem with it. I was also pleased with her difficulty. Over the course of a few games, I gradually increased it until I got to the middle one (Nation), which is already a relatively big challenge, and I must say that this difficulty really suited me. I fought with one of the nations for victory until the very last move. Thanks to thorough planning, but in the end, I managed to win by a few points. You can then adjust the pace of the game to your needs, the game has 300 moves for the basic and will take you about 8 hours. However, you can easily shorten it to 75 strokes or, on the contrary, extend it to up to 600 strokes. Everyone will find what suits them best.


But what disappointed me a little is religion. This mechanism is perhaps too simplistic, as you choose one of two types (shamanism or polytheism) at the beginning, and then you only gradually add bonuses as the number of believers grows. However, relatively quickly you will get to a stage where people no longer want to have a major religion, so you have to decide whether to abolish the state and leave people free, or introduce atheism. I can definitely imagine that the developers could improve the whole system a bit in the future.


Exciting battles


But back to the positive note. Of course, wars also play an important role in Humankind, and they are solved perfectly. To declare it, you need enough citizens' support for the war to take place. So you can't declare wars the way you want. Respectively, yes, there is a possibility of the so-called "surprise war", but it will give you a penalty in the form of a traitor's badge, which can damage you in building relationships with other nations. The war itself then continues until one of the parties reaches zero war support, forcing it to surrender. But beware, even here it is necessary to plan in a certain way, because once one of the parties reaches zero, you are forced to end the war directly, and you cannot continue it in any way. The game tries to prevent you from gaining the territory of the whole nation during one war.


The best part of wars, however, are the battles themselves. While in Civilization, battles are part of normal moves, here they take place independently. As soon as two armies clash, a window will open showing the balance of your forces. You can solve the battle automatically, but I recommend conducting it manually unless it's really a pre-won duel. You get the opportunity to deploy units around the nearest squares, and then the battle begins, in which both parties take turns. Three rounds take place in one turn, and if neither side wins in that time, the next turn continues. The attacker tries to kill all enemy units or take on the enemy's flag. The defenders will of course also kill all the enemies while defending their flag.


Drastic change


The chapter itself is about the conquest of cities, in which the need to overcome the walls plays a role. The siege engines that you create during the siege of the city will help you with this. You can do this for as long as you want, and the number of soldiers inside the city also decreases during it. At the same time, however, you are pressed by the fact that new enemy units from other enemy cities can come at any moment.


In addition, the battles will fundamentally change in the modern era, with planes, a proper navy, missiles, and even atomic bombs coming into play. They work in the game in such a way that it takes one move to land, which gives opponents the opportunity to withdraw from the area or even send their own bomb. However, you must be careful when building such advanced units and especially buildings, as they contribute to air pollution. And you don't want to leave behind breathable air. Not only does pollution have an impact on the climate, but it also affects other nations. If you pollute the air the most, they won't like you for it.


Thanks to all the new mechanics, I really enjoyed the late phase of the game, but I was frozen by the fact that Humankind lacks a minimap and because of that you will not have a perfect overview of the territory discovered so far. Of course, you can zoom out on the map and look at it from a distance, but the minimap is much faster and clearer. I hope that it will be added to the game in the near future.


Unique combination


But enough about the mechanics, I must also mention the audiovisual side, which is absolutely amazing. The graphics are very nice to look at and you can see that the developers cared about the details. For example, individual buildings change as you mix different cultures. The music is really great then and I can't praise it. It's a similar style as in Civilization and of course, it doesn't have to fit everyone, but I think it's perfect for the game. It can be seen that the developers took full advantage of the resources from their publisher, in the form of Sega. The only pity in this regard is that the music sometimes stops and there is a long silence. I honestly don't know if it's a bug or an intention, but I think the developers should change that. The music adds a great atmosphere to the whole experience.


French developers have really succeeded in creating something incredible. With the game Humankind, they managed to surpass the current king of their genre - the Civilization series. While the competition currently offers more content and is a bit more complex, Amplitude Studios has found the perfect balance between accessibility and complexity. To this, they added new mechanics such as mixing cultures, separate battles, or a system of fame, which created a truly unique game. So the developers have laid a strong foundation, but the journey does not end here, Civilization VI has undergone a number of expansions in the 5 years of its existence, and of course, Humankind does not want to be left behind. The authors promise in advance that we will have updates and also new content that will be necessary for the future for the title to maintain its replayability. But the very basis is incredibly fun, as evidenced by the fact that.

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