Sid Meier's Civilization® IV - contact@rockpapershotgun.com (Adam Smith)

Sid [Meier] didn t know he was inventing a genre back in 91 – if he had he might have been a lot more careful. He was just making it up as he went along.

That s how genres begin. By mistake. Somebody creates a set of rules and systems for the needs of a particular game, and then either people adopt and adapt those rules. Soren Johnson, creator of Offworld Trading Company and lead designer of Civilization IV, is working on a new game called Ten Crowns and after spending almost an hour talking with him at GDC, I get the impression he s going to be very careful indeed. Not cautious, because I expect some bold reinvention of 4X strategy fundamentals, but careful in his treatment of a genre that we both agree needs to escape its own past.

(more…)

Sid Meier's Civilization® V

Welcome to our round up of the best 4X games on PC. Ever since the term '4X' was coined for the original Master of Orion, we’ve been Exploring, Expanding, Exploiting, and Exterminating our way through fantasy, history, and the depths of space. The genre has seen something of a renaissance in the last half decade, and while it’s great to have options, there’s also a lot to sort through. 

Not every 4X game is for everyone, so we’ve taken a look at all the major players to enter the stage in recent years and why you might, or might not, want to play them.

Dominions 5

Let's start with an unusual one. Dominions 5 is a 4X game about warring gods and their fantastical armies. You start by designing your deity, which could be a raging dragon or a mystical inanimate rock. Turn by turn you muster armies, recruit wizards to research apocalyptic magic spells, and fend off the attentions of other pretender gods. 

Dominions' visuals are... old school, let's say. You need to dig into the community and get some decent user-made maps but, once you've done that and scanned the manual you'll find a detailed strategy game that generates mad stories. I'm used to controlling spaceships and cavalry in 4X games, only in Dominions can I send an alliance of satyrs, wyverns, elemental spirits and ghosts off to fight some atlanteans. The AI is easily to beat once you have played a few games but the game thrives in multiplayer about other people.

Who's it for: Players happy to get past primitive visuals to unpick a detailed magic system and command dazzling and varied factions.

Sins of a Solar Empire: Rebellion

A unique blend of 4X and RTS set in space, Rebellion is more fast-paced than most of the games on this list. It’s a standalone expansion, but also the definitive version of Sins currently available—so you don’t need to worry about grabbing the original to have a good time.

Who it’s for: Existing RTS fans who want to branch out into 4X, and players who like to get to the action fast and maintain a challenging pace. This one may be a little chaotic for the turn-based armchair generals of the world.

Fallen Enchantress 

This turn-based fantasy 4X revolves heavily around Hero characters and a faction leader called a sovereign who can go on RPG-style quests and be used in many aspects of empire management, not just limited to combat.

Who it’s for: Classic RPG fans will feel right at home with the quest system, and the customizable fantasy armies are likely to appeal to tabletop miniature painters of the Warhammer and Hordes persuasions.

Endless Space

One of the most intriguing aspects of the universe in which Endless Space (and its sequel) are set is the mythology behind it. Much revolves around the ancient empire known as the Endless, and the quasi-magical Dust they left behind.Who it’s for: A good all-around entry level space 4X that will also challenge experienced players, and holds added appeal for anyone who wants to unravel facets of a mysterious, pre-written story while dominating the galaxy. It’s also available for beans now that ES2 is in Early Access.

Sid Meier’s Civilization 5 

If we could crown a king of 4X, Sid Meier’s Civilization would have little competition for that throne. Taking one of an armload of civilizations from the ancient to the modern age while competing for various victory conditions, this is the series that has championed the genre for years.

Who it’s for: Even with Civ VI out, Civilization V frequently goes on sale for absurdly low prices, so if you’re not sure you’ll like the series and just want to try it out without dropping the full $60 on the new one, by all means take advantage. It’s certainly an excellent, entertaining game in its own right, particularly with the Brave New World expansion. Plus, the mod scene is excellent.

Europa Universalis IV 

While most of the other games on this list put you in a randomly-generated world or galaxy, EU4 is built on an extremely in-depth recreation of Earth between the years of 1444 and 1821. You can lead any nation on the planet, from France to the Comanche, through centuries of colonization, exploration, and technological discovery.

Who it's for: Considering it’s the highest review score I’ve ever given out, it’s almost easier who to ask who it’s not for. The complexity of the simulation and sprawl of interlocking systems for trade, war, and diplomacy might intimidate newcomers to 4X and grand strategy, but EU4’s interface and tooltips do an excellent job of helping you wade into the shallow end and get a feel for the water.

Eador: Masters of the Broken World 

Taking the role of a demigod battling others of your ilk for control of the shards (all that’s left of the eponymous broken world), Eador is another 4X game that’s hard to categorize. It features 4X, RPG, and board game-like, tactical turn-based elements.

Who it’s for: Eador’s greatest strength might just be how different its setup is compared to most other 4X games. The breaking of the game world into shards, which each behave like a smaller version of a strategic map in a game like Total War or Crusader Kings, means you’ll enjoy it if you’re looking for something a bit different than the standard map conquest or flipping largely static planets in a vast expanse of space to your color.

Sid Meier’s Civilization: Beyond Earth

Taking the Civilization formula into space, Beyond Earth casts you as the head of one of the first human colonies on an alien planet. You guide its development and compete with other colonial concerns using mechanics that will feel highly familiar if you’ve played Civ 5.Who it’s for: Beyond Earth is, in my opinion, a bit of a misstep in the Civ series, lacking elements that drive its siblings to success. While it has some cool things going for it, like a nonlinear tech system that allows you to evolve your futuristic technology in a number of distinct directions, it ultimately feels like a high budget Civ 5 mod that didn’t hold my interest for more than a couple dozen hours.

Endless Legend

Similar to its sci-fi counterpart Endless Space, the unfolding fantasy epic of Endless Legend takes place in a richly realized world with character and backstory to spare. Civilizations are highly customizable, and each presents distinct opportunities.

Who it’s for: We awarded Endless Legend a Commendation for Design in 2014. It has its foundation in the time-tested elements that make 4X what it is, but is unafraid to build on and remix them in ways that will especially interest long-time players who might be suffering from genre fatigue. Beyond that, anyone just wanting to explore a rich and interesting new fantasy setting won’t be at all disappointed.

Warlock II: The Exiled

Warlock is pretty close to what I’d imagine a well-done fantasy overhaul of Civilization might look like. It makes good use of neutral factions on the map to be more than just an early-game annoyance.

Who it’s for: Due to its relative simplicity and adherence to genre norms, this is a fairly welcoming first step for those wanting to branch out into fantasy 4X from other subgenres. It also has a sharper sense of humor than its more dour, grandiose counterparts like Endless Legend and Fallen Enchantress.

Distant Worlds: Universe

Allowing you to discover the stars in a pausable, real-time galaxy, Distant Worlds features one of the more robust models of a civilian economy (which can run on auto-pilot while you handle the political stuff) I’ve seen in a 4X game.

Who it’s for: Aside from just being an overall well-designed 4X, Distant Worlds will have a special appeal for those who like to focus on exploration. This is because it really succeeds where so many other sci-fi games have failed: it makes space feel really, really big.

Star Ruler 2

Similar to Sins of a Solar Empire, Star Ruler 2 is a bit of a 4X/RTS hybrid. It boasts quite in-depth systems for diplomacy and planetary development.

Who it’s for: This one skews toward the higher end of the complexity scale, and the sheer amount of fine control you have over its systems might be intimidating to newcomers. If you’re looking for gigantic, animated space battles, however, it may be worth your time to wrap your head around it.

Galactic Civilizations III 

Galactic Civilizations has cemented itself as the other 'blockbuster' contender in the 4X space, and GalCiv III is the most polished and extravagant entry to date.Who it’s for: If you’re sick of cookie-cutter victory conditions, one of the most positive changes GalCiv 3 made to the series’ formula was turning victory into a set of objectives you can pick and choose from. So even two different runs going for the same victory condition might look different.

Stellaris

Stellaris takes Paradox’s historical formula and blasts it to the stars where you’ll manage military, political, and economic aspects of your space empire.Who it’s for: Fans of historical grand strategy will feel at home in Stellaris, but for those used to more traditional 4X, it takes some getting used to. There’s a much heavier focus on politics, with elements like your form of government and the will of your citizens playing a large role.

Master of Orion

The most recent in the lauded Master of Orion series doesn’t do much we haven’t seen before, but it plays the old hits well and wraps them in stratospheric production value and some big name sci-fi voice talent.Who it’s for: Despite being so new, MoO is bog standard 4X. Not much has changed here since its 1996 predecessor other than the graphics. That does make it a nice starting point for total newbies, but the real draw is hearing John de Lancie lament the war that's brewing between his empire and yours.

Endless Space 2

Endless Space 2 builds on some of the best ideas of its predecessor, this time crafting more unique story content for each of the distinct interstellar empires.Who it’s for: It shouldn’t surprise you at this point in the list that connoisseurs of interactive storytelling should jump for anything that says 'Endless' on it. Endless Space 2 is also arguably a better starting point for newcomers than the first one, as it’s made lots of improvements to your ability to access important, contextual information.

Sid Meier’s Civilization VI

Civilization VI emerges from its chrysalis to reveal the most transformative and fresh take on the series in its storied history. Also, it has Sean Bean.

Who it’s for: Just about anyone who enjoys turn-based strategy. It presents lots of new challenges and opportunities even for the most weathered series veterans, but also remains among the most inviting 4X games for first-timers.

Sid Meier's Civilization® V - contact@rockpapershotgun.com (Matt Cox)

civ-v-ai-mod

What do you reckon is the greatest threat to the future of humanity? Climate change? Nuclear war? A global epidemic? They re all causes for concern, but it s my belief that one of the greatest risks is actually posed by superintelligent AI.

You might need some convincing of that, which is why researchers at the University of Cambridge s Centre for the Study of Existential Risk have made a mod for Civilisation V that introduces potentially apocalyptic AI. Ignore the pressing need for AI safety research, and it s game over.

I tried it out last week, seeking to answer two questions. Does it accurately portray the risks involved with the development of a god-like being? And is it any fun?

(more…)

Sid Meier's Civilization® V - contact@rockpapershotgun.com (Matt Cox)

civ-v-ai-mod

Last month, the University of Cambridge s Centre for the Study of Existential Risk released a mod for Civ V that introduced superintelligent AI to the game – not in the form of AI opponents, but as a technology that can end the game for every player if it’s left unchecked. It’s a novel overhaul to the science system, as well as an attempt to teach people about AI safety.

While I had some problems with the mod, I also thought it was a fascinating idea. Keen to learn more, I spoke to project director Shahar Avin about how the mod came about, the issues that it presents both poorly and well, and how people can get involved with AI safety themselves.

(more…)

Sid Meier's Civilization® V - contact@rockpapershotgun.com (Adam Smith)

civilizationgenghis

I get knocked down, but I get up again, you’re never gonna keep me down. That’s what I’ll be singing when I play Civilization VI‘s upcoming Rise and Fall expansion. There are loads of new features but the unifying theme is, as the title suggests, success, failure and recovery. That means dark ages that come with hardships but also bring about the possibility of a renaissance into a heroic age. All of that, and much more, is explained in the brand new video below.

(more…)

Sid Meier's Civilization® V - contact@rockpapershotgun.com (Adam Smith)

civcree3

In Civilization, civilization is a competition. Land and resources are limited, and even those nations that don’t expand through military might are attempting to climb to the top of the league table in other ways. Geography, technology, culture, religion, diplomacy they’re all, to some extent, weapons to be deployed, or at least arenas where an advantage can be gained. Culture and history are the clothes that Civ wears but it’s not really about building an empire or a nation, it’s about sharpening a knife.

The upcoming Rise and Fall expansion for Civ VI introduces several new playable nations, but the introduction of one civ has led to criticism from an unexpected source. Yesterday, Milton Tootoosis, an elected headman-councillor of the Poundmaker Cree Nation, spoke to CBC News about the inclusion of the Saskatchewan First Nation. He acknowledged excitement about the news and noted that historical chief, Poundmaker, is to be portrayed as working to build a bridge between settlers and First Nations . But he also voiced a fundamental concern about the portrayal: It perpetuates this myth that First Nations had similar values that the colonial culture has, and that is one of conquering other peoples and accessing their land. It’s a concern that cuts to the heart of what Civilization has always been and – I hope – to what it could become.

(more…)

Sid Meier's Civilization® V - contact@rockpapershotgun.com (Alice O'Connor)

Researchers at the University of Cambridge’s Centre for the Study of Existential Risk (an actual real institution) have released a Civilization V mod exploring the hot new apocalypse everyone’s talking about: unchecked AI casually wiping out humanity in the name of efficiency. If you’ve already clicked through the universe as a single-minded AI in Frank Lantz’s ace Paperclips, you might fancy this mod. Trapping a brilliant mind in a metal box does also have its benefits, you know. (more…)

Left 4 Dead 2 - contact@rockpapershotgun.com (Alec Meer)

Another year over, a new one just begun, which means, impossibly, even more games.> But what about last year? Which were the games that most people were buying and, more importantly, playing? As is now something of a tradition, Valve have let slip a big ol’ breakdown of the most successful titles released on Steam over the past twelve months.

Below is the full, hundred-strong roster, complete with links to our coverage if you want to find out more about any of the games, or simply to marvel at how much seemed to happen in the space of 52 short weeks.

(more…)

Sid Meier's Civilization® V - 2kschug


Civilizations are not set in stone. You can’t just do all the hard work in the beginning then expect your culture to stand the test of time, unchallenged. It’s not like that in the real world – or in Civilization games. The expansion we’re announcing today, Civilization VI: Rise and Fall, adds new dynamic layers onto the game you’ve already been enjoying. On February 8th 2018, you will lead nations to golden ages. You will watch others buckle under their own weight. You will earn – or lose – the loyalty of your people. The question is, “How will you be remembered?”

http://store.steampowered.com/app/645402/Sid_Meiers_Civilization_VI_Rise_and_Fall/

I’m Anton Strenger, Lead Designer for Civilization VI: Rise and Fall, and today we’re revealing some of the big changes coming with this huge Civilization VI expansion. The biggest, over-arching goal: dynamic empires. Civilizations will rise and fall through the course of the game (as you probably figured out from the title). Borders will ebb and flow. Cities will change their loyalties.

As a secondary goal, Civilization VI: Rise and Fall includes more storytelling elements – Historic Moments – that highlight the interesting turning points in your civilizations. These events happen every time you play, making playthroughs unique, while also giving them meaning in the mechanics.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IOT9T15mkX0
SUBSCRIBE ➜ HTTP://2KGAM.ES/CIVILIZATIONYT


GOLDEN – AND DARK – AGES ARE COMING
Golden and Dark Ages are among the new events that can shift the course of your game’s history. They are significant, but temporary, changes to a civilization that last for an Era. They will open up new opportunities for players to change their strategies, and change the state of the game between the player and their rivals. Having a Golden Age affords huge bonuses to Loyalty and other game systems, but makes earning future Golden Ages slightly more difficult.

Having a Dark Age hurts Loyalty in your cities and makes you vulnerable, but gives you an opportunity to earn a future Golden Age more easily. It also allows the use of special Dark Age policies and opens the door for an even more powerful Heroic Age. Think of it this way: While a Golden Age provides one Dedication bonus (a powerful Golden Age effect), being in a Heroic Age lets the player earn three Dedication bonuses (making it sort of a “triple” Golden Age).

In the Civilization VI base game, we have the idea of a “player era” – how far a player has advanced on their tech or civics tree. In this expansion, systems are very much tied to the idea of the “game era,” which is determined by individual player advancement and a few other behind-the-scenes adjustments. Think of these game eras like chapters in a book. Each has its own arc, and its own small ending, but leaves you wanting to discover the rest of the story by continuing to the next chapter. When you enter a new game era you may earn a Golden Age or a Dark Age. Which one you get is determined by your Era Score in the previous game era, a score that is increased by fulfilling certain objectives.

So while your neighbor may have been in a Golden Age last era, they may enter a Dark Age this era, opening up an opportunity for you to change your strategy. The key effect of Golden and Dark Ages: they change the Loyalty of a player’s cities. As Ages change and weak spots are exposed in empires, cities can declare independence and even change hands to new owners.



EARNING LOYALTY
The stakes of the new Loyalty system are huge because, at the extremes, it can flip control of entire cities to different players without military force. Low Loyalty in a city puts it at risk of rebelling and becoming a Free City. That, in turn, makes it a juicy target for other players looking to expand their own empire. Keeping your cities loyal not only keeps it on your side, but also emanates its Loyalty as a kind of “peer pressure” to other cities nearby. You could even sway cities from other civilizations to join you.

In previous Civilization games, there were ways to “Culture Flip” another player’s city without military intervention. We felt it was time to reexamine this non-militaristic way to change borders, and expand territory.

Loyalty also changes the landscape and strategy around the map as the game continues. What could have been an unchanging border between two civilizations in the base game becomes a contentious battleground of loyalties in the expansion, especially when Golden Ages or Dark Ages are involved.

Golden Ages and Dark Ages are a kind of loyalty bomb. In the best-case scenarios, triggering a Golden Age makes all of your citizens a little bit more loyal. Also, other cities nearby see the appeal of that civilization and may waver in their Loyalty to their current owner. The quickest and most direct way to boost Loyalty, though, is to send a Governor to the city.

GOVERNORS RULE
In previous versions of Civilization, “governor” often referred to the AI behavior you could set for a city to act on your behalf. In this expansion, though, they are the opposite. Sending a Governor to a city is a way for the player to make an active decision about the development of one of their cities, and grow in a specific direction. Much like how districts operate in the base game, Governors are a way to specialize your cities. The difference: Governors have their own set of unique powerful bonuses and can move between controlled cities.

During a game, players can earn up to seven Governors. Each Governor has a different skill tree of promotions. We bent a lot of existing game rules to give them the power to make a difference in your cities.

Here’s how it works: You earn points (Governor Titles) through gameplay. Then you must choose whether to spend those points on appointing a new Governor or promoting an existing one. How you choose to manage your Governors will impact your overall strategy. Go wide by covering more cities, or go tall by promoting only a few powerful governors.

As for the Governors themselves, they have unique personalities – even before you start choosing which ones to upgrade. Some thrive in taking an already established city to the next level, building Wonders and powering up trade routes. Others are more suited to new cities that are constructing their first districts and claiming their first bits of land. One can be a savior during a city siege, and can make or break a city’s defense against a powerful attacking army. Though normally Governors can only work in your own cities, there is one that can be assigned to city-states, affecting the Envoys you have there. That said, none of the Governors are easily distilled into a single function.



ENHANCING YOUR ALLIANCES
Alliances within Civilization VI already offered a lot, but this expansion adds more nuance. Alliances in the base game often boiled down to a sort of guarantee that the other player would not interfere with your strategy by attacking you, but only rarely did it offer tangible benefits. So for Civilization: Rise and Fall we added more tangible incentives to Alliances. We’re encouraging players to band together for mutual benefit rather than merely non-interference. We’re also giving players more active and flavorful choices to make. Alliances now have a type – Research, Military, Economic, Cultural, or Religious – that determines their benefits. Moreover, as the Alliance continues, the Alliance itself levels up and unlocks more powerful bonuses. This encourages players to think in the long term and to invest in diplomacy.

Let me give you an example of how an Alliance can evolve over time, specifically a Research Alliance. At Level 1, both allies receive Science bonuses to their Trade Routes. But as the Alliance develops, powerful and unique effects come into play. At Level 2, both allies still receive their Science bonuses, but also receive 1 Tech Boost at a regular interval. Level 3 is all of the above, plus bonus Science when researching the same Technology, or a Technology your ally had already researched. These alliances are powerful enough that players are restricted to just one Alliance of each type at a time. But you and your Alliance partner can agree to change the type of your Alliance later in the game.

EMERGENCY SITUATIONS
Emergencies are new with Civilization VI: Rise and Fall. Most Emergencies get triggered when one player gets a significant lead or advantage in an area. Converting a Holy City to a different religion, or using a nuclear weapon, for example. When triggered, the game determines which other players can join in an Emergency against the target and each player can choose to join or pass. Joining can give permanent benefits, but only if the players are able to complete an Emergency-specific objective against the target in time, otherwise the target gets a benefit instead.

They are a sort of checks-and-balances system. You see, there is a delicate balance to strike – making the game more dynamic and also ensuring it stays fair for players who have developed a strong lead. We’re adding challenges to players who’d get so far ahead of others that the game stagnated towards victory for them. We also did not want to artificially rubberband them down. Emergencies become a great way to attack this game-pacing problem. It also reveals the dynamic world stage for players that have more isolationist play styles. As Emergencies come up, they can be involved with them one way or another.

RETELLING YOUR HISTORY
Fans of Civilization know that each game plays out in its own way, with its own unique story. With Civilization VI: Rise and Fall, we are bringing that story into the spotlight by adding more ways to track the progress of a player’s civilization than ever before.

So as players progress in Civilization: Rise and Fall, they earn Historic Moments. These are mini-achievements for doing cool things in the world (and there are over 100 of them in the game right now). They include things like circumnavigating the world, training your unique unit, founding a religion, and building districts with high adjacency bonuses. Many grant an even bigger bonus if you’re the “world’s first” civilization to make the achievement. These Historic Moments, taken together, form a story for your game with unique details tailored to your empire.

Historic Moments are represented two ways. First, they increase your Era Score, helping you achieve a Golden Age. Second, they are added to your Timeline, which is a place in the UI that displays all your accomplishments in a game. This Timeline has tons of custom illustrations for each different moment, and is a very cool representation of your empire’s history during your unique game. On a more practical note, it is also a useful way to remind yourself of what you have been up to if you return to a saved game after a few days away. Ultimately, the Timeline is a way to illustrate your story.



NEW CIVILIZATIONS, NEW LEADERS
People often ask how we select new leaders and civilizations to include in expansions – and we have nine new leaders and eight new civilizations which will be revealed over the coming weeks with Civilization: Rise and Fall. Well, it is a collaborative process that involves the whole team from art and design to production and even our legal department. We also ask ourselves some core questions as we select potential leaders:

“Is this region of the world represented?”
“Is this time in history represented?”
“Is this represented/revered in previous Civilization games or totally new?”

We strive to have a diverse and varied selection of leaders, and it is also very important to us to include female leaders. Women are often underrepresented in traditional historical accounts, and recent scholarship has revealed more and more the fascinating and powerful women that lived between the lines of history textbooks. We also look for leaders whose history makes them particularly well-suited for a bonus related to new expansion systems.

As for balancing and trying to minimize power creep among those new leaders, we take a holistic look at the state of the game and how our leaders, new and old, stack up in it. Our QA department regularly gives us their evaluations of who is on top and who is on bottom, in their estimations of strength. We look at fan evaluations and rankings in this process, as well. We are not afraid to go back to leaders we have already finalized and rework their bonus entirely – so keep telling us what you think about leaders. We are always listening.

This is just the start of what’s coming in Civilization VI: Rise and Fall. We have lots more to share before this expansion releases on February 8, 2018 that we can’t wait to tell you about – starting with all the new leaders and civilizations you’ll get to rule.

Follow the conversation on social media by using the hashtag #OneMoreTurn, and be sure to follow the Civilization franchise on social media to keep up to date with the latest news and information on Sid Meier’s Civilization VI.

Social Links:
https://www.facebook.com/civ/
https://twitter.com/civgame
https://www.instagram.com/civgame/
http://2kgam.es/CivilizationYT
http://steamcommunity.com/app/289070
Sid Meier's Civilization® V - contact@rockpapershotgun.com (Alice O'Connor)

Jon Shafer, the lead designer of Firaxis’s Civilization V and his own strategy game At the Gates, is gone from strategy specialists Paradox only six months after joining. Paradox say neither that he ditched the company nor that they fired him, rather that they have all “decided to part ways due to creative differences.” How enigmatic! We didn’t even know what he was working on. (more…)

...

Search news
Archive
2018
Jun   May   Apr   Mar   Feb   Jan  
Archives By Year
2018   2017   2016   2015   2014  
2013   2012   2011   2010   2009  
2008   2007   2006   2005   2004  
2003   2002