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A Review of Humankind

Victoria

Regina
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I was asked to play and review Humankind for these forums. I had not played the game before last week and had not read the forums this year, so it is a review for the new from the eyes of the new.

One of the things that strikes me as great design is the Neolithic age. The chance to scout out your neighborhood before growing your culture, to site your cities right and to choose the tribe that suits the surroundings. This is far superior to choosing an empire before knowing your terrain. If you stay Neolithic longer it generally helps but the longer you stay, the less choice of civilization you get moving into the ancient era.

This is a game of evolving culture, your empires personality/benefits change with the choices you make, it is the founding concept of this game. From the very beginning you are asked to choose from various situations that occur. The choices you make alter the culture of your empire over time, which pushes you toward different sets of choices, civics, and bonuses. You may want your culture to be freedom based but you get offered to utilize slaves for population or for war and both answers push you away from freedom. There is often a third choice, just do not accept either option. The myriad of choices you make through the game evolve your empires culture. The result of this is benefits, but are they the benefits you wanted? As you get used to the game this all becomes clearer, but you do not need to know it at the beginning. Just remember you will not see all events or civics for many games because some only pop up due to specific choices. Something fresh every now and then is a nice touch.

You do not need to know anything to play this game, and it is a game with many complexities and choices, but it is easy to get used to the basics. The hard part is getting used to the myriad of screens and pop-ups that often appear to get in the way of what you are doing. Stick with it, let it naturally sink in, go looking for things when you are curious and you will mostly find them There is a few simple rules, things have limits. You can only build 2 cities at the start of the game until you unlock the ability to have more. You do not have builders in this game, you use your army to do these things so getting used to the unit screen is the first things you need to do. Your army makes an outpost in a zone which costs influence and in the outpost window you can promote it to a city. You can attach a zone to a city costing influence but the influence cost increases if the zone is not adjacent and with the number of zones already attached. From there you build districts ideally in clusters for adjacency but also in spikes because the districts take the food/prod/science values of unused surrounding tiles (exploitation). Your population are placed in specialist slots to work food, production, money, or science. The cities look nice and blend in well with the terrain, the different architectures are kept throughout the game.
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What I did find annoying was when to left click and when to right click, it is all a bit of a fumble until you get used to it.

The victory condition of the game is to get the most fame which is gained from a variety of sources and it is easy to do. You can get 21 stars in any given era before progressing to the next and the competition progresses once they have the minimum (9) which means they missed a lot that could have been gotten by waiting around, certainly for ones easy to get. The game is easy to win even without min/maxing. A win means little, which I like. The real reward you get on this game is the pleasure of the journey. It really seems to require a slow immersive approach, even war. Playing fast makes it all feel similar and you miss the subtleties. You get fame for being infamous as well.
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Difficulty wise it is no different to civ apart from the unit movement at the highest level (Humankind) seems excessive and apparently has some powerful effects on AI combat. The Empire level seems about right for me.

What else is good? Most things feel better, after all they are designing on the shoulders of others, sure there are things wrong, but the genre is progressing in the right direction with this game. The sounds are as good as you would expect, near perfection but my historical ear is limited. The vision took me some time to adapt to and I am still struggling a bit, especially the avatars, but they certainly are not poor. Luxuries can be used in multiples and provide more value than just happiness (Stability). There is a resource requirement for multiples of one resource I find a bit annoying, particularly around oil (3 oil resources for a Heavy tank with only 6 on the map) but I guess they are just trying to create that real world tension. Resources can be traded easily, if a civ has one copy of a resource it can be shared with many civilizations if they have the right diplomatic agreement. I love the diplomacy chatter, it takes my back to earlier iterations of civ. War is a key part of the game as different beliefs and personalities collide, perhaps it is a little too aggressive but then I feel the real world has always been anyway. War works relatively well on the world map but within a particular area, it takes a lot of getting used to, is time consuming but that magic 'Auto resolve' button is there to help. Religion was there in history and in this game, it is woven in deeply. There is even a strategy just to win with religion even though you get few fame points directly for religion. Influence takes a lot of getting used to, it is linked heavily to zones. Influence also shapes your empire and others, forcing the changing of civics at borders. Science has some osmosis about it with neighboring civs which I love. The way districts work, especially with exploitation is great. One of the most powerful things in the game is the unique districts each chose civ has. They are so strong you can only build one per zone. Diplomacy is certainly a leap in the right direction, it cannot be ignored, I needed a 3rd oil on a map with only 6 oil resources and I had to attack an ally, but I could not because we had an alliance, the only way I could break that alliance was if they caused me some grievance, and eventually they did by trying to influence one of the neutral tribes wandering the board that was under my influence. War is better in so many ways, but I really do not like the movement speed of units, great for fast exploring but on the combat map it gets a bit out of hand. Probably the weirdest thing is retreats, units retreat for miles, often in the wrong direction. There are many smaller things like you buy the right to build a wonder so no production loss.

Our likes and dislikes are personal, I appreciate we differ, overall, it’s a positive thumbs up from me. It is another member of the 4x family, and each family member has differences, and none can be discarded.

Please Note: I am not affiliated to any company which is related to this game, a similar game, or any game news website. I didn't get any restrictions what to write, besides a time limit when to post it. I got this game for free though, to write this review. I have been a regular poster in the Civ Fanatic Forums for years and have played strategy games since before computers were made. My first 4x game was Colonization and have played all iterations of Civilization but this is my first foray into another stable.
 
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One of the things that strikes me as great design is the Neolithic age. The chance to scout out your neighborhood before growing your culture, to site your cities right and to choose the tribe that suits the surroundings. This is far superior to choosing an empire before knowing your terrain. If you stay Neolithic longer it generally helps but the longer you stay, the less choice of civilization you get moving into the ancient era.

I think that is a very interesting design choice. That will allow you to vary your game depending on the starting place, which will a) force you to play different and not with only your favourite civ choice and b) allows you to play more strategic.
 
I think that is a very interesting design choice. That will allow you to vary your game depending on the starting place, which will a) force you to play different and not with only your favourite civ choice and b) allows you to play more strategic.
The beginning of the game is really good, just the back end I feel they have not compromised on some ideals for the sake of a good level endgame. One game no civ got techs into the modern age, the other game I was 1 turning each tech through the end game with one other civ squeaking into modern I think. The civs that came 2nd and 3rd were the ones I were fighting and killing so it’s like my tech bled to them. The other continent was a blood fest and I left them to it. Early days but it seems a balance issue aggression wise.
 
You can only build 2 cities at the start of the game

Note that 2 cities is not a limit. You can build/capture more than 2 cities but will incur penalties if you go over the City Cap. Those penalties scale the more over the cap you are. It can certainly be worth going over though especially with a chance to take a city in war, and knowing you are not long to get a tech to increase the Cap.
 
I saw a screenshot when someone had ca. -150k per turn from going over limit by around 20. You can still play on, just not change any civics or attach cities. The stability penalty for having negative influence can be worked around.
 
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