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Humandkind review by Infixo

resource distribution in the map is bugged (confirmed bug). Also, number to strategic doesn't scale with map size (bug).

For now, advised to play on normal map.

As for the game: I'm loving it despite the broken balance and the issues with Contemporary era
 
Disclaimer. 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 haven't played any beta versions. I played approx. 30 hours, one full game and half into the 2nd one. These are my observations and thoughts I had while playing.

Overall / summary

First things first: the game is absolutely worth playing. It is beautiful, engaging, dynamic and it is 100% pure “just one more turn” addictive. Exploring the map is fun. Especially in early eras. Animals, curiosities, hostile tribes, etc.Battle are fun. Building your empire feels good. This all is very dynamic and engaging. I didn’t sleep much in the last week lol

The game is beautiful. The map is gorgeous. The terrain details, zooming in and out working smoothly, it is incredible, giving you the details relevant for a zoom level. Plus you have a really neat UI, not only in a form, but also pretty good in content. Modders will make it better ;), but right now I don’t see anything super important missing.

I have not encountered any bugs or issues that would prevent me from playing. That is something worth noting. Yes, there are some minor issues (see later in the post), yes probably balancing will be still in question, and yes there will always be people complaining about the AI, but considering this is its premiere and there will be certainly patches, etc. – the QA people did their job pretty well.

However, what is most important in a strategic game: how strategic is it? What systems are available? How are they designed? This is where it shines – the game is really well thought out and designed. When you play it – you can feel like you actually manage an empire, have actual diplomatic relations with your neighbors and when it is necessary – raise armies (actual armies) and go for battles.

This is where it falls, to me. As I've said elsewhere, and below, there's a spectrum between strategic depth ("How will what I do improve/hamper my chances of success?") and sandbox ("What options do I have that let me play the way I want and still be successful?") and people often conflate the two, considering a game strategic if it offers a wealth of options alone. Like Endless games before it Humankind is very much the sandbox end of the spectrum - can you achieve the same things in lots of different ways? Yes. Are the choices you make going to significantly impact the success of your faction? Not that I can see, and as a player who wants strategy games to be strategic that's a letdown.

– the cornerstone of the game. You either like or don’t J I am on the “like” side. I like the idea that your empire changes, this is good. Getting new abilities allows for much more dynamic gameplay. Each faction has an affinity, a legacy trait, an emblematic unit, and an emblematic district. No more, no less. Legacy traits allows you to build your empire the way you want, because they stay for the rest of the game.

The window dressing is new. The system mostly isn't. I've found I ignore the unique unit (AI is nonaggressive anyway, but in any case they commonly seem very similar to one another) and usually the district, which means that mostly I'm looking at the legacy trait as a permanent stat bonus. This is basically the Civ V civic system. The affinity change is what makes this interesting to me, but so far as I can so far tell you usually want to be expanionist, agrarian or possibly scientific, and the others don't add much.

Cities and regions
. Another fundamental idea of the game. It grows on me the more I play. It helps AI, also it moves your mental focus more to “empire” level, not “city” level. Same with districts. They are built pretty quickly, plus there are so many of them. You can really develop your cities and regions any way you like.

And that's both good and bad. It's good thematically, but bad design-wise for a strategy game when there are no real tradeoffs - there's a line between "You are free to make a wide range of choices, which will have variable effects on your likely success" (i.e. strategic depth) and "You can do whatever you want, and you'll be rewarded either way" - which is just a sandbox. From what I've found so far Humankind is even further along the sandbox side of the spectrum than Civ VI, in which the noticeable lack of consequences to making 'bad' decisions was one of my main complaints.

Diplomacy
. It is well done. All the parts cooperate to give the feeling of actually building a relation with other nations. Starting from treaties, through trade, culture and religion, up to grievances and demands that could finally lead to war. Or you can have alliances and be peaceful.

So far I concur with the RPS review: Nice system, shame you don't need it. It's pretty much straight Total War - get the default trade agreements and otherwise ignore the other party unless you want to demand money from them for a grievance or go to war.

War support
. Another idea that when badly implemented could backfire. Here is seems it is working good. It forces you to look for a reason to start a war, plus changes perspective on how to actually conduct a war. A hint – starting an unjust war may get you into lots of troubles ;)

Can't fully evaluate this yet, as I'm only in contact with one civ and the only consequence to declaring war was that they surrendered after a few turns both times.

Ideologies
– an example of a well designed system which is simple, elegant and meaningful. First, it is simple – 4 axes, 8 ideologies, and each one gives you a specific edge. Second, in the middle they give you stability, when you radicalize – you loose stability, but gain other effects. Third, it is connected with diplomacy via Ideological proximity and influences i.e. war support.

Haven't run across any of this yet - I've just clicked the 'get this free stuff instead of that less useful free stuff' button each time.

. It exists in the game, but atm is rather a background thing. You have a minimal control over spreading, mostly via a passive mechanic. It gives you 4 tenets, plus some civics. It influences a bit diplomacy (grievances, etc.) This is it. The is a good ground for future developments which I assume will happen. What is missing is an active form of spreading, like missionaries, building missions in other regions, inquisition, maybe reformation, etc.

Seems to be basically a port of the Civ V system minus ways, as you say, to spread it actively.[/QUOTE]
 
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