Millennia - the reviews


Say No 2 Net Validations
Oct 22, 2008

Okay, first reviews for Millennia are in.
The verdict seems similar to what we have noticed during the demo: The game has interesting ideas, and can fascinate you for a while. The graphics aren't pretty though, and there are things which do not connect nicely, gameplay wise. The civs are bland, but the ages and economy are interesting. Overall probably a solid game, which needs some more work (patches, tweaking and expansions), to make it potentially a great game.

Any opinions :)?
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Here is one from Rock Paper Shotgun and a particularly brutal line from the review.
This is a strategy game that very much wants to be like Civilization, and has a lot of enthusiasm for the subject matter. Unfortunately, it isn't a particularly good student.
The IGN review is particularly damning- it's one thing to have long turns late in the game, it's a whole different thing to have the game completely freeze up on you for 30 seconds while doing it. If that's not an isolated case, this doesn't bode well for the game as people with mid-range and lower PCs start playing the late game.
GameWatcher -

PC Games (in German) -

I note, with mixed feelings, that the reviews seem to by and large agree with my initial impressions and later posts from the demo. While I'm satisfied to see that my thoughts are backed by others, I'm sad to see the overall assessment, which is that Millennia is highly similar to Civ and the implementation of ideas is also a mixed bag. Also can't fail to notice that every review calls out the battle animation window. That's really the most baffling thing about the game to me, how the team didn't decide to just cut it.

I'll still be buying Millennia, it's a history-spanning 4X, I love that genre and will want a couple playthroughs of any game in the genre that has some interesting ideas. Maybe even look into modding!
Also, if any one is interested, PotatoMcWhiskey did a complete playthrough of the game and very enthusiastic about it.
Here is a review from Aftermath, calls it the worst of the recent Civ competitors.
From PCGamesN:

I never meant to have my peaceful nation of Brazilian builders turn into a fanatical theocracy, intent on uniting the world in worship of their god by whatever means necessary. I never intended to go from everyone’s favorite neighbor to a frothing band of proselytizing zealots, shouting down from floating balloons to convert entire populations to our religion. I didn’t plan for any of that to happen, but in Millennia your plans can and will go awry – often with glorious, and terrible, consequences for you and the world.

Not too surprising, but "emergent storylines" is a big part of a compelling strategy game to me. Civilization does that fairly well, EU4 does it even better, Old World is great at it. Humankind wasn't good at it. Good to hear that Millennia can have that happen too; the demo was too short to tell.

No city stands alone in your civilization, and it becomes essential to trade resources and goods from city to city or even abroad, forming a spider-web of trade goods that are the symbol of a healthy and thriving nation. There are few things as satisfying as getting your civilization working like a well-oiled machine; the flax from one city being fed to another to be turned into paper before being used by your scribes, your economy visibly moving around your nation.

Like everything in a good 4X game, this economy system comes with its opportunities and risks. For example, if barbarians or an enemy nation invades a city that generates much of your essential goods, they can swiftly inflict an economic stranglehold on everything you own by razing the relevant generating tiles.

This makes me excited for the full game, with all the ages. Again, the demo hinted at this but aside from chaining some food production, didn't get that far into the full economic development.

The slowdown later does seem to be a recurring theme, which is unfortunate although I'd rather have "solid bones but needs performance work" than the opposite. How bad is it? The IGN review does mention specs (the first two I read didn't), and also played till the last turn:

IGN said:
I also need to talk about performance, because in the late game it is downright atrocious. The turn limit is 500, and hitting the “End Turn” button for Turn 499 on a “Huge” size map took a whopping one minute and 40 seconds to resolve on my Ryzen 7 3700X (I timed it). This was with only six other nations aside from myself still alive. The first 30 seconds didn't even seem to be the AI taking turns – it was just Millennia freezing completely, and giving me a Windows "stopped responding" warning if I tried to click anything or tab out.

Okay, so that's... not great. I guess the 3700X is 4 years old already, but 4 years old is not that old given PC lifecycles nowadays, and Windows thinking the program isn't responding is not a good look. And the 3700X is an octo-core processor so let's hope it's not saturating all 8 cores/16 threads and still having issues. Not that I haven't had longer turn times in Civ - I remember having five minute turn times when I was pushing the limits on my Pentium 4 2.66 GHz - but yeah, they should be spending some time optimizing the performance this spring.
The Polish review from Gry Online is perhaps the harshest yet,

The most concerning part to me is that it's also critical of later alternative ages as being superficial. About the Age of Plague:

During the game, you can experience a pandemic that changes the fate of the world, discover technologies that would lead your nation to a steampunk-like future, or fall victim to an alien invasion. Unfortunately, none of the alternate paths I saw changed the gameplay enough to appreciate the work put into them.

I will illustrate this using the Era of Plague as an example. After the outbreak, the global population was reduced to 67% of its pre-pandemic level. This sounds like a real blow but didn't actually impact my economy as much as you'd expect. Things don't end there, as during the plague new outbreaks appear on the map from time to time. They immediately disable improvements in the area and gradually reduce population. How to deal with them then? Couldn't be any simpler, just spend regular construction points, or send a doctor and spend different points (for some reason, exploration points here). Very engaging mechanics.

This quite reminds me of how I experienced the Age of Heroes, which sounded very cool but the actual impact was getting a new unit that could collect bonuses from a different type of goody hut that popped up all over.

Millennia doesn't just look bad - it's plain ugly. It's sometimes hard to believe that something that looks so terrible was released in 2024. Textures are blurry, 3D models deserve wrath of the heavens, and the presentation of epic battles is much worse than the Hero Wars ads everyone has seen on the Internet.

I'm surprised again and again by scoring such an own goal. A lower budget should mean a more stylized, lower-fidelity art style. But even if unexpected things happened, the combat window which serves no mechanical purpose should have been dropped due to an internal mutiny. Every review is critical of it, comparing it to a cheap mobile game or to games from 2000. Baffling.

Ultimately, the best indicator of Millennia's quality may be the fact that, while playing, I was only wishing to return to any Civilization entry or related games such as Humankind, Endless Legend or even Old World, which I don't particularly like.


Apart from frustrating production chains and underdeveloped special Ages, Millennia does not offer anything that Civilization and Humankind do not already have.

Sounds a bit harsh but the overall sentiment that Millennia does nothing new seems to be prevalent.
The Polish review from Gry Online is perhaps the harshest yet,

Apart from frustrating production chains
He probably hates the guts of the games like Anno.
Btw., at one point he said that he took a break from Millennia and fired up Civ6 to have some fun, and he has already clocked 400 hours in it. Are we to take seriously the judgment of such amateurs now? 😉

The only thing that worries me from all those reviews are possible performance issues later in the game, those issues I can somewhat trust might be real. I'll see it for myself after putting some decent mileage into the game.
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