I figured I'd make a thread regarding multilayer since I haven't seen a lot of direct experience mentioned on this board. I played a roughly four hour game last night with three of my other Steam friends. Starting up To be honest I really didn't expect us to get far. I based this on my initial experience with MP in Civ 3 and when Civ 4 just launched (I never played Civ Rev). I also based the assumption on various threads / reviews claiming that MP was all but unplayable. Going off that I fully expected CTD's, or the dreaded sync errors. I was actually pleasantly surprised to be wrong. There are issues with MP with I will get into though. One of the other guys hosted the game, and having experience playing other steam games helps here, because you will have familiarity with the friend overlay and alerts. You can directly invite your steam buddies to a game. My friend created a private game and I saw the invite pop-up. I joined instantly. So far, so good. In the game lobby I can basically pick my Civ and click 'ready' while waiting for other players. You can chat as well, but weirdly the host couldn't change the map type once he created the game. He accidentally chose the wrong map type and had to quit the session and re-invite me. This could be handled better IMO. Once the other fellas arrived the game launched without a hitch. Again, I was pleasantly surprised. Playing the Game The first thing that's noticeable is the lack of unit animations when moving units. It can be jarring at first but I got used to it. When you fight barbarians or other units, all you see if the red number float up for damage inflicted. Not very flashy but serviceable. I definitely experienced the lag that people have mentioned. This can be frustrating because you order a unit and it doesn't appear to do anything until a few seconds later. One thing that happened early on was both myself and another player were fighting over a barbarian camp. He had apparently queued a move to attack the camp, but I had just defeated it and my troops moved to the cleared space. His queued move kicked in and he attacked my unit WITH NO WARNING! There was no "do you wish to go to war?" prompt, it all just happened because of a mistake. This frankly needs to change. Because of this, we became very cautious of queued moves. Another big change, from the previous game, was that you cannot change anything once you end your turn. You can't, for example, go into your city screen and change production or buy a tile after you end your move. This isn't earth-shattering but it's good to know. If pitboss comes out, this could be more problematic. Information, or the Lack Thereof When exploring I found that the info like what you get from exploring a ruin can be easily missed. There is a notification log buried in the interface but I don't think it details everything. Info does appear but quickly fades if you're not paying attention. Interacting with Other Players First I need to talk about the chat interface. It sucks. While it's ok for general chatting it's simply too bare bones for private chats. The chat interface displays the chatters name to the left and the message to the right. When you chat you have the option to chat to all or to an individual from a drop-down. Simple, yes? The problem arises in that the chat UI doesn't differentiate between a whisper and a broadcast. If a player says "want to make a trade?" in chat, you have no idea if it's a broadcast to all or a tell just to you. Likewise, chats in games like this can be easily missed if you're not paying attention since there's no sound alerts for a whisper. The changes needed are obvious: Whispers / tells should show as "X tells you: Y", possibly color-coded and with a sound alert. These are simple changes that would go a long way to improving the experience. Diplomacy, I'm happy to say, is really nice. I'm used to the Civ4 trade window that took up the whole screen. Requests for diplo now show up as any of the right-side alerts that you can initiate or ignore at your convenience. When you do pull it up, it displays as a little side window so you can still see everything else. Making trades is easy and unobtrusive. I liked this a lot. The only problem here stems from the end-your-turn issue in that you can't commit a trade if one player has already ended their turn. WAR! Unfortunately I was pretty isolated and didn't get to experience a big war. The other players did and I just got to listen in on vent. The age-old "double-move" issue is present in all its glory. My friends are civil enough to work out turn order via vent, but things get dicey in this new iteration with the "heal instantly" promotion. There was some arguing of whether it was "legal" to use promotions after an agreed "turn" was over even if the unit earned that promotion after it was attacked. Stability This is the part I'm really happy about. We played for almost four hours with no hitches, no CTD's, and no desync issues. It just worked albeit with tolerable lag. It's pretty telling that I'm wholly satisfied and surprised by this fact for a Civ game in it's first weeks. The only bug we encountered was the "endless peace" bug, but that's less an MP issue than it is a game issue. Conclusions MP definitely needs work. The lack of alerts for accidentally attacking a player's unit is the most egregious item. Other problems arise that have been Civ MP problems for ages such as the dreaded double-move has not been solved here. Also there are bits of MP that I didn't get to experience such as finding / loading from a save, or setting up the (lack thereof) game options, so I can't speak to that. All that said, I would say this is far from "unplayable". We actually had a lot of fun. Frankly this was my best CIV MP experience in its early weeks, and I think it can only improve from here.