review of Humankind from a CivIV player


Jan 14, 2011
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.
Having never played Civilization V or VI this will be a comparative review with Civilization IV and I will address the game in its own right.

Getting started (Neolithic Era)

The first and main difference I see is that you do not start with choosing a civ/culture. This is completely different from IV where you choose your leader before you start playing.
You'll start with only a hunting party and start exploring the map and hunt for curiosities, animals and sanctuaries/lairs, each giving different rewards.
A "science" curiosity gives you science points and influence points.
A "food" curiosity gives you food to grow your population.
Animals you need to battle to earn food and influence points.
Sanctuaries/lairs you need to ransack to earn food.
There are 3 Era stars (Growth, Knowledge and Hunter) you can earn to acquire fame and advance to the next era. When you've gained 1 star you can advance to the next era. However, this is not mandatory. You can choose to delay the advancement.

Each star has its own requirements.
You need to grow your population to 5 to earn a Growth Star. For this you need to find food. Whenever a hunting party has found 20 food it will grow one population.
For earning a Knowledge Star you need to find science curiosities and earn a total of 10 science.
Killing animals (deer, bears and mammoths) will eventually result in getting the Hunter Star. Battle 5 of them and you've reached this goal.

The second difference from Civilization IV is that the map is made of hexagons instead of squares. Adding to that the map is made of territories. A city or outpost does not only control its BFC but the entire territory and all of the resources in that region. To create an outpost you need to have influence.

At random moments events pop up where you immediately need to choose an action. This will impact your game for a few turns or over the course of the entire game. This feature adds some sort of storytelling which greatly evolves this game from just playing to an interactive world in which you live. Lovely!

My view on the Neolithic Era

Exploring the map and hunting for stars feels too much luck based. It's like playing with huts on in CivIV. Having a bad start where you hardly find any of the curiosities and animals will set you back many turns in the game.
Exploring the map before you even settle an outpost/city gives the advantage of map knowledge. At CivIV you have play with what is given to you and live with it, greatly affecting the difficulty. Humankind has done a better job here.
In CivIV you need to reach certain technologies to see where all the resources are. In Humankind all map resources are already shown, even if you haven't reached certain technologies. Some resources are shown with a question mark, but at least you know that there is something. Just research the right technology to know what it is (e.g. Iron). Luck factor is less here.
Immediately I'm missing a minimap. I hope that the developers will eventually add one to the game.

Let's advance to the Ancient Era

There are 10 cultures you can choose from. Each has its own strengths and personalities. By advancing first you have the option to choose any of them, but when an AI have advanced earlier, they will have taken a culture which you can't choose anymore.

A culture can be divided into one of the following groups:
Aesthete (a culture focused on influence or diplomacy)
Builder (a culture focused on internal improvements or or great feats of construction)
Agrarian (a culture focused on empire growth and population abundance)
Militarist (a culture focused on waging and inciting wars)
Merchant (a culture focused on money and trade)
Scientist (a culture focused on science and research)
Expansionist (a culture focused on empire expansion)
I will not explain all of them in detail. Just play the game and find out.

Now you can turn any of the outposts you've created into a city. Finally it is time to build your empire and interact with the AI.

My view on some aspects of the game

Cities and outposts:
First thing that pops in my mind is that you don't need workers anymore. To extract resources you just need to build the appropiate infrastructure on the tile. Less micromanaging is needed. I like that.
There is no slider to adjust your research, income, culture and espionage. In Humankind there isn't even espionage. To adjust all of these you only need to assign your population to specific tasks (food, industry, money and science). To learn how to use it properly will take some time.
I like the fact that you can easily grow your city by adding your earlier aqcuired hunting parties to your city center, getting a boosted start. Later you can also add armies to your city. Growth is not fixed, giving a total new experience.
To create/attach outposts or create new cities you'll need influence, not settlers. Any unit can perform this action, so you won't be restricted.
I dislike the fact that you have a maximum number of cities allowed without getting some penalties. To me it feels restricted and that you have to follow certain paths to get more cities allowed. On the other hand this makes the game a lot easier, while in CivIV you strive to have as many cities as possible. That requires a lot more managing.
Compared to civIV Humankind feels more like a builder game. Most of CivIV cities only need a few buildings and can specialize to speficic tasks. In Humankind all cities need to have an equal amount of care.

At first glance the technology tree seems shallow. There are only a few paths you can follow. In CivIV one has many more paths to choose from resulting in completely different games. In Humankind teching is just a part of the game and not gamebreaking. I miss the opportunity to trade technologies with the AI.

Interacting with AI:
What bothers me is that you can't see the names of the current cultures and their progress on the main screen. One has to click its way to all the information you need. Emblems used in the main screen are not enough in my opinion. The developers should address this to make all the necessary information more easily accessible. Since this is still a bit obscure to me I did not yet feel like to explore this part of the game. It will take many more hours and experience to give a proper judgement.

Society and Civics:
I like the fact that ideologies impact your empire as a whole. Each of the 4 axes (economy, geopolitical, order and social) have different impacts. This makes the game feel more alive and you can choose different narrative paths to victory.

What is this all about? All I have figured out for now is that you want as many followers as possible to reach higher tenets which gives you bonuses. You can only chose two types of religion in the game, shamanism and polytheism. I would have liked to see more possibilities.

For me this is a major feature in Humankind that left a big impression on me. CivIV was simple with just building a large enough army and go out and conquer the world.
First big change is that you can only have a certain amount of units per tile (starting with 4) which you can increase by a few by reaching some technologies or enacting civics.
The second big change is that you can battle yourself! It is still possible to let the game autoresolute all the battles, but it is much more fun to do it yourself. You can place your units wherever you like on the battlefield, choose which units attack and whom and even choose not to attack.
Another nice twist is that you can reinforce your army with other units to create an ever bigger battlefield and gain advantage over the enemy.
I aploud the developers for creating this!

Acquiring fame and advancing to the next era:
The main goal of Humankind is to acquire fame. Whoever has the most fame in the end will win the game. From the ancient era to the end each era requires at least 7 stars in order to advance to the next era and have the opportunity to chose a different culture or stay with the same culture from the previous era.
Earning a star gives you fame, but not each star is the same. Earlier I mentioned that there are 7 main groups of culture. As there are 7 main culturegroups there are also 7 types of stars you can earn. Those types are the same as the groups of cultures. When you play an agrarian culture you will gain more fame points from an agrarian star than any other star. This will direct you in some sort of playstyle during each era. You can chose to sit back and develop your empire peacefully or go completely the other way and become a militarist and conquer the world. There are so many different paths to glory that this game will never become dull. Hours and hours of satisfaction guaranteed!

Overall impression:
Graphics are just wonderful. You can see people walk around, birds flying, horses running and many more little treats as you just watch the world.
Game overlay is nicely placed on the edges of the screen. However, sometimes notifications are a bit in your face.
As mentioned earlier, some aspects of the game are a bit obscure and could use some improvements. One needs to find his way in all the menus that are available. For instance you need to open the science panel to see the overall science output per turn. Which culture you are playing against can not be seen directly and the mechanics of religion are not yet clear to me.
Background music is relaxing. The developers have chosen well.

Final conclusion:
Humankind is one massive game which you can enjoy for many years to come. It will be overwhelming in the beginning, but given some time and effort, you will appreciate its uniqueness and depth. Every game you play will be completely different by chance and by choice.
This game could use some little updates/tweaks regarding gameplay. Making information more accessible is certainly a point that the developers should address.
Lastly, but not least. This is why I reviewed the game in the first place. Civilization IV and Humankind are completely different games. It is like comparing chess with checkers. Both should be in your inventory!

Thank you for reading and enjoy!
Last edited:
To create/attach outposts or create new cities you'll need influence, not settlers. Any unit can perform this action, so you won't be restricted.

Are the units consumed by this, or not?
Because then it'd be every time a trade-off, and not sure if that is well balanced then.

First big change is that you can only have a certain amount of units per tile (starting with 4) which you can increase by a few by reaching some technologies or enacting civics.
The second big change is that you can battle yourself! It is still possible to let the game autoresolute all the battles, but it is much more fun to do it yourself. You can place your units wherever you like on the battlefield, choose which units attack and whom and even choose not to attack.
Another nice twist is that you can reinforce your army with other units to create an ever bigger battlefield and gain advantage over the enemy.
I aploud the developers for creating this!

Any chance you have a screenshot somewhere?
I wonder if this is somehow similar to Age of Wonders, where all units in a certain distance would be dragged into the battle. It does sound interesting.
Creating an outpost does not consume units. The units only perform the action and can continue exploring the next turn.
Attaching an outpost to a city only requires influence and you can do it anytime you want.
Both actions do consume influence, so you must have acquired enough to perform those actions. Each time you create or attach the costs are getting higher. Choose wisely!
I'll try to explain the reinforcements.
This is the situation:
Spoiler :


I have 3 groups of units close to each other and now I will attack the opposing group.
As it turned out, there was a unit even further away that got dragged into this battle automatically:
Spoiler :


Now I'm having a huge stack of 13 units versus only three. Greatly expanding the warring zone and leaving the defender with no chance at all.
Hope this explains it a bit.
I have not yet figured it out. This needs to be tested.
I think it is 3 tiles… so beware the enemy could have stacks out of sight! A supporting armies effect… but in the modern era it changes up with planes and art being able to come in from a long way off.
In this case I can jump in:
all units within the primary battle field (that is shown as overlay before starting the battle, size depends on era I think) are automatically taking part in the battle from the start. Those are not counted as reinforcements and there is no way to not have them in the battle. You can place those freely on your part of the battlefield during the deployment phase preceding the actual battle. During your turn, you can then drag troops into the battlefield from the outside - something that doesn't work in AoW. As bigger battles go on longer than a turn, this means reinforcements can trickle in over a long time, and as late game units can move around a lot, also from far away. The problem with reinforcement troops, however, is that they only have a single tile to spawn (the one from which you entered the battlefield from the outside) and you have to move them away so that there is space for the next one. It's a fun system and it makes wars much more fun than moving dozens of units one by one. However, there are some balance issues as a 30 unit battle gives the same war score as a 2 unit battle. At least you get a lot of military stars from large battles.
...wait... how does that work?
Battles have their own "turns" called "rounds," and there's three round per turn. So every unit in the battle has 3 actions per global turn. If the battle isn't decided after 3 rounds / 1 turn it gets blocked until the next global turn starts. During this time, you cannot move with other units through the battlefield and trade that crossest is blocked.

In case a battlefield includes a city (for example but not exclusively in sieges), the city does not produce any units or buildings until the battle is resolved.
Yes it does :).
Any clue how it is determined which units are getting invovled?
Every army that is within the borders of the original battlefield when you start a battle is considered reinforcements. The game tries to put them all in place at the start, but if there is no space, then they wait in line. You can een choose the order in wich they appear on the battlefield. Or you can add them manually, I think there is setting for that too. I play on auto-deploy.
Hey Ton - When you achieve your first tenet, you can then change your religion (Christianity, etc etc). There's a drop down list at the top. It basically just a name though. There's no features of a particular religion (outside the starting Poly/Sham unique bonuses) other than the unique holy sites. Later via civics you can adopt secularism or atheism. I agree that religion needs a lot of work in the future.

@The_J Coupla notes here:

1) The trade off on outpost creation is determined by Influence as opposed to consumption of a unit. Influence is precious early as you need it for various things, including turning an outpost into a city and attaching outposts to that city.

2) I should note that the Reinforcement capability does not exist until you achieve a certain tech - Organized Warfare. Granted a relatively early tech. It's a very cool feature in how it's implemented both as a tactical component on the player's end, and the surprises one can encounter by not seeing all the AI armies nearby.

Also, I should note that one can actually move units into battle zone during the battle that can then become reinforcements. Especially useful in later eras as battles can become many turn affairs.
Last edited:
Ah, thanks :hatsoff:, that sounds interesting too.

A vip and I tested in multiplayer a week or so ago to focus on industrial era battle. We played out a battle that took over an hour and many turns to finish. (i'm talkin' single battle here not a war) Granted part of the reason was I'm really slow..ha. It was pretty crazy and quite fun. (I actually even advanced an Era during that battle, going from Brits to Russians, who have a combat strength Legacy Trait. Still lost though cause I suck)
Last edited:
The entire Tactical battle system in Humankind is a very strong point in the game's favor - at least from the viewpoint of a Military Historian. Between the advantages/disadvantages of Terrain, Reinforcements, original Army Size (which changes throughout the game) the 'special attributes' of the Units themselves (there are over 80 of them, with each Unit having 1 or 2 different ones) and all this piled on top of the basic Combat and Movement and Ranged Factors of the basic units - it is a huge jigsaw puzzle that is a lot of fun to play.

One very basic point: Historically accurate interactions actually work in the game:
Don't charge Spearmen with Chariots.
Don't charge Uphill against Hoplites or Pikemen - really, don't charge Uphill against anybody if you can help it
Support from archers, crossbows, cannon can be the difference between a successful attack and a ghastly disaster
Attacking modern (Industrial Age and later) Infantry requires careful Fire Support - bring up the Artillery and Heavy Machineguns before you launch anybody, or they won't be coming back.

A basic military skill drummed into Prussian staff officers in the 19th century by hours and hours of 'staff rides' over the countryside was an "Eye for Terrain" - that is also a basic skill in Humankind: get to know what your units can do with the terrain, with the slopes, hills, rivers, what consititutes and blocks Lines of Sight, what kinds of units can reach what parts of the battlefield in X Rounds, etc. The better you get at this the better your battles will come out.
Yes it does :).
Any clue how it is determined which units are getting invovled?

When you have an army selected and hover over an enemy army with the right button (without releasing), a preview of the battlefield area of influence comes up, and anything inside that area is part of the initial battle (including whatever hides inside the FOW part of the area).

EDIT: you don't even need the RMB, if your army is selected just hovering over any enemy army will display the battlefield's area of influence, and in fact it changes depending on what approach to the enemy you are taking... it is worth testing different approaches as they will generate different areas and deployment zones, so examine these in detail to try and attack from the most advantageous approach. ;)
Last edited:
Top Bottom