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Why is Old World currently sitting on "mixed" ratings on Steam?

salty mud

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I'm slightly surprised to see Old World sitting at a disappointing "mixed" rating on Steam, with only 67% of reviews being positive recently. A quick glance at some of the reviews highlights the following issues:

- The game is RNG heavy and games can be won or lost through a random event.
- AI builds and trains quicker than the human player, enemy units move too far each turn.
- Characters and dynasties not meaningful/impactful enough
- Poor performance and bugs
- "not enough depth"

I can see where some of these complaints come from. Game performance is still unacceptably poor and must be improved; my PC is well above the recommended specs and still chugs along after turn 80 or so. This should be a priority for the developers. I also agree the game is rather heavy on the RNG and sometimes offers some lose-lose situations, such as two neighbouring nations seemingly enjoying cordial relations until the game decides they will go to war and drag you into one side whether you like it or not. I find that the "reduced" setting of random events is the sweet spot. I believe complaints about units and movement has been addressed in that the AI won't use forced march now unless the game rules allow it. That said, I think this comes down to a learn-to-play skill issue - the AI is not playing by any other ruleset.

People often make comparisons to Crusader Kings and how the characters here are not as detailled as their CK counterparts. This I find odd. In CK, characters are nothing but stats. This is slightly mitigated in CK3 with the stress system where players should act within their characters' traits but it honestly doesn't go far enough. I really enjoy Old World's archetype system that gives each character a defined role - a tactition leader can take a leading role on the battlefield, stunning enemy units, whereas a scholar will be much better used as a governor. I would like to see this go further and archetypes be given even more options that impact gameplay.

"Depth" is a funny word because it seems to have different meanings to each person. To me, if I have to worry about a lot of things, the game has depth. I definitely find that the case in Old World, with growth, culture, production, family relations, research and warfare all asking my attention and interacting with each other. I guess "depth" is just a catch-all word used when a game doesn't quite hit you the way it should.

What are your thoughts?
 
I don't understand the issues myself with perhaps the exception of other Nations seeming to always, always have orders to spare but I have been putting this down to the way I am making my way through the tech tree.
Unless I am in a war this really is a non issue though because more often than not I will run out of orders early on, but as the game progresses I find I have many more available than I usually need. If only there werea way to 'save orders up' so they were available in an actual emergency. Maybe there is and I have not yet found it.

There are a lot of things I really like, and one I cannot big up enough is that builders produce Wonders, not Cities - so there is no hard choice between defence & culture to make. This makes going for wonders a simple matter and I love it.

People often make comparisons to Crusader Kings and how the characters here are not as detailled as their CK counterparts. This I find odd. In CK, characters are nothing but stats. This is slightly mitigated in CK3 with the stress system where players should act within their characters' traits but it honestly doesn't go far enough. I really enjoy Old World's archetype system that gives each character a defined role - a tactition leader can take a leading role on the battlefield, stunning enemy units, whereas a scholar will be much better used as a governor. I would like to see this go further and archetypes be given even more options that impact gameplay.
I don't know CK so cannot offer any opinion there, but I would tend to agree with the above inasmuch as it would be great to see the OW system taken further.
 
Unless I am in a war this really is a non issue though because more often than not I will run out of orders early on, but as the game progresses I find I have many more available than I usually need. If only there werea way to 'save orders up' so they were available in an actual emergency. Maybe there is and I have not yet found it.
There are some - direct and indirect:

- later in game you can run the law "Elites" (which allows storing up to 100 orders between turns and also adds a couple of extra ones itself)
- You can store up to 2000 training...and for 100 training your can purchase one order, so your training stash can technically act us buffer, too (though it compete with other uses, like enabling forced marches, of course)
- the Decret project can be used to increase orders at the cost of investing city capital and properly timed nets you extra orders in the turn you need them

And because of how compley OW is, that list is probably not even complete

BTW, too many orders is usually a sign for to few workers - because the best use for orders is always to convert them in ressources (which is better then the meager 10 Gold compensation for unused ones becoming void). In war times workers sit then idle, because you just don't have the orders - or you can upgrade them still into Militia, if things go really bad.
 
- "not enough depth"
I actually kind of agree with if you are comparing the game to Civ6. To win at OW you just need to play well since all of the victory types basically require you to do the same thing because the things that get you more points also are either ambitions themselves or help you complete an ambition. Compare this to Civ6 where you need to specialize to win and each victory type has its own quirks and strategies. You also don't play the map in OW the same way you do in Civ6, given the lack of districts, their adjacency bonuses, and civs with terrain bonuses (Mali, Russia, etc), not to mention the fact that all city locations are predetermined and limited in OW. Although I think this is one of the game's few weaknesses, I think it is a fair trade off since I've never had to constantly reroll to get a decent starting location or have to deal with an entire continent of subpar land or is a poor fit for your civ (having a continent to yourself as the Maya). I think the empire building aspects of Civ6 do tend to lend themselves to more in-depth mechanics in a way that OW's mechanics don't but I feel like whether or not you like it is a matter of personal preference. To me OW, is more about adjusting to the game situation and dealing with the consequences of your choices. Civ6 is about playing the map and maximizing towards your win condition and you can honestly just ignore the AI what feels like 99% of the time and it not even effect your game. Both have their pros and cons but I can see why some people coming from Civ6 could see OW lacking some of the depth of Civ6.

- Characters and dynasties not meaningful/impactful enough
I mostly agree with these with the caveat that characters in games like CK3 and OW are always going to feel kind of shallow given the lack of time you spend with them. In fact, if you make characters too impactful you are going to have wild power swings in the game as you from one ruler to the next and run into balance issues. I do agree that a few archetypes could be buffed (Builder immediately comes to mind) but overall I think they are fine. I definitely agree with families not being super impactful if you don't have an ideal city site for them, outside of the Champions and founding a religion as the Clerics. This isn't to say that they don't have an impact on the game but they really don't feel that impactful on the whole and tend to have smaller impacts you don't notice the way do you the different civ and leader abilities in Civ6. There are always a couple of city sites or captured cities that I just give to whatever family to maintain a relatively number of cities for each family. To me, this feels like a necessary evil to get rid of the issues involved in playing the map I mentioned above with Civ6 but I do feel like families could be made to have more impact on the game.

- The game is RNG heavy and games can be won or lost through a random event.
Honestly I think this one of the best things OW has going for it compared to Civ6. In OW, Civ6, and CK3 once you get good enough at the game you are going to win 99.99% of the time and are only going to lose in really rare edge case situations. Once you get X% into a particular run you are going to win and in Civ6 and CK3 all of the danger is front-loaded in a way that I don't feel is the same in OW. While I do think once you get far enough along in a game of OW you are going to win, I feel like you are still in danger of things going wrong until like the last ten turns of the game and that makes OW far more interesting to me than Civ6 or CK3 when it comes to actually playing through the game. I can see why players from Civ6 might not like it, and I had my own share of bad RNG, but learning to deal with those situations felt like part of the learning curve to me and, once I adapted to it, became one of the games core strengths for me because even if I am basically guaranteed victory, getting their is always going to be interesting in a way that is rarely is in Civ6 or CK3.
 
I agree Old World is a great game, and "mixed" rating is too harsh. When that is said, there are areas where I feel the game could be improved. Addressing a few of the points made above:

- Wrt. (AI) unit movement: I appreciate that units move faster than in Civ in order to open up the map, but I do feel it's probably gone too far in the other extreme. In Civ6, a standard unit moves 2 hexes over flat terrain. In OW, a unit using 3 orders will move, what, 9 hexes over flat terrain? And then you can force move on top of that. Of course orders are limiting things, but I often feel I suffer from a swarm of AI units appearing out of nowhere and slaughtering my best unit, without me having any idea they even existed, which sort of kills a lot of the strategic element I feel 1UPT combat should have. So I feel there must be a sweet-spot for unit movement that's in between Civ6 and OW, and frankly probably closer to Civ6 than to OW.

- Wrt. dynasties: I think this is a great idea on paper, but frankly, from my limited playing experience so far, I sit and I look at the list, and then I go back and forward through them a lot of times feeling I have no clue or overview of what the implications will be on each of them, and then I pick one more or less blindly. Maybe again I'm hampered by my limited playing experience, but I feel things are perhaps more complicated here than they need to be - or maybe the info in the tooltip just needs to be more condensed, like: Pick this one for focus on military, this one for focus on science, this one for focus on religion, etc. That's sort of the info I'm trying to divine from them.

- Wrt. characters: I like the different traits. In my current game, I tried to play around with longer life spans as semesters in order to have my character live longer (which he did, I won the game through a random "double point score" very early before even my first leader died). I do think that on default settings, the characters die of very fast, making it hard to really develop them, but I think the core of the system is excellent.

Also, I have to say:

- Religion: I have a really hard time understanding the benefits of spreading a religion and the mechanics of founding one in the first place. Very confusing when coming from Civ.
 
- Wrt. (AI) unit movement: I appreciate that units move faster than in Civ in order to open up the map, but I do feel it's probably gone too far in the other extreme. In Civ6, a standard unit moves 2 hexes over flat terrain. In OW, a unit using 3 orders will move, what, 9 hexes over flat terrain? And then you can force move on top of that. Of course orders are limiting things, but I often feel I suffer from a swarm of AI units appearing out of nowhere and slaughtering my best unit, without me having any idea they even existed, which sort of kills a lot of the strategic element I feel 1UPT combat should have. So I feel there must be a sweet-spot for unit movement that's in between Civ6 and OW, and frankly probably closer to Civ6 than to OW.

I just feel obliged to comment here that Old World combat is a lot closer to RTS games than to any iteration of Civ. Even though Old World is turn based, the combat system in many ways plays like a turn-based implementation of classic RTS combat. And in true RTS style, scouting is an important part of warfare in OW. Before you attack, you should scout ahead to be somewhat aware of the AI's unit composition and placement. It's not enough to see the units you're going to be engaging immediately, you need to see more, or else you're setting yourself up for failure.
 
Well, I don't experience the " one more turn" dynamic of a 4X game with Old World. My forays are more likely to end with a sigh and a "let's try again tomorrow".
- The game is RNG heavy and games can be won or lost through a random event.
I'd say the problem is there are mechanisms driven almost entirely driven by RNG. They way a nation gains courtiers is the most blatant example. Whether the player has zero or eight, that's really luck of the draw. Might get one here and there from tech boosts. Might get one by founding a family seat. They're really event-driven, tho. They're not merely a way to get a boost in yields, they're also vital to tutoring members of the royal succession. Maybe there needs to be a way for chancellors to cultivate them with a combined investment of gold, training, research, and civics. Maybe they're a reward for completing ambitions or leveling the emperor.

I also take umbrage with "three lemons" events happening as a direct consequence of the player trying to do something proactive. For instance, I have a +80 relationship with someone. I invest 100 civics and two years to influence them. Two years pass, and the event I get is that the target is now plotting against me and the relationship dropped to -20. My immediate reaction is that maybe I missed a detail. Maybe there was already some present factor I didn't heed. Looking at the event, I see "requires: not charming". That's simply obnoxious event design. Consider that I've actively groomed this king to have +6 Charisma. A strategic choice to be charismatic is contravened by not having one of a handful of traits that can only be gained via RNG, and I wind up worse off than if I had done nothing. All else aside, that is not in keeping with Soren Johnson's activist philosophy.

I think Old World is remarkable in many respects, and it has adapted with all these updates. Still, not hard to see a net review of "mixed".
 
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I just feel obliged to comment here that Old World combat is a lot closer to RTS games than to any iteration of Civ. Even though Old World is turn based, the combat system in many ways plays like a turn-based implementation of classic RTS combat. And in true RTS style, scouting is an important part of warfare in OW. Before you attack, you should scout ahead to be somewhat aware of the AI's unit composition and placement. It's not enough to see the units you're going to be engaging immediately, you need to see more, or else you're setting yourself up for failure.
Well, I appreciate your answer, and it does make some sense. I'm not sure it's the approach I would favor. I would like to add that when I say they appear "out of nowhere", it was not so much a case of spying or lack of spying. Often I will know the units are there, and I will know they are very far away from where I am moving my units. Yet as soon as I make just a tiny approach of the AI, they will target my best unit and just bring 5 or 6 units from half a world away and all attack and kill that unit. Which is of course a wise if somewhat suicidal move by the AI, but it also makes the game rather frustrating, because I feel there is nothing I can do to counter it except bring a dozen meat shields I move in first and sacrifice in order to lure out their units - which may well be how the game was intended, but is very far from what I'm used to from Civ 5-6 (which, I have to add, is not necessarily a bad thing).

Of course, some of my issues with this is not only movement but also the fact that I feel units take too little damage from attacking into a (stronger) unit, and I feel Slingers are generally OP, doing way too much damage compared to how early they come into game, yet taking way too little damage when being attacked by a melee unit.
 
If you're used to Civ combat, especially 5 and 6, Old World definitely takes some readjustments. Armies are much bigger and the AI is far better at waging war. In Civ6, I generally do not expect to lose units. In Old World, losing units is unavoidable if you attack and the AI very good at scoring kills. It's also fairly good at estimating danger - you'll see AI troops retreat, and you'll see them be more careful against a larger force. But if the AI has an opportunity to kill a high-value unit, it certainly will.

Worth noting that situations like that are why we recently restricted forced march so the AI doesn't use it on lower difficulties - it seems many players need some time to adjust to unit/combat mechanics before playing against the AI's forced march.
 
Well, I appreciate your answer, and it does make some sense. I'm not sure it's the approach I would favor. I would like to add that when I say they appear "out of nowhere", it was not so much a case of spying or lack of spying. Often I will know the units are there, and I will know they are very far away from where I am moving my units. Yet as soon as I make just a tiny approach of the AI, they will target my best unit and just bring 5 or 6 units from half a world away and all attack and kill that unit. Which is of course a wise if somewhat suicidal move by the AI, but it also makes the game rather frustrating, because I feel there is nothing I can do to counter it except bring a dozen meat shields I move in first and sacrifice in order to lure out their units - which may well be how the game was intended, but is very far from what I'm used to from Civ 5-6 (which, I have to add, is not necessarily a bad thing).
The RTS rationalization has been floated before. It's not very RTS-like and you correctly point out that's not why units seem to teleport.

The whole point of RTS is everything happening at the same time. Nobody is stuck playing statue while five or six enemy troops stroll over and carve them into pieces and make them dead before they can strike back. If a turn-based game wants to feel like an RTS, the first thing to go is that kind of alpha-strike dogpile.

Turn-based games try to simulate real-time combat with things like overwatch modes and retaliatory damage. These are things that Old World has eschewed defensive mechanisms that deter aggression. Soren sees defensive chokepoints as leading to stalemates and inaction. Which they often are, but the alternative is often chaotic cheapshot blitzes (games like Stellaris try to eliminate to avoid the former, and they tend to backpedal once the latter is realized).

After the FilthyRobot interview, they showed a willingness to experiment (q.v. Tactician). I love that spirt. It keeps me coming back.
 
What strikes me is the number of negative reviews that start with something like, "I found this game very fun but" or "This game does a ton of things right" (and those are exact quotes from reviews). Usually, these reviews feature general praise, and then complain about a couple specific features. stalty mud gave a pretty good overview of them. But Old World seems to have a picky player base - "I liked a lot of things but not X, so I'm leaving a negative review."

Expectations might be part of it too. The press summarized Old World as "Civ combined with Crusader Kings", and a lot of the reviews mention Crusader Kings. Players having expectations of your game based on other games can be dangerous, and I've noticed Mohawk trying to downplay the CKII/CKIII comparisons, which is likely smart (although the "Review" excerpts on the Steam page mentions CK and Civ comparisons). Another game I like, Urban Empire, got panned in reviews, and why? People expected it to be like Sim City, but it took a novel approach to the genre. In the comments here, Civ VI has been mentioned a lot. Whether it's Civ VI, Civ IV, or CKII/III, comparing Old World to them can lead to conclusions of "I think [insert comparison game here] did [insert specific feature] better."

It could be that 4X fans are picky in general, too. Humankind has 67% positive reviews, Old World 77%, Civ VI is at 83% now but for years it languished in the 60s.

The challenge is figuring out if there are patterns, or simply disagreements over the mechanics (what 80% of the players love, the other 20% hate...), and what can be done to set expectations properly. Maybe give a more prominent option to use the toned-down events in the first game? I have a friend IRL who tried Old World in 2021 and loved it, and then got hit with a bad event which cratered his empire; I'm not sure if he's gone back to Old World yet. Making that more upfront could help channel the more Civ-heritage fewer-random-events players into their preferred settings.

At any rate, I've left a 5-star rating on the GOG version. How important are the ratings? It's tough to say; I will notice games that get 95%+ consistently, or think twice about games that average below 70%, but Old World seems to be right in the area where some people love it and some don't. I largely decide whether to buy those games based on whether the description and reviews sound like it will appeal to my personal preferences. Maybe a demo or a free weekend at some point in the future could help lure some of the fence-sitters to buy, but there's probably not one neat trick that will result in 90%+ positive reviews starting next month.
 
I'm slightly surprised to see Old World sitting at a disappointing "mixed" rating on Steam, with only 67% of reviews being positive recently.
It's back up at 71% "Mostly Positive" again. But even that is pretty harsh in my eyes.


I'm slightly surprised to see Old World sitting at a disappointing "mixed" rating on Steam, with only 67% of reviews being positive recently. A quick glance at some of the reviews highlights the following issues:

- The game is RNG heavy and games can be won or lost through a random event.
- AI builds and trains quicker than the human player, enemy units move too far each turn.
- Characters and dynasties not meaningful/impactful enough
- Poor performance and bugs
- "not enough depth"

I can see where some of these complaints come from. Game performance is still unacceptably poor and must be improved; my PC is well above the recommended specs and still chugs along after turn 80 or so. This should be a priority for the developers.
(...)

What are your thoughts?

I don't think performance can get that much better, unfortunately. Civ-like games have a lot of tiny things on screen, and without heavy optimization, there is a performance price to pay for all that. I believe that to be true especially for the used game engine: Unity. All objects you see, all the moving parts, simply cost performance. Terrain + vegetation/Improvement with animation, +unit with animation, multiplied with all the tiles you do see and probably in part also those you currently don't, make for a pretty demanding game. I'd say a semi-decent desktop graphics card, or high-end laptop, is required to really enjoy this game - which is no problem for the few enthusiasts, but it's probably fair to say that this game is not really fit for the big masses with their lower-tier hardware. With my 4790K and 780Ti I can play comfortably, and that's not really the latest&greatest you can buy, but some people have tried playing this on a 5+ years-old laptop without graphics card and then of course complained.
@salty mud: what hardware are you playing on?
 
What strikes me is the number of negative reviews that start with something like, "I found this game very fun but" or "This game does a ton of things right" (and those are exact quotes from reviews). Usually, these reviews feature general praise, and then complain about a couple specific features. stalty mud gave a pretty good overview of them. But Old World seems to have a picky player base - "I liked a lot of things but not X, so I'm leaving a negative review."

I didn't leave a negative review, but I could justify not recommending this game, despite being able to name 10 things I think are amazing about this game, and only 1 thing that I don't like*. That last thing, however, makes me not want to play the game that much. If these reviewers had the same feeling/opinion, I can totally relate to and understand their not recommending the game.

*In all the games I played I simply felt I needed to rush territories, or war became a necessity to expand. It felt like regions weren't occupied when the AI or I were ready to settle them, but units were just parked there to wait. I felt that combat was too costly and arduous to properly make a difference, and so the early game felt to me like I was rushing to get regions so as not to trail behind on the AI.
 
I didn't leave a negative review, but I could justify not recommending this game, despite being able to name 10 things I think are amazing about this game, and only 1 thing that I don't like*. That last thing, however, makes me not want to play the game that much. If these reviewers had the same feeling/opinion, I can totally relate to and understand their not recommending the game.

*In all the games I played I simply felt I needed to rush territories, or war became a necessity to expand. It felt like regions weren't occupied when the AI or I were ready to settle them, but units were just parked there to wait. I felt that combat was too costly and arduous to properly make a difference, and so the early game felt to me like I was rushing to get regions so as not to trail behind on the AI.

So exactly what is it that you dislike so much you cannot justify recommending the game, please?
 
*In all the games I played I simply felt I needed to rush territories, or war became a necessity to expand. It felt like regions weren't occupied when the AI or I were ready to settle them, but units were just parked there to wait. I felt that combat was too costly and arduous to properly make a difference, and so the early game felt to me like I was rushing to get regions so as not to trail behind on the AI.
If I'm reading the small text correctly, you weren't grabbing barbarian/tribal sites fast enough, so the AI did it. When the AI clears a site, it claims it by placing a unit on the city tile, which you can do too if you are the first to walk a unit onto that tile, which usually means you are required to be the one to defeat the barbarian/tribe there.
The obvious part is: you need an army, and you need to use it. That is most true especially for the beginning, when you need to expand into land that no other player has claimed yet. Basically, if you are in doubt: then you definitely need more military units. Even if you are sure that your army is big enough, you still probably need more. It's a very common mistake for players that know other Civ titles, to think a small army, strategically positioned, can be sufficient for expansion and protection, because in these other titles, the AI just doesn't pose a threat. Old World is different, thankfully.

The feeling of being behind and stressed while desperately trying to catch up to AI opponents that are for some reason further developed and bigger than you, that is a feeling I also don't like, which is why there is an option in the advanced setting that lets you set "AI development" to "None". With this, the all AI players start with 1 city, and no additional techs, just like the human player. I play all my games with this setting, and recommend that to you too.
 
So exactly what is it that you dislike so much you cannot justify recommending the game, please?
Read the small text, but that isn't really what this topic is about I think.

In my reply, I just wanted to state that there might be a million things the game does extremely well, but if there is one that keeps me from playing, I can't recommend it to others. After all, I'm not even playing it myself then.

If I'm reading the small text correctly, you weren't grabbing barbarian/tribal sites fast enough, so the AI did it. When the AI clears a site, it claims it by placing a unit on the city tile, which you can do too if you are the first to walk a unit onto that tile, which usually means you are required to be the one to defeat the barbarian/tribe there.
The obvious part is: you need an army, and you need to use it. That is most true especially for the beginning, when you need to expand into land that no other player has claimed yet. Basically, if you are in doubt: then you definitely need more military units. Even if you are sure that your army is big enough, you still probably need more. It's a very common mistake for players that know other Civ titles, to think a small army, strategically positioned, can be sufficient for expansion and protection, because in these other titles, the AI just doesn't pose a threat. Old World is different, thankfully.

The feeling of being behind and stressed while desperately trying to catch up to AI opponents that are for some reason further developed and bigger than you, that is a feeling I also don't like, which is why there is an option in the advanced setting that lets you set "AI development" to "None". With this, the all AI players start with 1 city, and no additional techs, just like the human player. I play all my games with this setting, and recommend that to you too.

I did exactly what you described in first few sentences. It's just that it feels necessary to me to do these things per se. It's the same when Civ VI didn't have the loyalty mechanic, and it was almost expected to do forward settling, only even more so.

I'm thankful for the advice you give at the end, but I didn't have the feeling I was lagging behind per se, and if I did I didn't feel stressed because of it. I just feel the game says "This is your opening move, now do it.", and that does not make me feel like playing. It's like the first part of the game needs to be: build army, rush spots, sit there and wait until you can develop. If you don't, the AI will do it and you will have to wage war with them to get the territories. It's nothing bad per se, and I'm sure others could like that, but to me it felt too forced, and that lack of flexibility is what for me is a huge reason not to play it (that much) any more. Would I still recommend it? Maybe, with a caveat.
 
I did exactly what you described in first few sentences. It's just that it feels necessary to me to do these things per se. It's the same when Civ VI didn't have the loyalty mechanic, and it was almost expected to do forward settling, only even more so.

I'm thankful for the advice you give at the end, but I didn't have the feeling I was lagging behind per se, and if I did I didn't feel stressed because of it. I just feel the game says "This is your opening move, now do it.", and that does not make me feel like playing. It's like the first part of the game needs to be: build army, rush spots, sit there and wait until you can develop. If you don't, the AI will do it and you will have to wage war with them to get the territories. It's nothing bad per se, and I'm sure others could like that, but to me it felt too forced, and that lack of flexibility is what for me is a huge reason not to play it (that much) any more. Would I still recommend it? Maybe, with a caveat.
You're not wrong, there's not really much of a choice during the phase where there are still lots of unclaimed city sites, you need to get your share of them, and not let the other players beat you to it. Expanding slowly rarely offers the same rewards. The choices lie only in where to expand to, and how you balance unit production with the growing of your economy, which you need to support all those units.
Many other games include some kind of mechanic to punish fast expansion, or even make it impossible (Stellaris, Humankind). In Old World, family opinion does that, but it's not really enough to deter founding as many cities as you can, because cities are immediately useful. Personally I don't mind the expand-or-perish part of this game but that doesn't mean there's no room for: stonger barbs to slow you down; or cities except for seats to not produce 8 training and everything else instantly; or some completely new mechanic.
 
I just feel the game says "This is your opening move, now do it.", and that does not make me feel like playing. It's like the first part of the game needs to be: build army, rush spots, sit there and wait until you can develop. If you don't, the AI will do it and you will have to wage war with them to get the territories. It's nothing bad per se, and I'm sure others could like that, but to me it felt too forced, and that lack of flexibility is what for me is a huge reason not to play it (that much) any more. Would I still recommend it? Maybe, with a caveat.
For what it's worth, I very much share your feeling on this part of the game. The rush to occupy city sites with scouts or whatever unit feels a bit silly to me, frankly. I'm all for a way to "claim" a territory before settling it - it's something I've asked for to be added to Civ as well - but the fact that the person who gets first to the rather arbitrary "city site" holds uncontested rule over it (unless you DoW, obviously) seems quite shallow.

I'd rather see a mechanism where placing military units in any of the urban tiles give you legitimacy in your claim over this region, but giving you the option to contest another civs claim on a region by moving your own military units into the urban area. One could have various diplomatic options centered around such a system, i.e. you could demand another civ to give up and leave a contested region - which may in turn lead to a DoW - or maybe you could trade them to yield the claim on a region without confrontation.
 
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