Humanity review – IGN
I don’t want to go through an entire review comparing Humankind to Sid Meier’s Civilization, but it’s very clear that this is Amplitude’s riff on that classic 4X melody. While I was delighted with some real improvements and innovations during my turn-based walk from the Stone Age to the Space Age, most of the basics felt quite familiar to me. And more than once, it left me wishing I had pushed the boundaries a bit more like the studio’s previous Endless Space and Endless Legend games did.
One of my favorite little new ideas in mankind is the Neolithic Era, which begins every race with a small group of nomadic hunter-gatherers who must collect enough food or science to progress and become a sedentary society. I enjoyed this unorthodox style of play so much that I wish I could have spent more time with it, or even remained nomadic. But you end up settling into a more traditional 4X routine of expanding towns across districts to collect food, science, production, and money, up from as many as nine other empires controlled by the ‘IA or man.
There are two new resources that mix things up a bit. Influence limits your external expansion and spreads your culture to neighboring cities, while stability limits your internal expansion, as urban centers expand more and more and become harder and harder to rule. These considerations made planning my empire’s path to prosperity an interesting and often difficult puzzle. As a tile painting game where I can watch my civilization spread across the beautiful world map, humanity holds up well against its competition.
Influence is also used quite a bit in the diplomatic system, and it’s probably the smartest idea humanity brings to the genre. You can just declare war out of nowhere, but it gives a big bonus to your enemy’s war support, which is a measure of their people’s enthusiasm for fighting you. If you spread your religion or culture in one of their cities instead, you may get a grievance against them for “oppressing” your people, which will slowly increase your side’s war support over time. So, to truly be a successful conqueror, you need to export your gods and your best radio hits, not just have the biggest army.
As neat as this system is, it didn’t put much pressure on me unless I went looking for a fight. Even on the highest hardships, I have never had a war declared against myself even once in three campaigns. This included when I had a very small army that could not have stood up to my neighbors if they had come to strike. And the Independents who got me in trouble at times were too easy to appease with money or influence compared to Civ’s sometimes mean barbarians. It is just too trivial to please everyone by making trade deals, paying bribes and forgiving your grievances against them.
And while humanity’s combat system has a nice pace, given that multiple battle turns can take place in a single world turn, the AI is still underwhelming. They will often spread their attacks over multiple units and then be wiped out when they could have focused and cost me at least one unit on exit. Not that Civ’s AI is exactly legendary, but the recent Old World has shown us that it can be done much better. The wars I fought were full of interesting tactical considerations thanks to the amount of factors like terrain and line of sight in each engagement, but the fact that I rarely felt defeat was a possibility. made my victories feel by heart rather than triumphant.
And while the enlarged 3D map looks fantastic, Amplitude has tried replacing map overlays with a system that gives you different information as you scroll. The problem is, the top two levels look awful and you can’t turn them off. The mid-level zoom view is an overwhelming gray void that doesn’t give me any useful information that I couldn’t get on the 3D map, and I would appreciate humanity more if they removed it entirely. And the top-level view, which is at least useful for seeing political boundaries, looks like disorienting neon vomit and gives me a headache. I hate watching them, and I hate that they hide the rather attractive and realistic terrain and cities. I would compare it directly to Crusader Kings 3, which uses a very similar system, but each of its zoom levels has a clear job and looks great.
Humankind Review Screenshots
The other main feature is that you will choose a different culture for each era, rather than one that will accompany you through the ages. I really liked it mechanically. On the one hand, that means you have a unique unit in each epoch, instead of just a small portion of each campaign. The design of these units and bonuses seemed very safe, however. There’s nothing more savage or game-changing than some of the more civilization and leader abilities available in Civ 5 and 6, and they usually only provide new ways to generate resources. However, since cultures all have niches like Expansionist or Scientist, you can focus on a different playstyle in each era, which is nice in a long campaign where you might get bored of being cast as a boss. war or a brain. And you won’t mind, since victory is based on a fame system that adds up all your actions, from conquering to building the biggest cities.
There is a religious system, but only fair. Like the era bonuses for each culture, the bonuses you can add to your faith are mostly simple modifiers to resource generation or modest military buffs. Religion only spreads passively, and unless I was looking for a reason to wage war, I usually forgot that it existed. There’s kind of an interesting endgame wrinkle in that you can pursue tolerant secularism or militant state atheism, modeling shifting ideas about the nature of the universe. The problem is, while this is cool for role-playing and can generate new conflicts in the case of atheism, I felt like I was pulling some of my toys away because none of those belief systems do. replaces holy sites or principle bonuses.
The cultural system also doesn’t exactly solve the role-playing problem of telling a coherent historical story as I had hoped. Of course, you could say that my Khmer kingdom was conquered by the Ming Empire when I chose them as my next culture, but where did these Chinese bureaucrats come from? Were they hiding in the forest? Cosmos? They weren’t anywhere on the map before I decided to play with them. This is of course no more silly than Civ’s version of this same problem where you have American tribes founding the city of Washington DC in 4000 BCE. But that doesn’t necessarily make much more sense either.
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