As if that wasn’t bad enough, the Civilization series has been around for 30 years already. It was important in the birth of a genre and hasn’t been lost since. In the 21st century, there are suggestions that the Civ model has become a touch old with the sixth game. Humankind, welcome to Amplitude, Sega’s effort at a breath of new air.
For Amplitude, the development of this game has taken years. Over the previous decade, the company has honed its 4X (Explore, Expand, Exploit, Exterminate) talents with games like Endless Legend and Endless Space, introducing new features like tactical combat and tidy UI. A direct threat to civilization has been the inescapable conclusion of this method of learning.
Even though I’ve already spoken about Civilization extensively in this review, I’ll be talking about it a lot more. There is no way around it. As a tribute to and answer to the genre that Sid Meier and Bruce Shelley helped pioneer, Humankind is developed from the ground up. Amplitude’s ability to distinguish itself from Civilization is what most people will be interested in learning about Humankind. Civ’s mechanics are the genre’s language, therefore it’s hard to discuss Humankind without bringing up the game.
With a game that spans thousands of years of human history, where do you even begin? To begin, Humanity hands you a small band of nomadic Neolithic tribespeople and requests that you locate a lovely place for them to call home. To begin the process of making them the first people to send a rover to Mars’ surface, it says that you should get them settled down.
Humankind does something no other game in this genre does: it allows you to switch between playing as different factions during the course of the game. People and civilizations evolve through time, thus you may begin the game as Romans, but later on, you can switch to Venetians, then Italians, and each time you’ll have new advantages and benefits. For the sake of illustration, I’ll use the Italians as an example of the variety of factions accessible as you proceed, hopping from Asia to Africa to Europe along the way.
Humankind allows you to design your own monarch instead of utilizing a stock leader, and your city’s structures will transform to represent this cultural transition. Humankind, on the other hand, offers actual advantages in terms of gameplay, since you are not restricted to a particular strategy over the course of the game. You don’t have to choose a side and stick with it for the whole game; instead, you may change your strategy on the fly as the planet and its resources and your role in it change.
Overall, I’m a big fan of this concept, despite a few niggles. Being able to reroll my empire at any point throughout the game is definitely Humankind’s best new innovation since I despise being forced into one playstyle before I’ve ever seen the map or my opponents.
As the conditions change, so do the civics of your society. They are developed by asking you questions about how you wish to cope with certain issues in your life. What kind of ownership structure do you prefer? Is art to be restricted or unfettered? Choices have repercussions, and each one contributes to the creation of a world that is uniquely yours.
In this game, there has been a lot of thinking put into playing tall or wide, and both methods are as viable in this situation. If you want to play on a larger scale, you may just roll over the map and administer each city as you normally would. In order to play tall, you may merge your cities into larger administrative districts (or even a single megalopolis if you like) that aggregate all their production yet only need a fraction of the administration time. As a tall person, I really enjoyed this.
Only two currencies are used in Humanity: Gold (which is used to purchase goods and preserve the status quo) and Influence. The latter provides a great deal of tactical versatility, since it may be used for a wide range of purposes, from joining cities to establishing new settlements to enshrining new civics.
Anyone who has played Endless Legend will recognize the gameplay. A stack of 4-7 Humankind troops may be formed in general play, unlike in prior Civ games when each unit has its own place on the battlefield. It makes it easy to transport them and protects the globe from being cluttered with military equipment. There are two ways to battle in the game: one is to deploy a stack of units on the game environment, and the other is to have the stacks unroll so that each unit may be deployed in combat. This is not a Fire Emblem, but it is a more fascinating method of resolving conflicts.
My favorite part of my trip, though, was the planet itself. All of the images in this review show how lovely the map is, and simply scrolling across the terrain is a never-ending pleasure. People and animals may be seen having fun on the beach and rushing over the grasslands when zoomed in on the image. In the meanwhile, I’d want to discuss more ways in which Humanity deviates from the 4X standards, but I can’t. A lot of the game reminded me of Civilization, which was both reassuring and disappointing to me since I hadn’t played any of the prior demos or betas. On the plus side, Amplitude has been relentless with its adjustments to Civilization’s concept, and virtually everything they’ve experimented with has either been a perfect successor, at the very least, an overall upgrade. A few examples:
When it comes to assessing huge strategy games, I’m particularly interested in what you’re really doing the vast majority of the time. If you’re going to be playing a game for 250-500 hours, I believe the most significant items are the ones you’ll be clicking on and performing repeatedly. All the drudgery and the drudgery of everyday life.
Managing your own towns and territories in Humankind is a major part of the game. You’ll spend most of your time in Humankind playing about in the city management screen, where you’ll manage your people, develop new buildings, extend your cities across the globe, and balance your finances.
It’s also one of my favorite aspects of the game. Methodical expansion of your area, as well as the ability to affect your people’s growth by empowered choices, are two examples of this. As soon as you’ve established a foothold, you’ll begin to feel as if you’re playing Cities: Skylines rather than a full 4X game.
Humankind would be a classic for a lonely, zen garden-like experience. Intercontinental and millennia-spanning SimCity. To put it another way, this is an RPG in which your country is only one among a number of nations and you’re not given much freedom in terms of how you may interact with other players or the AI.
While Humankind’s city administration is enjoyable and fluid, there aren’t enough peaks of activity or crises to keep things interesting. While the game has the same “one more turn” lure as Civilization, it becomes tedious after a while. Additionally, it suffers from the same issue that afflicts other Amplitude games, in that it doesn’t seem like you’re truly playing with or against other players.
If we look at the bigger picture, it’s clear that Humanity would never be able to overthrow a giant with only one game. This series’ foundation is so near to perfection, and its massive stature in the genre makes it impossible for anybody else to compete, ever, with Civilization. In this game, Amplitude has proven that, with clever flourishes and some major ideas—and that, although dropping the ball a few times, it thoroughly understands not just what makes a 4X game great, but what’s not great and can be improved. So now that it’s out there, I’m interested in what they can do to their own game with inevitable patches, upgrades, expansions, and follow-on games.
All I can say about right now is this initial idea for Humankind, a game that promised to be revolutionary but instead turned out to be an excellent development.
Even while there are many mechanisms here that imply diplomacy and commerce and disagreements may be as intricate as elsewhere, it never seems like the AI is doing much more than waving at you from across the street. Moreover, the game’s faceless, culture-shifting groups make it difficult to keep track of your adversaries or build enduring ties with them, making interactions seem lifeless. Civ’s harsh, invasive leaders have a lot more to do with the series’ success than merely looking attractive since they provide a bit more spice to a dull dish.
As I’ve previously said, the finest strategy games do not rise to the top because of their tactics; rather, they rise to the top because of the narrative that they weave across each playtime. This was a tremendous disappointment for me. Stories that make the player feel like they’re a part of something greater than themselves, rather than merely a passive participant in a 300-turn spreadsheet. When it comes to humanity’s narrative, it’s almost like an average TV program that hums along for a few seasons before going to sleep, without ever bringing in the dramatic or exciting surges that may make other stories so memorable. One of the most disappointing aspects of Civilization VI was the way the game walked right into one of the most hazardous pitfalls of the venerable old dinosaur’s approach: its ending. Like Civ, Humanity’s endgame—and the march toward it, in particular—is a drag.
When it comes to victory conditions, no matter how you’ve handled the rest of the game, players will always end up wandering towards an arbitrary one, whether it’s a space mission or a planet conquest, or a points total that’s calculated by default at 300 rounds. After so much time spent tweaking my towns and civics throughout the game, it was shocking to see that shift into a rush for victory at the end.