by Marko Susimetsä
previewed on PC
Doubts, fears and downright panic
With each new Civilization game we are faced with long lists of new concepts, revamped concepts and discarded concepts. All these changes have always incited their own heated discussions with some people welcoming the changes and others fearing them or even hating them (without actually having witnessed them in action). It should be remembered that there is still a lot we don't know and thus any judgements should be reserved until such day that we can see what the game actually looks like.
However, there are definitely some great changes that Civilization V will introduce to the series, the one-unit-per-hex rule and the distance bombardment being perhaps the biggest ones. These changes are also something that I personally see as a threat to the Civilization concept: there's a danger that Firaxis is turning Civilization into a similar tiny sandbox game as their Railroads! is. Since we have archers shooting over a hex between themselves and the enemy unit, it is pretty clear that the area a single hex represents will basically be shrunken to a few hundred metres at most. In order to counteract this, the maps should be several times bigger than in previous Civilization games – especially if the goal is still to tell the tale of a civilization from its birth to the peak of its development.
Another introduction that has some gamers worried is the marriage between Civilization V and Steam. Basically this seems to indicate that even if you purchase your game from a store, you will still have to install Steam with the game in order to download additional content and play online. Personally, I have nothing against Steam, although I've never succumbed to installing it on my computer, but there are gamers out there who are investing heavily in military tech research because of this announcement.
I've covered only a small number of all the changes and new innovations that Firaxis is introducing in Civilization V. Needless to say with a game of this extent, there are thousands of details that can be tweaked and changed in each incarnation. Some issues that I decided not to discuss simply because we have so little information about them are the changes made on religion, tech research paths, removal of espionage and tech trading and, perhaps potentially the biggest of them all: the promised improved diplomacy options that will allow you to trade land in addition to resources.
As I mentioned at the beginning of this article, each Civilization game has been a landmark of its own. Each of them has gathered a large number of gamers at their computers, playing their games “just one more turn” before turning in for the night, eventually realising that the sun is actually rising by the time they get to bed. Civilization V will undoubtedly continue this tradition, however much it changes the workings of the game.