Few would deny that when it comes to 4X strategy, not many games can match the Civilization games by developer Firaxis. Actually, players have been turning to the likes of Civilization VI over the years to get their fix of turn-based strategy and empire building in a historical setting.
But while Civilization VI now reigns supreme as king of the 4X genre (4X standing for “explore, expand, exploit and exterminate“), Firaxis’ game will be getting some serious competition pretty soon.
You see, the folks at Paris-based Amplitude Studios have been beavering away for years now on Humankind, a new entry in the turn-based, empire building strategy niche, which like the Civilization series also spans the whole history of mankind.
The game will be releasing on April 22 this year under the Sega label, and Amplitude recently decided to show off the game’s battles in a new preview video.
Because while diplomacy is all fine and dandy and moving up your civilization in the technological ladder by investing in science leads to a good feeling of accomplishment, there’s no denying that war has been a recurrent phenomenon throughout the history of mankind. And it looks like there will be plenty of it in Amplitude Studios’ game.
Actually, as senior game designer William Dyce explains in the video below, early battles will be small-scale skirmishes involving few cavalry and archers, while later in the game you’ll have to take part in “big, continent spanning battles” involving aircraft and artillery support.
Of course, those with an eye for historical detail will appreciate the fact that Amplitude has altered the appearance of common early game units such as archers depending on which culture they belong to. This means that Greek and Persian archers won’t look the same in-game according to the developer. And apparently the studio has consulted with historians so that unit formations and their movements in combat are accurate too, taking care to recreate historical formations such as the Roman testudo formation.
And it appears there’s also more to the combat than what is offered in a typical game of Civilization. You’ll move armies which comprise several units across the map (an idea borrowed from Civilization), but individual units deploy before a battle.
These battles will offer some interesting strategic possibilities according to the developer, such as being able to put your archer units behind terrain features such as cliffs to protect them from your enemy’s melee units. Also, placing cavalry in forests means the enemy civilization won’t be able to see them…
Of course, if all this micromanagement is not your cup of tea there’s also the possibility of auto resolving battles (there’s an auto-resolve button for this) so that combat plays out more like in the Civilization series, a feature which was added in response to fan requests.
And yeah, comparisons with the Civilization series have been inevitable so far given how similar Humankind looks to Firaxis’ world-conquering strategy series. But there’s certainly room for another contender in the field if Humankind turns out to be different enough to engage Civ fans who’ve been burnt out by the likes of Civilization VI, a game which developer Firaxis is still actively supporting.
But surely Amplitude knows the 4X genre better than most devs out there as it proved with its fantasy-themed strategy game Endless Legend back in 2014. So will the French studio come up with a good historical strategy game that manages to give Civilization VI a run for its money? This remains to be seen, but fingers crossed that Amplitude Studios is able to get the formula right and deliver the 4X experience fans are hoping for when it launches this April.
Note: Humankind will be released on April 22, 2021. Available on PC, Mac and Google Stadia.
Update: The game’s release date has been postponed until August 17, 2021 as announced in a tweet from the official Humankind Twitter account.