Humankind on Google Stadia: an honest rival of civilization
World history and strategy games are a common combination and Civilization is the series that above all others has the mantra to explore this. From the early use of fire and tools by humans to the present day, humanity has labeled itself through publicity as clearly superior to civilization. So I’ve dived into the latest Amplitude Studio work to see if this title is also a heavyweight in the strategy genre.
If you’ve tried any of the creator’s previous games, such as Endless Legend and Endless space, you will recognize it. The first thing that struck me was how unfamiliar the UI, fonts, and layout felt. I also liked the scenes between time periods and the narrator telling things.
At the same time, there are snippets of Civilization’s DNA that also seem to have been a great source of inspiration. Basically Humankind is pretty much the same journey as the famous Sid Meier series.
The first thing you come across when you start is what your avatar will look like. Design and appoint your leader. Right now, your main appearance is your hair, lips, nose, and mouth. You can also choose the symbol and color of your empire. As you play, your character’s clothes will change depending on the civilization you choose and the time period. Clothing is something that Civilization removed in its third title. An aspect that I continue to appreciate, since I miss it.
Humanity comes with a very good tutorial for new players.
For new players, there is a text-based tutorial during your first game, depending on the difficulty level you choose. I found that, unfortunately, you make the same mistakes as many others in the genre. Instead of an easy-to-follow introduction, we’ve been provided with a bit of text, information, and the like. However, I was so familiar with this form of entertainment that it was no problem for me to dive into the different systems. Another solution they found is that they can watch some specially made videos if they need to understand how to play. They are well made and will guide you better as a beginner. It’s still a shame that the strategy genre struggles with a good training mode. At the same time, it’s nothing I’m complaining about. The tools are there and the game is easy to use.
You can also create a game with your own settings if you want to decide everything in detail. It is similar to any other rival of this type. You have many options like level size, lakes, continents, and more. My big criticism now is the size of the level. You can only have one level suitable for 10 players. I have a taste for the totally titanic levels that we can create in Galactic Civilization 3 and Stellaris. However, what is available is robust and gave me all the options I wanted to create a good game, although I do miss the mod support and a level designer that comes afterwards.
Humanity begins by giving you a couple of explorers at a time before humans settled in the cities. You don’t have a city, but you will collect plants, search for food, and try to build a resource called “influence.” With this resource, you can create an outpost (the forerunner of a city). This outpost works in many ways, once you generate enough influence it can become your first city. When that happens, you also get your first territory. Then you can choose your first civilization. Choice offers you different game mechanics, opportunities for warfare, diplomacy, and the like, so choose wisely.
The map, like Endless Legend, is divided into regions and can have a maximum of one city or outpost in each. In cities, you can construct buildings and districts that focus on economy, influence, production, or food. All of this seems to be a hybrid between various games in the genre. It works smoothly and quickly. I found it easy to use and navigate. Each city also has a population and varying degrees of discontent. It’s also easy to reposition residents based on what you want to be centered in the city. You can manipulate production in detail using these features that allow you to specialize cities to your taste and needs.
With a solid evolutionary start, you will love the advances of humanity.
Once the first city was built, it seemed very natural to connect outposts with my first city and increase the territory. Here is an important difference that is worth noting. But you can’t have infinitely independent cities without some kind of punishment. O system is similar to the colony restriction in Stellaris. By connecting outposts to a city, they become part of that city and the boundary can be crossed. Instead of two cities, you get another productive city. Outposts can be built cheaper than cities, and even if they are not part of your territory, they can be used to obtain resources in neighboring regions. It is in these regions where the power game between our civilizations resides.
I’d say Humanity is at its best when empires compete for resources with their neighbors after a few hundred rounds. That’s where the unique game mechanics of different civilizations come into play. The impact of industries like pollution and other things becomes part of the equation. When wars break out and sea, air and land forces fight under the threat of nuclear detonations, this is all quite exciting. Unfortunately, the computer is generally dead or so weak as we enter the modern era that this is not a dilemma. However, if there are strong neighbors left, things can get pretty hectic towards the end of the game if we are enemies. Unfortunately, I have not yet found a system that could prevent this breakdown. On the other hand, diplomacy is usually robust enough to handle any situation.
I love that we don’t play civilization, but we choose one after meeting specific criteria to advance to the next time period. This is accomplished by overcoming what can best be described as challenges. Explore a number of technologies (more than in Civilization 6) or, for example, build enough districts. When enough is accomplished, you can choose a new civilization that existed in one of several time periods. These come with their own build style, unique bonus, unit, or building. You can also keep what you have, it is rarely good if you are not behind in terms of earning requirements.
It may seem like a very complex game, and to a certain extent it is. However, if you can handle Civilization or Endless Legend, you won’t have much trouble experimenting with Humankind. So is this journey through human history worth it? I can tell, despite some cheesy 2D movie scenes (at every civilization change), it’s packed to the brim with great gameplay. I wouldn’t say Sid Meier’s award-winning series loses its crown in the end, but this one is competent, smart, beautiful, has depth, and engages me. It has that magic that makes you want to play another round. Personally, I think it’s the best title in the studio’s history.
This is not only because all the mechanics of the game work in harmony, but because the story involves me more than fantasy and science fiction. I liked Endless Legend, Endless Space 1 and 2, but I liked this one much more. Humanity is well worth it if you are looking for new turn-based titles in the 4X genre. Few experiences make such an immediate impression on me. I see myself continuing this for hundreds of hours to join the other giants.
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