E3: Civilization V Preview

Civilization V looks to improve yet again upon its predecessor. During E3, one of the producers at 2K tried to tell us what it is that makes Civ V so much cooler than all previous Civs.

Simplicity is one of the changes to the game. And that doesn’t mean they’ve made the game easy and casual, it just means that they made the game clean up its act. This means UI improvements that are simple and clear. The most commonly used functions are now shown in the front, moving into the depth with a second row that shows less used functions. This second row is normally hidden from view, but pops up when you want it to.

Tech trees are another way of cleaning the game and giving the player a better overview.   You can assign priorities in the tech tree to influence what your civilization will become like. Although simplicity is a big point, control and detail is not given up. Besides control over your tech tree you can tune your civ with ‘social policies’: upgrades for your civilization that you buy with culture.

Strategy

Civilization V wouldn’t be part of the Civilization series if it didn’t have strategy. The first change they made, according to the 2K producer, was a big one that yet looks small in many of our eyes. Civ V says goodbye to the good old square tiles and adopts hexagons.

Switch to hexagons

Switch to hexagons

But don’t worry, this isn’t the most exciting change to the series. Civ V introduces city states, which are cities that are AI controlled and you can interact with them like you do with every AI. Except now they won’t be part of the enemies you have to defeat to win the game, but you can use them to your advantage. This means befriending them and utilising them for trade or for gaining culture. However, a friendship with certain city states brings with it the responsibilities many countries experience in real life. If your buddy declares or is declared war, you have to choose to support them or not. If you don’t, they won’t take that decision lightly.

Although city states primarily seem to be there to befriend, you can also choose to have a bit of irrational fun with them and attack them. You can either show off your military muscle and force your way into the city, or act like a fancy playboy and simply buy your way ‘into their hearts’.

As mentioned before, there has been a switch from square tiles to hexagons. More tile changes, as exciting as it sounds, have been made. While Civilization always allowed us to build huge armies and simply ravage the entire map, part five takes a slightly more subtle approach to warfare. You are now only allowed to place 1 unit per tile, making every piece of military and tile important. So it’s no longer just about large numbers; the kind of units, tactics and their position is much more important.

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Bonjour, Napoleon

Leaders have always been present in the Civ series, although you never really got to interact with them while playing the game. This time that’s about to change, according to the 2K producer. Characters like Hiawatha and Augustus Ceasar, also playable, will now interactively engage in conversation when you run into them while, just to name something, trying to invade their land.

Chatting with Queen Elizabeth

Chatting with Queen Elizabeth

As the preview shows a wonderful CG Napoleon talking to us in French, leader to leader, the extended contact with the AI is further explained. Of the 18 leaders present in the game, each of them has been given a unique personality. This personality pops off the screen in the new diplomacy screen that is armed with a full 3D environment and animated leaders speaking in their native tongue. Every leader comes with their own animated environment, so you will meet Gandhi by the river and Napoleon on the battlefield.

Also look forward to..

Multiplayer and modding. Both great additions for the big Civilization fans. Developer Firaxis has made it even easier for the player to find great mods: you can see all the mods in game.

Although there is still a lot they weren’t talking about, let me name a few things to look forward to:

Tanks, choppers, building a spaceship as a technologic victory and nuking someone. Nuking the heck out of them. A sneak peak of throwing a nuclear bomb on a technologically advanced opponent that posed a serious threat, was by far the most impressive preview of the game. But that might just be because nukes in games are so very awesome. Expect more this fall, as Civilization V is released.

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Written by Snezana N

She destroyed her first PC (running Windows 3.11) at the age of 11 and since then has been obsessed with everything about games and technology. Founder of Game Thingie (gamethingie.com), she's currently a game journalist to learn about the industry and get into game development after attaining her MscBA. She also cannot stop talking about how awesome Yakuza 3 was.

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