Peasant Surprise: Civilization V: Gods & Kings Factions

By Jim Rossignol on June 13th, 2012 at 6:00 pm.

I cropped this image all by myself. Neat, eh?
The news lookouts from BluesNews lit a beacon signalling that the Civ 5 expansion pack, Gods & Kings, isn’t far away now, with a release date of a startlingly nearby June 19th. Firaxis have sat down to make their developer men talk a bit about what’s going on with the new races in a developer diary, which you can see below. The nine new factions come along with reworked diplomacy mechanics that will now encompass a fresh take on religion and espionage. There are a bunch of faction-specific abilities detailed in there, too, such as Carthage’s Alp-surmounting mountain leaping. Good work, Barca boys.

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74 Comments »

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  1. Torgen says:

    I’ve been poking at Civ V just last night, to get re-acquainted with the mechanics ahead of this. I’ll probably be picking it up during the first big Steam sale.

    • rocketman71 says:

      I finally picked it in the last sale. It’s good, still not as good as Civ4, and if this expansion is good and they stop with the nickle & dime DLCs, it could be much better.

      What I can’t believe is that it STILL has no proper support for PBEM. Shame on you, Firaxis.

  2. EvilMonk3y says:

    The revamped / improved AI (especially diplomatic) is probably the most significant change here for me personally. Really hope that it lives up to some of my expectations. Of course also looking forward to digging into the religion and espionage systems.

    New Civs are no doubt nice though as well (along with their unique units and abilities). Good that they finished off the ranged unit upgrade path as well, never liked that dead end. Rather looking forward to this expansion overall.

    • DodgyG33za says:

      So, buy an expansion pack to fix the woeful AI of the released game. I will be waiting for a review to see whether it delivers on this promise, and also whether it also fixes the woeful UI and in particular the unit pathing.

      Fingers crossed, but not going to be holding my breath on this one.

    • Abraxis says:

      AI is the primary thing I’m interested in as well. I haven’t played the game since a couple weeks after release due to its inability to manage its forces properly and put up any meaningful resistance.

      If they actually manage to fix it… it would be like turning a lump of coal into a diamond. Still wouldn’t be happy about having to buy an expansion to get competent AI though.

  3. Bhazor says:

    So is Civ 5 worth playing yet?

    I bought it on release but was put off from playing for two reasons
    a) Ass backwards AI
    b) Finding the Fall From Heaven mod mod Fall Further which basically doubled the content and made it into a brand new game.

    Still hoping a Fall From Heaven 3 will emerge from the remains of whatever happened to the standalone version. As I do think what I’ve seen of the combat in Civ V would be a great fit for some high fantasy.

    • cuc says:

      The standalone Fall from Heaven was supposed to be a portable tactics game, not a full scale 4X.

    • Hug_dealer says:

      fall from heaven is dead. The Lead for that is working on Fallen enchatress at stardock.

    • Premium User Badge

      Ophinity says:

      Any idea what the correct combination of FFH and FF is these days? I played FFH when it was featured here awhile back, but have since uninstalled civ 4. And is the Rise from Erebus thing part of this too?

    • Xardas Kane says:

      Not quite. The AI has been improved for sure, but it’s not there yet. Wait until the expansion pack comes out, since they claim to have completely revamped the AI.

    • Grape Flavor says:

      If you’re looking for a fantasy-themed game that plays something like CIv V, you would do well to check out Warlock: Master of the Arcane. Steam demo available here: http://store.steampowered.com/app/203630/

      Haven’t played it yet myself but it very clearly takes inspiration from Civ V.

  4. Novotny says:

    OOoh, I can’t wait for this. Hopefully Civ 5 will now become a worthy successor to 4.

    • x1501 says:

      I’m rather skeptical about it, but I really hope so too.

      • x1501 says:

        “Unlike in previous games, however, spies are not trained by a civilization. Instead, they are awarded at certain intervals along the timeline. . . . The espionage system is designed to take effect just as the religion system begins to taper off. As such, spies are not available until the Renaissance era. Espionage will not be available in multiplayer, but instead will only work in singleplayer.”

        Well, here goes my excitement for the espionage system. I think I’ll stop reading the previews now.

      • Premium User Badge

        Wanoah says:

        I’m also hoping for some decent improvements to 5, as it’s a bit underwhelming at the moment. The AI just doesn’t work all that well, and it really takes a lot of the enjoyment out of the game for me.

        • Joshua Northey says:

          I think this is such a funny criticism, because the AI is the Civ games was always completely terrible. Just before it hid behind even higher bonuses and a crap combat system specifically designed to fig leaf the AI’s shortcomings. I would rather have an AI perform 2/10 in an interesting tactical combat model than 3/10 in a boring mindless pile all your units in one stack and move them from city to city combat model.

          Civ 5 certainly has problems, and in some senses is not as good as 4 with all the mods and expansions. But it is odd to think it would be, and in many ways it is an important step forward. Civ4 offered most of what that model had to offer honestly, why make a rehash of that when you can still just play it?

          Besides the only real way to play Civ is hotseat against yourself or family members anyways.

          :)

          • x1501 says:

            The criticism is valid, since the AI in vanilla Civ 5 took that “terrible” to a whole new level of terribleness. I haven’t played the game in quite a while, but it was a complete joke back when the game got released. It’s only natural to hope that they’re still trying to improve it.

  5. Nosada says:

    All I need to know is whether I can finally play a marathon game on a huge map without the game turning into a 2 minute wait per turn chugfest once I hit the industrial revolution.

  6. Joshua Northey says:

    The sad thing about a game like the Civ games is the number one thing that would make it better would be an additional million dollars (or whatever the expansions cost) plowed into AI improvement/optimization, but gamers would never buy the expansion if that is what it was. They want more shinies, more features, more bloat.

    I cannot wait until the games market is large enough that doing more with less is a niche that can support a studio or two. Instead each game suffers from poor design because each game needs to accommodate relentless incorporation of more shinies and more mechanics, regardless of whether or not they actually make the game better.

    • Xardas Kane says:

      AI isn’t something that gets fixed by throwing money at it. You need competent programmers, and those seem to be rather rare. Point in case – Galactic Civilizations 2 probably has the best AI I have seen in a 4X game to date, even though it’s a game made on a shoe string budget.

      In any case, they are revamping the AI. But like you said, people want shiny, so of course they aren’t talking about that in this video.

      • Joshua Northey says:

        See I don’t see the GlaCiv AI as noticeably better than the Civ series AI at all. I realize people like it better, but I don’t think it actually is better. It is certainly very good (for our feeble AI abilities), but it is not great or anything.

        I also completely disagree that throwing money at AI doesn’t help. It most certainly helps quite a bit.

      • Brun says:

        Actually in many sectors of industry there is a relative abundance of AI-savvy programmers. Why is that, you ask? Because during the 90’s, the computing world thought that AI was going to be the next big thing. There’s a whole generation of computer scientists out there that learned their trade with an AI spin.

    • d34thm0nk3y says:

      I don’t think that the people who play Civ are the kind to be tided over simply by “shinies”

      • Xardas Kane says:

        You’d be surprised. I bet you my life savings the comments under this post would have been nothing but blind rage if this video was focused on the AI only.

      • Joshua Northey says:

        Really, then why is that what the expansion packs always focus on? I am positive there would be nothing but rage if the expansions were only “things which should have been in the original game” (which is a silly comment coming from people who have no idea what the game cost, what the development process was, and aren’t willing to pay more than $60-70 bucks up front price regardless of how much is in the original game.

        Half the reason there is expansions and DLC everyone hates is that gamers demand $150 of game at a $60 price so the developers need to squeeze it out of them somehow.

        • Brun says:

          DLC/premium/microtransactions exist primarily because the price of making games has exploded exponentially over the past 5 years or so. That is, the cost of making the same amount of content has gone up at an…unnatural pace. Developers complain and complain that $60 isn’t enough to cover the cost of games anymore, but I never hear any of them questioning why the cost has gone up in the first place…

  7. SkittleDiddler says:

    I’m certainly looking forward to the expansion, but I’ll be waiting until it’s at a reasonable price. $30 is way too much to be charging for content that should have been in the vanilla game to begin with.

    • takfar says:

      wut….? It’s $23 at full price, and pre-selling at $20.70 on Steam right now.

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        Phinor says:

        27€ ($34) pre-order, 30€ (nearly $38) regular in Europe on Steam. I paid less than 30 euros for the original game when I pre-ordered it so this expansion does have a pretty high pricetag.. unless you go bargain hunting. Amazon.co.uk has it for £13 (a bit over $20), for example. Only problem with Amazon.co.uk is that you won’t be playing the game until a week after the release date if you live outside of UK.

      • SkittleDiddler says:

        I’m in the midwestern U.S., and Steam’s price is showing at $29.99, currently discounted for preorders at $26.99.

        $26.99 is still too much for content that should have been included with the original game. I’ll wait until it’s priced at around $6-$10.

        • PostieDoc says:

          It’s £18 with the 10% discount on Steam in the UK.
          Seems pretty reasonable to me.

        • takfar says:

          That’s… interesting. It’s priced at US$20.69 on Steam for me (I’m in Brazil). Bought it about a week ago at that price. On the other hand, it’ll only unlock on June 22. I suppose it’s a good tradeoff, tho.

  8. Highstorm says:

    This is the one that will finally add multiplayer animations right? At last my friends and I can finally play the game we bought nearly 2 years ago.

    • x1501 says:

      I’m in the same position as you are. Some avid Civ 5 defender (frothy mouth and all) mentioned they’ll be adding them in soon, but I can’t find any info on this. The MP animations petition thread at the official forums stays deserted, ignored by the devs.

      • Brun says:

        I had always assumed that animations didn’t play in multiplayer to cut down on turn length.

        • x1501 says:

          Why not completely disable them in singleplayer then? At the cost of completely disabling the game’s most visible graphical feature, I think it should be up to my co-op buddies and me to decide whether we want our turns shortened or not.

          • Brun says:

            Their thinking is that playing through the animations for all of the players will significantly increase the turn length in multiplayer. Animations don’t play for AI civs unless they’re within your view range (i.e. not covered by fog of war) – so in a single player game, a single round takes as long as it takes for the player to make his decisions and for the unit animations to play out, and for the computer to calculate the moves for the AI. In a multiplayer game, you have to play 2 or 3 or 4 times as many animations per round – that would quickly add up to a game that is many times longer than it would be if the animations didn’t play.

            They’re trading a purely aesthetic element for a quality of life improvement. A good trade since most big-time online players will have seen those animations hundreds of times anyway.

          • x1501 says:

            Again, since countless angry and disappointed gamer voices are asking for them and consider them vital for their enjoyment of the game, why not just give the gamers what they ask and make the animation toggle optional and not mandatory? Besides, Civ IV had MP combat animations, and so do most other 4X games. I just don’t get it. Why shoot themselves in the foot?

          • Highstorm says:

            Yes they removed them to cut down on turn length. The problem is that it messes up the game, at least in my experiences. For example, I’d be managing my cities while a scout is off poking around in the fog of war. I end my turn and when it comes back, I just get a message that says my scout was defeated in combat. In single-player, the camera would have panned over there when the unit was attacked, played the animation, and I would have seen what happened. Here, without the animation, it happens in an instant – before the game can even show me. So I’m left wondering what killed my scout. A barbarian? Or perhaps the tip of a huge invading army. Who knows!

            Civ IV had a menu option to show or not show combat animations, for both single and multiplayer. In fact you could toggle it mid-game, and could even only disable attack or defend animations at your preference. The absence of this option for Civ V made no sense.

            As for them being added now, this interview on PC Gamer specifically mentions their inclusion:
            http://www.pcgamer.com/2012/03/09/civilization-v-gods-kings-interview-with-lead-designer-ed-beach/

            Ed Beach: “One of the requested things from the community was to allow combat animations to play during multiplayer–we’ve got that in and working.”

      • Xardas Kane says:

        Let’s not forget that laggy multiplayer equals a bland and generic game, right? You never explained the logic behind that, but whatever.

        And I don’t know about the official forums, but the CivFanatics Civ 5 forum is as lively as ever.

    • goodgimp says:

      There’s a lot of misinformation here.

      1- Animations will be added in a patch for Vanilla as well (I believe it’s in Beta on steam now)
      2- The devs didn’t restrict animations due to turn length, they restricted them due to shitty tech. Graphics, Animation, game logic, and network code were all running on the same thread. This was very problematic in multiplayer games and is the reason that MP with 4+ or so players is already extremely unstable. Animations were eliminated due to this limitation. With Gods and Kings, they finally put their senior engineers back on the project (they were taken off to work on Civ World) to get animations etc into their own thread. This means MP animation support and hopefully more stable MP games.

      • Highstorm says:

        Interesting. I hadn’t heard that before. Do you have a source? Not that I don’t believe you, I’m just curious to learn more about it.

        Either way I’m glad they finally got it sorted. I’m looking forward to playing this next week (or now if that beta patch works).

  9. Hug_dealer says:

    can someone point me to a game that doesnt have an AI that suck? Gal Civ 2 is probably the closest, but even it can be abused.

    • greydt says:

      LIsten to the latest Three Moves Ahead podcast about “Warlock: Master of the Arcane”. Sounds like the current AI build is pretty good (and improving with subsequent patches).

      • Hug_dealer says:

        No, it is not good. I own it and have quit playing until the ai is improved.

        The AI does great at the start, but once midgame starts, its basically game over. The AI cant even deal with a single super buffed soldier and throws waves of creatures that cant even hurt it at it.

        The early game is it is pretty decent, it knows how to pull units back to heal, and stuff, but mid game it doesnt do well with its spells or creating and buffing higher level enemies.

        The diplomacy is pretty much nonexistant, all the AI does is demand excessive amounts of gold or mana of they will attack. They dont really have goals of their own, they wont ask you to attack their enemies or anything.

        any maps with water give the AI trouble, they will build a harbor on a small pond and proceed to fill it with boats.

        • greydt says:

          Like I said, listen to the podcast to hear if it fixed what your problems were. They actually discussed a few of the points you mentioned (the AI now improves it troops rather than sending out streams of weak troops).

          I also brought up Warlock because they used Civ as a point of comparison, analyzing parts that were done right (and wrong).

          • Hug_dealer says:

            you made an example for a game that doesnt have good AI yet. i asked for an example with good AI. A podcast claiming the ai is good and getting better isnt evidence of anything.

  10. Beelzebud says:

    The only thing I’m interested in is the “improved diplomacy” as the stuff that shipped with the game is an utter joke. Not sure I’m willing to spend 30 for it though.

  11. Baka says:

    I find it interesting that the first five minutes of a not even 6 minute long video are focussing on new civilizations, an addition that makes this expansion – at least in my eyes – more af a bloated DLC pack than anything else considering their current DLC track record with Civ 5.
    I didn’t read up on Gods and Kings yet, so I would actually be happy to be mistaken, but it doesn’t look like it’s nearly the necessary big step that Beyond the Sword has been for Civ 4.
    Considering my BtS co-op sessions are still ruined by out of sync errors, at least acknowledging multiplayer a bit would’ve helped.

  12. Bornemannen says:

    Apparently it’s June 19th over there. It will take approximately 3 days for it to travel that big puddle of water (at least according to Steam and Play)….

  13. Poppis says:

    I admit that I haven’t played Civ 5, but what I’ve heard of it, makes me want to keep playing Civ 4 BTS. Sullla probably gave the main reasons what’s wrong with Civ 5 in this analysis:

    http://www.garath.net/Sullla/Civ5/whatwentwrong.html

    Although I don’t know how old the article is and some of the stuff might have been fixed since, the main points are still valid.

    • Maktaka says:

      Sulla’s just whiny because he didn’t get super special privileges in the Frankenstein testing group Firaxis ran of Civ 4 veterans. He’s super duper brilliant you see, so when they didn’t implement all of his super duper brilliant ideas it was because they were a bunch of dumb morons. His complaints have either been addressed in the patches released back in 2010 or were just griping that it wasn’t a bland Civ 4.1.

      • MaXimillion says:

        A lot of his valid complaints still haven’t been addressed in the latest patch, including retarded AI, OP Great Scientists and a broken happiness mechanic that doesn’t curb ICS like it’s designed to.

        • Xardas Kane says:

          No Civ game has ever been designed around completely removing the ICS, it makes no sense to do so! After all, this is a game where you run a CIVILIZATION, isn’t it? I most certainly didn’t have any problems having 40 cities in Civ 4, as far as I remember. I really don’t think it’s a broken mechanic, it works well enough within the context of the game, and after the patches having a gazillion small cities isn’t effective. What’s more, right now at higher difficulty levels ICS is extremely hard because of happiness problems and AI rushes. So it works well enough.

          And I do agree with what Maktaka said. Sulla is a whiny pathetic loser with very few valid complaints and tons of self-contradictory ones. He is incredibly full of himself, and his ideas about Civ, which he has listed at great length because he is so super-duper smart, are absolutely terrible.

          Poppis, make the decision on your own. Don’t take some random guy’s post for the truth and nothing but the truth. There was a free weekend a couple of weeks ago, why didn’t you try it out then, instead of relying on the ever hateful Sulla?

          • Poppis says:

            Yea I guess I should’ve tried it in the free weekend for myself. Anyway, I only mentioned Sullla since that was the most recent and thorough analysis of the game that I’ve read. What I’ve read in other forums and such, the consensus still seems to be that Civ 5 just ain’t at the same level as Civ 4 BTS(at least not yet). Maybe that will change in the future but for now I don’t see any good reason to abandon BTS just yet. After they have stopped cramming more ” brand new civ” dlcs into the game and I can buy everything in one big pile, I will take another look.

          • Xardas Kane says:

            Well… no, It’s not, but it’s by no means as bad as Sulla makes it out to be, and most of his complaints are either fixed or were never actual complaints to begin with. It just takes the second place to Civ IV in some regards, but is still a fun game, after all it’s consistently in the top 10 most played games on Steam, and you don’t stay there for 2 years if only casuals find you worth their time.

            This expansion might turn things around though, I am hopeful.

  14. dmastri says:

    Can we play mods in multiplayer? (no)

    Does it fix the implementation problems of one unit per hex? Specifically, the pathfinding, or lack thereof, when trying to move concentrations of troops so that it isn’t ridiculously tedious? (no)

    Are the glaring performance issues addressed, both in single player and more importantly in multiplayer? (probably not)

    Verdict = game remains shit.

  15. Hardtarget says:

    FYI, it’s 10% off on steam right now but there is an even better promo going around for the next 16 hours looks like
    GMG also has it 10% off but they have a voucher that stacks for another 15% off of that so you save a few bucks more, game is steamworks so no reason not to buy it from GMG really

  16. mmalove says:

    I like the culture system over Civ 4’s Civics, and the hex grid and 1 unit/tile adds much more tactical enjoyment for me over stack-o-dooms. But it really grinds my gears that we went from Civ 4 to Civ 5 and lost core features like religion and espionage, then suddenly WOAH LOOK GUYS AN EXPANSION! And the AI is suddenly better? Tin foil hat vendor here: maybe the AI was developed expecting these features, and they were stripped down after the fact?

    • Malk_Content says:

      I think if they removed features purely to sell them back to you at a later date, we would have seen this expansion 6 months after release, maybe 1 year. Instead it is coming out 1 and a half years later, which speaks to me that even if was intended to be included on release they couldn’t get it to work and have needed at least a year to do so. If that is the case I’m more than happy to give them some cash for a years worth of work, especially as I have more than 100hrs of Civ V time logged.

  17. Premium User Badge

    LegendaryTeeth says:

    I’m not spending any more money on Civ5 until mods are enabled in multiplayer. You don’t get to sell civilizations as DLC if I can’t make my own.

  18. BirdsUseStars says:

    Alpha Centauri 2 plz

    *ducks

  19. arioch says:

    I’ll buy it on release and probably play it to death…

    My main annoyances with the original are performance issues in single and multiplayer…

    Playing a game on a large map usually ends up with me being able to cook food by simply holding it near my computer. I mean Civ 4 used to be relatively taxing on my old system, but I have a pretty awesome PC and Civ 5 still almost grinds to a halt the moment satellite is researched.

  20. Abraxis says:

    It worries me that they just mentioned the improved AI in the last couple seconds, almost as though it were an afterthought.

    • Shandrakor says:

      I quite agree. I played 1 to death, loved 2 and all it’s variants, but somehow managed to skip 3 & 4. I picked up 5 on a sale; fairly decent but I absolutely concur that it should have shipped with a better AI. The Celts were one of the first mods I got; I’m thrilled they’ll be in G&K but I’m not paying more for the expansion than I paid for 5 + all the DLC. If RPS loves it, I’ll probably pick it up when it’s CHEAPER THAN THE GAME it’s an add-on for.

    • Apolloin says:

      Improved AI is VERY difficult to showcase in a movie. What are you supposed to do, take a screenshot of a player’s face everytime the AI does something surprising?

  21. derf says:

    I bought Civ V on release day but immediately uninstalled it. I felt it wasn’t balanced and smart enough.

    Another underlying problem I found with Civ games, is the “real” element. For example, I couldn’t justify playing as, say, the Romans in 1960, invading countries like India. It just didn’t seem realistic to me.

    I think a Civ V game should REALLY be about fantasy kingdoms and races in randomly generated fantasy worlds. That way we discard the subconscious obligation to adhere to real historical events while developing our civilisation. Unfortunately, as far as I understand, there is no such mod.

    • Toberoth says:

      Your first complaint is fair enough, but your second one is a little silly. It’s like being disappointed that a football game doesn’t feature men in gladiator costumes hitting each other with sticks, or something like that: you know full well what genre Civ is, but you want it to be something completely different. I don’t think most people have a subconscious obligation to adhere to real historical events, as you put it: in fact I think a lot of the appeal of Civ is self-consciously working against the grain of real historical events and seeing how it plays out.

      But anyway as for a fantasy version of Civ, I think there is (sort of) such a thing, it was covered on RPS a few weeks ago, let me find it for you…

      [Edit] Here you go! http://www.rockpapershotgun.com/2012/01/23/hands-on-warlock-master-of-the-arcane/

  22. Rudel says:

    I’ll certainly wait for some reviews on CivFanatics before buying this. You got me once with the vanilla version. Shame on you for this bad game (compared to IV). You will not get me with the expansion.