A Dozen Or So Hours With: Civilization V

A publisher mandate will of course demand that Elizabeth be changed to Bertie

‘Art Deco’ is basically the only school of design I’m at all familiar with. My own approach to design in any regard doesn’t go any further than “make most of the colours the same.” So when I see something that’s Art Deco, I become slightly excited. I recognised a thing that I know! I can sound very vaguely learned! So has it been with Civilization V, a beta build of which I’ve cuddled up to over the last few weeks. “The menus are Art Deco,” I say whenever anyone asks me what the game is like. Then I nod wisely. Then they ask me about hexagons, and I punch them in the teeth.

Put this in your bloody pipe and smoke it, because if I read one more “hex appeal” gag I’m going to storm off the internet in a huff. Yes, Civ 5 includes hexes – but they’re turned off by default. As in, the hex outline isn’t visible, even though the game always remains laid-out in hexes.

Honestly, although it’s primarily a change in the angles units can attack from, you don’t need to see them, most people won’t bother with the outlines, and I left them on for about five minutes before realising they didn’t make a profound amount of difference to how I played the game, bar making a very pretty world look over-cluttered. Gone, forgotten, fine. Civ V is Civ: it’s not some strange and super-hardcore grand-strategy rethink of the series. You will not be thinking “aaargh hexes hexes it’s all hexes.” It feels natural, and you will adapt almost immediately.

Probably. Most of you. Some of you won’t. Of course some of you won’t. I didn’t find it jarring or a problem, but I appreciate I am not as resolute on game-change as some of this wonderful series’ long-term fans.

There are major changes to all kinds of elements, but there’s no way you’d ever mistake if for anything other than a Civ game. This is good! It is also bad! Maybe. A little. Not much, though.

My standard argument, apart from panicking that someone might ask me to explain what I mean by ‘art deco’, is that this early build of Civ V is genuinely, definitely lovely and, as per series’ tradition, I happily swam in its slow-moving river for hour after hour. Buuuuuuut… I didn’t experience the invigorating rush I did the first time I ever fired up Civ IV.

Civ IV hasn’t particularly aged graphically, which is one reason why Civ V might be a harder sell than usual. It has, however, aged in terms of interface – it’s just a little too cluttered and Windows 95y by 2010 standards now. At the time, though: Oh My God. The sense of freshness, of modernity, of opulence and of someone having really taken the time to reinvent a decade-old game for a new audience was unbelievable. From the first strains of Lion King music to the first Nimoyian utterance, it was like a glass of cool water in the face on a boiling hot day.

Plus it had Spock pretending to be a satellite. I don’t believe I’ve ever laughed harder:

Civ V doesn’t have that immediate, This Is A New Dawn glee-shock. I don’t know if any Civ V could do that, outside of moving to something like Microsoft Surface. I’m not convinced there’s much need – yet – to go far beyond what Civ IV did. Which is not to say that I would ever have refused Civ V. Someone would have to shoot me in the eyes to achieve that. It’s also not to say I’m going back to Civ IV; Civ V is far prettier, and the changes do make it an enticingly different experience. I will be playing the final version for weeks at the very least; I have no doubt about that.

Plus, of course, the menus are all Art Deco. Art Deco is an eclectic artistic and design style which had its origins in Paris in the first decades of the 20th century. Nowadays the style is said to have been active from around 1910 until the outbreak of World War II. The style was named in the 1960s after the 1925 Exposition Internationale des Arts Décoratifs et Industriels Modernes that was the culmination of high-end style moderne in Paris. Led by the best designers in the decorative arts such as fashion, and interior design, Art Deco affected all areas of design throughout the 1920s and 1930s, including architecture and industrial design, as well as the visual arts such as painting, the graphic arts and film. At the time, this style was seen as elegant, glamorous, functional and modern.

I definitely wrote all of that off the top of my head. Definitely.

Civ V’s major goal – and another reason why having announced it by showing off the hex thing was massively counter-productive on the marketeers’ part – is to streamline Civ’s multifarious systems. It’s not making the game less complicated as such, but more trying to amplify certain key concepts; add more depth to them rather than simply have a bit of everything.

Notable casualties include religion and unit-stacking. I’ll let that sink in for a moment.

You OK? Need a hug?

It’s alright. I promise. It’s different, but it’s not especially distressing in practice. I miss religion most, and to the point that if I squint a bit I can picture an expansion pack-shaped hole in the game. Or maybe not, as what they’ve done is try to build the raw concept of religion into over state and society ethos. Rather than having religions be a defining reflection of a city or civilization’s nature, it’s now more that the overall civilizations have differing social attitudes dependent on how broadly religious you want them to be. So rather than trying to specifically create, say, a Jewish nation, you can pursue piousness, or you could pursue monarchy. Or you can pursue both. But if you try to pursue both piousness and liberalism you’ll struggle. All of this is done through, essentially, a second tech tree, which is unlocked as your civilization pumps out more culture.

It’s less nebulous than the old way – the effects of being more or less religious spelled out clearly, rather than splintered between an array of different faiths that can unlock a slew of different but similar upgrades. You pursue a generalised social ethos, and that can involve being a despot, or a benevolent environmentalist, or a feudal faith-head, or a combination of them all. Cultural victory is accomplished by completing six of the social tech trees, but instead you could cherry-pick the most useful (to you) policies from all over them as a helping hand to another type of victory.

The loss of religion will annoy people, there is no doubt about that. But I honestly think it’s more reflective of how religion works in society than the bitty, fiddly multi-faith approach of before. It’s not a magic bit bolted onto the side: it absolutely underpins a culture’s attitude to itself and to the world.

Plus, I like that developing my nation’s socio-political structure is now an ongoing strategy, with a specific goal in mind, rather than constituting sudden hard-shifts to something that offers a more useful bonus. Though I do miss the old games’ revolutions whenever you did a sudden about-face on your fundamental approach to human existence. Thousands of tiny voices yelling ‘WTF?’

Let’s move on to the unit stacking. This means you won’t get repeatedly ganked by a massive travelling army of invisible-until-it’s-too-late units; on the other hand, it’s harder to be a massive travelling army, which makes epic city invasions simultaneously more and less complicated. You have to surround stuff rather than swarm at it, with each unit’s chances of success clearly labelled. Some will cry that this is dumbed down, but I think in its way its a distillation to forward-thinking strategy rather than defaulting to might makes right.

A single ranged unit microed in out and out of range can make all the difference, for instance. You have to think about what your assault is, not simply how big’n’fat it is. That’s where those (TURNED OFF BY DEFAULT FOR GOD’S SAKES) hexes come into play, defining the number of sides and angles you can attack from. The other interesting wrinkle of this is that you can’t get guys out of the way – if there isn’t a route to the frontline through all the other guys you’ve got circling an invadee, the second line is effectively useless to you.

An additional complication is that cities now sport innate defensive abilities. You’re not going to have Johnny B. Barbarian just wandering into Rome and taking over because you haven’t left any archers there. In other words, the townsfolk do not sit idly by as their homes are pillaged. Cities can launch one fairly beefy ranged attack per turn, which can do enough damage to deter an invader from pressing on. Except for when they’re a very well-organised invader, with plenty of reinforcements and some units upgraded with auto-healing abilities.

Which, of course, you’ll want to do if you want to seize/raze any cities. It can be incredibly infuriating, with half your army wheezing and bleeding before you’ve even reached the city walls – but it means an attack is a major event, one you need to prepare heavily for and, crucially, one whose permutations and likely outcomes you’re entirely aware of, thanks to how the game presents its information.

But it still feels like Civ. The flow is the same, even if the fine detail is changed. It’s been stripped back to its raw components, yes, but it’s then been reassembled. It’s not so much that things are lost, but that they’re reconfigured, the same concepts remaining but merged, reshaped, reimagined.

It’ll cause some upset, as change so often does – but again I must point out that Civ IV still exists. Civ IV is still incredibly contemporary. An alternative rather than a straight replacement makes so much sense.

I’m not going to go into many more specifics as I’m Cap’n Rambly as it is, but if you chaps want to shout questions in comments I’ll aim to assemble a follow-up piece later in the day. With one proviso: this is a very early build, and as such has demonstrated an annoying tendency to corrupting my savegames. This means I haven’t been able to complete a game yet, with the furthest I’ve got down the tech tree before having to restart being cannons or thereabouts. I have absolutely no concern that this won’t be fixed come the final game – it just means I can’t tell you what the tanks are like and whatnot.

I’m also going to do a post focusing specifically on the new City States, which I haven’t gone into here but are one of the more profound game-changers. I’m still making my mind up about them. I’ll get back to you.


  1. CMaster says:

    When you say the hexes can be “turned off” does that mean that you go back to the old square grid? Or just that you don’t see the outlines.
    Because every one of those screenshots you have there use hexes.

    • Alec Meer says:

      I’ve edited the post to reflect that. You can’t change the movement/attack angles back to squares; it’s just that the hex outlines are not visible by default, apart from to delineate territories’ furthest perimeters.

    • Squashua says:

      I’m pretty sure he is referring to the outline of a hex, as having those outlines turned on in his view would be helpful when planning a strategic maneuver.

    • jonfitt says:

      Civ3 onwards (possibly Civ2 onwards) had the same thing, you could either draw the squares or not.
      It doesn’t affect the game other than graphically, and doesn’t mean that hexes have gone away!

      Yay for hexes! Does that mean the city worker’s territory is now closer to two circles and not a fat cross? The fat cross was always a dodgy way to represent a circle.

  2. Novotny says:

    want want want want

    Any chance of bigger screenies?

  3. Metalfish says:

    Any clever new units that take advantage of the new form of combat then? Synergistic generals? Sneaky units that don’t get mullered by towns and the like?

  4. pipman300 says:

    is combat still the two-men-enter-one-man-leaves thunderdome deathmatch approach? because the trailers make it look kind of like that.

    • Grape Flavor says:

      Nope. Apparently battles often end with both units standing. (with varying levels of damage, of course)

    • Pod says:

      Civ IV didn’t even have this.

    • pipman300 says:

      combat in civ 4 would always end with one unit dead and the other victorious unless you get that promotion that lets you flee. so it kind of did have that.

  5. PleasingFungus says:

    By “turned off by default”, you mean the hex-grid lines are turned off by default, yes?

    Because I think the reason people cared was because the map was, you know, made up of hexagonal tiles, not because there were lines all over the place. And it seems somewhat unlikely that being able to change the shape of the map tiles is a game-option, much less one that’s ‘off by default’.

    Anyway, aside from that, the game’s looking quite interesting. (I’d heard about Cities being units unto themselves now, but I hadn’t realized they’d be quite so strong – I expected their defensive abilities to be more of a token than anything.) Pity about their bizarre pre-order DLC decision, but I don’t doubt I’ll pick it up too long after launch all the same!

    (P.S.: Thanks for the Nimoy. It’s been too long since I last heard that melodious beeping.)

    • PleasingFungus says:

      Agh, took too long writing the post and got edited out of relevance!

      Well… disregard the first half of the above, I guess.

  6. Chris Remo says:

    I know this will seem to be nitpicking, but the hexes are never turned off, so to speak. Yes, their physical outlines might not always be displayed depending on your preferences, but the thing that people find interesting about hexes isn’t seeing their outlines, it’s the actual effect they have on gameplay, which exists whether or not the glowing borders are there.

    For one thing, it took me some time to break the habit of moving exploring units in a zig-zag pattern to get more visibility by taking advantage of the fact that a diagonal move is equivalent to an orthogonal one. The modified number of attack angles around a given space also has an impact on combat, particularly in the context of the new stackless system.

    In any case, what a good game. My experiences are very similar to yours based on the several hours I’ve spent with the early build. City states in particularly are a great addition; they allow for a great noncompetitive form of diplomacy that is a welcome variation from the notion that every state in the world is a superpower competing to “win.”

    • 12kill4 says:

      Oh hi there Internet celebrity Chris ‘boost’ Remo (congrats on the new job btw). Did you notice any changes to the pacing, particularly in regards to technological advancement? I always end up abandoning my games in civ4 around the ww1 era due to lack of momentum.

    • Grape Flavor says:

      I second the “hi Remo”. Didn’t know you read RPS.

    • Chris Remo says:

      I love RPS!

  7. Quasar says:

    Beep. Beep. Beep. Beep.

    • Chris says:

      Great work Mr. Nimoy, but could you try adding abit for exicement for this great moment in human history into it?

  8. pipman300 says:

    Are the quotes like the one on the wonder-built window for the pyramid in that gamespot screenshot voiced?

  9. Tei says:

    I kind of like the “Fanatism” mode of old Civ versions, where some units Jihadist? have no maintenance, but science is hit hard. Science and religion sould be on the same slider, the more religion, less science. That was a clever method to model religion in Civ terms. What you describe is probably a “feel good” method where religion has some pros and cons, but overal is not bad and evil.

    • Bob Bobson says:

      Tei, you do realise that for large periods of the history of many nation’s science and technological innovation was led by religions? Throughout post -Roman, pre-Renaisance europe for example almost all the great developments came from monestaries cause that’s where a large part of the literate population who considered thinking to be jobworthy ended up. Although at that time the scientific advances were considerably less than those of the Islamic world, who were discovering all sorts of wonderful advances pushed on to a large extent by religious drivers.

      The “Scientific method” is naturally at odds with faith but is a comparitavely recent doctrine. When I start a game of Civ back in the stone ages my big thinkers will be both spearheading my nation’s religious life and my tech tree delving.

    • Tei says:

      ” you do realise that for large periods of the history of many nation’s science and technological innovation was led by religions? “

      Do you count translations of text or philosophy maybe? I have problems seeing religions has making technological advances. Since advances are revolutionary and challenge the status quo that religions are designed to preserve. Today most religious states, the islamic ones, live a era of stagnation and preserve barbary habits like killing womens with rocks because his sexual life. The more barbarian and poor the state, the more religious one (I don’t know or say what is cause or effect).

    • Bob Bobson says:

      What I count are the things you get in the tech trees of civ games. For example in Civ IV you can discover with “science” the following things that in the real world were advanced by/for religion in some cultures:

      Mysticism, Polytheism, Meditation, Priesthood, Philosophy, Monotheism, Writing, Aesthetics, Calendar, Compass, Drama, Code of Laws, Music, Theology, Divine Right, Education, Printing Press, Astronomy, Scientific Method, Physics, Biology, Chemistry….

      While you could probably argue at some of those, or indeed to add others, it should hopefully be clear that the things that civ games have on tech trees are in many cases things that can and would be developed by the relgious. A civ game spans thousands of years not just modern life.

      I also present The People’s Democratic Republic of Korean (aka North Korean) as an example of an atheistic state that is experiencing a certain degree of modern technological stagnation to counter your “islamic states” example.

    • Grey Cap says:

      In general, I think modern religion can be generalized to be opposed to science, but historically I think the picture is more complex. I’m no historian, but off the top of my head, may I suggest South American or Mesoamerican cultures, where I believe (advanced) mathematics and astronomy were tied to religion, or medieval european monastic medical traditions?

      I think what changed is mainly our perception of what ‘science’ is: nobody said all religions have to hate *knowledge*.

    • Celksaian says:

      I think there are plenty of historical examples of religion helping and hurting the advancement of knowledge but any Science vs Religion slider would be out of place for much of human history. The Islamic world is a good example since they were so innovative and educated for a long time but still very religious.

    • malkav11 says:

      I don’t want to claim that religion is always a malefic influence, but it’s notable that while North Korea may not espouse or tolerate any traditional religious sects, one of the major ways the population is kept in line is by an essential deification of their leader that is not really so far from religious.

    • ZamFear says:

      While religion and science have occaisionally been at odds (historical example: heliocentrism. modern exampe: evolution) they are mostly disjoint fields. Many notable scientists were also quite religious. A few examples:

      Isaac Newton
      Ibn Sīnā
      Nicolaus Copernicus
      Gregor Mendel
      James Clerk Maxwell
      Blaise Pascal
      Max Planck
      William G. Pollard

    • rei says:

      There used to be some fairly brilliant Jesuits that I’d go so far as to call genuine scientists.

    • dadioflex says:

      Gregor Mendell was a monk FFS. Without him we would never have discovered bees. So… two-edged sword. Wasps probably came in on the back of his research.

    • Hidden_7 says:

      Yeah, but North Korea has that whole cult of personality thing going on with their Glorious Leader. They may not believe in deities in the sky, but the indoctrination they go through could be considered quite religious.

  10. Morph says:

    I always liked…

    “I fooled you, I fooled you, I got pig iron, I got pig iron, I got all pig iron”

    • The Dark One says:

      My favourite wasn’t a quote. It was just seeing Al Gore as the icon for inventing The Internet.

  11. mrmud says:

    I dont think loosing religion is a major problem. Mostly due to it being such a shallow implementation in Civ4. Sure it matters as a game mechanic but there is really nothing inherrently religious about it, especially when compared to say EU3 (where the reformation is a thing to be feared).

    • Jeremy says:

      I think loosing it upon the world could have some serious ramifications.

  12. Skinlo says:

    I want heptagons =/

  13. Alex says:

    This is very exciting! I was never very good at Civ, but I remember my early days, borrowing Civilization III from the library…
    I’ve heard interesting things about the City-State concepts, I can’t wait to hear your opinion on it!

  14. Krikey! says:

    Did you really punch those people in the teeth?

    • DrazharLn says:

      Yeth. He did. I thought I wath being thunny. :(

    • dadioflex says:

      Prolly not. Smacking someone in the teeth is one of the leading causes of finger amputation.

      Rookie error.

      Punch to the temple then kick the teeth in. Don’t use your good shoes.

  15. Micro_Explosion says:

    I guess by losing the religion, R.E.M have finally succeeded in their campaign.

  16. erik says:

    How would you rate the game’s AAR potential? Are there any features that lend themselves to post mortems, like maybe a more detailed game log? Do any of the new features — natural wonders, city-states — generate more novel situations?

    Does nixing SOD improve the AI’s military play?

    And can you really not rename cities?

    • Kommissar Nicko says:

      Wait, what? Not rename cities?!

      Where’d you hear that?!?!?

      I am literally panicking.

  17. Robert says:

    “True glory consists in doing what deserves to be written; in writing what deserves to be read.”
    – Pliny the Elder

  18. Taillefer says:

    Spock has a foul mouth.

    Seems like an improvement on how combat works to me, although the scale makes less sense since a grid is a huge area. I suppose it could have allowed stacks but then zoomed in to a combat grid where you set up the army. But this essentially plays out the same and retains more of a civ feel.

  19. Mojo says:

    Love the changes. You hear that, you anti-criticism people always accusing me of being negative for the sake of it? I love the changes!

    Especially the removal of unit-stacking, which should make surrounding your targets a much more vital strategy. Sounds like an interesting twist to the original Civ concept (which has been perfected with Civ IV, anyway).

  20. RyGuy says:

    Are you kidding me? You think it goes to the old squares? What a moron! Obviously it turns the grid on/off.

  21. tomwaitsfornoman says:

    Social attitudes makes more sense to me than religion. I’m sort of imagining human rights campaigns dousing popular support of foreign conflicts(liberal ethos vs. in-game need to destroy competing nations). And other interesting social management problems.

  22. pakoito says:

    We españardos will crush your enjlish empaira!!!!

    • Garg says:

      I fear they won’t, as Spain hasn’t been included.

      Frankly crazy, especially when they’ve included the Native Americans. It smacks as being a bit of an American-centric decision, although I guess that is where they sell a lot of their copies.

      Really looking forward to this though; the later fights in CivIV turned into real grinds due to all of the units there were. Also the change to culture means that there is finally a reason to choose to prioritise culture instead of science.

      Any changes to the victory conditions? What is diplomacy like?

    • pakoito says:

      WHAT…THE FUCK!!!! We ruled the goddamn worl for a hundred years! Brits and frenchs and germans were our bitches! Popes were spaniards! HALF THE MOTHERFUCKING AMERICA WAS SPANISH!!!

      Oh god, I’m gonna take a nap.

    • Bob Bobson says:

      Good grief! Without the Spaniards to tangle with the age of sail just wouldn’t have been the same. They are a nation with a hell of a history, I hope the reports they aren’t in Civ V aren’t true.

    • Sobric says:

      I have to agree, Spain is a must for Civ, if only because of Izzy and her furious, self-righteous indignation when I crush her Buddhist regime.

    • pipman300 says:

      I guess they wanted to make things a little less Eurocentric.

    • Choca says:

      I don’t know if it’s the final number (seems pretty likely that it is though with the release so close), but the 18 Civilization that are in the game at this moment are :

      America, Arabia, Aztec, China, Egypt, England, France, Germany, Greece, India, Iroquois, Japan, Ottoman, Persia, Rome, Russia, Siam and Songhai.

    • pipman300 says:

      They’ll definitely expansions so you will eventually have your spaniards.

    • Seras says:

      I, for one, couldn’t be happier not to have to deal with Isabella’s prissiness.

      Though i’m sure it will be easy enough to mod them in, or wait for the DLC/expansion.

    • Koozer says:

      It’s always annoyed me that America is always one of the first civilisations, it’s just weird seeing “Americans” in the bronze age duking it out with Alexander the Great.

    • RadioactiveMan says:

      I agree- its weird to see Americans in the bronze or iron age.

      Civ has always had a city rebellion feature, and I believe Civ 4 had splinter factions, or 2nd generation factions? (its been awhile, I don’t recall exactly). Anyway, I think America would be great as an emergent civilization. Not keeping your people happy? Have an isolated frontier colony that is not getting the support it needs? Let those guys rebel, and let an American faction come into the game that way.

    • TheCentralGovernment says:

      @Koozer and RadioactiveMan …

      I agree too, but it might be difficult to factor all those into the game in a historically accurate way .. that way, the only permitted civs at the start of the game should be settlers on the Yangtze (China), Indus (India), Nile (Egypt) and Euphrates/Tigris (Mesopotamia).

    • pipman300 says:

      firaxis is american. deal with it.

    • Oddtwang says:

      Those disliking seeing America as a civ in 4000 BC, I can heartily recommend Rhye’s And Fall Of Civilisation for Civ 4, a brilliant mod.

      Re: DLC / expansions, I’m slightly nervous that they’ll be a bit rubbish – didn’t Firaxis lay off a load of their Civ-focused employees recently?

  23. Ginger Yellow says:

    The more I learn about the changes, the more excited I get. I think it’s fair to say that every single change announced (with the possible exception of pre-order bonus tribes) is an improvement, as far as I’m concerned. I was a bit worried about the loss of religion, but then I listened to Shafer explaining the new system (here) and I’m pretty sure I’ll prefer the new system. Let’s be honest, religion in Civ IV, while a welcome addition, was extremely artificial and it made next to no difference which you went for, other than timing.

  24. Feet says:

    I encourage you to ramble away as much as you can stand on this subject Mr. Meer. I can never read too much opinion or information on Civ V. BRING ME WORDS.

  25. Jeremy says:

    I’m really excited about the combat changes, no more Tank Obelisks to stand as harbingers of doom to the primitive world. Thankfully. I like a little bit of strategy in my warfare, and I also like that cities can take out a lone barbarian. That always was so annoying, having to leave a marine in every city to keep things cool.

  26. J. Prevost says:

    But does it support LAN play?

    Okay, joke failed. More seriously: I’m excited about this game. :) Neither the old Religion system nor the old unit-stacking system really made much sense to me, although I still love Civ IV. It’s just that I think the new systems sound to be a lot of fun and a lot less counter-intuitive. I also have the suspicion that the city-states are going to add a lot more meat to the diplomatic game, in both single- and multi-player games.

    My biggest wish (and I *don’t* think it will be happening, or somebody would be touting it) would be for some sort of “in the cloud” multi-player game support. Something like PitBoss, only without having to host a server. So you could jump online, set up a new game, and then be able to browse through MP games you’re currently playing in, receive email when it’s your turn, etc., view players’ records, and so on, all from an official website.

    Why? Because it’s a heck of a lot easier to say to a friend with Civ V “Hey, join my game X that I’ve invited you to–it’ll be highlighted on your multi-player page” than “Okay, I’ve set up a PB server. Let’s see if it works. Type in this IP address and password to join the game… Okay, now log in to Play Your Turn and give your email address so it’ll send you email. Now… Oh… PitBoss crashed. I’ll restart it.” and so on.

  27. perilisk says:

    “Yes, Civ 5 includes hexes – but they’re turned off by default.”

    Good, magic should stay in the fantasy mods, not in Civ proper. Although voodoo curses would be a good early-game substitute for espionage.

    I’m glad religion is gone, to be honest. By making all religions the same, they sort of missed the point — a religion is mainly interesting because of the way it differs from other religions. While its myths are not terribly relevant to Civ gameplay aside from flavor, it’s ethics, culture, and practices are. Civics and religion tend to occupy the same general human mental space.

    Consider, say, environmentalism — it tends to be associated with a desire for “organic” food, isn’t this analogous to religious codes like kosher or halal? Some environmentalists are brutally rational, scientific people, but others think that Earth has some sort of actual conscious will and punish people for committing environmental sins. While liberalism might not have a metaphysical theory, Confucianism is also focused mainly on the here and now, yet it is considered a religion. And liberalism certainly has core moral principles — we call them “human rights”, rather than Ten Commandments or The Eightfold Path or whatever. And it’s difficult to see the 20th century wars fought in the name of political and economic ideologies as being substantially different in nature from those fought in the name of religion, in terms of the psychology of the crusaders.

  28. Dustin Diamond's Sex-Tape says:

    I’ve yet to hear any words on changes to the nature of the tech tree, which is and has always been approached with more trepidation and reverence than any of civ’s underlying systems. Tweaked and balanced like a Jenga tower rather than an ice sculpture.

    Any shakeups to note? I remember hearing about how each civ was to carry with it a more distinct and practically enforced personality, are there any indications that this goes past vague traits and a special unit or two? And diplomacy too, there was a whole lot of hoo-ha about that in the press releases – how does it fare against expectations?

    Finally, why do you people still make me put my fake email address in every time I want to reach across this digital chasm and extend a hand of conversation?

  29. Tomice says:

    @ Alec Meer

    Since you are so kind to answer questions – There is one important thing that was never clarified in any preview:

    Will we be able to change any Social Policy once we have spent culture on it? If we happen to click on the “I”m a cruel dictator” button in medieval times, do we have to stick with this decision until the end of the game (may be thousands of years! )? Or is there a “reskill” for Social Policies?
    I know so far that out of the 10 trees for SPs, some exclude the others (e.g. rationalism and piety). Is this decision forever? If we can change something, do we get the culture back?

    Thx for your answer!


    • Chris Remo says:

      During my playthrough I didn’t see any way to “undo” social policy choices (I may have missed it, but I did look). However, they do stack, so as you continue to build up your culture to “spend” on social policies, you can just tack new ones on. The only conflict there is if you want a social policy that’s mutually exclusive to one you already have; in those cases, unless there’s a way I didn’t see to undo earlier choices, you just have to plan ahead. But generally spekaing, you can layer a bunch on top of each other.

  30. Cooper says:

    Changing to hex is a good thing – it does away with the odd idiosyncracies of octagonal movement on a grid system. I also like the loss of staks. I hated that mechanic.

    Two questions: Has diplomacy changed much, or is it the same old trading, demanding, bargaining affair? And is the unit-upgrade system similar to Civ IV, non existent like earlier civs, or more fleshed out?

    • Choca says:

      Diplomacy works pretty much the same way but has been improved with more interactions and a better A.I.

      In one of my very first games I placed my army around Gandhi’s territory because I planned to declare war at the last moment and crush him swiftly, but he actually asked me what the hell I was doing near his borders with so many military units and started to bring back his troops to block mine.

      They also seem to be far less suicidal and will offer you great deals to settle for peace once they feel that you’re winning a war.

      They’re still obsessed with mutual opening of borders, though.

  31. Wolfox says:

    Alec, I might be getting the wrong “vibe” here, but to me it sounds like you’re trying to convince yourself that you like Civ V when you really don’t. Be honest: is that the case?

    • Kieron Gillen says:

      Wolfox: My impression – and I’m only answering as Alec is out – is that Alec is trying to explain the differences to an audience he presumes is against them. As in, it’s not that he doesn’t like it – he’s presuming your response to hearing “No religion” will be to go WTF!?!?! and pre-empting it.

      Of course, I could be totally wrong here.


    • Flimgoblin says:

      Alec’s posts seem somewhat defensive since XCOM :)

      I quite like the idea of hexes, and the religion change sounds good.

      Oh balls this is a good few months of my life I’m about to lose isn’t it?

    • Wolfox says:


      Yes, the post has that tone, just like you explained. But I got the sense (between the lines, so to speak) that Alec is really a little disappointed with what he played. Of course, I may be wrong – and that’s exactly why I asked.

      In any case, thanks for answering – you guys rock, you know. ;)

    • ShardPhoenix says:

      Yes, reading between the lines, this seems like a pretty negative preview.

  32. Choca says:

    I found the new combat mechanics to be a gigantic improvement, I usually aim for the Culture Victory in Civ IV (damn you Cleopatra !) but I had great fun aiming for a Domination Win in Civ V so far.

    I don’t know why every one is getting so riled up about the City-States though, I found them pretty lackluster as a “big” novelty item.

    The disappearance of religion (and you forgot to mention that Espionage is also gone, which is a shame) is annoying though. Rushing towards the religion unlocks at the start of the game was always good fun in Civ IV, and converting people to your religion so you could make them do pretty much what you wanted once the Apostolic Palace was built was extremely powerful.

    My biggest complaint however is the new Social Policies system, which is complete crap compared to the good old Civics (also gone, a shame too) and seems to be the main reason why most Wonders now give piss poor bonuses.

    Globally, the game seems to be great fun thanks to the core of delicious Civilization goodness and the new military stuff but I’m pretty sure that it will lack the depth of Civ IV at release.

    • pakoito says:

      Whwere did you get the beta from? It’s not even in the B market…

    • pipman300 says:

      maybe he’s making things up.

      i got civ V too and my biggest complaint is how they replaced the settler unit with a giant city building robot and how if you aren’t careful with water you’ll be taken over by gremlins

    • Choca says:

      I got it the same place Mr Meer got it, I guess, from 2K.

    • pakoito says:

      Awwww you darn vg journalists, leak the game already!

    • Choca says:

      Oh, something I forgot to mention is the new barbarian system, which is quite fun. Barbarian now tend to avoid cities (because they will bombard the fuck out of them) and will instead destroy your improvements and capture your workers and settlers.

      Once they’ve taken them hostage, they will run back to their camp, which you will have to raid to get your people back (and win some gold in the process).

      The fun thing is that you can free people taken hostage from other Civilizations too, and give them back to their leader as a show of good faith or rather force them to work for you.

  33. BAReFOOt says:

    What does religion have to do with culture? Shouldn’t there instead be a thing in the tech tree called “Psychotherapy” that is announced as finally being able to heal religion?
    Well, maybe in Civ VL… when humanity has grown up a bit.

    • pipman300 says:

      quote a lot in fact.

    • pipman300 says:

      dear rps what does the thing that influenced culture for nearly all of humanity’s existence have to do with culture anyway.

      ps: please cure religion

      pps: screw you mom and dad for making me to to church

    • Xercies says:

      Most things in religion or next to religion is connected to culture. Take halaal and kosher for example, this came about because these people lived in deserts and pigs were disease ridden creatures so very very dangerous to eat, also if you knew how the meat was prepared you would know if any diseases were in it. A cultural thing that got put in religion and is still being practiced today even if there is no need for it since we have invented fridges.

  34. Sobric says:

    I don’t think Civ fans need convincing that hexes, no religion and no stacks are good things. I’m a Civ fan and these are all aspects of the game I’d welcome, especially the last two. Religion never sat too well with me because of its implementation, Religion shouldn’t really be “discovered” from a tech like that – it felt so forced. Linking it more to a Civ’s social development appeals to me much more.

    Similarly, stacks were a necessary evil to win the game. I won’t miss them as long as their replacement is adequate.

  35. Okami says:

    Look, I believe that religion is a big sham and that we’d all be better off without it. But denying the huge impact religion has on culture is just as foolish as believing that some kind of magical higher beeing takes personal interest in your life.

  36. dirtyallen says:


    The Native American’s had a rather large, and advanced civilization before you bloodthirsty euro-types showed up and ruined thanksgiving.

    • dirtyallen says:

      reply fail!

    • FunkyBadger says:

      They didn’t really though, did they?

      Wig-wams < Pyramids

    • pipman300 says:

      yes because as we all know the entirety of the world besides europe and asia were nothing but a bunch of savages huddling in caves banging rocks together until europeans came with their christianity and machine guns and civilized them.

      {thats sarcasm of course)

    • pipman300 says:

      (thats what johan from paradox thinks)

    • pipman300 says:

      (johan don’t need to read a book he has the history channel for that)

    • pipman300 says:

      (everyone here should read about pre-colombus america it was pretty cool did you know there were guys in fursuits who tore out peoples hearts)

  37. C says:

    Did you try the advanced start option? What kind of options where there to choose from? Unrestricted leaders perhaps?

  38. pipman300 says:

    dear 2k i work for a local gaming magazine called video games: video games can i have a press copy i didn’t make it up and so what if i did

  39. Cinnamon says:

    Art Deco? I’m shocked and appalled by this turn of events. I hope they fix this in a patch with a good honest Dada or Expressionist restyling. Why are all the good Dada or Expressionist games from Japan and console only?

    Hexes, removing religion, okay, just release it and let us try it. It’s a new Civ for crying out loud. They would have to turn it into an RTS or FPS and replace all of the archers with blancmange to turn me off.

  40. Lucas says:

    Civ V has an awful ugly color palette. Everything looks too yellow. Every Civ4 screenshot is more beautiful by far. My best guess is that they’re going for a realistic approach and have the first RTS “real is brown” problem. I wonder if this will have an impact on sales or the player community (anyone remember the colorful Diablo 3 complaints?). I find it extremely unappealing to look at.

    There is a great article on the problem with using realistic lighting models for game graphics which then need to be desaturated because you can’t simulate radiosity (global illumination) for rendering in realtime (in other words, bright primary colors appear unrealistic, since you don’t get secondary light bouncing around a scene).

    Why “next-gen games” went gray, brown, and grey:
    link to allegory-of-the-game.com

    It took a long time to re-find this link! The eventual winning google search was “game graphics engine color lighting global illumination realism desaturation”, second result.

    Now I need some Just Cause 2 color therapy…

    • pipman300 says:

      the graphics don’t look yellow to me. they look like a clear improvement over civ4’a eyesearng colour palette imho.

      it sounds like you’re using this game as an excuse to launch a rant about how awful you think modern graphics look.

    • pipman300 says:

      if you think civ5 is muted then you’ve never seen 99% of all fps games. some might as well be black and white.

  41. Stark says:

    Is there any streamlining to the city management?
    Especially in late-game, micro-managing the city improvements in Civ4 seemed particularly burdening. Especially when you wanted to get on with winning the war, not building up your 50th little town across the map.

  42. FunkyBadger says:


  43. Timofee says:

    I come bearing many questions: –

    They’ve indicated that cultural borders now grow through paying for them (and military might? Or did I make that up?) but do cities still only have a workable radius of 2, or can they go super big, or perhaps more interestingly have an upper limit but arranged in different shapes e.g. an L to make better use of resources?

    Are random events still in the game – e.g. the classic Civ4 a million barbarian axemen spawn on your borders when you only have 2 archers?

    1 unit in a city worries me, in fact I’m very surprised so many people on here seem in favour of no unit stacks, but anyway, how do you now balance defensive capabilities for example in my Civ4 games my usually city defense in the early period consists of one maceman, one pikeman and one longbowman – covering melee, mounted and general defense. Is this now no longer possible? – which would seem faintly ridiculous.

    Is it true you can’t rename cities or was Will Porter being a bit of a numpty? Same goes for units – I would dearly miss all my units named after characters in Futurama

    Do Great People still exist?

    Is espionage completely gone or have they moved it back to Civ3 style where you just built a Spy unit?

    A lot has been made of things like exhaustible supplies of horses – is it just me that thinks this is preposterous given that horses breed and the game turns skip ahead years at a time ( at least in the early game )… But is the same true with things like Cows and Gold squares will they stop giving bonuses after a while therefore making late game cities a bit pants?

    I’m sure I have many more questions but my brain has failed me.

    I must admit I’m vaguely concerned, while I like that its pretty and hexes seem like a good idea, a lot of the changes have got me worried about a game I’ve been playing since Civ 1 on the Amiga. Stuff like the animated leaders seems utterly bizarre to spend so much effort on plus what can top the adviser videos from Civ 2 – “The Market’s Bullish” – classic. But seriously it seems like a incredibly wasteful thing to bother with.

    Oh well as long as the guys who produced Rise of Mankind and A New Dawn mods for Civ4 make one for Civ5 I’ll be happy.

    • Choca says:

      – Barbarian spawning now goes like this : a camp apppears in the wild (if it’s your explored territory then you get a notification) with a single barbarian unit in it, then it will start spawning more barbarian units every few turns (it’s not fast really) until you (or someone else) clear it with your troops.

      – You can still defend your city with multiple units : just place them in front or around the city, facing the enemy. even better you can now make a wall to block access to some cities (if it’s in a canyon or behind a narrow pass, etc) and of course you can “tank” attacks with close combat units in the hexagons near your city while it bombards the shit out of them. Also keep in mind that enemies cannot capture a city in one turn anymore, even if it’s not defended, so if they run around your troops (and they will get flanking debuffs if they do) to attack your city directly, you will be able to kick’em in the ass next turn.

      – I haven’t tried to rename my troops or cities, so I can’t tell you anything about that.

      – Great peoples are still in, some of them have special buildings they can create and you can actually moniter your progression towards the spawning of more Great Engineer, General, Artist, etc in your cities.

      – Espionage is completely gone.

      – The strategic supplies (basically anything that is needed to create military unit, like iron, oil, horses, etc.) produce a limited amount of ressource by turn. If you use all of it, you will then have to wait for it to come back. Also running out of a strategic ressource will give a debuff to every unit created with it.

    • Choca says:

      *when I said that you can make a wall, I meant with your units of course, not an actual wall :o

  44. Peter Radiator Full Pig says:

    How does it run? Could you use it on a netbook?

    The hex appeal of this game is really tesselating me.

  45. drewski says:


    want want want want


  46. HawksOfSavilleRow says:

    Religion is probably best thought of as an early expression of the human need to understand (as a by-product of sentience) which has since evolved into what we now call science.They are historically interlinked as they flow from the same concept.
    A Science/Religion slider is a flawed mechanism in a game attempting to simulate reality (even reality of a gameified level), much like the new found militant atheism/militant religion is a flawed mechanism in actual reality.

    • HawksOfSavilleRow says:

      Clearly this was in reply to tei.

      Also Hexes are the best thing in the history of everything, so there.

  47. Tony M says:

    Thats one of the best opening paragraphs of any RPS post. :)

  48. beads says:

    Very creative !

  49. CP37 says:

    I don’t suppose you can post pictures of the Tech/Social trees, can you? I’ve been itching to look into those ever since this game was announced.

  50. RadioactiveMan says:

    Hmm… City states with a ranged attack? Guess I may not have to… BUILD CITY WALLS!

    seriously, looks great, hexes and all- I hope they keep Spock, or get someone equally badass (like Patrick Stewart). Also, I hope the keep the same awesome music style. Bring back the high council, and this will be the greatest Civ ever.

    I’ll just leave this here…link to youtube.com