For those not in the know, Amplitude Studios’ Humankind is one of the most wildly anticipated strategy games of the last decade. The turn-based, history-based strategy genre has long been dominated by Sid Meier’s Civilization series—with Civilization 6 being the most recent title. However, many folks (including myself) have grown weary of the Civ recycling machine. It seems that each iteration of the Civ series has been an increasingly stale product, with little in the way of improvisation or creativity. Well, they finally have a true rival in Humankind…
Just as a sign of how much of an impact Humankind has made in the gaming world so far, at the time of writing this piece, this spunky newcomer has taken first place on the Steam bestseller list. It is worth reminding everyone that the game’s pre-orders took the sixth position in the top 10 for the last week. Talk about moving needles.
And while many people were afraid that Humankind would feature some sort of nefarious social agendas, identity politics, or woke-ism in general—nothing of the sort has been hard-wired into the game. It’s open-ended, non-preachy gaming at its finest.
Speaking of open, one of the things that set Humankind apart from its competition is that instead of picking some classic pre-built culture, such as the Romans, Japanese, French, etc., here you get to not only design your own ruler but choose what cultures you’d like to embrace throughout the changing eras.
You begin with a small tribe of wandering nomads during the Neolithic period (the last stage of the Stone Age) and try to establish your first territorial grounds. If you manage to do that and ascend to the next era, you can begin founding permanent settlements (i.e. cities) that allow you to exploit the resources around you. It’s all great fun and doesn’t move too fast, especially if you slow down the era speed setting before firing up a game. It’s got that “one more turn” thing down in spades.
The combat system is definitely an upgrade from both Endless Legend and Civilization. Instead of throwing doomstacks at each other, players will have to account for such things as elevation and terrain. Also, when combat commences, you’ll have the option of either auto-resolving the conflict, or handling things manually. If you choose the later, you’ll pop down into a separate, more tactical battle screen where you can micro your troops better.
And people are responding favorably to (gasp!) a game-built for gamers-purely for gaming sake (without the finger-wagging and political correctness). Besides all the high praise, Humankind has also achieved very high activity scores. At its hottest moment since release day, it was played by 55,284 people on Steam. That is the best result in the history of the studio, beating out the achievement of their previous leading game, Endless Space 2, by two thousand.
Here are a few of the typical Steam reviews (spelling and grammar be damned!):
“Yup! love it, it’s got one of the best onboardings to a 4x game that i’ve ever played.
Amplitude are so good at designing beautiful titles and for me the UI and UX (audio visuals) are so tight and smooth. They’re easy to grasp and understand, so intuitive.
I’m not a hardcore 4x gamer, so i’m probably not the best to say anything about the mid-late game of this title (and i’ve not got there yet) but what i have played so far. I’m impressed!”
“A unique mix of Civ 6 and Endless Legend. Seems like another solid strategy game from Amplitude that I’ll play entirely too much of.”
“Overall, I’d recommend Humankind. I had a lot of fun playing it and I’m about to jump back in to start a new game right now. It’s a polished product on release, which is sadly rare. The devs did a fantastic job playtesting this prior to release and it shows. Despite the flaws, it’s easily the best 4X game out right now, and I think that it’ll only keep getting better.”
Amplitude Studios seems to understand that Humankind is not a simple game and that 4X strategy is not a simple genre in general, so it does everything it can to be accessible for newbies—and it works. Plus, if you’re playing as a civilization that isn’t working for you, you can just change things up when you move to a new era. The amount of flexibility available to the player, plus the procedurally-generated maps and emergent cultures, makes for an interesting spin on what I call “a digital alternate Earth.” Give it a spin for yourself.
I’ll be back in the near future with tips on how to play Humankind. But for now, it’s safe to call this a winner.
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