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Civilization 5

February 18th, 2010 by Troy Goodfellow · 37 Comments · Firaxis

Firaxis and 2k Games have announced that Civilization 5 is on the way. Reports of the game were leaked earlier today at CivFanatics.

This is not really a surprise. We all knew another Civilization would come sooner or later and it’s been five years. And no one complains more than I do about Firaxis mining its past for gold when all the talent there could be doing something newer, albeit riskier. Civ is, after all, a durable and profitable franchise.

I’m still excited, though. The Civ series has never really failed to please me, even Civ 3 which is sort of the black sheep of the family stuck between the isometric glories of Brian Reynolds’s Civilization 2 and the general genius of Soren Johnson’s Civilization 4.

A contact at Firaxis I approached for comment assured me that I would like some of the changes and probably not like others. Such is the way of the world.

Fall 2010, so very, very soon. You can read about it in this month’s GamePro.


37 Comments so far ↓

  • Alex2000

    Sigh. Another remake. There is nothing wrong with Civ IV. I can’t imagine Firaxis developing a game that would need a new CPU and graphics card do you? So what is the point?

    If they are going to remake a game, remake Gettysburg! There is a game in need of an update.

  • Troy

    I often feel the same way, Alex. Civ 4 was nearly perfect – why bother? And I’d love to see CPU Bach 2010.

    But this is a reliable revenue generator and is a game that can certainly be tweaked in a lot of ways to change the experience. Though all of the Civ games are clearly the same, they are also very different experiences from each other in significant ways culminating in Johnson’s masterful rewriting.

    Jon Shafer has been modding and working on Civ for years. Few people know the series as well as he does, and I’m sure he has lots of original ideas.

    So while I completely understand and sympathize with Civ fatigue, especially when that much talent in one building could really surprise people with a new game, I also feel like a kid as Christmas.

  • Kynes

    Remake? Hexes! That alone should make it quite a shift.

  • Jimmy Brown

    Civilization IV is like Deus Ex: I have a sudden urge to reinstall it.

    I noticed one of the screenshots at the barebones Civ V site had archers firing across a lake at troops on the other side. It would apprear they intend to make the troop management a bit more tactical. I hope that works out to be fun rather than tedious.

  • Punning Pundit

    Something really cool “The addition of ranged bombardment allows players to fire weapons from behind the front lines” It sounds like they’re rethinking some basic premises of the franchise. That level of risk-taking alone makes me look forward to this game.

  • Soren Johnson

    Civ4 isn’t actually isometric. :)

    (Actually, I wanted to use that projection, but it looked a little odd in 3D)

  • Troy

    I didn’t mean to imply it was, Soren. I left out a clause before Civ 4. Fixed now.

  • Cautiously Pessimistic

    Eh… I’m wary of the ranged combat. Not that a change in combat mechanics isn’t welcome, but the combat/unit management has always been at odds with the scale of the game. Warrior units are supplied and receive orders a half-continent away during the stone age, taking centuries to move around, etc. Now we have archer units providing effective fire over hundreds of miles. I get the units have to be abstract, but at the same time, the more jarring the disconnect from real life the strategies are, the less enjoyable the game tends to become for me. But I won’t really know the fun factor until the game actually comes out and I can try it out. Could be great, could be Civ3. I’ll wait and see.

  • Skyrider

    My gaming prediction for the year: We have already tasted the sweetest nectar of the Civilization (PC) franchise with the excellence of Civ 4 and Beyond the Sword. I agree with other comments here that it’s going to be difficult to improve on near perfection. With Civ5, I’m concerned we may start to see symptoms of one-too-many-times-to-the-well syndrome.

    And…though I may be going a bit out on a tangent here, my concerns with news of a Civ5 parallel some concerns I’ve been having about Sid’s work these last few years. I am and always will be a great admirer of his work, going way back to my Commodore 64 days that included earlier Sid titles such as “Solo Flight,” “F-15 Strike Eagle,” “Silent Service,” the original “Pirates!” and so many more. But in the last decade or so, I find myself asking what has happened to the creativity and originality in games that bear the Sid Meier name?

    It seems Sid has been stricken with a chronic case of sequel-itis. Has Sid simply run out of good ideas for original games? To the best of my knowledge, here is a list of *original* Sid Meier branded games (no sequels, no spin-offs) since the founding of Firaxis in 1996:

    Gettysburg! (1997)

    SimGolf (2002) (Arguably a remake of an older Maxis game, but giving the benefit of the doubt…)

    Alpha Centauri (1999), though widely considered an excellent game, technically can be argued to be a spin-off of Civilization).

    That’s it, folks. Everything else in recent memory with the Sid Meier name on it is a retread of his earlier work. Fortunately, many have been worthy sequels (e.g. “Civilization 4”), though some (e.g. “Railroads!”) have not been so well-received.

    If I could meet Sid Meier and shake his hand, one of my first questions would be, “Sid, when are you going to come out with a truly new game concept?” Like a classic rock group of decades past, is Sid Meier going to be content to come out on stage every year or two and crank out the same set of beloved oldies, or is he going to “get back in the studio” and record some new material?

  • Punning Pundit

    @Skyrider: Just because it’s a sequel doesn’t mean it’s not full of new ideas– or well done polishing of older ideas.

    Civ3 was very, very different from Civ2. I’d go so far as to say that Civ3 was a great game– and that Civ4 took every one of it’s concepts and made it perfect. Civ5 looks to be doing a ground-up rethinking what makes a Civilization game.

    It may have the word “Civilization” on it. But that doesn’t mean it’s leftovers reheated and warmed up again.

  • Skyrider68

    P.P: I don’t disagree with your comments that the Civ franchise has been full of new ideas, and it has been polished to perfection. Maybe Firaxis can capture lightning in a bottle once again. Nevertheless, I’m eager to see Sid come up with something entirely new.

    I’m fairly sure that I don’t want to see “Civilization XXXVI” someday. Maybe Sid’s ‘dinosaur’ game concept just didn’t work as he said, so it may have been a smart choice to shelve the project. Nevertheless, I want to believe that he and his colleagues have other new, interesting concepts for PC games, and I don’t want them to stop trying. At this point in his very successful career, I’d be interested to see him take a chance with some other new ideas.

    While sticking to the ‘tried and true’ is going to be commended by some, it is going to be labeled as ‘resting on one’s laurels’ by others. It’s a simple truth of the fickle nature of human beings. It’s my opinion that maybe it’s time for something totally new from Firaxis, and I’m sticking with it. :-)

  • Krupo

    Yeah, I approached this news with a mixture of “yay” and, “man, I don’t feel like I sufficiently milked Civ 4”. The Total War games kind of distracted me, among many other things.

    That, plus I feel like even if it comes out now, I’ll probably (try to) wait until 2012 or so for the first “gold” edition.

  • chuckbillrow

    im glad civ five is coming out but frankly i would be happy if the only thing they changed is the modern era i mean a city being hit by a nuck and only losing some population has always upset me it should be more realistic and possabliy even a space age era so the game dosent end at alpha centari

  • Mike

    Hm. Loved Civ1, Civ2, Civ3 (after tweaking the .bic files to get a rules set that I could live with). Civ4 to me was a colossal disappointment out of the box for a variety of reasons, but it became playable with the last expansion (though still broken to me for the same original reasons, among them the lunacy that units can’t cross mountains; no Civ3-styled rules/map editor; moronic map editor that you have to be in an actual game to use; lack of attack/defense values, dumbed-down into a single abstract “strength value”, thereby eliminating the “feel” of units that are specifically defensive in nature; and so forth).
    Praise for Civ4: religion, culture, unit promotions. Though to be fair, Alpha Centauri was the inspiration for the brilliant customizable civics in civ5, as well as for “improveable/promotions” units.

    Now I read Civ5’s feature list. It sounds like they’re making warfare “tactical”, which is the most profound misuse of the word ever. There is nothing, zip, nada, that is tactical in a grand-strategic game, which is what Civ is. Each tile/hex/square/whatever is literally many, many, many miles across. A city of 10 million can fit in a single tile. Yet in Civ5, only one unit will be permitted per tile. Really? And archers can fire across lakes (as shown in one of the screenshots) — despite the fact that a lake of one tile would be literally dozens if not hundreds of miles across. Utter nonsense.
    And, of course, they’re dumping the customizable civics and religion and…
    It is entirely possible that Civ5 will be the first Civ game I don’t buy immediately. Or possibly ever. And that is profoundly sad (was also true about Oblivion, which was a tragic waste of a game, complete mis-scaled to the maps of the land in the prior games; dumbed-down factions and skill system and magic system and… oh, wait, virtually every system).
    Someone, please, buy the rights to Alpha Centauri and make a worthwhile sequel (and Asheron’s Call 1 while you’re at it).

  • A black man

    I think you should all stop bitching about it and buy it when it comes out.

  • harveyburger

    i love civ4 and played all of its flavor, plus a few mods, and i finished yet another game last night… however i disagree with those who say civ3 is “near perfection”… really?? diplomacy is absolutely sub-standard, I like the espionage addition to the game but there is room for improvements, I can think of many areas for improvements or at very least where some polishing could be done…

    At the end of the day yes it’s another spinoff, but civ4 was a spinoff of 3, which was a spinoff of 2, etc… and I enjoyed every one of these spinoffs! :)

    gotta say I am not impress many changes in civ5… but i ‘ll still give it a try. (tactical combat with archer shooting across lakes… what the heck is that!… and who cares about micro managing little fights… anyway…)

  • T

    Just wait until they turn Civ into a money based virtual reality environment, where you pump real money into the system, interact with humans in costumes, hold international live webcam conferences and rise to the rank of civilization mobster…WOW, what a day.

  • Andre

    Does anyone remember The Ancient Art of War? A dead primitive game that was immense fun and still contained some great concepts. Sid Meier could take a leaf out of that old source.

    Perhaps something like supply lines for armies – that force them to pillage in order to feed themselves when those lines are interrupted.

    Terrain that reduces unit strength or numbers – making mountains and deserts not impassable, but a reasonably dangerous risk to your troops to cross.

    Roads and bridges that become strategically important to your deployment and movement.

  • Kiern Moran

    I have never been able to manage more then half an hour playing Civ4. Have spent years of the earlier games and personally thought Civ3 once with the War mod added was very near perfection. Will only buy Civ5 if its back to basics e.g total micro management.

  • Justa teen

    Now, unlike the rest of you, I have only played civilization 2 and 3. The reason this is is because (no, I am not that poor or cheap to only buy old games) those two were spoken of as the best. Right now, I’m still playing civ3. I enjoy it’s basic controls and my civics teacher at school gives me extra credit for memorizing parts of the Civilopedia. So look, after the essays at school today, I don’t really feel like writing a narrative here, so I’ll just get to the point. Just because a game isn’t ‘perfect’ doesn’t mean it’s not fun.

  • Troy

    Justa Teen:

    I’m the last person to claim has to be perfect to be fun. I love a lot of imperfect games – Solium Infernum, Rome: Total War, Dwarf Fortress, Dragon Age. And you are right to like both Civs 2 and 3 – very good games. Civ 2, I think, added at least six months to my graduate school experience.

    But Civ 4 really raised the bar in significant ways, partly because Soren Johnson was given the freedom to start from scratch and not simply expand on the old formula. Still a Civ game, but so much better than Civ 2 and 3 that it’s impossible for me to go back.

  • Dkirbz

    I’d probably have to agree that Civ 4 is one of the best games I’ve ever played. I do think that the modding system is a bit worse than that of Civ 3 – it’s more effective for extremely complex and detailed mods as well as for very simple tweaks but for someone who doesn’t have the time for an enormous project but wants to make a complete mod it’s pretty weak. Anyway, Civ 3 was an awesome game as well, first Civ game I played and one of the first PC games I really got into. It just seems to me like Civ 4 is pretty much better in every way except modding, and I haven’t played 3 since BTS came out. Now, Civ 5 looks pretty awesome, I’ll give it that. I’m definitely going to be buying it on opening day, and probably spend around 100 hours the first week playing it. But I’m not entirely sure how it’s going to work out, and I don’t know if I’ll even end up uninstalling Civ 4. 5 is looking like a really different game from the other Civs, still pretty awesome but more of an original project than just a sequel.

  • Bigz

    In my experience, each game has had a different flavor. All I can hope for is that Civ 5 will have a unique enough taste to hold my interest as long as the previous games have.

  • Troy

    I saw Civ 5 this past weekend and from what little they showed, it could be as big a change from Civ 4 as that was from Civ 3.

  • James Allen

    The new extreme diplomacy mode in Civ 5 looks freakin’ sweet. Check out a screenshot:

  • TristanC

    April Fools

  • Bigz

    Yeah no kidding- Allen, you did know that was april fools right? I think so. But I do hope that they completely remodel the diplomacy system from civ 4. That is one of the few things that always bugs me when I play.

  • Steve

    Civilization V, I just can’t wait! Hopefully they’ve drastically cut back on all the boring brain dead city improvements in the later stages of the game.

  • T

    I really hope they load it with some clever scenarios…possibly revisit Midgard…I def hope a Ryhes and Fall scenario is on their.

  • Ian

    My only suggestion for Civilization 5 is that they need to rework that freaken combat. A man with a club and loincloth should not be able to beat swordsmen and spears. I suggest fixing the combat system and add some stuff from the Colonization expansion pack, they had some good ideas on that. I will sure as heck buy it if it comes out, Civ 4 was absolute genious, expansions making it even better. And also mix the actual game with Next War Mod, best one ever.They have high expectations to reach.

  • Civilization 5 Network

    Starting in June, http://www.civilization-5.net will be giving away one copy of Civilization 5, pre-ordered, free. Check out the site and sign up for the forums for details.

  • Liam

    I think the combat in Civ4 can get a whole lot better. And having just one unit per square/hexagon is going to be great, more detailed tactics, rather than winning because you have more units.

  • CivLegacy

    There’s still lots of things to improve upon. Hopefully we’ll something a lot different this time around too. And by the looks of it, we will!

  • Redwaller66

    Lol ya just talking about these games makes me want to reinstall it just like deus ex. However, I thought Civ3 was the best civ game of all, why do you guys think it’s the worse?

  • Matt

    I’ve been previewing the new civ 5 through the websites, and videos and it looks AMAZING!

    No more stacks of units – no more 60 units in a city – the battles will be fought and determined by the terrain and units and tactics, not just who can pump out the most best units. Now the game contains REAL STRATEGY.

    Other awesome additions include : City/states, that can reside within your borders, but arn’t technically yours, they are independant states you can go to war with or become allys and gain their bonuses –

    Ranged attacks – no more planes that do 45% dmg (that you cant see) instead you actually see your artillery fire and kill units (or portions of them) like in Civ2 and Civ1 –

    Leaders, that actually will trade decent now – and accept treaties and pacts – instead of them denying everything you ask –

    So much more – it looks amazing – I am counting the minutes till I can purchase online!

  • Matt

    @Ian –

    Quote : ‘A spearman, no matter how good, will not be able to defeat a modern tank/unit’ so no more AI spearmen taking out your knights or samuri/better/advanced units – the combat will take into account things that could NOT really happen – such as an archer shooting down a plane.

    So freakin awesome