If you are a fan of strategy games, then it probably won't have escaped your attention that Sega and Amplitude Studios have a new title to add to the genre. Humankind has already garnered plenty of attention, but exactly how does it stack up against the Big Daddy of them all, Civilisation VI?
Sid Meier's turn-based classic has been around since 2016, with the series as a whole starting way back in 1991. We'll take a look at what these two games have in common, as well as what separates them. Insert your own pun about the end of Civilization here. Then let's find out how these games compare.
What is Humankind?
A historical strategy game, Humankind allows you to take a tribe from the Ancient world, and lead it right through to the Modern epoch. With over 60 different cultures to choose from, these can be combined in a variety of ways to create entirely new and unique civilisations.
On the surface, it sounds very much like a Civilisation game. After all, those are also turn-based strategy games, where you choose a culture, and lead it from the Ancient world into the modern world, or slightly into the future. So is this simply a Civilization-esque clone? Or is there more to it than that?
Humankind vs Civ 6: Similarities
It's undeniable that there are similarities between the two games. They are both turn-based strategy games, which take place over thousands of years. They both use similar hex-based map systems. And they both encourage you to choose from a range of historical cultures to base your society upon.
You lead your people around the map, seeking out resources, places to settle, and places to conquer.
So yes, there are a lot of overarching similarities between the two games. And that's ok.Being compared to Civilisation is not necessarily a bad thing.
But when we start to dig a little deeper, we can see that Amplitude has got some very different ambitions for its game, than those of Civ 6.
Humankind vs Civ 6: Clash of Cultures
One of the most immediately apparent differences, is in the contrasting approaches both games take to the concept of a civilisation.
In Civ 6, you choose a civilisation and lead them from the Stone Age to the Information Age. While you develop your society over time, you are bound by the strengths and weaknesses of that particular culture.
In Humankind though, this dynamic changes dramatically. Instead, as you enter a new era, you have the option of choosing whichever culture you feel will be most advantageous to you in that moment.
So for example, you might start off as a Babylonian, before becoming a Celt, before becoming a German. You can pick whichever culture you feel will best suit your goals at that particular time.
This means you can end up with, according to the developer, over one million different civilisation combinations as you go through the game, each with unique strengths and weaknesses. You will also see the legacy of your previous civilisation choices remain ingrained in your society.
It's also worth bearing in mind that whereas Civilisation 6 tries to keep the different cultures relatively well-balanced in terms of their strengths and weaknesses, the combination of cultures means that you can end up with asymmetry in the game. Some outcomes will, perhaps inevitably, end up being better than others. But this has the potential to make the game vastly more interesting as a result.
You can't "win" history
Another big difference is in the way that the game decides who wins. In Civ 6, there are 5 different ways a player can win the game: domination, science, culture, and religion. Each one requires you to meet a specific series of in-game conditions before you are declared the winner.
In the event that you reach the year 2050 with no-one having met any of these conditions, then the winner is decided by a scoring system. This system means that every decision you make as a player is dictated by the long-term goals you are striving for.
Humankind takes a different approach. It is very much a scoring system, and the winner is the person who achieves the most 'Fame'. How you achieve fame is not wedded to a specific outcome centuries into the future; rather it's about doing lots of different things to score as many points as possible.
This could mean defeating an enemy, or building something impressive. It means that short-term decisions are potentially just as important as long-term goals. This inevitably changes the way you need to approach the game. Fame is spread evenly across all six eras, so it's important to do great things in every era, if you want to win.
Another point about fame, is that it is morally neutral. So you can build your fame by doing things like making scientific discoveries and building great things. Or alternatively by destroying everything and everyone you come into contact with. The choice is yours.
Terrain really matters
As this video demonstrates, the developers of Humankind have put a lot of thought into the game world. High ground has advantages in terms of scouting and fighting. You can hide units in a forest to launch a surprise attack. Being the first to discover natural wonders, or notable features like the biggest desert or the tallest mountain, give you the opportunity to name them.
This increases your cultural influence, and ultimately, your fame. So exploration and discovery are strongly encouraged and rewarded.
Lots more to come
These are just some of the main differences between these games.
Undoubtedly, as you immerse yourself in the game world, even more will reveal itself. But Humankind looks set to be a legitimate challenger to the crown that Civilisation has held for so long.