June 1, 2021

Humankind has that special something

There's something kind of special about playing a new 4X game, especially a historical one. These games are about playing through history - all of history - which means that as much as they're about expanding, exploiting and the rest, they're really about discovery. This is the game: discovering your way through time, via The Wheel, or Irrigation, or Thermonuclear Weapons or whatever, until you reach the end of history and that game ends. And you do this over and over again, until you can fly your little towns through the neolithic age, a couple wars and a dalliance or two with Authoritarianism right the way to the future without really thinking about it.

The thinking about it, obviously, is the joy of any good 4X though, and that too is the special pleasure of a new one. I don't know the way from Masonry to Telecommunications anymore, I have to discover it - re-discover it, really. Like digging up an old Roman path.

Anyway, this is what I've been thinking about while playing Humankind for a lovely dozen or so hours, and for a time after it. Humankind is a game full of systems and empty space. The things to think about, deeply and lengthily, and the time to do the thinking. It's wonderfully moreish, and importantly now quite fully-formed. It's been roughly a year since I last previewed Humankind, and it's been delayed by a good year or so in that time too, but the game now feels close to the real thing.

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