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There is something about the Civilization games that I just love, maybe it’s the multiple ways to win, the huge tech trees, the fact that it’s turned based so I can just leave it at a drop of a hat or just that it seriously kills a long eight hour coach journey. With Civ V due for release on the 21st of September here is a quick round up of the key changes and features that will be appearing in this latest incarnation.
The first major difference is the tiles used on the map. Instead of the old square tiles there are now hexagonal tiles. Firaxis claim that this allows for more strategic movement around the map. Whether this is true or not will have to wait until the game is released but what IS true is that the hexagonal tile allow for a much hexier (excuse the pun) maps. Firaxis say that the hexagonal tiles allow them to make much more realistic, organic maps, and I can believe them. Just compare the two pictures below.
The second addition is that of City States. City States will be one city nations that won't try to expand their borders, but aren't like the barbarian cities from previous installments. Instead City States will interact much like the larger nations and how you respond to these City States is up to you. If you choose to befriend them, depending on the type of City State they are, they will give you gifts. Not only that but you will get their vote for the UN diplomatic victory. These are important as, unlike before were population decided how many votes you got, this time you only get one vote each so you will need to make friends. Alternatively you can just try to conquer them, though this could be risky though as Mr Easy Pickings could be best friends with Mr Superpower and then its war. If you do conquer them there is a new option to choose from, other than just capture or destroy, and that’s to install a puppet government. You won’t be able to tell them what to build but you will get all of their resources and it doesn't cause as much unhappiness as capturing the city.
Units have seen a big change, and personally I think it’s for the better. Nothing was more annoying that trying to take a city that had a stack of 50 units piled on top of it, now that isn't possible as only one unit can occupy a tile at a time. This means you have to be much more tactical with your units. To help with the tactics some units will now be ranged, allowing them to attack at a distance whilst being weak up close. To compliment this terrain will offer a bonus to the unit so, if one ranged unit on a hill will be able to hold of multiple close range units. It’s aimed to make the game more strategic than just trying to mass an economy and units to steamroll opponents. To help with defence cities will now act like units in combat, with life and attacks, so an attacker has to whittle a city down rather than just walk right in. Certain upgrades can improve a cities defence. The final two changes to units are, firstly that they are now more resource reliant. Iron does not unlock the swordsman unit, but it allows you to build one swordsman unit. If you want more you need to find more resources, so you have to be really careful with your choices. Secondly instead of having to build transports land units can just 'ship up' and travel over water, though they won’t be able to attack or defend making them very vulnerable.
Another change is the Social Policy system which is where you will spend your culture. Instead of research opening up policies, you develop them within their own tech tree. Giving you different benefits depending on which policy you choose. This is to allow a more organic process to developing you civilisation, rather than just cherry picking what you want at a certain time. Go down enough of these different policy routes and you can build the 'Utopia Project', which is a wonder that gives you the Cultural victory
Other changes include the return of advisors, much improved graphics, a new improved interface and a change to the space race victory which involves transporting the parts to your capitol city, meaning they can be destroyed on route by other nations. Finally the game will incorporate a map maker and support mods which should give the modding community out there some great fun.
So in conclusion we see a lot of changes. Civ IV was a great game and many didn't think it could get any better, but seeing what is on offer I think we will see the best incarnation of the series yet.