Humankind is another title to hit Microsoft’s Game Pass subscription service. However, can this 4X title stand out from a rather saturated marketplace? With some monster games leading the field, it is always tough for a newcomer to break through. Moreover, this genre is much-loved on PC, but there are numerous reports of failings on console. Consequently, I was pretty apprehensive when I first loaded this up.
This 4X strategy title was developed by Amplitude Studios and published by SEGA Europe Ltd. What’s more, this tough era-defining experience is data-heavy and requires a lot of concentration. However, once you’ve got to grips with the layers of fundamentals, you’ll enjoy the depth of gameplay and the unique nature of each civilisation on offer.
Humankind lets you write your own history.
Though this genre is time-consuming, I’ve always adored the complexities and the challenging but rewarding action. Yet, I’m always put off by the steep learning curve and I have to be in the mood to start a new title. Consequently, it took me several attempts to get to grips with this almost overwhelming game.
The core gameplay loop is straightforward to follow. You must pick your leader from a range of different models. Additionally, you’ll select which civilisation you wish to be and an array of other traits that alter your basic skills. From here, you must complete tasks to earn stars and evolve your people. However, en route, there are many fiddly layers that must be addressed and plenty of twists and turns that’ll make or break your society. Accordingly, though the progress structure is simple, no playthrough is ever the same.
What type of leader will you be?
As you work from the Neolithic era to modern society, you must tackle a range of problems whilst expanding your empire. Additionally, you are expected to interact with other civilisations whilst keeping your people happy. In typical 4X fashion, this is easier said than done. Will you live a peaceful existence and focus on science, religion, and prosperity? Alternatively, will you find your wealth by ransacking your opponents and besieging their cities?
Whatever option you choose, you must spin plenty of plates if you wish to be victorious. Focusing on science, religion, or your bank account will earn you stars. Each era requires a threshold to be hit across each of these categories. If you succeed, you can transcend your people, or move on to the next era of humanity. Alternatively, you can dick about making your opponent’s lives a misery. However, this unnecessarily wastes time, and the results weren’t worth the invested time.
Plenty of depth.
Though it was tough to decide on a valid approach, I can’t complain about the level of depth. The developers have created a monstrous amount of goals for your civilisation to work towards. Whether it is discovering natural wonders or finding fresh resource nodes, there is plenty to see and do. Furthermore, research and development play a key part in how you progress.
Unlike its peers, Humankind has an easy-to-understand research tree. Moreover, as you learn new skills, it is simple to see how they impact your everyday life. Whether it be new buildings, troops, or the ability to tame animals, your civilisation benefits massively. What’s more, you can use any new skills to adjust your standing with other tribes.
Peace or war?
One element that I loved was the democracy panel. I adored the idea of treaties and business partnerships. Furthermore, the ability to declare war without justification was excellent. However, this layer was painfully shallow. What’s more, the AI was ridiculously unpredictable, and negotiating with them was a pointless act. Subsequently, though this was great, it wasn’t as detailed as I’d have liked.
Another confusing mechanic was the poorly explained combat. Whenever you used the manual fighting option, you’d have little idea of what was happening! Troops would take it in turn to charge at one another, and then there was an outcome. Thankfully, an automatic button was incorporated as this reduced confusion and sped up the gameplay.
Humankind: a text box simulator.
4X games are hard at the best of times. However, Humankind takes it to the next level. With layer upon layer of text boxes to wade through, the action is often disconnected and tough to follow. On top of this, exploring the map can be arduous because of the weird walking routes and the “fog of war”. Resource nodes and interesting POI appear at the last minute. Accordingly, you can waste your valuable movement points as you climb mountains or take the wrong route.
Humankind won’t blow you away visually. However, there are some nice moments that will make you smile. For example, as your cities evolve and your boundaries expand, it is impressive to observe. On top of this, I liked the varied landscapes and the clearly defined areas. However, the intricate UI and vast amounts of submenus were often tough to manage. Consequently, the sheer scale of gameplay options and menus will put off less battle-hardened gamers.
The audio wasn’t as impressive as its peers. The Civ franchise delivers an atmospheric experience that works on many levels. However, Humankind doesn’t quite get this right. On top of this, the sound bites and the sound effects weren’t all that inspiring. Subsequently, the action felt flat, and I was left wanting.
Easy to control (mostly).
I expected this to be a horrible mess to play. However, I was surprised by the excellent controls and the simple button mapping. Yet, occasionally, it was frustrating to highlight your troops, and remembering every interface shortcut wasn’t that straightforward. Consequently, it wasn’t as intuitive as I’d have liked and I think this would be better on PC.
Humankind is undeniably massive. Playing through every era will take you hours and there are plenty of civilisations to experiment with and loads of subcategories to explore. Additionally, you can adjust your gameplay style at any time and you can change the difficulty settings to test your resolve. As such, this has both replay value and longevity if you can cope with the massive learning curve.
Humankind is good but not perfect.
Fans of 4X games will enjoy Humankind. Yet, it doesn’t reach the heights of its meaty and much-loved peers. As such, having this title on Game Pass was a stroke of genius. Though I wasn’t blown away by every element, I believe that it is a good title that can be enjoyed once you forgive the shortcomings and you know what you are doing. Accordingly, I liked it and I recommend that you buy it here! Can you rewrite history? Choose your civilisation, rule as you wish, and evolve to overcome every challenge.