I think many people are missing something.
I finally managed to get time to play a post patch game, this week. I‘ve played up to the Industrial era. I know this isn’t a populár view here, but I really feel the fundamentals of the redesign and the game itself are awesome.
Yes, I know about the broken multi-player. I know about the flawed diplomacy. I know about the bugs- I´ve posted here as recently as last week about one.
These things are annoying, bad, frustrating.etc. And I dont believe that my first statement is any excuse for these fundamental flaws. The game was released way too early. But the person who was responsible for that decision should be taking the flack on this forum and not John Schaffer – unless, of course, it was his decision.
Now the game has better balance, it is outstanding. Its not Civ 4, and I can understand why people are uncomfortable with that - often people don't like to try something different. But in my own view its fundamentally better than Civ 4.
Lets get this quite clear, simplifying something does NOT mean it is DUMBER, or that those who appreciate it dont have the intellectual capacity to appreciate something more complex. I have two masters degrees. I am not dumb. But I appreciate this game more than Civ 4 precisely because the designers have stripped it down to the basic elements. And allowed them greater depth and significance. I do not want to get into a debate here about religion or no religion. I am talking about something else.
When I played my first game I was sceptical about the lack of science slider and tech trading. What had they done to the fundamental game? This had to be a mistake. Now I can see it wasn’t.
In any civ game there are always the 3 basic variables that govern the game – science, gold, and happiness. Altering one, effects the others and the game is about balancing them to achieve the greatest returns.
In all the previous games, science depended on gold and the slider. However, in Civ 5, they have attempted to make these variables interdependent but also independent of each other, in the sense that science depends on population (and not gold) and gold and happiness depend on resources. Your access to pop or gold or happiness is determined by the random distribution of resources on the 2 dimensional randomly generated map. The effect this has, in my view is to make the game fundamentally more strategic.
Yes, I know, in Civ 4 gold was raised from resources. But the cottage could also be spammed for gold. Now if you want gold, you have to locate and control resources. Similarly happiness. And to a degree, population and thus science. Access to a resource no longer means a nationwide bonus. The effects are localised and limited in quantity. By doing this, the game has been given a strategic depth and complexity that the others cant attain. To say the game has been simplified is itself a simplification. Simplification means only taking away elements, but with Civ 5, although elements have been removed, the elements that remain have been allowed to mature to their full potential.
I personálly, love it. Even if I am in the minority. Every game is different, because every map throws up a different distribution of resources. Each game I have to think strategically about how I wish to grow my nation, which way to expand, and which way to gain resources, via bribery, conquest or trade. Sure, this is what every other civ was about. In Civ 5, this is full on because its simpler and more mature. Spamming won’t save your ass.
Také a look at the resource distribution and its effect on available units and buildings. Totally unpredictable and therefore utterly compelling. I just reached the industrial era. I was behind on techs, but, i had been concentrating on my gold rate. Able to fire myself into the future with research agreements (OK, there is some spamming– but this was only possible bcause I made sure to keep all eight other civs up and runnning – so it required strategy), I was comfortable that it was game over. Then I discovered electricity and aluminium. Or rather, that my civ had none, and Caesar, who has been hostile to me for the last 60 turns, and is ahead in the tech race, is sitting on the only source. My modern era looks like its going to be a bumpy ride indeed! I love it.
Plenty has already been written in praise of combat. I don’t really need to state what’s already been stated. I am not going to praise the AI for its attacking tactics. It is weak. I personálly think its because of a problem with the pathfinding. It seems to have the same difficulty as human players in marching a large number of units to a particular location to arrive in position simultaneously. But aside from that, the combat is awesome. And the AI has, with me, demonstrated some surprisingly effective and interesting tactics. After beating off a surprise attack from Oda, I took his closest city to my lands, Osaka. Kyoto was wide open and defenceless across the plains. A rich prize because of its vineyards. But the AI tactics surprised me. The AI lined up its remaining SAmurais just outside my border. The formed a fortified last line of defence. The left flank was covered by a river, the right by a mountain range. Try attacking fortified samuraj with bushido directly. Your units cut themselves up faster than the samurai. And outflanking his forces meant attacking over a river. I had to use my knights speed to ford the river upriver, outflank the line and break the units on the plains from behind. The samurai on the hills were impossible. Fortunately, my scientists discovered crossbows during the campaign and my archers dislodged them with a rain of bolts. The route to the South and the riches of the capital was open. Awesome. No other Civ provides this kind of strategic depth. I would have been screwed if Oda's scientists had been quicker than me at getting the crossbow.
This game has problems, sure.But the main problem was its early release. Not the design.
The design, in my view, is awesome. If they put in the time to fix the bugs, then firaxis might just have the best Civ ever. WE don’t know who was directly responsible for the poor state of the release game. It seems to me that SChafer has become an easy target because most of the posters here worship Civ 4. I personály think, that he deserves alot more praise than he is getting.
Now, flame away. I’m sure that many, many of you don’t agree with me. But I don’t really care. I really, really, really enjoy playing this game. Much more than any of the others.
I pray, pray, pray, that diplomacy is pulled into a shape that is as good as the rest of the design.