Civilization Online revealed, probably isn't the PvP MMO you expected

Tyler Wilde at

Its all-caps studio name is constantly yelling, but XLGAMES has been quiet about one thing until now: Civilization Online, which it's developing under the command of veteran MMO designer Jake Song. Civ Online isn't a grand strategy board game MMO—according to the reveal at Massively, it's more similar to A Tale in the Desert. Players will control a single citizen in a procedurally-generated world and help one of four cultures achieve a Civilization-style victory over the course of a "session."

Civ Online's look reminds me of Disney's 1997 Hercules film—colorful and attractive, but more bubbly than expected to capture the grandeur of human history. That aside, the stories at MMORPG and Massively indicate (without a great number of specifics) an exciting sandbox in which players will collaborate to explore the world, acquire resources, craft new inventions, advance through tech eras, found cities, build Wonders, and wage PvP wars with other civilizations.

Exploration, according to Massively, involves a unique twist: it sounds like weekly map updates will add more land around each civ's main encampment until all four bump into each other. Players won't know the tech status of other civs until they meet.

And when cultures clash, they might enjoy a bit of stabbing each other, so PvP combat is certain. "We are expecting that most people will spend their time killing other people," Song told Massively. Starting cities will be safe, but others are up for grabs. Death will send a player all the way back to his or her city, or to an "advance outpost," so successful sieges will require a team effort.

Looks like AI units in an RTS with a totally dissimilar art style—is this from the right game?

The eras will include Ancient, Classical, Medieval, Renaissance, Industrial, and Modern. After a victory condition is achieved by one civilization—world conquest and space race wins appear confirmed—the world will reset, though players will retain "some aspects" of their characters from session to session.

Now here's the most interesting bit from Massively's story:

"Leaders will also emerge from the citizenry of each civilization, as necessary roles like mayor and military commander must step up to help create order and achieve objectives. There will also be mechanisms in place for players to oust ineffective or bad leaders. A civilization could forego working together to just be every man for himself, but then it wouldn't progress and most likely would be conquered by another more organized civilization. Song called the game 'a big social experiment.'"

I would gladly have some of that. No release date has been announced for Civilization Online, though MMORPG says it's been in development since 2010. Last year, Take-Two announced that it's being developed for the Asian market, and according to Massively, Song says they are "inkling toward a free-to-play model."

We have contacted Take-Two/2K for comment. Check out Massively's story for more.