The honeycombed world of Civilization V is all yours to plunder this weekend, with the turn-based strategy going free-to-play for all Steam users. The event comes to us to celebrate the onset of upcoming expansion Brave New World, which is now also pre-orderable.
Firaxis have posted the next in their series of brief Civilization 5: Brave New World videos. Sorry, what I meant to say was, "Firaxishavepostedthenextintheirseriesof..." Because, blimey, they're really speeding through these explanations of the expansion's new features. This time around, we're treated to a quickfire burst of info on trade routes.
Firaxis are breaking every rule in the trailer-making guidebook with this Policies & Ideologies featurette for Civilization 5's Brave New World expansion. For starter's it's called Policies & Ideologies. That's not what you call a trailer. You call a trailer "HYPER-BALLS ACTION SHINDIG," or something equally preposterous. At the very least, you add in a bombastic dubstep drop over blood-spattered bold text.
Civilization V: Brave New World is bringing nine brave, new civilizations to the table. We've had a look at seven of them in the recent preview build, and have compiled info on all of their unique abilities, units, and buildings. I've also thrown in my impressions as a Civ V veteran regarding how to best play as each, so you can start plotting your future world domination.
There are already an absurd number of possible empires in Civilization 5. The vanilla game came with a not-inconsiderable eighteen, DLC gave the option for another seven, and the Gods & Kings expansion raised the total by a further nine. Then there are mods, letting you play an astonishing range of leaders, from Stalin to Adventure Time's Princess Bubblegum.
You may remember Sid Meier from such games as Sid Meier's Civilization, Sid Meier's Civilization II, Sid Meier's Pirates, and... well, you get the idea. While he's currently taking a vacation from PC development, instead creating the iOS strategy game Ace Patrol, he has had some things to say about the oft-PC centric Kickstarter, and its role in the game creation process. Specifically, he worries about the potential inflexibility of the platform with regards to backers' expectations.
While the Brave New World expansion's new, more active cultural victory path is sure to be a great addition over a long Civilization V campaign, it's not the most exciting subject for a one and a half minute trailer. Still, Firaxis do an admirable job in dramatising it - equating the system to the game's more visually immediate battles, by comparing culture to defence and tourism to offence. Anyone who's seen a group of Brits abroad could argue that they've got a point.
X-Com creator Julian Gollop on how he would have designed Enemy Unknown differently, and why it would have failed
It’s well-recognised that PC Gamer favourite XCOM was lost in rights-hell for years until Firaxis rescued it last year. In a charmingly open interview at GDC, UFO: Enemy Unknown / X-COM co-creator Julian Gollop revealed how he felt about the new game, how he would have changed it - and why it would have failed.
“I would have designed it differently, for sure.” says Gollop, of the new game. “Would it have been as successful as the new XCOM? Probably not. No, I'm afraid.”
ALIEN MOVEMENT. Firaxis teased more XCOM at PAX East recently. This triggered a series of quick sensations. First: the flashbacks. I saw all the soldiers I'd lost last October when I ploughed through XCOM: Enemy Unknown. So many dead. Then there was happiness as I remembered how Enemy Unknown successfully modernised a classic turn based strategy while keeping its soul intact. Then - excitement, and questions. So many questions. Will it be an expansion, or a sequel? What could they improve? What would we want from more XCOM?
In preparation for our not-too-distant subjugation by skull-faced machine-men, I thought I'd bone up on the latest advances in electro-brain design and stop by this year's GDC AI summit. Kicking off the summit was a trimuvirate of talks about the AI behind PCG-fave XCOM, stabby sequel Assassin's Creed 3 and the super-shiny “space ninjas with machine guns” shooter Warframe. The talks showed a fascinating variety of uses for AI: XCOM's combat AI was the most immediately familiar, but supremely clever in insinuating the personality of enemy types - and a far cry from the use of AI to determine Connor's foot placement in AC3. Warframe, meanwhile, deploys AI as a dungeonmaster, cobbling together levels from pre-built components to fit the needs of its players. It's smart stuff. Perhaps... too smart? Read on to unpick alien plans, parkour and player-centric dungeon design.
Brace yourself for an influx of exciting Firaxis news from PAX East. Are you braced? Good good. In addition to revealing the release date for the recently announced Civilization V expansion Brave New World - it's July 9th in the US, and July 12th elsewhere - the team also teased a distinctly XCOM-like new project (thanks, Kotaku), which Firaxis are describing as a "big" release. The only clues lie in a leaked teaser trailer - oh and the very XCOM-like font displayed at the end.
Firaxis have announced the second expansion pack for their life-destroying 4X strategy Civilization V. Brave New World not only increases the number of leaders, scenarios and wonders for budding empire builders to play with, but looks set to drastically overhaul two key areas of the game: Culture and Diplomacy. This is particularly great news for anyone who's spent hours attempting to cajole Civ V's fickle rulers.
Read on for a full round-up of the new features, and an interview with the expansion's lead designer and senior producer.
Jon Shafer, designer of Civilization V, has successfully funded his upcoming At the Gates on Kickstarter with 22 days to spare. Today, in an update on the Kickstarter page, he took a long and merciless look into the mirror of self-criticism, admitting what he perceives as mistakes in the design of Civ 5 that he hopes to make up for in this new project. Everything from AI programming to unit stacking is dissected.
If you've been holding off on buying Civilization V in the hopes of snagging all of the released content in one package, your day has finally arrived. Civilization V: Gold Edition includes the Gods & Kings expansion, along with all of the map, civilization, and scenario packs for $50. That's $10 cheaper than buying just the base game and the expansion separately on Steam. Of course, this won't be the complete collection for long if the rumors about the upcoming One World expansion are true. But it's still enough content to keep you busy for a while. (180 hours, in my case.)
Civilization V might be getting a second expansion at some point in the future. According to the Steam Apps Database - a website that trawls Steam's huge library - an entry exists for an expansion called "One World". This was spotted by a user of the 2K forums, who was presumably inspired by the addition of spies in Civ 5's last expansion, Gods & Kings.
While Firaxis' Jake Solomon and I were talking about the addition of The Second Wave to XCOM: Enemy Unknown, our conversation shifted to the game's poorly-received first paid DLC, Slingshot. From there, he also reflected on players' response to XCOM's difficulty and how 2012 was a banner year for "consequence" as a concept in video games.
The Second Wave, a menu of toggleable XCOM campaign mutators, is being integrated into Enemy Unknown tomorrow in a free update. An unfinished version of the code was originally noticed by modders in October, who produced a tweak that switched on many of the settings less than two weeks after the game released.
I think the reason that Mass Effect 3 remained my favourite game of the year is also the reason it caught some flak: it was the end of a huge story that we were all seriously invested in. For me, that gave the whole 20-hour adventure an almost electric energy, the tingly feeling that everything had been leading up to this. For some, that meant the not entirely satisfying ending felt like a slap in the face.
I knew the moment the tide had turned. It was 15 hours into my first XCOM: Enemy Unknown campaign, and I’d just outfitted my squad’s psychic soldier with psi armour. I’d only discovered Major Tom’s latent mindbending abilities a few missions before, but he’d already proved himself a devastating anti-alien defence in the field. Kitted out in this gear, he was near unstoppable.
The first add-on for XCOM: Enemy Unknown will be released next Tuesday, November 4 for $7 (UK price to be verified). The Slingshot DLC includes three council missions (you must start a new game to play them), as well as a selection of new hats, helmets, and armor decos. I played all three new missions earlier this week, and my preliminary verdict is: well, they're alright. Are they what we wanted, though?