E3 is in full swing and that means an overload of press events, trailers, interviews and hands-on time with the latest and greatest of upcoming videogames. But I'd like to take a break from all that sound and fury for a moment, if I may, to let you all know that the strategy classic Sid Meier's Civilization V is now available for Linux and SteamOS. (Oh, and it's on sale, too.)
Sid Meier's Civilization V
One of the pleasant parts of writing about games is just meeting the people who share your weird career. I went to a media dinner at PAX East this year and had the chance to get to know some editors that I hadn’t met before. The guy sitting next to me happened to be primarily a console gamer, but that actually ended up being a neat opportunity for us to have a kind of cultural exchange. I got to learn about the state of Kinect games and Halo, and he got to hear me explain the appeal of Arma, a game that inspired me to memorize the NATO alphabet.
I took his business card and emailed him a few of my favorite Arma videos by Dslyecxi and CHKilroy, hoping they would give him a sense of the beautiful coordination that’s possible in a systems-driven, moddable, massive-scale multiplayer game. A few days after PAX East, I got a wonderful reply—our conversation and the videos I’d passed along had inspired him to build his first PC in 15 years.
Have you played every single game in your Steam library? No? Neither have I—and that accomplishment is apparently just a small sand grain in the over 288 million games in Steam collections that have never felt a press of the Play button. That's a surprising figure from a new report by Ars Technica researching the most active and popular games on Steam straight from the recorded statistics of some of the platform's 75-million-strong community.
Civilization: Beyond Earth interview - everything you need to know about the new factions, aliens, technology and more
Civilization: Beyond Earth has been announced. We're the first in the world outside of Firaxis to play it, and you'll be able to read my hands-on impressions in the next issue of PC Gamer UK. While I was at Firaxis, I had the chance to sit down with the two lead designers, Will Miller and David McDonough for a comprehensive hour-long chat about every aspect of Beyond Earth. Read on for details on Beyond Earth's affinities, its dramatic sci-fi tech research web, orbital gun platforms, alien Siege Worms, new high-concept win conditions and loads, loads more.
Firaxis announced the next stage of Civilization's evolution at PAX today. Civilization: Beyond Earth will take Sid Meier's classic turn-based strategy formula to an alien world for the first time since Alpha Centauri.
I understand the desire for a lore-bending battle royale between Blizzard's various franchises. I also understand the desire for that all-star showdown to not take the form of a lane-pushing game. While Blizzard aren't about to create a 4X strategy, modders can certainly shoehorn their characters into an existing one. That's what has happened in Blizzard Allstars, which brings multiple of their factions into turn-based empire-'em-up Civilization 5: Gods & Kings.
This is brilliant. Steam user Snakeeeater337 has created a mod for Sid Meier's Civilization V that adds makes Papers, Please's Arstotzka a playable nation in the game, with its own units, special traits, and even a new map.
Right now, the Humble Bundle has a pretty fantastic deal on some Sid Meier favourites. But for those just interested in Firaxis's most recent 4X strategy, the Civilization V: Complete Edition might be a more feature-rich bet.
No, not the Game of the Year Edition. That didn't feature either of the expansions. And no, not the Gold Edition. That didn't include the most recent Brave New World. This is the Complete Edition, offering the main game, both expansions, and all the DLC packs.
Sid Meier. Sid Meier. Sid Meier. If you say Sid Meier three times, well, he won't exactly pop out of your bathroom mirror, but at least you'll be prepared for seeing the name of one of PC gaming's developer grandmasters festooned across the newest offering from Humble Bundle which focuses on a selection of terrific turn-based strategy titles.
In 2013 Valve told us that it’s making a controller, an operating system, and is sanctioning PC manufacturers to create Steam Machines. The three-pronged campaign to put Steam in your living room, deliberately revealed ahead of the launch of the Xbox One and PlayStation 4, was the biggest PC gaming news of the year. It’s a move that establishes Valve as something that resembles a platform holder, something it’s been hesitant to do despite being the PC’s biggest online retailer.
It was supposed to be a short break. I told myself Civilization V wouldn't suck me in when I began playing on the big screen. The game will be too tedious. The text will be too small. I was wrong.
I've spent the past couple days going through every game I thought would be interesting to play, and Civilization V on a couch, staring at a big screen TV is among most engaging, relaxing gaming experiences I've ever had with a game.
Sid Meier is a game design legend. He co-founded MicroProse in 1982 and created Civilization, one of the longest-running and most loved series in gaming. Now the creative director at Firaxis—and overseer for both the Civ and XCOM franchises, Meier can be choosy about what he works on. His choice: Ace Patrol: Pacific Skies, a WWI-era turn-based strategy game that's small in price but big on strategy, and even influenced by tabletop games.
PC Gamer spoke to Meier about his interest in smaller game design, and how it let his team take some risks. He also shared his view of the changing strategy game market, and how he thinks all gamers are strategy gamers at heart.
If you filled a sock with Dungeons & Dragons dice and knocked Sid Meier unconscious with it, what do you think he'd dream of? Possibly something like Faerun, a mod that brings Forgotten Realms to life inside Civilization V: Gods & Kings. Lead civilizations of elves, dwarves, and orcs, recruit druids and wizards, battle dragons and ogres, and learn powerful spells. (Also, please don't knock Sid Meier unconscious with a sock full of dice. Or with anything else.)
There's a ton of civilizations to choose from in the Faerun mod, all straight out of the Forgotten Realms universe. Play as Cormyr, Land of the Purple Dragon, led by Princess Alusair Nacacia Obarskyr. Or choose the dwarf Bruenor Battlehammer of Mithral Hall. Sarevok Anchev of Baldur's Gate fame? Hells yeah. And about two dozen more, representing most of the major nations you've encountered in Forgotten Realms D&D or video games.
Mmm, scrambled continents. Perfect with a bit of black pepper and toast and - oh. I seem to have hilariously gotten the wrong end of the stick. Scrambled Continents is a new map pack for Civ 5, announced and released right now, which randomises the contents of continents each time you start a new game to ensure "endless replayability on countless plausible worlds". They've even gone and thawed Antarctica, giving us an early look at life in the post Global Warming-era.
Valve's Steam Controller is a funny-looking thing—an owl-like game pad with dual trackpads instead of analog sticks. It pairs with Valve's free SteamOS and whatever living room PC it's installed on as a solution to the clumsiness of using a mouse and keyboard on the couch. In a new video demonstration, Valve does its best to convince us that Steam Controller really offers a level of control comparable to our traditional instruments of gaming.
Ancient Greece is great and all, but how does it stack up against the Candy Kingdom or the Nightosphere? For you Adventure Time fans, the time has come to find out. The Adventure Time collection of mods (by modder “The Man With The Eyebrows”) lets you play Civilization V as Finn the Human, Princess Bubblegum, Marceline, Ice King, Fire Princess, and even that guy who really smells like dog buns, the Earl of Lemongrab. Come on, grab your friends, and go to very hostile lands.
First off, these mods require Gods and Kings or Brave New World, or both. You can check the requirements on the collection page here. Also, don’t expect a major graphic or audio overhaul of the game, because there isn’t one. For instance, there’s no 3D representation of Finn's Tree Fort or Ice King's mountain, you won’t see Princess Bubblegum’s famous Banana Guard sacking enemy cities, and you won’t hear Lemongrab shriek “UNACCEPTABLE” as he’s invaded by the Ghandi’s war elephants. The changes are largely limited to the text panes, and the attributes of unique units, abilities, and buildings. So, it requires a little imagination (ironically, the one thing Finn himself is completely devoid of).
Robots are brilliant! There's almost no problem they can't fix. Whether it's your lack of a chilled beer, the continued non-eradication of human existence, or the finicky way Civilization V handles multiplayer match-ups. That last problem has been solved by Giant Multiplayer Robot, which is actually a website, not a robot. Although maybe it's a website run by a robot.
In addition to making the world Brave and New, Civ 5’s latest expansion can also make it a little confusing at first. With the huge changes to trade, culture, and diplomacy, you’ll probably want to know a few things before you start shepherding your next civilization to victory. Listen closely, my liege...
Civilization V was always the most fun just before the end of the Renaissance, with the experience sliding into a slog post industrialization. The new mechanics added in the previous expansion, Gods and Kings, grow less relevant, and you’re either well on your way to your chosen victory condition, or pretty far from it. Brave New World creates an endgame that is as varied, textured, and tense as the early and mid game already were. Overhauls to the cultural and diplomatic victories have made achieving either of these a more hands-on, aggressive process that will keep you making meaningful decisions and planning ahead.
Sid Meier is second only, perhaps, to Tom Clancy in the ranking of “guys with their names at the front of game titles.” Unlike Clancy, though, Meier actually had a hand in developing legendary games like Sid Meier’s Civilization, Sid Meier’s Alpha Centauri, Sid Meier’s Pirates!, and the original X-COM.