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

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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 (opens in new tab) . Civ Online isn't a grand strategy board game MMO—according to the reveal at Massively (opens in new tab) , 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 (opens in new tab) 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 (opens in new tab) , 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.

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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 (opens in new tab) :

"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 (opens in new tab) it's been in development since 2010. Last year, Take-Two announced (opens in new tab) 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 (opens in new tab) for more.

Tyler Wilde
Executive Editor

Tyler grew up in Silicon Valley alongside Apple and Microsoft, playing games like Zork and Arkanoid on the early personal computers his parents brought home. He was later captivated by Myst, SimCity, Civilization, Command & Conquer, Bushido Blade (yeah, he had Bleem!), and all the shooters they call "boomer shooters" now. In 2006, Tyler wrote his first professional review of a videogame: Super Dragon Ball Z for the PS2. He thought it was OK. In 2011, he joined PC Gamer, and today he's focused on the site's news coverage. After work, he practices boxing and adds to his 1,200 hours in Rocket League.