Review: ‘Mankind’ is a strong but flawed challenger to ‘Civilization’ series

“Sid Meier’s Civilization” has been around for 30 years, yet it had some challengers in its strategy-game niche. Other competitors focus same era of history Or they gravitate toward the fantasy or science-fiction realm. Sure, creating nations of elves or galactic empires is tricky, but playing “what ifs” with history has a different appeal.

“Mankind” The latest competitor in the genre comes from Amplitude Studios, the makers of “Endless Space” And “Endless legend.” The developers are no strangers to the genre, and with a fresh perspective, the team adds compelling twists to the history simulator that make it unique.

Although “Mankind” borrows a lot of ideas from the “Sid Meier’s Civilization” series, Amplitude Studios adds enough new ideas to stand on its own, for better or worse. (Sega)

A different step on building civilization

Like “civilization”, players begin thousands of years ago in the Neolithic Age, but that’s where the similarities end. Instead of setting up a city and building from there, “Mankind” encourages players to find a perfect place to explore and settle with their early tribes. They can form multiple units by hunting animals and gathering food to increase their numbers.

From there the differences widen as players eventually choose a culture rather than a civilization as a template. Players choose a new culture during each of the six eras of “humankind”. Each culture gives an edge in a certain aspect of nation-building. Some cultures are great at farming and building up a population quickly. Are great at giving other players an edge in battles. Still, others have a scientific bent that lets them get to the technologies faster.

As players progress through the ages, they can choose from other cultures, each with its own unique characteristics, units, and districts. It creates a more organic approach to nation-building. Players can come up with different combinations in different eras and focus on what is important to them at that stage of history. If the goal is to rapidly build up the population in the early game, they may go for the Harappans. If they want to focus on advancing science, they can pick up the Joseons in the late mid-game.

For better and for worse, that biological adaptability pervades other design decisions and the way some systems work. When it comes to combat, soldiers are involved in a chess match, where position and army placement matter during turn-based attacks. When it comes to civics, players have to choose between different philosophies in favor of individualism versus collectivism or authoritarian rule versus democracy.

These elements and streamlining Siege Weapons are an improvement on the “civilization” formula, but “Mankind” falters when it comes to other gameplay aspects.

Era4 Maasai 1
The “Cultures of Africa” ​​DLC for “Mankind” introduces six new cultures, new natural and created wonders, free people, and 15 new narrative events. It’s scheduled for release on January 20th on Steam, the Epic Games Store, and the Microsoft Store. (Sega)

what do you need to work

One of those aspects is the resolution of major conflicts. The developers introduce the concept of combat support, which acts almost like a health bar when two nations fight. Each defeat dampens enthusiasm, and when it is gone, the loser thrusts for peace in a forceful surrender.

If the players are the winners, there is no way out of it. They will be forced to take over areas they do not want as part of their victory. It’s a concept that feels forced and counter-intuitive, especially if players are building their civilization to success through combat. It can also get players into trouble with the city cap, another strange constraint that “humankind” places on empires. The game penalizes players who make their empires too large by making them less stable so that different regions can revolt, which can lead to headaches.

Other elements that feel less fleshy include espionage and religious aspects. They are in “humankind” in different forms, but don’t seem to have the same thoughtfulness as other aspects of the game. They have experience dealing with the roles they play, with developers not sure how to make them stand out like other elements.

This ultimately leads to the inevitable comparison of “civilization” to that of “humankind”. Amplitude Studios manages to make its historical strategy game distinctive, not just a poor copy of Firaxis’ more famous game. Also, these comparisons highlight the weaknesses of the new project.

“Civilization” has six iterations under its belt and countless expansion packs that have refined the series to a polished sheen. “Mankind” is still rough around the edges, but with compelling views that are worth seeing, even if some people have missed the mark. Recently, Amplitude announced its “Cultures of Africa” ​​DLC, which offers more diverse options when building a nation, but any improvements to the game’s major flaws will have to come in an expansion or sequel.


4. 2½ out of stars
Rating: Everyone 10 and up
Forum: PC, Mac and Stadia