Looking back across the Civilization series, things have changed dramatically in the 25 years since the first game hit shelves and set the benchmark for what it means to be a 'strategy game'. In that time we've seen Civ titles jump from 2D to 3D, introduce mods, online multiplayer and perhaps most importantly of all, hexagonal tiles. However, one thing has always remained a constant. One person has been there throughout this entire journey.
By the time Firaxis had pumped out Civ 4's second expansion, Beyond the Sword, the legendary history-builder was as tight, wide-ranging and complex as it had ever been. No small world wonder, then, that when a trendy, slim-line Civilization 5 scooted in on a pair of wheelies and did a 'Fonzie-point' with thumb and forefinger towards newer players some Civ acolytes elected to stay behind.
For many, systems like Religion and Espionage had become part of the bedrock, as integral to Civ as the desire to crush those bastard Romans. It was seemingly impossible for some to go without the complexity, hexagons or no. With Gods and Kings, then, Firaxis aims to let Civ 5 emit enough cultural significance to retake the allegiance of the players who currently sit beyond its borders.
First on the agenda, then, is the reintroduction of religion. Could this be the point that we can answer the enduring question of 'Which religion is best?' without resorting to the 'Well, my one, obviously' default?
The eponymous Sid Meier and starlet Firaxis designer Soren Johnson are putting a brave face on it. "It's good to travel," says Johnson blearily, "but I think we're really looking forward to getting home."