Civilization celebrated its 25th anniversary last year, marking it as one of the most successful strategy game franchises we've ever seen. Its popularity hasn't waned either. If you look at the list of top played games on Steam right now, you'll likely find both Civ 6 and 5 holding their own. This series is huge.
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.
Ever sat there day-dreaming what planet Earth might look like in 2000 years time? Well, according to a 10-year-long game of Sid Meier's classic 1996 strategy sim Civilisation 2 it won't be a pretty place.
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?
Speaking at the Game Developers Conference, Sid Meier has declared that 2011 is "the year of Civilization".