Humankind Open Dev (Weekend #01) — First Impressions
What’s this?! Gaming content on the Fantasy Hive? I know what you’re thinking, dear Reader — the powers that be must be mad to give me such autonomy!
That’s right, we at the Hive enjoy all things fantastical and creative, and so it’s my great pleasure to bring you all some game coverage starting with Humankind, a promising grand strategy out in 2021!
I had the tremendous pleasure of taking part in the very first Open Dev weekend of Amplitude Studios’ newest game, Humankind. Players take control over the civilization—or town, perhaps?– of Babylon over the span of thirty turns, in a world ready for the taking – all to offer some actionable feedback for the development team as Amplitude gears up for their latest game’s 2021 release.
So here I am, asking the important questions, and answering them for you, dear reader.
What is Humankind? It is a 4x strategy game—an acronym that stands for the four pillars on which the basic tenets of the genre rest – Explore, Expand, Exploit, Exterminate.
If you’ve never heard of Humankind, this is the project Amplitude has geared up towards for a while now, a direct competitor to Sid Meyer’s Civilization series, aiming to do what Civ does, but better – and with swathes of fans unhappy with the recent direction Civ VI has gone in these past few years, Humankind couldn’t have found a better time to stake its territory.
How does this compete with Civilization in ways that Amplitude’s previous 4X strategy, Endless Legend, didn’t?
Humankind is a historical 4X, where Endless Legend was a fantasy one. Same genre, but the historical elements ground Humankind in a way that simply wasn’t possible with Endless Legend. In place of incomprehensible resources, the Pre-Alpha build of Humankind I played had such resources as Marble, horses, pearls and many others, both strategic and luxury, which will be recognizable to Civilization players and humankind at large.
…That’s a little pun I’ve worked in there for your reading pleasure.
A look at the tech trees reveals another big shift in design – Endless Legends had a radial tech tree, while Humankind’s is much like the tech tree in Civ – linear but branching out, clusters of technologies differentiated across the historical ages of our own development.
The way settling territories works has been reworked – at least in this build, every unit had the ability to create a settlement in neutral territory. These settlements can either be grown into cities of their own, or they can be assimilated in the greater territory of another city. In this design decision, Humankind breaks not only from Civ but also from Endless Legend; both older games made use of settler units. It’s an interesting system, and I’m eager to see how it will work when coupled with other factions all grasping for the same territory.
Combat functions differently than it does in Civilization VI, with a system that aims to improve on the turn-based grid combat in Endless Legend. Seeing as this scenario was sparse on enemies other than deer, the original foe of mankind, I shall save judgment for this aspect of Humankind later. I’m intrigued, for what it’s worth.
All 4X strategy games – in fact, all turn-based strategy games – aim to keep the player glued to the chair, desperate to play “just one more turn,” a phrase painfully familiar to every Civilization player, past and present.
And the music! I’ve left a stretch of the game at the end of the video free of my grating voice, for you all to experience the music if you so wish – the few tracks I heard were stunning, beautiful pieces that I could spend dozens of hours listening to. Talk about music enhancing gameplay!
It’s a rare thing to go into a pre-alpha excited for a game, and walk away from it even more excited; but after playing Humankind’s Babylon scenario, I am more eager than ever to see Amplitude’s vision for this game realised. I might have played this for less than an hour, but had I the opportunity to progress past those 30 days, I would’ve sunk another five hours, easy, before I knew what was happening. It’s a strange experience, to be so enchanted with a game this early on – but a wonderful one, as well.
 I might’ve used some monster sounds, along with a picture of a murderer-deer in the video.