Old World is almost the perfect mix of Civilization and Crusader Kings III


If you love 4X games and haven’t tried Old World yet, you should definitely have a game. While humanity has garnered a lot of attention as the next Pepsi to Civilization’s Coke, you may not have been. – be unaware of this nice little bottle of Dr Pepper, which has been brewed in Early Access for most of a year. It launched in full last week – and having played intermittently since then, I want to give you a big recommendation. To begin this recommendation, I will resort to my age-old tradition of a seemingly irrelevant animal fact, which suddenly deviates into a metaphor.

Lizards. We all love them, we all respect them. But sometimes you just want to think of another reptile. The closest alternative that most people are looking for is a creature known as a snake, or “stretch lizard” (which is basically the same as a normal lizard but with tidy legs and sticking teeth. poison). Snakes are cool.

But what about the tuatara? He’s a little green guy; lives in New Zealand. About the size of a shoe. It’s one in the picture on the right there. You’re probably laughing at me because it looks like it’s just a lizard, but it’s not. The tuatara is the only representative of its own branch of reptile, seated at a few tables of the lizards in the Linnaean canteen. He barely changed in 240 million years, and he really is a very strange boy.

The Tuataras can live a few centuries casually, as if they couldn’t die in the ass. They live in holes, with seabirds as roommates, and they have a light-sensitive third eye under the skin on the top of their heads. It is unreasonable. Indeed, although they pose no threat to humans, the tuatara were traditionally viewed by Maori as emissaries from the god of death, simply because their vibrations are so unusual aggressive.

And therefore to the Old World. It’s extremely difficult for a 4X game to look like anything other than a generic 4X game – or more specifically, the civilization that defines the genre and its descendants – at first glance. Old World, as Steve Hogarty beautifully put it in his Early Access review, is no exception. But once you get familiar with it, you’ll quickly find that this is no ordinary lizard. Just like the tuatara with its ultra-bizarre subcutaneous voyeur, the Old World hides a completely different nature.

An elephant bigger than the Hanging Gardens of Babylon? It’s a 4X game for sure.

What is it then? For my first two games, even after playing a first version a while back, I had no idea. There were about a billion different resources, and I had to constantly make decisions on which to accumulate the most, although I had little idea of ​​their comparative values. Plus, there was some sort of Crusader Kings affair going on, with vengeful aunts, hunting trips gone awry, and a whole royal personal life to manage on behalf of my Sovereign.

Honestly, I would advise you not to invest in your first few times in Old World. Don’t try to win, because you will only lose yourself. Just stand in line, make decisions based entirely on your intuition, and focus on gut feelings as to what happens as a result of them. Sooner or later the game will click for you – you will understand how resources behave in the long run and how you can leverage them to find your way to the situations you want to be in.

Each of your leaders must decide on their lifelong ambitions, such as “building seven cities” or “eating a million crisps”.

Essentially, Old World is a commercial game. Each of your leaders (because in another parallel to Crusader Kings, you play successive throne holders) must decide on lifelong ambitions, such as “building seven cities” or “eating a million crisps”. Completing an ambition doesn’t just speed up your progress on the victory score track. It also increases your “legitimacy” stat, which in addition to generally making you more efficient, gives another stat a major boost: Orders.

The number of orders you receive per turn is, ultimately, the most important number in the game. It prescribes how many things can be done, with each order convertible into a unit move, attack, turn. tile improvement work, unit improvement, and so on. The more orders you have, the greater the proportion of your Empire Machine that can be put into action each turn.

This might be a really unnecessary screenshot showing some menus or something to go along with the explanation above, but instead I chose to celebrate the fact that you can name features on the map if you find them first. . I named this river ‘WetMan’.

As such, then, when your leader has an ambition, you are focusing all of your efforts on trying to achieve it. And in a nice feedback loop, the more legitimacy you have, the more your civilization can be fully geared towards the goal in question. It’s a crisp design. But it is not an easy matter to master. What at first glance seems obvious towards a goal, can often turn out to be such an ineffective path that other areas of development are totally neglected, areas that can prove crucial to achieving the new ambitions that may arise. any time.

This is where the trade comes in. Let’s say you are determined to build these seven cities, for example. Rather than spamming the settlers, you can choose to build workers instead, who continue to build quarries, thus increasing your stone generation. With this stone, you build urban upgrades, which increase your civic generation, allowing you to pass a major law that provides you with a free settler unit. During the time it would have taken you to build the settler, you’ve beefed up several other stat generators … and when your king then decides that his next ambition is to build something that costs a bunch of stones, you feel good enough.

Etc. There are thirteen resources in the game, all of which behave in completely different ways, and dozens of mechanics by which they can influence each other. In fact, it’s not a world far from the latest game from Mohawk developer, Offworld Trading Company, which was based on a similar design premise. And it works really well here. In my last post on Humankind, the other big Civ competitor I have in my sights, I lamented the tendency of 4X games to gravitate towards obvious choices, in a genre that is the richest when it overwhelms you. of dilemmas. Old World manages to cleverly avoid this, with pretty much any decision it throws at you requiring some degree of lateral thinking and head scratching.

Old World is arguably the smartest boxer fighting for the historic 4X crown. But how much fun is it? Not quite also fun, maybe. No matter how you cut it, there’s a lot of math in this cake. And Old World is, in my experience so far, much slower to play than Civ or Humankind. Almost all of the game takes place in the first two historical eras covered by these others, and despite a plethora of features to help shorten a game’s 200 turns, they still take a long time to pass. It’s certainly not dry, but it’s more about patience and thought than quick rewards, with a lot of factors to consider on each turn.

Diplomacy is another area where the Old World deviates sharply from the norm, thanks to the game having a much deeper mine of character modeling to draw from – commerce, for example, is a narrative process involved, rather than a case of Spartan rando bursting onto the screen to make irrational claims for the secrets of ceramics.

Additionally, while the writing is both ample and excellent, I sometimes find the role-playing element of the game slightly at odds with the rest. The interactions you have with your own family, the other great families in your empire, and the rulers of other empires are sure to be interesting and rewarding. It’s as impressive as crikey that the Mohawks have found a robust, albeit simplified, answer to Crusader Kings at a time like making them not-so-civlike. But you honestly can’t play a role when character interactions serve as an additional channel for making a profitable exchange of integers. Interesting stories are generated nonetheless, but they unfold according to the expedition’s plans, rather than on a whim.

I’m suddenly not sure it’s a good idea to put so much value into a game’s ability to eat the rest of your life by tapping into hominid brain wiring.

It is usually at this stage of the praise of a 4X game that the “one more turn” factor is discussed. But I had a little revelation about it recently. I’m suddenly not sure it’s a good idea to put so much value into a game’s ability to eat the rest of your life by tapping into hominid brain wiring. Imagine if alcoholic beverage advertisements described “that ‘one more glass’ factor,” or if wine critics enthusiastically wrote about a vintage’s potential to turn your life into an addictive nightmare. I don’t know, it was just an idea.

Which leads me to assure you that the Old World is still compulsive, if that’s what you’re after. However, it’s heavier on the thinkbag than similar games, and I often find that sessions end after a very reasonable amount of time, because my brain decides that it might be nicer not to dabble a bit with dozens of fluctuating abstract bars. and you know what? It may not be a bad thing.

NB – for those about to comment on my take on snakes in paragraph two: yes, I know the difference between venom and poison. And about legless lizards. Sometimes precision has to be sacrificed for a nicer sentence. You will never defeat me in the reptile arena.


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