HUMANKIND Review – A different breed

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HUMANKIND is the next big historical strategy game. That’s both a statement of its aims and my feelings about it. Honestly, if you’re into strategy games and history in the slightest, that’ll probably be a good enough reason for you to stop reading this and just go and buy it, assuming you haven’t done so already.

If you’re still here, then let me break things down for you a bit more. HUMANKIND is the latest game from Amplitude who are famed for their “Endless” series which spans a few different genres, but generally has a heavy focus on the strategic leaning that continues here. The difference is that, where a lot of their games have had science fiction settings, Humankind takes on a far more realistic approach that will see it compared to the likes of Civilization VI.

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It’s not just the setting that’s familiar either. Most strategy games share a similar gameplay pattern nowadays of building up your people, researching, and learning how to deal with others, but HUMANKIND feels a bit more granular than Civ 6, while somehow managing to make that feel more approachable.

Humankind Review Trains

It’s all up to you

You take control of what starts off as a small tribe of people. Your first objective is to move around the world, explore the scenery, find some food and curiosities, and gain more members so that you can have them split off and adventure out on their own too. That all allows you to explore faster, and most importantly, eventually set up a nice home for everyone.

At this point, Humankind shifts into what is effectively its true form: the pursuit of advancement. Well, that’s your general overarching goal anyway, but it’s not really that simple. While your main aim is to get to the next age and keep moving forwards, the ways in which this can be achieved are varied, and the things that can happen along the way are uncountable.

Along with picking which civilisation to guide as you go, you’ll also have to manage how you interact with your own people. You’ll need to make decisions about what to do if fighting becomes popular, or if someone hordes mushrooms and keeps that knowledge from the tribe. You’ll also need to decide what technology to research and how you should expand, keeping in mind that every decision has pros and cons, and both short and long term implications.

Humankind Review Diplomacy

It’s a lot easier than you’d think

You also have to manage how you’re going to advance, what kind of civilisation you’re going to be, whether you should be going to war with your neighbours or trading with them, and how exactly all of that should play out. While it’s all a huge amount of fun, it’s also a lot. The scope of this game is such that, it would typically be too much to expect from anyone other than regular players of the genre to find that fun.

However, one of the biggest things HUMANKIND has going for it is the exceptional tutorials. When you first load up the game, it asks you for your experience level, and I implore everyone, no matter how good you think you are, to check out the Beginner’s Tutorial. It absolutely nails the level of hand-holding needed to help you become familiar with things.

Humankind Review World Map

It’s the simple things

It’s in the little things too, like how the “End Turn” button will let you know if you’ve got units you need to move, diplomacy to take part in, or some special event that needs your attention. HUMANKIND seems to understand that it’s not a simple game and that 4X strategy is not a simple genre, so it does everything it can to be accessible anyway, and it works. Plus, if you’re playing as a civilisation that isn’t working for you, you can just change it up next time you move to a new era.

I have no doubts that in a couple of months I’ll look back on how I’m playing the game now with disdain and disgust, because I’ll have learnt so much more about this game.

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Summary
HUMANKIND is as deep as you could possibly want from a 4X strategy game, but the constant addition of new things to think about never feels overwhelming because everything's explained so well, and often with a good bit of humour too. It's an excellent game, and if you've never delved into the 4X genre before, this might be your best chance to do so.
Good
  • Truly excellent tutorials
  • Absurdly deep gameplay systems
  • Surprisingly funny
Bad
  • Can feel a little slow to begin with
  • Each game will take you hundreds of real-world years to complete
9
Written by
Jason can often be found writing guides or reviewing games that are meant to be hard. Other than that he occasionally roams around a gym and also spends a lot of time squidging his daughter's face.