Since Civilization 5 released last year in early October, there has been a torrent of negativity spewed at it from the veteran Civ community. In comparison to previous Civ installments (primarily Civ 4), it has been labled “dumbed down”, “restructured for mass appeal”, made into a “casual game”…and the list goes on. The general feeling among Civ vets is that Civ 5 is the Wii of Civilization progression.

And yet, when I hear this, something just does not jive. I played every Civ from launch (okay, I may have been a little late on Civ 1, since I was around ten years old at a time when PC gaming truly was for nerds only), including Civ 4 and Civ 5. For each installment, I played probably around 200-500 hours total – not as much as the uber-vets, but still more than enough to have an adequate frame of reference. All versions were quite easy to understand and control because Firaxis (and before that, Microprose) specifically designed them that way. None of them has been as complex or “realistic” as the Europa Universalis or Hearts of Iron games. In short, a young person could easily pick up the game, learn all the mechanics and manipulate them quite adroitly within a few play sessions.

So right there, all Civ games have a baseline ceiling on how complex they are and considering the other games I mentioned, Civ is decidedly “simple”. But let’s narrow the focus. Is Civ 4 the “adult strategy game” to Civ 5’s “Fisher Price Fun Time”?

To analyze this, we have to break both games down to their differing component features (this is one of the few times the “Objectivism” in the site name is going to come into play). Let’s take combat first, because it’s the most glaring difference. In Civ 4, you could stack as many units into a tile as you wanted and strategically, it only made sense to. Armies, both on the player side and the AI side were organized into “Stacks of Doom” (SoD). When considering how much strategy is involved in simply steamrolling a SoD across a map, landing it next to city, and pounding away at it, you begin to realize that war in Civ 4 was akin to a giant wooden maul with which you beat on your opponents.

Civ 5, on the other hand, in limiting units to one unit per tile, forces the player to take terrain into account, protect ranged and injured units, and just generally spend way more time planning, or “strategizing”. Where in Civ 4 you would routinely have giant SoD hammering away on each other or a city, in Civ 5, you have combat taking place across a wide swath of ground, often with many hotspots and lots of advances and retreats. Compare armies below:

Top: A giant army composed of dozens of personality-less units. Bottom: A war where every unit is precious and needs loving attention to survive.

So, combat is clearly much more complex in Civ 5. Next would have to be diplomacy. Here, I just don’t see much difference between the two games. You can still trade resources (which are made much more important in Civ 5 for happiness reasons), gold and cities, make defensive pacts, join in cooperative wars, and even enter into non-formal “friendships” and denunciations. So what is missing? Civ 4 had religions, which were the main dividing lines between blocks of alliances. If I was Buddhist and you were Hindu, chances are, we weren’t going to be friends, until maybe later in the game. Does this add complexity? No, what it adds is arbitrariness. Instead of the AI disliking or liking you based on what you do (the actions you take regarding settling cities, gathering troops worryingly close, etc), the AI was disliking or liking who you are. In essence, it was almost like racism. It worked okay in Civ 4, but when you really analyze it, it was never the wonderful system that people remember it to be. Finally, you can’t trade maps or technologies in Civ 5. Does that make it less complex? I suppose in some slight way, but it does serve to keep all the different civilizations from instantly catching up to each other in the middle ages, making for a more varied game experience.

If anything, diplomacy is a draw, with neither game being definitively more “deep” than the other. What are the other differences? There’s the big debate between social policies and civics. Essentially, this boils down to what type of domestic policy your civilization is going to employ. In Civ 4, you were given a 5×5 list of choices and made to pick one from each column. Each choice had both bonuses and drawbacks. For the most part, and this has been confirmed multiple times by devs and their play-testing experiences, people had their chosen wartime civics and peacetime civics and would switch back and forth as needed. But even more common was that players would simply pick the least detrimental set of civics and then sit on them all game, never even bothering to check the civics screen again. Clearly, while the system wasn’t awful, it also wasn’t super-engaging.

Along comes Civ 5’s social policies. Here, instead of a random mish-mash of 25 civics, the player has their choice of 50 bonuses (no drawbacks). Now instead of locking yourself into wartime/peacetime alternates or just the “lesser of all evils”, you have a smorgasbord of desirable paths to take. In this way, you can play the same civilization in completely different ways each playthrough, effectively roleplaying differently each time. Greece of last game may have been all about expansion (with an ungodly settler creating ability) but the Greece of this game is all about defending its smaller borders (with the military bonuses to back it up). And because there are no detrimental factors to consider (other than losing out on alternate bonuses), visiting the social policy screen is a joy, not a chore.

But none of that answers the question of complexity. Is one system more complex or “adult” than the other? Only in the minutia. Civics, assuming you are really grappling with the system as all “veterans” claim to, were all about creating constant cost/benefit analyses. You had to factor in which drawbacks were worth suffering and which bonuses you needed, right now. On top of that you had to factor in the “Is this worth going through a few turns of anarchy over (anarchy being the game’s way of punishing you for switching civics)?” Social Policies, on the other hand, is more about budget management. First off you have a limited amount of choices in one game, usually a bunch at the start and then less and less as the game goes on. You have to think to yourself, “I’m not going to get another policy for another 20 turns at least, I have to make this selection count”. You also have the tough choice between two or three policies that would all help you greatly, and you have to make the tough call (like choosing between which of your children survives). Both have a certain level of “complexity”, such that neither really stands out as deeper than the other, but I sure know which one I enjoy playing with more.

Social Policies are also prettier than Civics. But that's another irrelevant factor.

Happiness is really the only remaining difference between the two games, and here I can definitely throw Civ 4 a bone. The happiness and healthiness factors were certainly more complex than the current happiness system in place with Civ 5. From what I can remember, happiness in Civ 4 was all about production and when your city dipped into negative territory, the entire city would start shutting down, one citizen at a time. Health was all about city growth and having a stinky city (literally, there were stink lines), meant no growth or even starvation. The big difference between this system and Civ 5 is that it was city-based – every city had their own individual levels of health and happiness. Conversely, Civ 5’s happiness corresponds to production, growth and even military ability (it’s the all encompassing “how is my empire doing” meter).

This is a clear example, in my mind, of complexity for complexity’s sake.  I’m not sure how dividing up the different meters, not just between production and growth, but also between each city, helped make the game any more “deep”. I suppose this type of gameplay appeals to the micro-managers among us, but in order to find this gameplay fun, you have to enjoy micro-management as a concept. In gaming, you can’t rely on a player’s own OCD to generate fun. If you make a gameplay feature all about the minutia, you have to really draw the player in and make the minutia fun in and of itself. I don’t believe Civ 4 did that, and from my point of view, health and happiness were just mild annoyances that I ignored until they went away (which they almost always did). But I digress, this isn’t about which system is more fun, it’s about which is more complex. Civ 4’s system is certainly more complex.

Totaling the score, we have Civ 5 with deeper combat, Civ 4 with deeper happiness, and a draw across the rest of the board. That, essentially, denotes a tie (and if you had to pick between Civ 5’s war and Civ 4’s happiness, I think we all know what everyone will pick).

One small caveat: There is a big difference between design and execution. Many may be thinking “He didn’t even talk about AI!” This is because AI, and how good it is at playing the game against you, is all about execution. Civ 5’s AI in not even close to on-par with where Civ 4’s AI ended up being by the last patch. This difference does not address design complexity though. It may make the AI a more fun opponent in Civ 4, but “more fun” does not equal “complex”.

113 thoughts on “Civ 5 vs Civ 4 – Public Perception vs Reality

  1. Well, but you dont test a main thing – civilization. In Civ4 i was felt that i build smt. In civ5 – its only matter of gold/happy accumulation. There is simply no civilization building in civ5. No climate.
    New battle rules are indeed very good – but it is only one thing better than civ4. And even in battle – where is possibility to cutting off startegic res, where is bombarding this, where…

    Civ4 (with RoM) + battle from civ5 only – and we have perfect civ :)

    besides – civ5 is the first civ game with step back in rules/mechanics. Civ2 was better and more complexed from 1, 3 from 2, and 4 from 3. But no 5 – and IT IS for casual.

  2. Excellent writeup. You manage to view it from a very objective viewpoint, even on matters that are incredibly hard to be objective about.

  3. Thanks for the info. Very interesting. My favorite is still Civ II, actually. Yeah, Civ IV was also great, but by then, I’d just played Civilization for too many years, I suppose.

    So I haven’t tried Civ V yet, but I’m tempted. (Right now, I’m playing X-Com: UFO Defense – for the umpteenth time.)

    Thanks again for the post! Nice job!

    1. I remember playing the demo for X-com a million times as a kid…maybe I should get that and play the full version finally. You can still jump on the Civ 5 for $17 deal on Steam if you hurry!

  4. Thank you very much for informing a new civ user of the differences between the games.

    At the moment, I am looking into which game I should buy; if anybody has any suggestions, please leave a response.

    1. It really depends on a great many things. First and foremost, do you have a PC with decent hardware, capable of running modern games. If so, I would say Civ 5 is the better experience, especially after all the patching that’s been done over the past year. However, if you are on a tight budget, you can pick Civ 4 up very cheaply on Steam and have an awesome game there too. Civ 5 is the better game, but it’s more demanding and more expensive.

  5. i personaly like the way that war works in Civ 4. Becuase, yea you have to take care of units and stupid shit like that in Civ 5 BUT militaties in history did NOT win wars like in Civ 5. They did what you do in Civ 4, get a FUCK LOAD of units and keep your economy going and just take city after cityuntill you rule the whole world under your panzer weilding fist. nothing beter than a stack of 50 panzers going in to destroy an entire civilization.

    1. I disagree. In fact, the few times when commanders threw waves after waves of men at the enemy (such as the Russians during WW2) were notable precisely because it was so wasteful and inefficient. When studying wars like the American Civil War and War of Independence, it’s clear that clever maneuvering and effective use of your own, and destruction of enemy, supply lines is how you win a war. If you are trying to win a war by attrition alone, you are doing something very wrong.

      1. What your saying is true for an individual battle, but this is supposed to be civilization, not a battle strategy game. The reason in the one example you gave of the russians in WW2 is because they were sending wave after wave of riflemen at panzers. The example Alex was giving is that to stay active in a long term war requires careful management of your economy and resources to keep pumping out military units, not have unhappy people, and still keep up with science and other production. This is where sim5 royally fails.

    2. Excellent point, Hitler’s panzer division could be considered a stack… As well as basically all other armies throughout history… CIV 5 sucks in warfare and almost every other way

  6. i play civilization since civ1. one of those nerds that did play comp games back in the days :)
    your point of view may look like objective to an average gamer, who has not played much of civ4 and civ5, but infact its not. your comparisons are mostly done as if taken from a brochure of announced feautures, but does not reflect the ingame experience of those features.

    i played the game at its first 6 months, and my experience when compared to civ4 was not so promising.

    1- combat is better in civ5 argument
    we had such debate when offense/defense/movepoints trio system was removed back in the old days. In the end, nobody misses the old stat system.
    So, civ5 system is also better than civ4 one?
    civ 5 introduces hex tiles, limited number of resource-based units and a strategic placement of units. SOD in civ4 was so bad, this new system was perfect.
    implementation? well, we have some serious problems there. AI is so stupid, it never did attack any vital units.just kept getting hammered by my ranged units, while crawling around like stupid zombies. also in the new system, i only build 5-6 units and keep upgrading them. thats all. nothing else is needed.
    so new combat has some serious AI issues, and using same units through whole game (if you are not a warmonger) is encouraged. Civ 4 had better AI? nah, it didnt. SOD system was an awful design, but more suitable for primitive combat AI, covering how stupid AI is.

    2- diplomacy has some positives and some negatives, so lets call it a draw argument

    well, diplomacy in civ5 is much and much more complex in what it considers, how it calculates it. really, i appreciate the level of depth that is put in that code. AI decision making takes in to consideration so many things that after hearing them all, you say “wow!” thats really what i wanted to happen for years.
    the problem is, being many things getting in to consideration and AI relations between each other and CS makes the AI really really unpredictable. which would be good if it did have decent reasoning. but instead you end up getting chain denounced by the world for no apparent reason. also AI gets silly diplomacy negatives such as ” you did not keep your promise” for things like “dont settle new cities near my border”, while the last city you did settle was a 1000 years ago and his border was far far far far away back then.

    civ4 diplomacy better? not in complexity, but at least stable and somehow predictable to a degree.

    1. I agree, execution of the original Civ 5 design ideas needs help. Diplomacy is not interesting enough and combat is too easy to win against the AI. Both of these are getting huge overhauls in the expansion, however, so in a few months, this whole debate could be flipped on its head. Thanks for reading and commenting.

  7. While I do enjoy the combat in Sim5, the rest of the game has essentially lost its elements of strategic planning. Civ 5 has basically been turned into nothing more than a combat strategy game (and one with a dumb AI at that). The religious aspect of Civ4 was not arbitrary, it was very strategic, as were setting civics. Maintaining a thriving culture that had high enough science output to compete with other world powers was always a challenge. The game basically reverted itself back to civ1 levels on all but military strategy. While it is a fun game, it is for those who are less into die hard strategy and just want a strategic combat game.

  8. I never played civ 1 and 2. I played a lil of Civ 3, but was too young to really understand the game. Civ 4 was THE game for me. My maturity level had risen for it, and I was able to truly delve into the game for countless of hours. I was really psyched about CIV 5, I pre-ordered it and everything. But the evidence of which game I like more rests in my play time. I tried delving into CIV 5, and for whatever reason, it could not hold my attention. I re-installed CIV 4 to see if maybe I jsut don’t care for the whole 4X games anymore, but that wasn’t so, I went back to playing CIV 4 for hours again. I like the combat system in CIV 5, but unfortunately that was it. City states are useless, no where near as interactive and game changing as I had expected them to be, Im not really a big fan of the whole point system of the new Social policies, I liked the positives and negatives of changing governments between war times and peace times, the social policies just feel like an over simplified level up system.

    I also really dislike the whole, buying individual civilizations. Now sure, when I was a kid, I was essentially buying just the civilizations when playing 3 and 4, but in reality I was getting alot of bang for my buck with the rest of the expansions that expanded and added to the game other than just civilizations. Having to buy civilizations pisses me off now (not due to lack of money, just dislike how pc gaming is turning into xbox 360 buy horse armor dlc from oblivion shit, rahter than just make my own horse armor for oblivion). The AI has never been crazy great with the CIV games during war time, but the new system of combat does make the AI seem really bad. Plus Im a big fan of world maps and true start location maps, and the new combat system really… just doesnt work with these maps haha. An archer shooting over a square tile is essentially saying the archers are shooting arrows over a distance of thousands of miles. Which is a lil annoying coupled with the bad AI. But it was definitely a step in the right direction for the next one, maybe next time theyll allow a lil stacking, but not 20+ stacks again haha. But once again, the evidence of the better game (atleast for me ) lies in how much I continue playing it. I got a new laptop for my first year of college last semester… and well. I havent reinstalled CIV 5, but I have reinstalled CIV 4 (And thats not cause my laptop cant handle civ 5 haha )

    1. Well, there are also some people that claim FF7 is the best Final Fantasy game ever made and everything since then and before that pales in comparison. I call those people “nostalgic” :) In all seriousness, it sounds like you’ve thought through your likes and dislikes, but I really can’t relate to them. Everything you say you dislike about Civ 5, I view as an upgrade. But taste is taste, can’t really debate that objectively.

      I can debate DLC, however. I would argue that DLC is way better for the consumer and for one reason: choice. Whereas before, where you were stuck with an expansion where there was some stuff you like, some stuff you didn’t care about, but all of it you had to pay for, there was very little choice. It was a binary decision, do I pay for all of it, or none of it. It was very publisher-friendly because you essentially had people paying for a whole “meal” even if they only wanted the steak.

      DLC is a Libertarian dream: you pay for exactly what you get. If you don’t care for this or that Civ (or map pack, or wonders add-on), you just skip it. Yes, they are more than if you just bought an expansion, but if all you want is Korea, $5 is less than $30. Plus, since the game is on Steam, you get Civ 5 going on sale every other month! You can get this stuff for 75% off quite often.

      What I don’t understand about anti-DLC attitude is the feeling that people seem to have. I gather that people, with their completionist OCD, feel compelled to buy this stuff, because otherwise they only own “part of a game”. This is a deeply flawed, and somewhat entitled, viewpoint. These are add-ons, ones which someone had to work on and get funding for. If you buy a drill, you aren’t entitled to the extra drill bit set. It’s an add-on. You also don’t need to buy the extra drill bits. But that’s how capitalism works. And the fact that so many younger people hate DLC, just worries me that what that essentially means is that our younger generations REALLY hate capitalism.

      1. Ehhh… NO…
        You are totally wrong… atleast in MY case…
        I’m a supporter of the Expansions instead of DLC’s. I know that I don’t feel that way because I “don’t own part of the game”… I feel that I want the full package since it gives me the most choices… Features of ANY product all boil down to ONE BASIC DESIRE
        …wait for it…
        CHOICE – As long as the consumer can experience all of the options, they can choose to primarily use the ones the like the most. If you have DLC’s, you don’t know what you’re even missing out on… this would work better if they fully described EVERYTHING in GREAT DETAIL on DLC’s.. but nobody ever seems to get that right.
        Not to mention that buying a single drill bit is a lot more expensive than buying the whole set. Unfortunately, our PC gaming market, along with Microsoft’s Xbox market, has been set up in this way… They act like programming has a mass-production phase… It DISGUSTS ME THAT THEY SCAM US LIKE THAT. IT COST NOOOOTHHHINNGGGGGGG to massively produce DATA… NOTHING…. AT ALL….. RIGHT CLICK…. COPY…. PASTE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
        Microsoft was the first to use this SCAM with their Xbox… now game developers have followed suit… greedy bastards… and that’s a HUGE reason I don’t support DLC’s… GREEEEEED… Content with expansions ALWAYS have more bang for your buck… where if they separate it into DLC’s, they seem to think they can triple the overall price for everything… I don’t support greedy fucks that care more about money than satisfaction.. it’s dishonesty in its core…

        1. Well, first off, you misunderstand even the concept of manufacturing. When you pay for drill bits, you aren’t just paying for the cost of the manufacturing process. You are paying for the mind that thought of creating those drill bits, for the mind the created that drill, for the mind that created the factory machines that made the drill bits, etc. Those costs come down over time, but they are still present. Likewise, the fact that you can copy and paste data doesn’t mean it should be free. There is still a mind behind those DLCs that needs compensation. That’s the very basis of capitalism.

          The full package is the base game. It’s full, it’s complete. DLC are add-ons. Just because YOU feel like added content makes your base game incomplete, doesn’t mean that’s true. I mean, do you get all upset when new Magic: The Gathering cards come out? Do you say “Now my card collection is incomplete!” It’s the same principle.

  9. “Does [religion] add complexity? No, what it adds is arbitrariness.”

    Eh, no. You seem to be presuming that the player has little or no control over the AI’s religion. This is not the case at all. Developing and spreading your religion around can be quite useful- especially with the early diplomatic victory introduced in BtS. The religion system added a whole new layer of strategy- another enticing set of actions to balance against all your other existing building and research priorities. How can you miss that? Serious blind spot dude- serious blind spot. But then, ‘Objectivism’ is a philosophy made entirely of blind spots so it stands to reason.

    And the flexibility of the ‘civic’ system created whole new layers of strategy. The unchangeable bonuses that CIV 5 replaced civics with is a big frustrating step backward because it replaces a system of expanding situation-based choices with a set of static bonuses.

    I’m with you on combat, except that not being able to stack non-combat units is a pointless hassle. They gave us improved graphics, they gave us a slightly more sophisticated combat system. And then they went and shat on everything else, including the AI that is supposed to make that combat system more than a pretty array of bells and whistles. Ain’t that always the way though?

    1. Yeah, your arguments pretty much mirror most of the Civ 4 defenders. You are right that one can spread their religion around to affect change, but unless you spent a good deal of your resources doing that, it wasn’t the easiest thing to do. Maybe that’s not such a bad thing. *shrug* Anyway, I’m looking forward to religion in Civ 5, as it seems to be much more complex and interesting anyway.

      “How can you miss that? Serious blind spot dude- serious blind spot. But then, ‘Objectivism’ is a philosophy made entirely of blind spots so it stands to reason.”
      Care to back that up? Or was it just a feeble potshot? From what I can tell, Objectivism is the only philosophy I’ve seen that doesn’t have any blind spots or contradictions.

  10. Reading the wall of option that Civ 4 is better than Civ 5 I cannot help but wonder will no one stick up for Civ 5 is there no one?

    Unfortunate it’s not me. Having played both games (and 1, 2 and 3) for more hours I will admit to my wife I can say that Civ 4 is the much better game, which seems to be the generally consensus The patches and new expansion pack all seem to be a case of trying to reinstate what was lost from Civ 4

    So “Civ 5 vs. Civ 4 – Public Perception vs. Reality” sorry mate but the perception is also the reality Civ 5 is a dumb down pale shadow of what a Civ game should be and has brought shame to its ancestors.

    1. No, it isn’t the general consensus. The “silent majority” just plays the game and never logs onto forums to post about it. And the Steam stats bear that out: Civ 5 is a super-popular game. Can’t say which one is more popular, but saying there is a “consensus” would imply that Civ 5 is a failure, which it clearly isn’t. And also no, the patches have made Civ 5’s features more pronounced and unique from Civ 4. I mean, look at what they are doing with Civ 5 religion…completely different and more complex than Civ 4.

      False consensus theory is at play with you in a heavy way :)

  11. If you are going to be objective, especially if the purpose if so see if all the “hate” against civ 5 is true – you need to look ESPECIALLY at the things people are hating on – mainly AI, value for money, amount of content, and general stability.

    You covered NONE of these things. Therefore I consider this review to be worthless, as anybody with half a brain could assess and come to the conclusions you made in minutes after playing both games.

    1. The article was about complexity, which is different than the more general “quality”. Thanks for bothering to post on my site, thus proving that my article was not worthless at all! It had worth enough to strongly dislike it :)

  12. Sorry installed it and play it for a night and it’s still not as deep as Civ 4.

    “Can’t say which one is more popular, but saying there is a “consensus” would imply that Civ 5 is a failure, which it clearly isn’t.”

    I don’t think Civ 5 is a failure I just think it’s not as good as Civ 4, the drive to be different and reinvent the series has turned Civ 5 in to a very different game which in my option is a backward step.

    “And the Steam stats bear that out: Civ 5 is a super-popular game.”

    As Civ 4 predates steams rise to universal popularity I am not surprised that people with no knowledge of the Civ series would go for 5 as it’s the newer and so the “best”. The steam Civ forum has loads of posts from people asking which they should buy and the majority of replays is Civ 4.

    “The “silent majority” just plays the game and never logs onto forums to post about it”

    Or those who play Civ 5 are just not moved by the experience of playing a truly great game and it is only those who have played both game and so have the most informed opinion who care to post.

    As I said come on someone out there post in support of Civ 5, anyone ?

    Anyway each to their own its all good.

    1. Lots and lots of assumptions in there. I’ll take them one by one:

      1) I have full knowledge of Civ, since Civ 1, and I love the hell out of Civ 5. I may not be representative of the majority of Civ players, but I could be. I have exactly as much evidence as you, which is to say, anecdotal. And anecdotal evidence is no evidence at all.

      2) You are just going to assume that “the most informed players” are the ones posting in favor of Civ 4? Again, you have absolutely no evidence to back that up. It’s just random guesswork based on false consensus theory.

      3) There are many, many, many posts of support of Civ 5 all over the place. If you are refering to comments on this site, I can easily explain that. People arrive at my article by typing into Google “Civ 4 vs. Civ 5”. I know this because Google Analytics tells me so. It’s actually my most popular article based on search hits. Now, people could search for that for a variety of reasons, but absolutely, a sizable percentage HAVE to be people wanting to confirm their disdain for Civ 5. People on the internet, especially gamers, LOVE to search for things that reinforce their own opinions. It’s like anonymous group therapy. So I would contend that people viewing my article found it specifically for the purpose of joining in on a “group hate” session. That’s fine, I have no problem with that, but it’s not a scientific sampling of people. It’s actually very biased.

      Anyway, it looks like the expansion will add a LOT of depth, and really, just much more to do and check each turn, especially with espionage. That should make everyone happy.

    2. I am also a Civ veteran. From Civ to Civ5. Bought Civ5 the day it came out. Only stuck with it a couple months then gave it up. Could not really get into it. But last night I reinstalled Civ5 after a long hiatus. Sure enough, after 8-10 hours of gameplay, it just doesn’t do it. I then read through this article and the replies to see if maybe, just maybe, I could figure out the reason!

      I could try to list some reasons, but it Civ5 is not a game I can get immersed in like Civ4 and previous. Civ5 looks better graphically, but the gameplay is not. Maybe it is just not complex enough. Maybe it is the way the civs are built. Maybe because it is less focused on empire building. Maybe it is the resources/less units/civics difference. Maybe even the soundtrack, which is better on Civ4. I guess it is all of these things combined. There is just something about the gameplay on Civ5 which doesn’t allow me to really get into it.

      1. I’d be interested to hear if you can narrow it down. I’m always curious why a game doesn’t “work” for someone. I would venture to guess that Civ 4 is giving you something very specific (and probably only in 1 or 2 areas) and Civ 5 doesn’t have that. Let me know if you figure it out. My friends and I play this mental game all the time “Define why you like X, but not Y, when both are very similar.” It’s the same basic idea of “Boil down these seemingly unrelated practicalities into the unifying principle.”

  13. Just one thing. there isn’t a “silent majority”. The majority logs on and complains because they are the fans. The silent ones just see it as a game, not a way of life, and usually that’s the minority

    1. Also, i’ve never played Civilization and was looking for a good RTS to get into again but after reading this, I plan to buy Civ 4

    2. Nope, there have been studies and surveys done on this. Forum users, both “fanboys” and “flamers”, are a very very small percentage of total player base. Go look it up. Most players just want to play, not talk about playing.

  14. It’s interesting, in one post you accuse Mark of having no evidence, but yet concede to Derwood that evidence does exist, only it doesn’t matter. The evidence of people complaining is still evidence, and is infinitely more concrete than a baseless assumption that there is a huge, entirely unsubstantiated, base of users who love the game and outweigh its critics. Citing sells numbers doesn’t help, as I’m sure you realize popularity in games, as with most things (TV shows, books, music, movies) certainly doesn’t equate with quality. But then again, you admit this article has nothing to do with quality…

    In my opinion, it was quite obvious that well before I finished this article you were writing from the implicit viewpoint of justifying your favorable opinion of Civ 5. In this respect, you are no different from the “fanboys”, “flamers” and those in seek of “group therapy” which you seek to deride.

    By your own admission you admit this was not a comparison of quality, and cite that as a reason you didn’t touch on several major gameplay issues.

    “The article was about complexity, which is different than the more general quality”
    -Brian Mardiney

    You go on to state this is a comparison of “complexity” only, but yet it is also apparent you don’t necessarily enjoy complexity from the statements you make. You freely admit the old health, happiness, and religious systems were more involved (a dictionary definition of complexity, by the way), and that you didn’t care for them. You go so far as to insinuate one must have OCD to enjoy the more complex aspects of the Civ 4 system.

    “Civ 4′s system is certainly more complex.”
    -Brian Mardiney

    In summary, you chose to duck the major complaints of Civ 5 under the guise of complexity, while openly declaring Civ 4 is more complex. By avoiding these other arguments, in terms of quality, you are missing the major complaints against Civ 5 which you felt compelled to defend. You feel the arguments of Civ 5 being “dumbed down” are unfair, while at the same time admitting you didn’t enjoy, and in some cases totally ignored, the more complex aspects of Civ 4. You go on to assert that complexity doesn’t equal fun, which is fine.

    Everyone is entitled to their own tastes – some people enjoy grand strategy games by Paradox, and others play Call of Duty and mash buttons. To each their own. However, it is disingenuous to admit these facts and pretend you can’t understand where the criticism levied against Civ 5 is coming from. You admit Civ 4 was more complex, and just because those systems may have been “tedious” in your eyes, you must concede that the things in which you find enjoyment or tedium aren’t necessarily shared by others. Case in point, the “others” who simply do not enjoy Civ 5 as much as Civ 4. Such as the very large collection of users of the aggregate review site, metacritic, who rate the game 67% – a failing grade.

    One last note, your dismissive swipe of “nostalgia” for those who have a different opinion than your own is particularly sophmoric. If, indeed, many people preferred Civ 4 purely out of nostalgia then it would seem to reason that they would also prefer Civ 3, and never enjoyed Civ 4. The same for Civ 2, and so on. For sure, many have played through all the incarnations of the game, such as yourself. This was just another attempt to justify your own viewpoint, a tactic you accuse others of employing.

    1. You are right on one point, I did mistype. This article is not about which game is more complex, it’s about which game has a deeper experience. I honestly lost track of that because I wrote the article last year. Anyway, complexity and depth are connected, certainly, but they aren’t synonymous. Something can be very complex (as parts of Civ 4 are) and also be shallow.

      As to the numbers, yes, obviously some people on forums don’t like Civ 5. But since we have no idea how large of a percentage that is in relation to total players, it’s entirely impossible to say anything about “consensus” or “majority”. The only hard numbers we have are sales numbers (which are incomplete because Steam doesn’t release those numbers publically) and the daily “currently playing” numbers on Steam. Based on the “currently playing” and “peak today” numbers, Civ 5 is extremely popular. There’s just no way to refute that, none whatsoever. Maybe people don’t like it, but they are playing anyway? Hard to make a case for that, but I suppose you could. In any event, those numbers are the only hard facts we have. Everything else is guess work and false consensus theory.

      As to user reviews, I shouldn’t even dignify that with an answer. If you take user reviews seriously, then we can’t even begin to come to any kind of understanding. Go check out those user reviews and see if you can somehow square the massive number of people posting that the game is a 0 simply because they don’t like one or two aspects. A 0 means that it’s literally impossible to play. That as soon as you download it or put the CD in, nothing happens. And yet user reviews toss out 0’s like they are candy. Are you really going to get behind that kind of irrationality and claim that as your “proof”? Seriously? Come now.

  15. Your article is not objective. It is ridiculously obvious that you favour Civ 5. I found your article and the criticisms you levelled at Civ 4 to be offensive.

    1. To quote my Facebook profile picture: “Announcing ‘I’m offended’ is basically telling the world you can’t control your emotions, so everyone else should do it for you.”
      I absolutely do favor Civ 5…based on objective evaluations of both games’ traits. Obviously some of it comes down to taste, but there are certain aspects where Civ 5 is clearly the better game and almost no aspects where Civ 4 is clearly better (there are lots of areas where it’s a toss-up, such as civics vs. social policies).

  16. On behalf of all those who have commented; a majority leaning towards Civilization IV as the preferred game over Civilization V, we would like to agree with Brian Mardiney on disagreeing.

    It’s not you Brian Mardiney, it’s mainly Civilization V. It just doesn’t do “enough” to hold our interest. Sure there are those silent users who don’t discuss the game online and they could be the minority or majority of Civilization V gamers, but the fact is, I along with the others who have posted comments on this very website don’t agree with you.

    Accept it. In our opinion Civilization V is just a crappy shadow of a game when compared to Civilization IV. There are more elements in Civilization IV that just work very well together, and there are just as many elements or lack thereof that don’t work very well in Civilization V. It’s very difficult to narrow down what the problems really are. Civilization IV just works, and Civilization V doesn’t.

    In my opinion, objectivity is just subjectivity in disguise. People can throw around that word all they want, but thoughts and opinions and fact and truth are always infected by emotion, which always leads to an inkling of and indirect subjectivity. Hence, objectivity is a myth. It doesn’t exist in species that experience emotions.

    1. “It’s very difficult to narrow down what the problems really are. Civilization IV just works, and Civilization V doesn’t.”

      That may be enough for you, but it’s not for me. In any game, I can narrow down where the problems are quite easily (check out my reviews). Even withe games I really like, I can very easily find the flaws in them, and talk in great detail about those flaws. I understand that not everyone has that analytical ability, but that doesn’t mean “it’s unknowable”. I agree with your sentiment that subjective opinion factors in heavily, but I very much deny that shortcomings must remain nebulous. Personally, I don’t accept forming opinions UNLESS I know exactly why I think them. Otherwise, how could my opinion mean anything? It would just be random, unsubstantiated nonsense.

      Put simply: some opinions are more right than others.

      1. Here is my analytical view:

        (Step 1) Make a list of Civilization IV features.
        (Step 2) Make a list of Civilization V features.
        (Step 3) Produce simple formulas for fun factor; after all games are made for our entertainment:

        Civilization IV Formula:
        Civilization IV (Base game) + Civilization IV [Features] – Civilization V [Features]
        = Very Fun & Addicting Experience.

        Civilization V Formula:
        Civilization V (Base game) – Civilization IV [Features] + Civilization V [Features]
        = A Lot Less Fun & Addicting Experience.

        These formulas are based on my life experiences; therefore they are not unsubstantiated.

      2. Wrong. Opinions are not facts. You say you can narrow down where the problems are quite easily. Maybe what you can do is arrive at your opinion of what is a problem quite easily, but that doesn’t mean much. What is a problem for one can be a solution to other. You obviously like 5 over 4 and that’s OK, but to disqualify other people’s opinions because you don’t agree with them is a different story. What if I perceive the ‘problem’ that both 4 and 5 have cluttered, unpleasant-to-look-at maps, dislike the colored borders in 4, find the disproportion of the archers in 5 (someone mentioned that) unbearable, etc? That’s my opinion, which it is, but not an intrinsic problem of the game.
        Then you say that you understand that not everyone has your analytical ability…(!) I found, reading what people posted here, that there’s a lot of sound analysis and intelligent input and that if anyone is stuck in anything, it’s you. To debate from a self assigned position of supremacy is not only bad manners, but also a sign of insecurity and the evidence of a lack of arguments.

        1. Well, you aren’t going to win me over by saying I have “bad manners” hehe. I don’t care about that in the slightest.

          You do make good points that problems may not be problems, etc. The problem is that very few people (both in the comments here and forums elsewhere) every really analyze things to any great degree. Like I said, an analytical, informed opinion will ALWAYS be better than the opposite. I quoted Anonymous as basically saying “I have no idea why most people (assumption) think 4 is better than 5, but it is!”. That opinion is pretty much useless. Even if I’m completely wrong in every bit of my analysis, it’s still a better, meatier opinion than his.

          Think of it like a math problem. If you show your work, write out all the steps, etc…and then it happens to be wrong, that’s much better than blindly guessing at numbers. Even if the blind guessing, through some miracle, gets you the RIGHT answer, it doesn’t really matter because you have no idea how to actually calculate it. Meanwhile the guy that showed his work can go back and correct his mistake (and learn from it).

          As for problems being objective and subjective, I disagree (for the most part). If you have a breadth of knowledge about gaming (as I do on most PC games), it’s quite easy to see where a game is either designed poorly, or designed well but executed poorly. This all comes from comparative analysis. As I said in my article, stack of doom vs 1UPT…there is no real comparison. The design of 1UPT is far deeper, makes land formations much more valuable, etc. The stack of doom (as the Firaxis devs have said THEMSELVES) was a makeshift system put in place because they couldn’t think of a better system at the time. Their answer to the stack of doom was catapults and such, but they admitted that it was a poor fix. And yes, from playing Civ 4 for years, and especially playing Civ 5 for over year, it’s clear that they were right. Social policies vs civics may be nebulous and more subjective, but combat is a clear-cut example of one design built better than another.

          Honestly, I’m not all that concerned with this debate. As I said in a previous post, the success of Civ 5 is no longer up for debate. After this latest free weekend, the peak players per day is somewhere around 30,000 people (just under Skyrim). That’s 30,000 unique players all playing at the same time every single day (we can only guess at how many play every day, total). That number is only going to increase with the expansion. Whether this person or that person prefers Civ 4 or Civ 5 is pretty moot at this point. Civ 5 is a success and those that couldn’t enjoy it…well…part of me feels bad for them, but at the same time, when I see what they complain about, and I compare it to my own approach to gaming (not just Civ, but all games), I find it hard to sympathize. Some people may have well-reasoned, thoughtful views on the matter, but most of it just comes off as “I hate change” whining. Now, if we are going to talk about execution of said design…THEN you might start to win me over (diplomacy, multiplayer, AI tactics, etc).

          1. The problem is what you obviously deal in in your article is what one would call anti-science, that is first coming to a conclusion (Civ 5 is better), and then picking out aspects of the game that you can market as evidence that your conclusion is valid, leaving out or distorting the aspects that don’t support it.

    2. I don’t mean to be an agent of the grammar police nor do I wish to be your strict English professor, but when preparing an “objective” essay, isn’t it the rule that you should omit the words “I, we, he, she, they, etc.” in the paper, which seem to personalize statements and render ideas to be subjective?

      Just a thought. I might be wrong. I haven’t been attended University in a very long time.

      1. “I haven’t been attended University in a very long time.”

        >I haven’t attended University in a very long time.<

        "Put simply: some opinions are more right than others."

        Well everyone's opinion counts for something, and in my opinion, my opinions matter more than your opinions.

        1. I didn’t say opinions are more important than others. I said they are more “right” than others. Meaning some opinions have more basis and are more informed than others.

      2. Since my opinions matter more than your opinions, based on my opinion,
        And just as well, in you opinion, your opinions matter more than my opinions,
        You can’t force your opinions to override my opinions just for your opinions’ sake,
        And I certainly can’t force my opinions to override your opinions,
        Because if we override each others’ opinions, which objectively exhibits our realities,
        Thus reflects the individuals that we are, then we render each other non-existent and invalid.
        Hence to avoid this, you should respect my opinions,
        And I will definitely respect your opinions, just for our opinions’ sake.

        Do you agree?

        1. I do agree. Your opinions are more important to you than my opinions. They just aren’t as well-thought out, as you can’t even identify what makes Civ 4 “better” than Civ 5.

          1. I’ve already stated that Civilization IV has many features that Civilization V is just now trying to incorporate.

            If you want me to go into the finer details and be very very analytical (not necessarily objective), I can certainly write up a 10 page report. I obviously won’t waste my time doing that just to prove a silly point to you unless I actually were to get paid for such reports.

            You feel that your opinion is more right than mine and many others that have commented; but I’ve already requested that we agree on disagreeing, yet you chose to nitpick my first post. You crossed that line, and all I have to say is the following:

            Games, like movies, music and art, are made purely for one’s entertainment. If they do not hold a person’s interest, then they defeat their own purpose. That is the message that I’m sending. Civilization IV does a better job of entertaining than Civilization V does based on my own life experiences and the experiences of others who have commented on this website.

            Our opinions are therefore just as right as yours are, so stop being so naggy. I wonder how your girlfriend puts up with you.

          2. Hey, you are the one that said “It’s very difficult to narrow down what the problems really are. Civilization IV just works, and Civilization V doesn’t.” I’m just responding to that sentiment. It’s up to you whether you want to try to rebut my article. I simply wrote what I did because I found the question interesting and I had a viewpoint. You seem offended that I dared to write anything on the matter.

            I absolutely agree with you: If Civ 5 doesn’t entertain you, then you shouldn’t play it. The “fun factor” for you isn’t there. If you read my FAQs, I talk specifically about this.

            Naggy? Dude, you are the one that keeps coming back here to comment. Of course, I welcome the dialogue, but it’s not as if I’m going to YOUR website and commenting on things you write about. How can I be naggy on my own site? :)

        1. See the post below.

          Usually, referring to someone with a specific noun is a result of their actions and character.
          I obviously don’t know you as a person, so I can only go by what you have accomplished on the internet, which are publishing your game reviews.

          I’ve read several of your reports and all of them makes me question the noun you strongly feel that describes who you are. The truth is, in the eyes of your readership, you are absolutely not an objectivist since you do not practice objectivism based on your work!

          I deem you more to be an obsessive compulsive who over analyzes things and ingrains very strong personal emotions into his judgments. Such things are exhibited in all of your writing.

          1. “The truth is, in the eyes of your readership, you are absolutely not an objectivist since you do not practice objectivism based on your work!”

            I would love to see you prove that.

            “I deem you more to be an obsessive compulsive who over analyzes things and ingrains very strong personal emotions into his judgments. Such things are exhibited in all of your writing.”

            The people that know me would laugh to hear you say that. If anything, people often call me cold and robotic. Funny.

  17. I like the idea of Trying to stop huge stacking in civ 5 but why don’t they allow 2 or three unit stacks so you can create combos of units that work togather. You would still have the nice spread of units to cause more strategy thinking. But remember civ 4 it was important to have the right combination in the stack to beat an equal rival civ. Rarely could you beat an equal with a stack of the same troops (unless it was ridiculously large, which is possible in real life I suppose). What does everyone think?

    1. My question is, why have stacks at all? What is driving you to want them? Is it simply because Civ 4 had them? Why do you think stacking units adds to gameplay more than non-stacked units?

      1. I think combos would add to the game, create more complexity. I think the huge stacking in civ 4 can make it boring just as much as the lack of units used in civ 5 makes it boring. I believe it would be more interesting. Also I dont like the way it looks on the map that archers shooting arrows from what looks like 50km away (not sure how many square metres a hex is but it looks a bit silly). I would actually like to see the civs use the batlle gameplay from the “total war” games to fight out the battles, where warriors and phalanx etc fought side by side,etc.., but I wont push too far just yet, as combos could be enough to make wars more interesting.
        How about this for instance, and there maybe a lot better ideas on combos than this, but lets say your horse archer combo with phalanx the horse archer gains defensive strength but loses movement and withdraw ability. This means a the horse archer has uses both on it’s own or in combo.( just a seed, you could probably think of better ones)

        1. I like that idea, actually, but not for Civ. It would work well in another strat game, focused entirely on war. It sounds a little like the Ogre Battle games, where you had your army, and you put the tanks in the front row, ranged in the back, horses on the side, etc.

          1. Yeah that’s how the total war games work too. Trouble with total war is the civ games are far more interesting with with all the non combat stuff. I’ll go check out the ogre battle games you mentioned. Always interested in new strats cheers!!

  18. Civ5 can’t be played without an internet connection,puts ‘Steam’ on whether you play the game
    or not, takes too long to load, plays painfully slowly, battles take many moves, it takes up all the
    memory and will freeze when the game gets busy.Civ4 doesn’t have any of these problems – point

    1. You, my friend, need to upgrade your PC. Most of the things you mentioned are client-side issues.

      And no, after the first log-in, you don’t need to have an internet connection to play. I just played a marathon game while waiting for my ISP to return service to me during an outage.

  19. I decided to go back and play both versions again. Played civ4 for a week then civ 5 for a week. I have to say now I’ve come round to favouring civ 5. While civ 5 still needs a few tweeks ( I still like introducing combos idea) It is a better game and seems to flow better, I didnt fall asleep at the screen as much, when playing for hours late at night. While I felt like I wasn’t quite making as many of my own choices in some areas, the game has been improved including the battle tactics side of things and was more enjoyable. I think what was needed was to aproach the game with a fresh outlook. The first time I played civ5, I started playing straight after months of civ4. It may have clouded my judgment.

    1. Being a fan of Civ 4 seems to have ruined many people’s Civ 5 experience. It’s a shame, and I sorta feel sorry for people that couldn’t move on, but at the end of the day, Civ 4 still exists for them to play. Me? I can never again play with stacks of doom and anything short of the current leader screens are boring to me. If you are digging Civ 5 more now, check out the expansion:

  20. Everyone keeps complaining about the AI being dumb. Have you tried playing on anything above normal mode? The AI’s pretty intelligent there and even with the G&K expansion, it’ll get harder. So play on something harder than easy or beginner and I guarantee you the AI won’t be a problem for anyone anymore.

  21. the objectivist gamer is not at all objective.

    I find it disturbing that you defend dlc civs and say people hate capitalism because they find the dlc concept appalling. you are even recommending people to buy certain stuff on steam.
    how much did they pay you, dude?

    almost a thousand people bothered to review civ5 on amazon. 400 of them absolutely hate it. the game is 7$. clearly a sign of quality and popularity. you think all those people are just nostalgic civ4 fanatics who want to hate on civ5? I believe most of them spent their 50$ in 2010 and are just as dissapointed as the actual majority.

    1. First off, like so many people coming here, you don’t understand the difference between “objective” and “Objectivist”. Maybe I should just stop right there because there seems to be a strong correlation between that, and a poorly thought out post. But I’ll humor you.

      Yes, DLC is better in terms of choice and choice is always better for consumers. Now, you could argue that each civ/scenario bundle is not worth the approx. $5 pricetag. But, first of all, there are lots of sales where those come down to around $2 and secondly, again, you are never required to buy them. Either Korea is worth $5 (or waiting and buying for $2) or it’s not. I’m not sure why this is so offensive to people.

      I recommend people buy certain things on Steam because I love the service and often times they are the cheapest and most convenient place to buy games. But hey, if you prefer or for your game purchases, go there instead. I don’t care in the slightest, I’m just recommending what I, personally, would do. I’m talking to readers of my site the same way I would talk to a gamer friend. Are you “paid by a corporation” when you recommend courses of action to your friends? Do you think that people can’t have personal opinions without being paid off by said corporations? Do you think the moon landing was a hoax and Area 51 has dead aliens in it?

      User reviews are, in a word, useless. The average consumer reviews things on a very emotional, very unsophisticated level. Of course, how much fun you have with a game is always an emotional question. But professional video game reviewers work hard to A) know a LOT about other games and the industry in general, which gives them a much better scope of understanding a game’s worth and B) can objectively present facts about a game and write about how those game features are executed. Juxtapose that with the average user review, which is usually just a rage-induced (or fanboy-inspired) rant where someone picks out a few relatively minor pet peeves and gives the game a score of 0 based on that (or a 10, for equally emotional reasons). Clearly, these people are not to be taken seriously. Yes, there are some thoughtful people out there writing user reviews, but they are statistical skew data. Besides, people (like yourself) only ever bring in the user reviews idea when it happens to support their argument. If I got you to name a few games you love, would you really care that someone says “Well, the user reviews for that game average out to 4.6…you are stupid for liking that game! You must be paid by the publisher to say you like it!” I sure hope not.

      And finally, you are saying that because the base game goes on sale every once in a while for $7, that somehow means it’s been a failure? Again you show your lack of understanding regarding games and capitalism. First off, the base game is about 2 years old. If you want to buy the Game of the Year edition, it will cost you more than $7, even on sale. Secondly, pricing for a game is a complex idea based not just on “how popular is it?” They could probably get away with selling less copies at a higher rate and make the same amount of money for the base game. But I’m willing to bet their strategy is to get the base game into MORE peoples’ hands so that they can sell more DLC and expansions, as they are released. This is the same decision that console manufacturers make when they sell a low-end Playstation 3 for $400 when it actually costs $600 to make. They are banking on the idea that people will more than make up that $200 difference when they buy a whole bunch of video games. It’s the same principle here.

      Sigh…I’ve really got to stop responding to trolls so seriously and thoughtfully. What are the odds you will ever even read this? :p

      1. cmon man, in my country even the basic version of WOW is 12$ on amazon and its from 2005. plain Civ4 is 10$ on amazon and its from 2005. C&C generals from 2003 is 24§. shogun2 came out 6 months after civ5 and is still 25$, mount&blade from 2010 still 20$ and on and on.
        if people buy a product the salesman won’t just give it away for a few bucks. If he does, there aren’t enough people left who are willing to pay the high price he previously wanted them to pay. of course this means the game is a failure.

        DLC is not an invention to give you greater choice. it is a marketing concept to make even more profit from a product, that has already been sold or licensed to you. doing it on steam makes it even more attractive to the distributor. no need for his own plattform like the battlenet and easy access to millions of gamers who play all sorts off different games but are forced on one big plattform. I don’t really understand why we have to explain their marketing strategy to each other. it was totally clear from the beginning and to everyone. the point is that we are the customers and not the salesmen who want to make profit. I think every customer just would have wanted a complete gaming experience for a reasonable price instead of being fed bits for coins every few weeks, which may or may not create an richer experience by adding content, patches and erasing major flaws.

        to comment on your statement on emotional nonsophisticated user reviews I’ve found one critical “official” game review out of dozens which gave the game a “very good” or even better rating.
        of course the author commented on all the aspects you mentioned ( combat system, religions) as well, and he did it quite emotional as you did, but he gets to completely different results. and I can relate to his arguments much more than yours. you shouldn’t use a title “like public perception vs. reality” when in fact the article is just about your very personal perception, just as every other user review is.

        diplomacy was much better in civ 4. you could see really detailed why another civ doesn’t like you. past wars agains that nation or his friends, different religions, treaties against him or with other nations, nuclear strikes against him or others, closed borders etc.

        religion was not at all arbitrary in civ4. it was such an important game feature. making friends, making enemies and making money at an early stage in the game was really defining your strategy for the following game. instead of just attacking a neighbour you were really concerned with keeping a friendly nation as a buffer between you and the other strong religious nation.

        the game is supposed to be a global simulation. making it a deep experience means to have many choices and consequences. by limiting or erasing most of them the experience doesn’t get deeper at all. there was just so much content and so many different aspects that mattered. religion, health, unhappiness, city maintenance, espionage, random events, being first to sail the globe, ressources, open borders which actually had diplomatic and economical effects, trade routes to other nations, transport ships, airports and flexible state policies etc.

        taking away everything except happiness, gold and ressources means less micromanaging, which means it’s less a simulation of managing a global empire which in return means to me a less deep experience. but there’s even more, less variety of units/leaders/civs/buildings/wonders/great people (which of course can be bought as DLC for extra cash).

        another thing to me personally are the small details, like the easily accessible overview of international relations by colored lines or a replay like in civ 4 where the map, graphs, year and events where in just one window instead of 3 separate ones. I want to see that in my level 40 capital are living millions of people and not just the number 40 or the total amount of people in the demographics. I want to use my own name as leader of my people and want to see nice wonder videos instead of slowly loading fullscreen leader interactions. also when culture is one of the main ressources in the game why take away the concept of foreign cities revolting and joining your empire through culture?

        my personal impression is indeed very poor game design and poor execution, because they actually do go hand in hand. poor design like excluding health leads to poor execution that hospitals and medical labs provide food. there is no religion but temples and monastaries are still part of the game. bows have higher range than guns. land- and sea units and even civil units can’t be stacked but with airplanes it’s no problem at all.

        I admit that my arguments are not just about gameplay but to a certain degree about “realism” and atmosphere.

        many people notice these “mistakes” which were handled much better quite a few years ago. so they get bored or even angry and give the game bad reviews. this is not about “I love civ4 and hate civ5”. the game is designed for the customer. since it has major flaws on the technical level and the ingame experience the customer absolutely has the right to express his valid dislike about the game and the marketing concept which is deeply intertwined with the game itself.

        and what I actually didn’t plan to mention is that some of your original statements are just false. leaving health and unhappiness alone in civ4 didn’t result in solving themselves. the stack of doom and 1upt per tile thing is not at all about strategical planning, it’s just plain tactical combat, which makes up to like 90% of the time spent in civ5 by moving, bombarding and attacking, because there isn’t much else to do.

        If you are talking about objectivism you mean the philosophy of ayn rand? so you mean through logic, experience and observance you have accumulated so much wisdom and knowledge and reached kind of enlightenment so that your opinion can only be the right one because you are to wise and knowing to be subjective? you think of yourself as a heroic being only pursuing your own happiness?
        well, that would be kind of an explanation.

        I can just repeat myself. everyone in here gives his own personal view, including you. the by far greater part of gaming websites gave the game an outstanding good review and on the other hand the overwhelming majority of noncommercial user reviews states the oppsite. which is right and which is wrong isn’t actually important. people just express their minds on this game and by writing down your own opínion you provoke them to do so in here. so take the consequences and stop giving snappy answers like “I feel sorry for you” , “not everyone has that great analytical ability” “user reviews are useless” because what you wrote is nothing more but a user review”. you just have to admit that by playing that game and writing down your thoughts on the game on your very own website you have just wrote a user review!! everything will be easier from there.

        “Capitalism is the astounding belief that the most wickedest of men will do the most wickedest of things for the greatest good of everyone.”
        – John Maynard Keynes

        1. Just a few things: 1) Claiming that because DLC exists, people aren’t getting “complete” games when they buy them at launch is utterly preposterous. If they held off on giving you the third act of an RPG’s main story, I could see your point. But to date, there has yet to be a game where the DLC was what made the game “complete”. The reason people feel compelled to buy DLC is their own addictive need to “collect” or “100%” their games. That’s their own psychological issue, having nothing to do with publishers/developers. DLC is always optional, always a choice. I have many games where I bought one DLC and skipped another (for instance, in Civ 5, I bought the additional civ DLCs but not the “cradle of civ” map packs). The only way you can argue against my point is if you argue that people lack free will, that they are mindless consumers and need to be protected from their own bad judgement. Good luck winning that argument with me :)

          2) I have nothing to say about your Civ 4 comparisons other than “Fine”. I will make two points, though: first, you wouldn’t have all these complaints about Civ 5 if you weren’t so dead-set on comparing all of it to Civ 4 (yes I realize that I started that with the nature of the article, so the same could be said of me). Secondly, it seems as though you haven’t touched the expansion. What that means is you are comparing a base game with 2 giant expansions (Civ 4) to a base game (Civ 5). Not sure you can really get an accurate comparison there.

          3) I’ve said it before, I’ll say it again: not all opinions are created equal. If you put my reviews up against the average user review, mine are just better, in every way. Now, I’m sure here and there you could find a user review that’s better than mine, but it would be much more rare. And “Better” is defined lots of ways, including depth and breadth of knowledge of games, critical analysis skills, understanding of value for money, even experience in the game industry, knowing how they are made, etc etc. Yes, user reviews are, for the most part, useless for getting a good idea of a game’s worth. Case in point: . You really think this game is a 3.2-quality game? Come now.

          4) Quoting Keynes is the quickest way to lose all credibility in any serious discussion :p

          1. I never said or implied that the customer doesn’t have free will and that he has to buy dlc.

            and there are many games which are not complete without buying dlc., especially if you want to play online. again, some games even base their whole strategy on dlc, like so called “free-to-play” titles (which in most cases needed monthly subscription before). it ranges from ridiculous content like changeable colours or blood dlc to vital items and overpowering fractions. well of course you don’t have to buy them, but if you don’t you will stop playing that game. why play a game or buy in the first place when you lose to someone not because of his skills but only because he invested more money into the game? that doesn’t make the customer mindless but the exact opposite.

            I didn’t compare the beyond the sword version of civ4 against the vanilla version of civ5. the only thing I mentioned may be occurring random events which I think came with the first expansion. If I would compare beyond the sword with the basic game of civ5 there are even more additional features like great companies or vasalls.

            what do you want to show me with your link? critic reviews are again outstanding at 88 points out of 100 while on the other hand user reviews are at 3.2 out of t 10 points. rated by 7800 users. so you actually agree with the majority of users and their reviews?

            how on earth can you think not all opinions are created equal? why are your reviews better and why should your opinion count more than anyone else’s opinion? yes games need a concept, must be programmed, illustrated, published etc. etc. nobody argues that games cost money and need to make money and that people with certain experience or skills are helpful.

            if I’m in court the judge’s opinion counts more because he is the expert, wouldn’t you say? so why have a jury of non experts? why do we even elect our government when we have no experience in politics? let just someone else decide for us?

            by saying your opinion is better and counts more you’re actually saying that you’re better and count more. I don’t know if the base for that is your objectivism but it sure is the exact opposite to all our democratic values and goals which basic line is the equality of all humans.

            you can never say someone else’s review is “better”, because of his knowledge or skills. you have to outweigh his arguments against the arguments from the other side (maybe the non experts) and have to decide for yourself. that doesn’t make anyone’s review or opinion better, only more convincing, maybe because of his well formulation and great presentation (maybe even based on his experience), not because he says he is an expert with experience or has a university degree.

            since you’re so deep in the gaming industry and its capitalist concept you might not be aware that there do exist crowdfunding projects organized by web users not only to promote social or economic projects but even to create videogames. of course those games need to be financed too and are bought for money, but the goal is to create a good videogame and not creating a money making machine of the gaming industry containing subscription fees and dlc.

          2. Well, I think I’m just going to have to call it a day because you aren’t actually reading what I wrote. Yes, some opinions are better than others. I’ve already explained why a few times now. You don’t have to agree with me on that if you don’t want to. The link was to show that user reviews are NOT accurate for judging a game because there’s no way Modern Warfare 4 deserves a 3.2 that the users gave it. That score is entirely emotion and bias (most of those users probably never even played the game). And yes, I’m well aware of things like Kickstarter.

            Thanks for reading and engaging, though.

  22. looking at the comments(not all of them thought) i think civ V is a lot better in multiplayer, and civ IV is more singleplayer friendly, but because of the miniscule civ V multiplayer community, its difficult to play with other players

  23. I commend you on remaining fairly objective both in the review and throughout the comment section.

    Like you, I have played through all of the Civilization games and whilst I absolutely loved spending the countless hours and early morning hours in the early games, I did find each new installment to be a step up over the previous. I would usually pick the new game up and within one play through run through a list of things that were better in the previous iteration but would soon find myself favoring far too many aspects of the newer game and quickly be happy that I’ve made the switch. This was the case until I finally tried Civilization V. The interesting thing here is that I actually prefer hexagon grid games to square grid games in every single instance but this one… and upon seeing the first screenshots prior to release, needless to say I was the mots excited among several of my groups of Civ loving friends.

    Now truth be told, I tried a few civilizations on small maps to test things out and being an completionist achievement whore in general I was very pleased to see an onslaught of Steam achievements just waiting for me to unlock. Sadly, after beating the game twice over and starting my third run, I came to understand as to what it was I disliked. It wasn’t the AI, religion, the social policies or the the change happiness/health. It was the limitation on total expansion and domination. It may have been just the games I started but unique resources seemed to became a lot more scarce and I always felt as if my towns were only semi-developed. Getting a core wonder resource such as marble or stone along with a couple of good population growth resources was next to impossible and not just for a starting town. In Civ IV in some games I would get one or two resources whilst in others I’ve gotten up to five or even six, which needless to say made for a massive difference to the entire game play due to the importance of the early game. It was also not too difficult to locate multiple sources of luxury resources whereas in Civ V each set of resources tends to be monopolized by one faction, which I found very annoying. It often lead to forced trade or unwanted war which whilst more realistic took a lot of fun out of it for me.

    Now in all that, this may just have been my crappy luck during my first two and a half play throughs, so I will give it another go after reading your review, but the fact that I gave up that early on and that there does appear to be not only an anecdotal group of people saying that Civilization IV is superior but my anecdotal evidence of people anecdotally seeing the same thing, gives me some form of proof that Civ V at the very least the leaves a very bad first impression. I do hope that this is the case.

    As for your other comment on Final Fantasy VII, I do believe that is the best of the lot overall and I do not believe that it’s all about nostalgia as you claim. Eight just didn’t sit as well with me with too much technology that just didn’t play as well as it did in say VI or X. The first CD of FFIX was actually my favorite, but it quickly got repetitive and boring after the first continent. FFX I wasn’t a fan of initially due to lack of World Map movement but it grew on me more and more each time I played it (particularly Blitzball) and everything after those is vastly inferior due to the automation in the system. Prior to that the only ones that could compete would be IV (English) and VI (English), but I still believe that VII edges them out for a number of reasons, which is the first set of proof that it isn’t all about nostalgia. Those games unlike many others did actually age well and play well even today. Try saying the same with the original Warcraft or Mortal Kombat. My point here is that whilst I do not have the numbers on the amount of people that comments vs the amount of people that play a game, I have seen time and time again that the rough percentage of comments is generally the same. This does change with breakthrough games such as FFVII which gets a lot of fanboys and haters purely based on media attention, but if you haven’t played it yet and like RPGs, Google my favorite game of all time, Suikoden 2 and try to find a bad review. It’s not well known, but every person I’ve met to date that has played it absolutely loved it, both those that picked it up in 1999 and those that only recently played the game for the first time. Nostalgia is not a primary factor and the game is genuinely good which is why the majority of the feedback you see will be positive. The same is true for Civilization IV, but I cannot say the same of Civilization V. Certain games become controversial for a reason.

  24. I’m enjoying civ 5. I just got my first win, prince, or maybe king idk, domination, epic, large, year 1700 ish, so I’m good but not great. I’ve played a lot of civ 4, and colonization, and civ 5. However, I have a few major complaints.
    1) no tech trading. In my opinion, that’s stupid. The idea that every culture has to figure out everything for themselves is rediculous. In real life technology and culture diffuse, and it’s rare that people have to discover things independently from each other. Research agreements are interesting but it’s really just a test of whether you and another civ have enough gold at a given moment.
    2) Economics. Economic are dumbed down to an unacceptable level. Have you noticed that you no longer have trade routes with other civs? And the cottage/town system is gone. I also miss specific uses for resources, such as aluminum speeding up Apolo program or something.
    3) no wonder or victory videos. I am actually angry that I didn’t get a video. It literally took 100 years to find Arabia, cross the ocean, and march my army to Mecca and after my glorious conquest, I didn’t get a victory video.
    So… Idk. I mainly wish the economics were more complicated. It’s so simplistic that I literally don’t consider economics to be part of the game.
    I think that civ 4 is both more complex because of the simplistic economics of civ 5, and of higher quality as well, because I enjoy it more, but the statement of quality is just my personal opinion. I also enjoy complicated games in general. It seems like everything is being dumbed down to sell more games, and I understand that companies need/exist to make a profit, but i as a consumer want MY wants to be satisfied. Civ, the elder scrolls, mass effect, diablo, Etc etc etc. dumbing down and making games “accessible” seems to be the dominant trend in gaming, which is great for people who don’t have time to give two fucks about what they play, but I like to “think” about the things I play.

  25. Lots of well thought out evaluations and comments here. However, the author can’t take criticism. Please divest your ego from your argument. We are discussing the game, not your godly abilities as a reviewer. And your opinion is not objective.

    1. I simply respond to comments. I do so out of respect and thanks for people who bother to read my stuff. If they attack my writing, I’m going to discuss their attack. But you’re right, I’d rather just talk about the games.

  26. I was going to say “nice article” until I saw your petty, narcissistic responses to [mostly] well-thought out and level-headed comments. I was going to say “nice article” because (despite your clear preference for Civ 5 throughout the piece) this page discussed clear differences between the games and stacked them against each from a [slightly biased] logical approach. You like Civ 5 better and you have your reasons for doing so, but this page was concise and to the point, much like Civ 5.

    Unfortunately, like many have said, it’s not always calculating logic that can endear one to a game however. Just like you can’t quantify love or reason yourself into liking something that you don’t. We all understand this. However, from an “objective” standpoint that you claim to take, you narrow-mindedly ignore the validity of counter-arguments and claim superiority as you flippantly sit on your little throne built on imagined evidence and false pride.

    Like many people, I have heard the flak about Civ 5 being a watered down version of the heralded Civ 4. I’m a gaming veteran, and even have a degree in game design, and I thrive on complex rules which I feel make games more satisfactory as I scramble to understand and become more efficient at them. The more complex the better, even if complexity doesn’t necessarily equal depth. I’m a min/maxer and enjoy a touch of micromanagement. Fortunately for your argument, I disagree that Civ 5 is watered down” and “Wii-like” (whatever that means). I enjoy it quite a lot actually, but the game “feels” different than its robust predecessors. Or if you prefer specific logic: they’ve made Civ 5 a more approachable and expedient game, with improvements in areas like combat, while incorporating a simplified model with less options for nearly all other features.

    You are correct; combat is tense and more meaningful when you have less troops to maneuver. Taking advantage of tactics and the tile benefits is much preferable to the SoD. That’s part of my issue though, even if you see it as a strength: the entire game’s scale seems to have been reduced to make the time spent more impactful. With this gaming model, you get less cities and less troops…. less options with which to maneuver new strategies. Spamming seems to be off the table for the most part, which is a legitimate strategy in its own right, and even expansionists will feel the hurt. I personally enjoy the City-States idea, which provides a new conquerable foe or a bargaining chip for supremacy depending on playstyle. Releasing the game without the religion feature was also a mistake, though they seem to have made up for it in the expansion with an interesting take on the religion and spy systems. (On the DLC/expansion topic, cutting out pieces of the previous game to charge double for content is ridiculous.) Diplomacy is as sparse as ever, and even moreso now that I can’t trade tech for anything (no love for scientist societies?) though this leaves distinct eras for different societies. The “streamlining” of amphibious assaults, caravaning, and other supply-oriented tactics de-emphasize some combat options, while the collective Happiness meter for all cities simply breaks the idea of population management (you did mention this). Then again, you have a sparse number of cities anyways, so it makes sense for THIS particular game to be reduced in that regard. Civics also, despite being toggles, did offer more adaptable strategies and are realistic since societies can change over the course of a millenia of existence instead of a one-time choice that you never have to tend to again.

    What I’m getting at is that the developers DID decrease many options, thus simplifying the game but the package is cohesive, compact and definitely belongs in the Civ line (just like a PC version of Revolutions). It is still quite enjoyable and there are many ways to approach and play this game, though it is a slightly different breed than its predecessors. As a stand-alone game, it is successfully intent on what it sets out to do: streamline the experience and make it approachable for newbs and noobs. Even the interface is much cleaner and attractive. At the heart of the matter I enjoy Civ 5, though the lack of variables can sometimes be off-putting. Due to this, I don’t feel like I’m managing a Civilization of the ages but rather following an [entertaining] corridor of easy-decisions and flashy graphics…. kind of like an iPod. The onboard AI doesn’t throw much in opposition of this sentiment, but you said that you didn’t wish to discuss this.

    As for you on a personal level, as a blogger…. It’s one thing to write an “inflammatory” piece on a hot-button topic that you know you are not in the vocal majority of. It’s a completely different thing to [politely] bash others while pretending to be requesting intelligent discussion. These people seem to be genuinely trying to converse with you (on your own turf with your own rules, no less), but you are striking them down with bullcrap answers citing popularity polls while discrediting Metacritic scores and reviews. You somehow enforce the idea that people complaining isn’t evidence of the opposition, but that people not complaining is evidence of your stance. For the most part, you do seem civilized (pun anyone?), but your conversation snippets reveal that you identify with one side of the argument and rarely concede valid points. You say that your opinions are the most correct and well-thought out? That reeks of closed-mindedness. Games are programmed through formulas, but the enjoyment of them can’t be. Your short comparison in this article is certainly not conclusive, and can be argued over forever, but I will voice my vote with the majority that seems to think that options have been removed from Civ 4 and that new systems, while interesting, offer less flexibility than its immediate predecessor.

    My articles on my own blogging site are far from politically correct and are admittedly crude and stupid and insensitive. But at least I’m not faking conversation starters just to inflate my own ego. My opinions aren’t a brick wall and I know how to function in society, especially with peers of intelligence. You have a rare thing here, where your message board hasn’t devolved into racism and politics, but blind bigotry is nearly the same as willful ignorance.

    You have my permission to make a strawman of one of my points and ignore the rest. You may also have the last word. Thanks for listening.

    -TL;DR Version-
    Civ 5 is easy, streamlined, and fun, but lacks options for micromanagers. Civ 4 had all that, but wasn’t without its problems, specifically with combat. Firaxis is catering to a wider audience at the expense of teh hardcorez. Also, the author’s debating skills are bad, though he wrote a decent article.

    1. I’m not sure you can call it a decent article when many of the replies here have pointed out how it’s basically just the author going off on various tangents. Run a random internet diatribe through spell/grammar check, pad in a couple of paragraphs, and you could do the same.

      Civ4 Bug mod = limit units per tile. Blam, there goes his Civ5 combat argument, which isn’t even much of one, other than an excuse to throw around adjectives, as if fewer units means you care more about them. That’s bull.

      “And yeah, let’s totally ignore AI.” Right, let’s ignore the entire point of why people play this game, instead of something like solitaire. Let’s ignore how Civ5 AI is a schizophrenic, jumbled mess, with glaring exploits even the patches have utterly failed to address. This is like reviewing an eatery and then only commenting on the quality of the furniture and not saying anything about the food.

      You’ve already pointed out the management thing, which the author doesn’t even notice he’s making a case against himself. “Ooh, having individual stats for cities is complicated for no reason.” Wat.

      2/10, would not troll again.

  27. Actually i’m the one who played the civ 5 first and transfer to civ4, but civ4 is much complicated and has lots of fun include interesting mods…

  28. Thanks so much for this review. I never bought Civ V until now because it was on sale for so little, I was afraid it would devolve into non-creative civics choices and frustratingly micro-managed cities where you’d forget to literally click on every one of your cities every single turn and move somebody onto a farm to prevent starvation. Also, military was way, way overpowered and you really had no choice but to kill everybody because unless you controlled the largest territory, you’d lose. Civ V is so much better than the earlier iterations.

  29. When Civilization first came out, I was in my second semester at a community college trying to gain acceptance into a nursing program to be an RN. I had managed straight A’s the first semester, but what a change Civilization brought! I wound up dropping a class and failing another and getting C’s for the rest, ultimately dropping out of school and settling for the life of a truck-driver instead, thanks to the addictiveness of empire building. Since then I have wasted more hours of my life playing Civilization and it’s sequels than I care to account for, with each latest installment better than the last – until now.

    I was slow to get Civ 5, because at 49 years old I’m finally back in school after realizing that while driving a truck may pay as well as being a nurse, there’s a certain minimal level of respect that is missing that is important to me. I didn’t want to repeat the same mistake I made some 20+ years ago. I’ve been playing Civ 4 all through the semester – I’m still a Civilization junkie, but I did make school a priority this time. I completed my finals yesterday and thought it would finally be safe to indulge in a new gaming immersion, with Civ 5. Less than 24 hours later, here I am, disillusioned for the first time. For me, everything that made all the Civilization games addicting is gone in Civ 5, all sacrificed for embellishment of the aspects least meaningful to me, specifically prettier graphics and an elevated degree of complexity in combat. I read through your review and all the comments, and many good points were made on both sides, but Civ 5 seems less about building an empire than just making army units and going to war. In all the other Civ games there were technologies that I just couldn’t wait to arrive, buildings that I wouldn’t dream of ignoring and wonders that were so important to me I couldn’t bear if another civilization completed them first. By contrast, in Civ 5 there seems to be no reason to care about any of them. Why build a granary anywhere? They do hardly anything but waste time better spent on building an army unit, and they do absolutely nothing if that particular city does not have any of the three resources that make it useful – and they rarely do. Why spend 50 turns building a wonder that gives you no significantly larger benefit than a common building? There are voluminous elements but all with such petty, insignificant and incremental rewards that I found myself wondering why I should do anything other than quickly colonize all the space and start building archers and spearmen and get the war campaign started. While in earlier versions of Civilization my best scores were obtained by early chariot hordes strategy, I hated playing that way and tried to avoid it. My love for Civilization was in building and developing cities, and combat was a necessary consequence of empire building, but in Civ 5 early combat seems to be the only MEANINGFUL element left. To me, it seems like a really nice looking game of checkers with the option to sacrifice 20 moves for one extra checker piece. Yes, you can make buildings and engage in diplomacy and all that… but why? It’s all been rendered pointless. Don’t waste time trying to get one more point of this or that when you could be out there overrunning your neighbor instead.

    Furthermore, the severe stacking limitations (basically no stacking) makes even the combat tedius. There are games where combat plays an important role but is not the central feature of the game. Such was Civ 1-4. Combat was there; it was important, and it was unavoidable. Yet, it was not what we were there for. So it didn’t matter to me that I could stack a hundred units in one grid square, understanding that that grid square encompasses a lot of area. I think the idea that you can only fit one unit of any military unit in one grid square is more inconsistent with the spacial concepts in play than ever before. (It’s a small world after all, it’s a small world after all…) With those limitations the entire world cannot even be as big as the small town I live in.

    Now, I have some friends who like war games. They’re not real big on building cities, researching technologies, and the other aspects of Civilization as a whole – they never got into that game. They just want to spend a point allotment on units, hastily deploy them on the board and start banging away. If there is a tactical element, so much the better. For them, I guess this version of Civ would be an improvement over the previous incarnations, but I doubt that they’re going to leave their other preferred war games with a more concise focus on combat for Civ 5. I also doubt that the people who’ve considered Civilization to be the best game ever made are going to give up Civ 4 for this. I really don’t see it happening for me. After I finish writing this I’m not sure whether I’m going to try Civ 5 again or just go back to playing Civ 4 which had me quite enthralled even two days ago, still. The early game creations of Sid Meier were inspired by a desire to make the best game possible, but like other once-excellent game franchises, maybe it has been subverted by the profit-maximizers. The developers of this game are trading off a core base of enthusiasts for an expanded and much less devout element of casual gamers. Unfortunately, I’m sure it makes good business sense. Inevitably, it seems, unfettered capitalism ruins everything.

    Coming Soon! Play Civilization On Your Smartphone Or On Facebook! Like us on Facebook for a chance to win some free downloadable content for your game!

  30. I went back and played Civ 5 a bit more, and decided maybe my initial criticism was prematurely harsh. It’s quite possible that I simply have not progressed far enough for buildings to matter but will find later that one cannot compete without them as they become more relevant.

  31. I have been playing Civ since the beta of CIV (wish I still had disk). I think the passion of the arguments in this thread are really a testament to quality of the series as a whole. I just purchased CIV 5 this past week so I don’t have an opinion yet but it was very interesting reading everyone’s views.
    There must have been something good about your original posit even if only for the diaologue it spawned.

  32. I have not played civ 5 yet though i watch someone on youtube who does lets plays for civ 5. I have been into civilization 4 for the past few years and im about to get civ 5. In my opinion civ 5 militarily speaking seems more difficult because of no more SoD, the AI the higher up you go respond logically to what your every move is, and it seems to be a lot simpler to play. I initially did not like how you had to get expansions (ie gods and kings) to play with religion. Civilization 4 seemed to bring all of the aspects together and made it a very fun and complex game. However I have not spent a whole lot of time on it so im still working on beating the civs on Monarch haha. Civ 5 seems to be a lot smoother and things are more clear on what things are and do rather than civ 4. In civ 4, I always went with the military victory because after a few thousand years I still seemed to lack what I needed to get the desired victory that i wanted (may be because i just simply didnt put in enough time). SoD are ridiculously OP btw. I am still confused on the whole cottage needs to work concept even though the computer says oh ya thats a great location for one. Civ 5 in my opinion is a better game for new players in beginning to understand what the civilization games are trying to do and once you are able to increase your skills, then I recommend that people go to civ 4 for the entire effect. In my opinion and based from what I’ve seen in 5 and played in 4, civ 4 is for the hardcore into detail players and civ 5 is more of a lax where a more variety of players can have fun and play without having to think too much.

  33. I stopped reading when you started talking about combat. You clearly think that because that screenshot on Civ 5 looks prettier, combat in Civ 5 is more complex.

    Just think about it this way:
    a. One tile entails hundreds of square km and
    b. different types of troops can’t occupy the same tile,

    would you say this is a sign of complexity or simplicity?

    1. That’s a mighty large assumption you have there. Also, telling someone that you stopped reading when you came across something you disagree with is pretty shameful, I wouldn’t go around bragging about that.

      But responding to your comment (which I DID read all of), realism and game complexity are two completely different things. So yes, but that very narrow criteria, Civ 4 is more realistic in portraying that more than one type of battalion can occupy the same basic area. However, Civ 4’s combat is also a handful of stacks of doom crashing into each other using attrition. That’s not the way armies have fought since the middle ages (or, I would argue, since the invention of the bow). Therefor Civ 4’s combat is no more realistic than Civ 5’s if you want to be objective about it.

      But again, none of that has anything to do with game complexity. Indeed, the very thing that makes Civ 4’s combat unrealistic is the very same thing that makes it less complex, as I detailed in the blog post you didn’t bother reading.

    (sorry for just posting without explicit permission)

    I admit the author seems to be kind of a nerd regarding the vast proportions of his input into one single game. but he made the effort to not only give the reader a rudimentary overview over a few picked out aspects of the game but really goes into depth.

    I also have to say you are contradicting yourself. you even use quotations marks for “strategizing”, when you talk about having to move every single unit.

    you say complexity doesn’t mean micromanaging, no religion, no techtrading, no map trading, no flexible policies, no health, and global happiness mean more complexity and depth and make it less arbitrary, it is more fun because it is more complex (with less features and less micromanaging, while on the other hand you have to move every single unit, which means to me somewhat more micromanaging even if it is not the micromanaging part I want to manage).

    and how good can a concept be if it the execution is bad. and why would you imply with that that civ5’s concepts might be badly executed, if it is more fun, complex and with greater depth to you?

  35. Oh man! How to explain! I will not make a big post here because the author of this article is objectively sold to Civ5 for whatever obscure reasons and that’s life. I have been playing Civ games from at least 15 years now and I will continue playing for another 15 years at least while I dropped all other long time games I liked to play, only Civ stands the test of time. I also play Civ board game too!

    Civilisation has always been a game of civilisation building from the ground up which by definition is a management and strateggy game. Hardcore Civ players such as myself like it that way, that’s what makes us forget to eat and drink to realize that we have to save the game and go sleep because whe have to go to work in the morning. There is micro-management in the game but that’s how we knew the game and liked it. It is normal that if you take away that, we will be missing something like in CIV 5.

    When you buy a Civilisation game, you do not think you are buying Age of empires 2. Age of empires is the kind of game I play when I want to see unit interraction during battle. This is and simple battles and you try to attack from the weekest point of your ennemy to destroy a barrack for example. In civilisation, when you attack a city, you do not aim at destroying a building in particular : you just want to beat up the ennemy and include his city in your empire and then, managing the city, make the habitants part of your civilisation (so that they stop yelling that they are unhappy). In a city in civ4, you see if people embrace or not your culture. If 100% of the city feels egyptian and that is your civ, people are more happy than if 40% of your city feels they belong to the neighboring civilisation. This is one of the reason management of happiness is so important by city. If people are happy in Washington city, that does not mean that those in NY city will be.

    If I had played Civ5 before ever playing precedent Civ games from 1 to 5, maybe I would be a fan of Civ5. For example, when I was playing Simcity back in the days, I liked playing the game because the game was fast and easy (despite lacking possibilities when development was not going good). When I discovered Simcity 2000, I hated it because there was too much micro-management in it. I did not mind taking care of the electricity but I wanted to puke when I saw I had to take care of the sewer service.

    This is why from my point of view, Civ4 trumps Civ5 no contest (but people who only played Civ5 will no come to post here even if the game is popular because they cannot see what has changed). Game popularity is not a factor here.

  36. Honestly, I’m never sold on these kinds of games that make combat a core mechanic. It’s a lot of fun, but when I play a strategy game named “Civilization” that spans thousands of years of human development, I darn well want to play it like I was the leader of an actual nation.

    That means that I want my citizens to be happy! I don’t want to be drudged down in incessant, millennia-spanning warfare–not if I can help it.

    I want to be able to win a “societal” victory, if you may–I want a victory condition where you win the game if your nation is deemed the absolute “paragon of civilization,” where every citizen is fulfilled and happy, your nation is organized and lives in environmental harmony, and other nations can only look upon your gleaming beacon of progress with envy.

    I want to be the great mediator, stopping wars in their tracks, calling each nation to a future of peace and prosperity, where war and strife are just footnotes in the long and illustrious history of humankind.

    Yet, every time I try that, I get curbstomped by some autocratic power-hungry dictator. I don’t even have the luxury of gaining the support of quite friendly nations without a steep cost to just about everything. I thought great mediators were supposed to make a lot of friends…

    This is why I personally enjoyed the individual happiness and cleanliness factors of Civ 4. It gave all my cities a bit of individuality. Some were powerhouses nestled in the hills, providing ridiculous amounts of production–but at a steep cost to health. Others were founded in green pastures and plentiful seas, becoming the breadbasket of my nation, but suffering from a severe lack of production material. Each had their own problems and strengths, and you had to think about how to develop the surrounding countryside, manage growth, and which buildings were required to best suit the specific needs of each settlement.

    Now, it feels a little more like cities are just bases for military production, and providing happiness to your citizens is merely an unavoidable annoyance you must sate to fuel your military machine.

    Just personal thought. I love the social policies–it now feels like I’m actually developing a tailor-made society!–but sometimes I wish these games would reward the peacekeepers, the pacifists, the radicals. Certainly, I wouldn’t want them to make it easy–not while human nature is human nature, and we are certainly greedy, ruthless folk–but I’d definitely love it to be a viable option.

    Then again, why would you play a game if not to live out your secret desires of world domination? I’m most likely in the extreme minority here…

  37. I thought your article was quite well-written. It certainly seems like you had more fun with Civ 5, which is totally fine with me. They’re both great games, and at the end of the day, games are all about their enjoyment value. Complexity does not mean “deep,” simplicity does not mean “watered-down,” and thorough mechanics do not mean “fun.” It’s all subjective.

    I’d just like to point out a few things:

    1. You said that you didn’t understand what purpose the happiness and health meters that existed within cities actually served–that it was “complexity for complexity’s sake.” I understand your viewpoint, but I must respectfully point out that there was a specific purpose they both served.
    –Health was there to keep a check and balance on city growth without spending the time and resources necessary to support that growth, and it’s a principle rooted in historical happenstance. Just look at the developing countries of the world today–many have exploded in terms of production and population, but almost across the board it has come with a severe impact on environmental degradation and living/working conditions. Human expansion doesn’t just happen–it’s a balancing game with the environment. You cannot safely exceed the bounds of which nature puts upon your available resources.
    I do wish they had some options regarding population and health, however. I would think that a farm-abundant city would be able to provide for another city with much production infrastructure but little farmland… but, then again, that kind of infrastructure is only possible with modern technology and logistics capabilities.
    –The happiness mechanic was a little bit contrived, in my opinion. Yes, it’s extremely important to paint a picture of a living, self-aware populace. You need that mechanic, of balancing personal ambition with the needs and desires of your own people. However, they put too much weight on the “It’s too crowded!” modifier–healthiness would be able to limit your city’s productivity just fine, you didn’t need riots every time your city jumped a rank. Riots because of sickness? That’s fine. Riots because of living space? Erm… civilizations across the world have fought this issue for millenia. Why couldn’t we have a civic where we could displace the population (communism or fascism, perhaps)? Why couldn’t we build public housing complexes or take a civ (communism) that reduces unhappiness due to overcrowding? Why can’t the citizens just move somewhere else?
    However, a big plus to keeping it individual–even in modern days, there are cities that are booming with production and health in a nation, while other cities in the same nation struggle with civil unrest and dissatisfaction. Taking it out in Civ 5 seemed like an unnecessary oversimplification–I didn’t think it was too complex.

    2. I hated stacks of doom–it turned warfare from a tactical game to a literal slugging match. However, unit stacking could have provided extra options for units within Civ 5 (as well as sating all those “Grr! Realism!” junkies out there–myself unfortunately included).
    –There should have been some stacking, limited only to units of a similar tier/type (melee with melee, ranged with ranged, gunpowder with gunpowder) and perhaps a hard cap. This would mean that you could create a “damage-magnet” unit was more dangerous and draws a lot of fire as a result. However, the act of stacking would require all actions for a turn, they would be subject to only one attack action per the stack, (obviously) cannot not gain advanced tactics bonuses like flanking, and would be especially susceptible to collateral damage the larger it was.
    –Stacking shouldn’t have been completely cut; rather, there should have been incentive to use tactics, such as flanking or bottlenecking, as opposed to the 1-tile juggernaut of death, but not a complete removal of stacking altogether. Stacking can be a viable tactic, but it should not perpetuate the “be-all-end-all” like it was in Civ 4.
    –Stacking can provide some good ‘ol flavour! Nothing feels quite the same like having a gigantic crowd of meat and steel smashing their way through the enemy ranks. There is plenty of potential in the stacking mechanic to create some period-specific tactical play!
    # Units within the ancient to medieval era should favor straight-up meatgrinders, providing strength (archer volleys!) and defense bonuses (shieldwall, anybody?) the larger the stack gets, kind of encouraging this “mob mentality” that armies often had during those times.
    # As weapons are improved, however, tactical play might begin to gain larger advantages along with the advent of conventional warfare in the Renaissance/Napoleonic era, where many units would become hard-counters to other units. Ergo, infantry holds ground giving it an edge against cavalry, cavalry has mobility giving it an edge in flanking maneuvers and against long-ranged siege weaponry, siege/artillery has range, doing great damage over range but especially beating the slower infantry. Stacks would still provide a straight up manpower bonus, however; units wouldn’t necessarily get extra bonuses, but stacked units could still beat unstacked equivalent units in a straight-up fight.
    # Collateral-damage weaponry (such as the machine gun and modernized artillery) around transitionary era of the First World War would begin to creep an edge, gaining accuracy and defense bonuses against larger stacks of units. Your huge stacks of infantry will not be able to assault hardened positions without taking massive losses if you don’t provide plenty of artillery support. Essentially, artillery begins to do the bulk of the damage, while infantry become the meatshields, serving to hold ground and provide a human wall between the enemy and your artillery.
    # By the modern era, with combined-arms-and-specialties warfare, stacking might even provide negative effects to the units themselves, therefore encouraging the player to utilize tactical, position-based combat supplemented by intelligence efforts and unconventional warfare. Infantry become great at fortifying defensive positions and countering enemy infantry; special-ops infantry become adept at sabotage, infiltration, reconnaissance, unsupported surgical strikes and flanking maneuvers against all enemies (like cavalry); armor serves to bear the brunt of an assault, do the heavy damage, and to drive the infantry off a point; artillery serves to batter enemy defensive positions to pieces, though not nearly as effective as before with the smaller force composition sizes that define much modern military doctrine.

    Wow! That was too long. Mostly nitpicking and ranting, too. Suffice to say, I liked your post. I don’t agree with all of it, but I understand that you’re coming from a logical, reasonable source, and that’s very respectable on the Internet. Kudos to you!

  38. Hi, i am on steam and i am not sure what to buy, i have 60 USD available. The Civ4 complete pack is 30 USD, i want to get it and Civ5 vanilla, which is 30 USD as well. But i am wondering, should i do that, or get Civ 5 gold for 50 USD? help please, i love civ 3 and i have never played civ 4, i also have the civ 5 demo and kind of like it, what should i do?

    1. I would most certainly buy Civ 5 Gold. In terms of features, it has (almost) everything that Civ 4 has (including a better religion and espionage system). Add to that the improvements to combat and such already in the vanilla, plus the amazing amount of civs (you get every DLC they made) and it’s pretty much a no-brainer. I would NOT get vanilla Civ 5 because once you start playing it, you’re going to wish you had all the new features of the expansion.

        1. Hey thanks! It actually doesn’t take much more to run Civ 5 than run Civ 4. The graphics are nicer but they aren’t a huge leap (we aren’t talking about Crysis, after all). Also, even if you have to play it on low graphics, it’s just a far superior game. Civ 4 was great for its day and I recommended it to people every chance I got. But it’s like Baldur’s Gate vs Dragon Age Origins. Yes, Baldur’s Gate was great for its day, but today, it just doesn’t have the stuff that people expect in their RPGs. I’ve been playing Civ since the very first game (the only Civs I haven’t played have been Revoltion and the Facebook one), and every new version improves on the last and 5 is no different. Plus, you are probably going to upgrade your PC before Civ 6 comes out in 2015-16 (I highly recommend a self-built desktop gaming PC, laptops are never worth the trade-off for gaming), so even then, you want the best Civ you can get.

  39. Overall you hit the nail on the head, however, the new one-per-tile generates a lot of anguish in the following ways:
    1. Other civs’ workers can block your workers.
    2. A peaceful civ can block your units. For example, if I’m at war with Ethiopia, and India is not, Indian units in Ethiopian borders can totally prevent me from attacking.
    3. You cannot purchase a unit if there is already one stacked on the city. This is particularly annoying if you’re playing with Honour and want a unit garrisoned in your city at all times. Move garrison out, purchase, next turn move new unit out and move garrison back in. It’s pointless and tedious.

    I think units ought to be limited to one per tile PER CIVILIZATION, first of all. I get (and even like) the mechanic of moving an army of battering rams through a tiny space, single-file… If you’re edged in it gives you a bit of a excited, 300-Spartan-Warriors feeling, as if the combat is really happening.
    I also think workers ought to be able to stack as long as only one is producing anything. “One man can dig a post hole in sixty seconds, therefore sixty men can dig a post hole in one second.” – yeah the twenty-four stacks building instantly was a little silly. One worker unit has as many labourers in it as can be useful on one task; that’s much better. Assuming that others can’t stand anywhere near the same farm, though, is even sillier than a one-second post hole. They SHOULD be able to pile into the city and hide.
    Workers and Great Generals both being the same type of unit and not being able to exist in the same tile can also be a bit of a pointless pain.

  40. This is stupid. You are very biased. Civ 4 dominates Civ 5 in every area. The combat in Civ 5 is stupid, your own armies blocking your own armies everywhere. The AI being stupid. A long winded tedious chore to move an army from here to there, and you get punished for building more roads so they are all stuck in a field somewhere.

    And yes, in Civ 4 as soon as you earn yourself a true SoD you will win unless countered with an bigger SoD. But early on, you must either invade with a smaller army (advanced tactics needed) or if you play on higher difficult levels protect your country from an enemies SoD with fewer units. Requiring good use of tactics.

    The end game is all about a stack of doom. In Civ 4, it goes smoothly. 4 or 5 stacks sweeping across the continents. In Civ 5, its disgustingly stupid as you move your armies one unit at a time around your roads because they are already occupied.

    Fuck Civ 5, fuck that stupid shit.

    English is second language.

  41. Randomly stumbled upon this site and just wanted to comment upon a few things.

    First of all, no objective comparison would include “Public Perception vs Reality” in its title. By stating that, it implies that you have an grasp on reality which the public lacks.

    While recent multiplayer gaming spree has revitalized my interest in Civilization V, I have to say I feels nowhere near as complete as Civ 4 along with its expansion packs (full disclosure: I only own the base Civ 5, though it did cost more than Civ 4 Complete when I purchased it). I will concede that Civ 5 has a better multiplayer experience. The reason for this are primarily twofolds. The new combat mechanic makes for a faster paced game. Additionally, the new happiness system encourages you to set up puppet states, greatly cutting down on the time spent on micromanagement. However, both are not without their flaws.

    While the new combat dealt away with the SoD issues, it introduced a few of its own, a few of which are already highlighted in the comments. It is absolutely stupid how you can set up shop within a peaceful neighboring nation and bombard away as long as you have open borders. The only way of getting to those units would be to declare war on said nation or negotiate for an open border, both of which doesn’t make sense given the context.

    Additionally, the single biggest hindrance in a multiplayer Civ 5 game, especially when you play on a team, is when allied units (especially workers) block one another. Nothing is more frustrating than when you start a World War only to find that Ghandi’s worker is preventing your tank from joining force with his own artillery.

    Overall, I think the tile approach is a good one, but it could have been better implemented. You can limit it to one action a tile. Hell, you can even make it so you risk losing the entire stack if your highest strength unit falls. I’d say that even adds an additional layer of depth while not sacking convenience of being able to stack. Alternatively, you can have something similar to the Defense mod in Civ 4 where units get a fraction of their hp when stacked. As it stands, yes, per-tile combat is better, but it is done at the expense of losing things such as collateral damage and convenience.

    On the topic of puppet states, it is really a love/hate relationship. On one hand, you don’t have to deal with the temporary annex unhappiness and micromanaging nightmare associated with late Civ games. At the same time, the complete lack of control over said state is very aggregating. Not only are you not allowed to given a general outline for the city build order (cultural, military, happiness, etc.), you can’t even purchase any buildings for the city. It is very frustrating watching a puppet state build wall, castle, arsenal, and military base over the span of 50 turns when it is safely tucked away in the middle of my empire. Overall, I think it is a good idea, but unless the AI is significantly better, this really needs more flexibility in practice.

    The lack of flexibility really sums up the Civ 5 base game in general. No more partial tile ownership and border wars. No more changing Civics at the cost of anarchy. No more additional cultural layer such as religion and corporation. In fact, I would argue that Civ 5 victory conditions are basically boiled down to conquest and scientific victories. The only thing culture serves to do now, beyond grabbing the initial improvement tiles and providing “research” for policies, is to provide you an edge in the case of an invasion.

    I will continue to play Civ 5. Like I said, it is a better multiplayer experience. I sure do miss some of the features and choices associated with Civ 4 though.

    p.s. There sure were a lot of opinions in an article aimed at objectivism. Case in point, Civ 4’s city-based happiness definitely isn’t complexity for complexity’s sake. It would prevent me from doing what I am doing now in Civ 5, churning out more research and gold than the rest of my empire combined because I built a Colosseum in every other city. Your opinions certainly have their merits, but for me, there is no way I would have picked Civ 5 back up if it did not have multiplayer. I only spent around 15 hours on the single player and easily ten times that on the predecessor.

    1. Thanks for the input. One point: Objectivism is a philosophy created by Ayn Rand. I think you means “objectivity”. I know, it’s confusing for everyone who isn’t an Objectivist :)

      The problem with your comparison is that it’s comparing a fully expanded/patched game to a vanilla sequel. If you really want to compare apples to apples, you should get the Civ 5 expansions when they go on sale. Gods and Kings pretty much brings Civ 5 up to Civ 4’s standards (feature wise) and then Brave New World goes WAY further than Civ 4 ever did. Comparing the two complete games, Civ 5 is the clear winner in pretty much every regard. See for yourself.

  42. i’m gonna post my 2 cents lol

    i played civ also since the first, i’m not big nerd of it either, but spent quite my share of hour on it :)

    i didn’t play civ 3, but already at first when i started civ IV, i was puzzled by the switch from 2 tiles to 3D thing, and i almost dropped it, because i found it a bit more messy than civ II

    but then i got used to it, and i really liked it, my prefer way of victory is cultural victory, because it require great deal of planning since start, dealing with religion propagation, spreading temple around, and then making the big temple, and funding all religions etc

    i’m actually bit nerdy maybe bit OCD, i like to tweak things around to optimize everything, but in civ IV i always found to be a little bit frustrated, as toward the end of the game, if you have quite high number of cities to manage, propagate religion to, build temple, it can become also very repititive, and not that interesting

    the problem of the civ IV complexity imo, it’s bit like dagerfell vs latter series, dagerfall really had tons of possiblities, more than any in the series, but almost sort of many bugs, and it didn’t give a global feeling of coherency in the game, lot of randomly generated things, lot of possibilities, but a bit lack of overall control and design over the course of the game

    i hink civ IV can be a bit the same, lot of possiblities, actually huge number of them, between the different boost that wonders can give, tiles improvement, civics, civilisations bonues, healths, happyness, culture, religions etc, lot of possibilities, but i still always found it a bit messy, or a bit lack of cohesion between all the different options and possibilities that can make it a bit hard to really optimize correctly, or can become slightly repetitive

    i just started playing civ5, so can’t give big opinion on it, but it played specially civ 2 and civ 4 quite a lot, and this one seem to be still quite better designed on a macro scale, less useless things to do, more focused on the essential, and better over all desgin, even if a bit simplified, it still look it’s complex enought to be interesting, even if there is maybe less possibilities of differentation and customosation of the civilisation, i never found it even that much efficient in civ IV to really tune up everything, or very hard to really have optimal civ, due to sort of glitches, or lack of globa&l cohesion betwenn all the different options, even if it offer more possibilities

    but again i just started to play civ 5, and just looked on the web to see other opinion between civ 4 and civ 5, and know what to expect from it, or what can be it’s strong point, but i had same impression when i switched from civ2 to civ 4, with the new 3D interface, and tiles that are not 2D tiles anymore, here it’s not even tiles anymore, and the 3D graphics that are even richer makje it less and less nerdy with tiles and load of statistics, and more pleasant graphically, rather than a sort of nerdy d&d, but even civ IV i didn’t find it that much well balanced, and always hard to really take full advantage of a particule strategy without it to become quickly repetitive and sort of boring

  43. one thing i also liked in civ2 that disapeared from civ4 are adviser and now they are back in civ 5 😀 even if there was video in civ2 for them, and just static image in civ5, but it doesn’t matter that much =)

    i see lot of people also saying they dumb down game for the masses, but i’m not sure it’s really the only motivation for making game more synthetic, but also because the whole lot of ancient generation of games were also a bit less tested, and often added too much possibility for them all to be well tested, and checked to be all in balance with each other, that there is no sort of cheat to exploit a particular way of doing things that would give too much benefits over another

    like if you take civ IV, it’s still hard to say which path, or which way of doing thing clearly give an advantage or not over other, or which combination of technology path, tile construction, building and wonders, and civis are most advantageous over other, it can make it hard to really make fair game, specially with era of mass multiplayer, and large quanityf of player who will try almost everything and compare everything, compared to old day where game were mostly single player, or never trule massivly multipleyer, it didn’t need the same amount of overal control over all possibilities to avoid cheating or glitches

    maybe civ5 is simply more ‘synthetic’ rather than being really ‘simplistic’, and have more polished overall gameplay

    but it’s true the combo could sometime be usefull in civ4, to have piker + something else to cover against mounted unit attack, or at least having some unit to have the back of another in case of another attack, but i don’t reallyt play civiisation with military objective anyway, for this i prefer games like star craft 😀

    but it’s true like that at first play, i feel i miss some of the option from civ4 , but when i started to play civ4, i missed stuff from civ II as well, so i guess it’s also matter of habit, and knowing how to get the best of each game system, rather than trying to find civ 4 in civ 5, and for now i still find civ 5 enjoyable, even if maybe a bit less nerdy than civ 4 =)

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