My teenage son believes I am reasonably astute for an old guy. My kids can recall that when Minecraft was released I downloaded it because I wanted to show them how elegant code works.(1) I paid for Fortnite before it was available for free, and then when they introduced a Battle Royale mode I wondered if PlayerUnknown's Battleground was going to be harmed by this new competition or, as often happens, they create bigger markets.(2)

So maybe it was only a matter of time before the grand-daddy of turn based civilization games, Sid Meier's Civilization, jumped into Battle Royale with the free Red Death update.

You're not wrong to be skeptical. I was. And it turned out to be a blast. You start off with the apocalypse having occurred(3) and what you remain with are a plucky band of civilians and an inconsequential military. Meanwhile, you have to race to a ship off world that you can't find, while the Red Death closes in around you, forcing players closer and closer. 

There are no positive descriptions, nice, sane people died off early. You're a prepper, a cultist, a Goth, a crossfit participant, all people you keep one of in your personal life for the sake of diversity, but probably don't want to live your life among. 

Your only real resource decision is whether or not you go for those supplies when the radiation is moving in.

Of course, Civilization is only a name at that point. Take combat animations and unit upgrades and put them in a multiplayer map and there you have it. No science, no culture, no diplomacy, scientists have all failed us just like environmentalists warned and it is melee to the finish.

I played as a Prepper my first game and got absolutely crushed within minutes. Since we all have the same order of battle in the beginning, one infantry, one machine gunner, and one civilian unit, I can only attribute it to bad luck that by the time I met another player they were all over me like the spider monkey demon kids from "Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby."

The second game I did win because instead of going for 100% experience bonus - little good when you die the first time a player shows up with three times your troops - I went for Jocks with that +5 combat

Still, even dying this is more fun for me than a Fortnite or PUBG because I am not a PC gamer(4) so I am unwilling to be too manic. There is real-time pressure, it doesn't feel like the mania-fest those games are. Is that a bad thing? Civilization still sells well despite console (Switch aside) support so there must still be a market for people who lack names like Noobmaster69.

Pros: It's short or long, depending on the skill level of other players. That makes it feel more relaxed even while bands of radiation are closing in on you.

Cons: Civilization always loads slow, even on my 12GB machine, and multiplayer adds to the slowness. Even if you use all AI for other civilizations. the wait between turns is rather long.

Science 2.0 rating: 4 Bloggys!



(1) This has always been the precursor to big leaps in playability. Though Maze was okay as a 'first person shooter' it wasn't until "The Terminator: Rampage" that we saw real storytelling promise.

Though it was dismissed as a "me too" of "Doom" by reviewers, that game came out a month after Terminator: Rampage. "Wolfenstein 3D", however, had been out since spring of 1992 and "Doom" took its blazing fast gameplay to the next level, whereas Terminator: Rampage ran terribly on all but a new machine. And "Doom" was free. As we have seen in sales of "Call of Duty" versus "The Division" gameplay matters more than story in shooters still today.

(2) Starbucks may have run some small coffee shops out of business but overall they created a giant market for everyone, diners alike, and the whole pod phenomenon. To toot my own horn about my prescience, I even bought a Keurig before there was a home machine, when you could only lease them as a business or restaurant. I bought it from a bankrupt, you guessed it, coffee shop. It was a magnificent creature but when home machines came it went on Ebay. The market got even bigger. Competition helps far more often than it hurts.

(3) Sid loves global warming, he built it into 1996's Civilization II, and they built it again into Civilization VI: Gathering Storm and they turn that amp up to 11, where you have to negotiate with the AI on how to reduce global warming, who act a lot like China and just tell you they will negotiate later. If you are a politician, you have to spin that as a win.

(4) I actually don't see how anyone who writes on a computer all day can game on it at night. When I was a business development person in the private sector I could, but somewhat little relative time was spent on a PC.