From what's been seen so far, there's little doubt that Civilization V is going to be a lot of fun when it's released on September 21, but what happens when you get tired of playing against only the AI? Well, then it's time to dive into the multiplayer mode and add one or more friends. I had the chance to get a look at how the game performs with others, and though it's difficult to make any sort of judgment call after only a few hours of play, it seems to be something Civ fans are going to like.
In the preview build we have access to, which keep in mind is not a complete version of the game, there's room to invite up to 16 players into a match, and it appears as though you can mix AI opponents with human players. Each can be set on a team depending on how you want to set alliances, and for hosting there are a large number of tweaks that can be made to how a match plays out.
For example, on the hosting screen you can set a number of city-states, currently maxed out at 28, can set a map type and size, the starting era, age of the world, temperature, rainfall, sea level, and abundance of resources. Victory conditions can also be customized, as there are individual check boxes for time, science, domination, cultural, and diplomatic variations and they're not mutually exclusive.
If you really want to switch up the experience, the advanced game options tab lists quite a few check boxes. You can opt to turn on random personalities to make enemy AI leaders behave unlike they normally do, can increase the rate at which barbarians spawn, and can set it so human players are limited to building and owning one city. You'll also be able to adjust the game so you're never allowed to burn down cities, you can remove barbarians and ruins from the map, can set a timer that'll end a turn when the countdown expires, can set the game to end when the maximum number of turns is reached, and make it so in order to be eliminated all cities and units have to be wiped out.
There will be the ability for the host to save the game while playing online and reload at a later time. It appears that each participant will have auto-save files stored on the fly that can be loaded later even if you weren't the host. There'll be more to talk about once the final version is made available, but this seems like solid way to keep longer online contests going.
For preview I jumped into a game with three others and the action zipped along fairly quickly. Of course we were starting from scratch so there weren't any particularly complicated decisions to make, and the code was still a little buggy so hopefully some of the choppiness and chat issues are ironed out when the game is ready to go. As you play on the right side of the screen you'll see each player's score and whose turn it is. There's a chat field in the upper right of the screen for engaging in civil conversation or trash talking. Between turns you can survey your territory and then when it's your turn to move, it'll let you go at it, moving troops, setting up research and production queues, building mines and roads and whatever else you need to do to gain the upper hand.
Seems pretty cool so far, and expect more once we can dig into a final version. And in case you forgot, the release date is less than two weeks away.
Review from IGN
Images from Google
Videos from YouTube