Looking at the Old World - IGN (2023)

the old world

A historical 4X with classic training that brings more humanity to the ancient world.

Looking at the Old World - IGN (1)

VonLeana Häfer


July 16, 2021 8:49 p.m


July 14, 2021 11:00 p.m

We've seen many 4X games attempting to tackle the full scope of human history or our distant future between the stars. But Old World is as focused on time as it is on space, creating a suitably epic story based solely on the ancient Mediterranean. He largely benefits from this narrower focus, telling more intimate and less abstract stories about human society than his ancestors in the past.civilizationThe series could. At the same time, it feels a bit more complicated and unwieldy in the process. At least at the beginning.

Old World is like a graduate program for players who already have a degree in Sid Meier's Civilization. Although it covers a much smaller part of the story, it takes the Civ template as a starting point and adds many new mechanics to it. And for the most part, they're pretty interesting twists. But they're often presented in ways that aren't immediately elegant or accessible. The most prominent of these is a system of named characters and aristocratic families that creates a sort of "Crusader KingsLite" dynamic to its national and international politics.

One problem I've always had with the Civilization series is that it jumped through the ages so quickly that a lot of the identifiable human aspects of the story could get lost in the mix. With each round representing a year or half in the Old World and leaders aging and dying in realistic time frames, I really got to know and developed feelings for the various generals and court officials through scripted events and decisions. . In my first game as a Macedonian Greek, Alexander was blinded as a boy at a military training exercise and grew from a voracious conqueror to a wise administrator. Her grandson would make peace with the Gauls by marrying one of their tattooed warriors, but in doing so angered some of the more xenophobic nobles.

Everyone in the family

Events are usually well written so it's easy to understand what's going on and your options. I've also rarely felt that there's one option that's clearly better than the others, which is a difficult balancing act. More than once I've been asked to choose between something that would benefit the nation as a whole but anger one or more of the major noble families, or show a little favoritism to prevent a potential rival in the rebellion from going too far. Compared to Crusader Kings 3, these events are a bit simpler and less likely to have multiple steps, but they have just as much potential to heavily influence your plans as Alexander's little accident did.

However, he was less enthusiastic about the consequences of not balancing these internal concerns. The only time I've angered one of my noble families enough to start a revolt, they just spawned a few rebel units with little fuss, and I was able to take them down fairly easily without much lasting damage. Part of that was luck: my best army was closer to home than on campaign. But it still felt a bit disappointing. It's more interesting to think about how to prevent a riot than to put it down. Since each city you find must be assigned to one of the four noble families, you'll need to consider whether to keep your power bases spread out and balkanized, or group them together to make them easier to pin down.

That can be a lot to understand.

That can be a lot to understand, and while there's a decent tutorial and nested tooltip system, the UI there didn't do me many favors. He likes to present information in a very dense, text-heavy manner that seems afraid of obscuring the map too much, even when that could have given every detail a much-needed breather and greatly improved readability. I kept finding myself wishing for proper character portrayal like Crusader Kings 2 and 3 instead of the narrow little frames we had. It would also have helped a lot to have more icons, tabs or collapsible info panels instead of bombarding us with so much plain text for tooltips.

Old world images

The other major departure from Civilization is a resource called Orders, which determines how much your entire civilization can do in a given turn. Individual units still have a movement range and an action limit, but you may run out of orders and not be able to use them all. Thus, a far-flung empire without adequate administrative buildings may be forced to choose between commanding its troops at home to put down a rebellion or maneuvering against a rival in a war abroad.

You often can't do everything, and deciding where to focus your attention and what to ignore is often an interesting decision. Overall, I liked the way this allowed smaller, "big" empires to compete with sprawling, inefficient ones, and mimicked the difficulty of commanding a vast, ancient state. But it's also just another resource for juggling on top of all the usual ones you'd expect in Civ, so at the same time it adds to the increased complexity I mentioned earlier.

From the sea to the shining sea

While the menus can get crowded, the map looks great and shows a lot of useful information at a glance. It might not be as faithful as Civ 6 or the coming humanity, but the units and buildings are a little less exaggerated and stylized, making me feel like I'm looking at a real place and not a game board. And that's a big problem for me.

On the other hand, the world generation sometimes seems a bit out of place. I always seem to spawn near a bunch of volcanoes regardless of my setup, and the placement of ecoregions like deserts can seem a bit random. But if you don't want to leave anything to chance, there are also hand-drawn maps of the Mediterranean and the Middle East with historical starting points.

The cities you place on these rolling hills and sprawling plains develop culturally on four distinct levels that determine what you can build within their boundaries. Technology is still required to unlock certain things, but this serves as an interesting substitute for the idea of ​​different ages or epochs in other 4X games. Instead of advancing as a whole society, each of your cities could be on a different level, with new colonies and outlying settlements that lag behind the urban core of the capital socially and technologically. I loved the way this shaped my empire in terms of both visual variety and gameplay, which allowed me to see a clear distinction between agricultural pastures and highly developed industrial areas.

The wars you fight on these maps are definitely a highlight of the Old World.

The wars you fight on these maps are definitely a highlight of the Old World. And unlike the other new features, they add a lot of depth without adding much complexity. Axemen have a rift that can deal reduced damage to anyone near their primary target. Simply. The cavalry will charge again if it kills a unit. Spearmen are the only ones who can stop cavalry, as mounted units usually ignore zone of control rules. Neither of these skills require multiple paragraphs of text to understand or involve a number of edge cases, but the opportunities to use them together are great, like a game of chess. And overall the AI ​​is far better able to understand and implement these ideas than anything I've seen in Civ 6, even after years of patching.

This is also where the final new Old World resource comes into play: Training. This is generated by military buildings and leaders and is used for both training and ranking military units. Since unit promotions can require training rather than experience, you can choose a smaller, more elite army instead of a larger one. Training can also be expended incrementally to gain additional orders or force a unit to march beyond its normal range, so I've rarely run out of opportunities to use it for an added advantage in combat. I had some left.

to victory

Old World victory conditions are a bit disappointing. The primary and proactive route to success is to complete a certain number of periodically offered objectives called Ambitions, which can be anything from capturing a certain number of enemy cities to building enough specific tile upgrades. Otherwise, resort to a scoring system based primarily on how many cities you have and how they are developed, giving victory to the first nation to reach a certain number, or to the nation with the most when a certain number of trains is reached. . reached. This didn't bother me too much as the events and character interactions make Old World much more of a journey than a destination, but a bit more variety in the objectives to be pursued would not have hurt.

On your way to the end you can shape your society with some interesting and tasty laws and religious beliefs. Legal innovations are unlocked through technology and present a binary choice between two paths, such as slavery vs. liberty or monotheism vs. polytheism. For example, a professional army will give you a few training points at all times, while a volunteer army will give you a higher number per turn in war but none in peacetime. For the most part, both options are simple, compelling, and seem to simulate well the historical ideas they are intended to represent.


Old World can be annoying at first, as there's so much more to manage than the usual 4X concerns we've grown accustomed to over the past decade, and the UI can feel cluttered when you're trying to recreate everything . together. But most importantly, none of these added complexities come without additional rewards. The wealth and human element that mortal characters and noble families bring with all the extra mechanics they introduce is worth embracing. Limiting his ability to command not only shortens long late-game turn times, but also opens up new strategies for playing high or making the most of a less-than-great starting position. It's a nice balancing act, and while Old World doesn't really aim to become a "civilian killer," I don't think it's trying to. For those with the patience to master it, it's a deep and satisfying 4X that could provide interesting stories for years to come.

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Looking at the Old World - IGN (2)

the old world

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