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Waiting for Civilization 7 is going to be a piece of cake

Here’s why Firaxis can take its time to cook
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Earlier this year, Firaxis officially confirmed that Civilization 7 is in development. Being the series that represents the turn-based 4X strategy game as its icon and champion, we’re all salivating at the prospect of seeing what they’re brewing. That may still take a long while (more than just a turn, you might say), but that’s not as big a deal as it may seem, because looking ahead to what 2024 has to offer in terms of similar titles, genre enthusiasts won’t be starved for content – in fact, we are going to feast.

Millennia key art showing a crowned skull laying in the desert sands.

Fortunately, we won't end up like this while waiting for Civilization 7.

Civilization 6 is finally “done”

It was a pleasant surprise when Firaxis pushed out another wave of leaders for Civilization 6 at the start of the year, bringing fans a final wave of content before fully concentrating on making a worthy successor. While that means no additional content will be forthcoming for the 2016 title, we can finally look at the game as “done” or “complete” or whatever you want to call it.

Fans of Civilization 5 may never fully get around to loving Civilization 6 the same way, be it due to the visual style or the district system or some other reason, but that has always been the cycle – there are plenty of people out there who’ll swear on their mothers that Civilization 4 is the best of the bunch and Civilization 5 ruined everything by disabling unit stacks and adding hexagons.

Civilization 6 screenshot of the Great Library at dawn.

Like the Great Library, Civilization 6 is now completely filled with great content.

Looking back at what Civilization 6 has to offer now, all we can say is that Firaxis pumped out an absolute ton of content for the title – and had a lot of fun with it. Some of the Civilization 6 content is downright whacky. Secret organizations? A battle royale mode? You certainly can’t attest them a lack of creativity in this development cycle, and that’s what makes me excited for the next one.

Playing through the “finished” Civilization 6 is a good way of killing time, but I think 2024 has a lot more to offer.

Microsoft and Paradox enter the ring

My personal highlight of gamescom 2023 was that I got to see two brand-new entries into this genre first-hand: Microsoft’s Ara: History Untold and Paradox Interactive’s Millennia. Both titles are, fundamentally, not wishing to revolutionize the genre and adhere to all its principles. What both games do, however, is to inject some city-building magic into the formula, which is a very exciting prospect indeed. You’ll need to build up resource and production chains in both of the games to get the most out of the territorial real estate you manage to gobble up.

Despite having as big a scope as any other game in the genre, Ara wants to show that hustle and bustle you typically get from city-builders as well: You can zoom in all the way and watch citizens of your empire go about their daily business and zoom back out to the strategy layer, conducting your grand orchestra of conquest.

Ara: History Untold screenshot of an army in front of a castle.

Zoom in for a moment to watch your troops loaf around and orchestrate a war in the next.

Millennia is twisting the formula in another way: It transforms ages – usually set in stone – into a reactive gameplay element, bringing that ahistorical angle of “historical” Paradox games into the mix. From ancient aliens-type scenarios to a steampunk age, Millennia will have some refreshing and surprising elements to add to your bread-and-butter mechanics.

Millennia artwork for the Bronze Age.

Wait, I didn't hear about the Age of Blood back in school. Khorne's gonna show up, isn't he?

We should hear, see, and – hopefully – play more of those two entries into the genre in 2024.

Old World and Humankind are still going

There are lots of strong Civilization-alternatives out already, so it’s not like you have to replace the wait for Civ 7 with the wait for the two titles described above.

Old World, created by former Firaxis members as a spiritual successor to Civilization 5, has found second wind under the tutelage of renowned strategy game publisher Hooded Horse, getting additional content packs that add to the title. Fusing the classic gameplay of Civilization with some of that Crusader Kings family drama, Old World is a recommended pick-up for any genre fan.

Old World screenshot.

Old World captures a lot more of the Civ 5 feel than Civ 6 does. Switched to hexagons as well, though.

Humankind may not have been the Civ-killer many had envisioned it to be ahead of its launch, but Amplitude’s historical title, which shares many characteristics with the excellent Endless Legends and Endless Space games from the same developer, has its own charm. A unique mechanic allows you to experience many different cultures over the course of a game, creating your own identity over the eras. Though this mechanic – as well as the title’s tactical combat – come with their own issues, this one is worthy of being looked at when on sale.

Age of Wonders 4 is just getting started

If you’re not dead-set on playing a historical game and are open to experiencing a fantasy setting, then Christmas came early for you in 2023: Age of Wonders 4 is my personal strategy game of the year, having a successful launch and pushing out some excellent content afterwards. Akin to Humankind, we’re looking at a game with Civ-like strategy mechanics and separate turn-based tactical battles. You can completely customize your faction from a growing toolbox of options and play through narratively driven campaign matches or go ham against the AI or other players in more free-form skirmishes.

Age of Wonders 4 should easily last you until Civilization 7 rears its head thanks to the refreshing amount of freedom it offers.

Age of Wonders 4 Ironclad attacking a walled settlement.

Age of Wonders 4 was the king of the genre in 2023 and it's just getting started.

Naturally, these are not all genre entries you could be playing until Civilization 7 comes around. These titles have incredibly long lifespans, so even something like Warhammer 40,000: Gladius is still getting content updates keeping it fresh and exciting. There are also fun indies providing a twist on the formula, such as this year’s Hexarchy, which is a sort of speed-Civ with card game mechanics.

Yeah, we’re feasting – so take your time, Firaxis. We’ll let you cook.