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Check out the Ara History Untold showcase from Xbox Direct

It’s not Civ 7, but it sure looks like Civ 7

Oxide Games turned up with some new Ara History Untold features at the January 2024 Xbox Direct, and the new strategy game is looking excellent. The Oxide team said they plan to launch Ara sometime in fall 2024 for Xbox Series X|S and PC, and one of the aspects they’re most excited about is unpredictability.

“Something that plagues the genre space is that once you’ve kind of figured out how to win or how the game works, you’ve mastered it,” designer Michelle Menard said in an Xbox Wire post. “You stop playing because you solved the problem; it was a binary problem because one of the key drivers of something like a tech tree is a static, solvable problem.”

One solution to that problem was the Cards system, where players pick a new technology or other boon – at the expense of several others. When you advance to a new era, all unresearched tech from the previous era becomes permanently out of reach. While that doesn’t sound like something that might bust open the closed-ended problem Oxide described, it does look like a fun way to keep your strategies fresh.

Crafting is another new feature. If you want to build a new unit, you have to craft the item needed for that unit first, which Menard says adds another layer of strategy to resource management. That sounds pretty basic on its own, but you can mix and match items to create new resources and other handy tools as your stockpile grows. Some crafted materials even cut down how long it takes to build new units.

The last new feature Oxide spent time on is related to, well, time. Ara features an Act system that functions as a kind of checkpoint to help create stopping points or even force you out of the game. One game of History Untold features three Acts, and each Act has several phases. You need to amass enough prestige by completing quests and achieving milestones to make it to the next phase or Act, or Ara says it’s game over for you.

“It sucks so hard to play a 20-hour game to realize that, by the end of it, you lost at hour two,” Menard said. “So, it’s a kindness to players. Let them build, lose early, and then let them restart anyway. So: fail often, fail early, learn from that, and then play further because you know you need to learn from your failure to play these games.”