Our game of Civilization V goes on. I just posted the Week 8 update yesterday. Things are going well enough and we remain interested, amazed, and enthusiastic to complete the epic journey to victory that this has become. I am going to guess that we have a good four more weeks of play left in the game (not counting July 4th, which will probably be an off week for all of us) before somebody gets a corner on a peaceful victory condition and either wins or unleashes a nuclear holocaust that eventually ushers in a domination victory over a radioactive landscape.
But, as Potshot noted the other night, as cool as this experiment with a multi-month game of Civ V has been, when we get to the eventual end point of the game, our immediate reaction is likely not going to be, “Let’s do this again!” A certain amount of pig-headed stubbornness is carrying us along at this point, making us determined to see this through. But when we are done, we will likely be ready for something new.
We have started the discussion about the next thing at what seems quite the opportune time, as we are in the midst of the Steam Summer Sale. While some are down on the whole thing this year… and I admit that once you have been through one or two, the excitement of things being on sale does wear a bit thin… there is certainly no reason not to take advantage of period of favorable pricing. So a list of possible candidates has started to coalesce, which I am going to trot out here. Comments on the games so listed are welcome, especially any insight on how the game might play in a four person multiplayer situation. And, of course, you can offer up alternatives as well.
But, before you comment to promote your favorite game of the moment, I want to bring up some parameters that will likely apply to the choice.
First, this is not the MMO group. MMORPGs are probably not going to fly here, so piping in with WildStar isn’t going to make for a useful comment. (Given that I haven’t even used the 7 day key that Liore gave me a couple weeks back, “WildStar” probably isn’t a useful comment on any post here at the moment.)
The game should also be substantially playable in a single evening. Clearly the Civ V experiment shows that we can play a game over several weeks, I am just not sure we want to jump back into that right away.
And I am going to come out generally against turn based games, as some of us become quite absorbed in the decision making process with others are not very patient. Turn based isn’t a deal breaker in the right situation, but any scenario where three of us end up waiting on the fourth to make his move will either need to be a game that is generally fast in pace or a game that includes a turn clock. So while Eador: Masters of the Broken World sounds interesting when SynCaine writes about it, I am not sure we can handle its depth and keep a game running.
With that in mind, here is what has been proposed so far. (Mostly by me.)
Total War: Rome II
Loghound put out Total War: Rome II as an option. I know people who like the game. Gaff has played through it. I have played a couple of the past games in the series. If this is like its predecessors, the tactical game is very much in the detailed RTS vein, so no turns or anything. I am just not sure how multiplayer works or if it is suitable for a group of four. Also, there are some minor concerns about how much processing power the game might take. But after Civ V, we ought to be okay if we stick to machines from this decade.
Possible alternatives: Any of the Total War series, I think I bought them all in a past Steam sale
Company of Heroes 2
I tossed Company of Heroes 2 on the list as a more modern alternative to Total War: Rome II. I actually own this via a past Steam sale and have played through the tutorial, but not much else. As with Rome II, I am not sure how suitable it is to four player for a multiplayer match. Also struck me as a bit “arcade-ish” in the tutorial, though that might just be the tutorial, and if it isn’t, it still might not necessarily be a bad thing. And Gaff likes it.
Driver: San Francisco
Driver: San Francisco was my suggestion in order to shake things up and try something that did not involve us throwing armies at each other. Instead, we could throw moving vehicles at each other. The game got good reviews, is pretty reasonably priced for the summer sale, the multiplayer options sound interesting, and it involves driving around San Francisco, an area we all know well enough to at least know when we’re lost or not. Against all of that, I do not know anybody who has actually played it.
Possible alternatives: Need for Speed: World, a billion other driving games
Borderlands 2 is well reviewed, very popular, and has a four player co-op mode that I understand works very well. Another game I already own thanks to a sale at Amazon for a Steam key. And another game I haven’t played very much of as I stink. But are we ready for a shooter? And, more importantly, are we ready for a shooter where we don’t get to shoot each other?
Possible alternatives: Call of Duty series, or any other co-op shooter, some of which even include zombies.
Artemis Spaceship Bridge Simulator
No, not the card game… though that might be an idea… Artemis Spaceship Bridge Simulator is basically the game vehicle for playing out your Star Trek bridge fantasies. This is a long shot, but I bring it up because a friend (and occasional reader BlueLineBasher) gave me a copy and I haven’t done anything with it. This might be good for a single Friday lark, but we would have to pick somebody to be captain who would take it at least semi-seriously. Alcohol might be required.
Possible alternatives: Urmm… are there any?
Ticket to Ride
I didn’t even know Ticket to Ride was available on the PC until I saw it on the Steam Summer Sale list. This is one of those awesome board game conversions that keeps all the great bits of the original game while removing the bad bits… like placing all those little train counters and then picking them up again when the cat attacks the game board. It is one of my favorite games on the iPad. But the game is easy enough that my past experience doesn’t give me any real advantage. While it it turn based, it does tend to be fast paced, and against real people it can be a rage-inducing cut-throat experience. So it has that going for it. But are we up for board games?
As an alternative, we could just forget Steam and go for the update to the original perfectly balanced rock, paper, scissors RTS, StarCraft II. While it did not make as big a splash as the original, that was in part because Blizzard tried very hard not to mess it up, so it ended up being mostly StarCraft brought forward to the current decade… which is a good thing. It isn’t on sale, but Blizzard is in its own summer doldrums right now, so it is possible they might cut us a break before our Civ V game wraps up.
Possible alternatives: The original StarCraft, something from the Command & Conquer series
Potshot actually brought up Total Annihilation, my all-time favorite RTS, and I am using that as an excuse to list it. The physic in it is great, the variety of units almost boggles the mind, it still looks damn good for a game from 1997, it is available for cheap (and DRM free) over at GoG.com, and because of its age it now runs great on just about anything… which probably includes Mattman’s antique coal fired Ye Olde ThinkePayde portable difference engine. And, of course, it has simple victory conditions (kill the commander) and nuclear weapons. The Achilles’ heel is that I love the game and my knowledge of it will give me an unfair advantage.
So those are the choices that come to my mind. I would certainly be interested in hearing about multiplayer experiences with any of these games, especially involving four players.
And, because I haven’t had a poll in a while, I will put one up so you can indicate your favorite pick without having to much around with the whole comment thing.