My fascination with the Civ-style 4X genre has waned

My fascination with the Civ-style 4X genre has waned

I have always been a big fan of Civ-style 4X games. I’ve played Civilization III, V, VI and FreeCiv for countless hours in the past, roleplaying historical national leaders trying to build that supreme civilization to dominate all other civilizations and the ultimate empire to conquer and destroy all other empires. If you’ve never played 4X games before and you’re tempted to start now, be warned that they can be extraordinarily addicting and can eat up your life without your realizing it.

For more, search for “why Civilization games are addicting” on the internet. There’s plenty written on that subject.

A screenshot from one of my games in Civilization V

However, over the last few years, my interest in 4X games (and gaming in general) has actually diminished mainly because there is something vaguely repetitive about them. These days, after an initial burst of enthusiasm, I find plodding through “one more turn” more of a chore. Since the set of technologies to be researched, units and buildings to be built and paths to win tend to be more or less fixed, any new element of gameplay doesn’t seem to add enough depth to relieve the tedium — there is nothing really new to discover when playing the same game as a different civilization. Also beyond a point in any particular game (mostly after the exploration stage where discovering the map is a big motivation), it becomes quite impersonal and boring because your “Civilization” is ultimately nothing more than grinding a bunch of stats with pretty graphics. Yes, you can go to war with enemies, there is diplomacy which adds some interest, you can explore multiple paths to victory, but even those aspects becomes boring and repetitive after a while[1]. In short, I rarely find any motivation to play through a full game and increasingly find myself playing less and less.

Having said all that, do bear in mind that even during the peak of my interest I was not really more than a casual gamer; never a deliberate, calculative player in the mould of a hardcore fan; rarely experimented with fine-tuning game settings; never played multi-player against human opponents and rarely played at higher difficulty settings against the AI to challenge myself.

I don’t know, maybe I’m rationalizing my loss of interest in computer games in general though strategy and simulation games have always interested me more than any other genre. Ultimately it’s probably a good thing that I don’t feel like wasting several hours a day on Civilization any more.

  1. Yes, over the years Civilization games have found a bunch of new ways to keep players engaged, but ultimately it boils down to grinding stats[]

6 thoughts on “My fascination with the Civ-style 4X genre has waned

  1. Hi, Hari, nice article!

    While I haven’t played many Civilization games, there are many genres were grinding for better stats, powerups, unlockables, legendary/exotic gear are part of the main game loop.

    However, MMORPGs and games like Destiny, they additionally have co-op PVE (Player Vs Environment) activities, where you and several human players take on a particularly challenging, dungeon/labyrinth culminating in a big boss-fight (called raids) that are extremely addictive and offers a social aspect as well.

    The alternative is roguelite games like Hades, where once you reach the epilogue of the story, you are able to apply all kinds of modifiers (with various permutation and combinations) to make the game harder and harder pushing the limits of your skill. There are also people who speedrun such games there are world records created on how fast they can clear certain activities (speedrun.com).

    You might be able to find something you like more than 4x games but I don’t encourage or recommend spending more time playing games, they can be very addictive!

    1. True, I also find traditional CRPG games fascinating. But never really played MMORPG games. Anyway, I liked your Hades review – excellent analysis of the game which gives me an idea of what it is about. It looks to be a fine game with excellent mechanics. But as you say, better not to become addicted by games again 😉

  2. Nice write-up! It’s true that games can be addictive. I too find myself addicted even to mobile games every now and then 🙂

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