One of the biggest announcements of the year, at least for fans of quality strategy games, was that of the upcoming Civilization V. The franchise is probably one of the most complex ever released on computers, and learning that it will be taken to a new level certainly tickles the senses of the gamers. But what should we expect to see in Civilization V? Read on our preview to find out (and be amazed!)

As with all the titles in the Civilization series, Civilization V will challenge you to become the ruler of a civilization of your choice and help it expand by taking it from the stone age to the space age – hopefully becoming the most powerful civilization in the world. This can be achieved by waging war, expanding your Civ’s borders as much as possible, become the richest, the smartest… or whatever you wish to become! Because, in the end, you will play the game as you see fit and no game will be similar to the previous you’ve played – replayability being one of the strong points of the games in the Civilization series.

One of the main changes to be brought by Civilization V, gameplay wise, is related to the diplomatic aspect of the game, the developers promising to deliver an improved and closer to reality diplomacy system between the leaders of the civilizations. This aspect was one that kept being improved in the franchise, but never managed (and probably never will) to seem at least similar to what’s happening in the real world. But at least more options will be available (such as co-op research) and that will certainly be a welcomed change.

Another amazing aspect that certainly makes the game feel more real will be the fact that rulers themselves will no longer strive to become the biggest power in the world, but instead they’ll focus on accomplishing personal goals, which will certainly make things more interesting in Civilization V. Hopefully this won’t backfire in the long run, if there are just a few personal goals for each ruler and we’ll learn strategies to use these goals in our favor…

And since I kept writing about how lifelike Civilization V will be, I must also remind you that Firaxis will bring us a brand new graphics engine, one that will replace the old cartoonish visuals with realistic visuals. Also, the squares will be replaced by hexagons, which will also influence a lot the overall strategy in the game. And even though strategies are those types of games in which the visual aspect is less important than the gameplay itself, it doesn’t hurt to see that developers are paying attention to graphics as well!

Back to the hexagons that will be replacing the classic squares in Civilization V – I told you that this change will also influence the battles as well, especially since you’ll have six areas to attack from instead of just four in the previous games. Also, one major change is that we will no longer be allowed to stack tons of military units in the same square, meaning that conquering cities in Civ5 will be a lot more difficult and require more strategic options than in the previous games.

Also, terrain will come into play and ranged units will finally get some bonuses (like a bunch of archers on top of a hill being able to cause more damage to a bunch or regular warriors), meaning that attacking and taking over cities will no longer be a matter of having the biggest army, but also having a balanced and powerful one, smartly placed on the map. Which sounds amazingly great for a hardcore strategy fan.

So… will Civilization V be a game for veterans or for the more casual players as well? It is quite difficult to say right now, but I tend to believe that veteran players will enjoy playing the game more than the casual type of gamers since the game, because of its nature, is not that spectacular and shiny. Does this mean that you should ignore Civ 5 and go for the first FPS you see on the game store’s shelf? Absolutely not, especially if you are a fan of strategy games!