Some excellent 4X games inspired by Firaxis’ Civilization series, compiled in no particular order.
So you want more Civilization-style games? For present, Sid Meier’s Civilization IV is the undisputed ruler of the 4X genre, and lots of people desire to play a Civ-like experience made by someone other than Firaxis.
Unlike other turn-based strategy games, civilization games let you start from humble beginnings and guide a people through the ages, creating new cities, improving your empire’s culture and technology, and, occasionally, engaging in war with other civilizations. Few other games have attempted to match the scope of Civilization’s gameplay, which is more of a historically-inspired sandbox than a pure historical strategy game.
If you’re looking for a game that more closely mimics Firaxis’ popular series, we have a separate list of fantastic 4X games (which includes Civilization). A separate list of games similar to Civilization has been created, however we’ve made sure there aren’t any overlaps between the two lists. Enjoy!
1. Warlock: Masters of the Arcane
Civilization V with fantastical aspects such as magic (rather than technology), anthropomorphic creatures, and portals to other worlds is Warlock: Master of the Arcane. When it was released in 2012 by Paradox Interactive, it was an experimental mash-up with a ‘fantasy Civ’façade that created an intriguing contrast with another popular game at the time: Civilization V.
You can take your army and search for portals, which lead to other’maps’ and symbolize new dimensions, with tougher creatures and higher prizes, if you’re tired of the usual Civ-like activities. There are other ways to grow your empire, such as annexing these territories.
Warlock 2: The Exiled, the follow-up to 2014’s Warlock, furthered the dimension-hopping theme. Maybe a little less imaginative than its predecessor; nevertheless a solid effort. As a result of their similarity to Civ V’s user interface, they are both remarkable for their accuracy.
2. Old World
If you’re looking for a 4X game that’s more innovative than any of its rivals, look no further than the recently launched Old World. Soren Johnson, the former lead designer of Civilization IV, and his studio, Mohawk Games, are behind the creation of the game. The ancient and classical civilizations of Rome, Carthage, and Assyria can be found in the Old World.
However, the addition of Crusader Kings-style character aspects, events, and the “orders” system are the main advances in this game.
Rather than allowing every unit to act every turn, this shifts a player’s action potential into a limited resource. See our Old World review for more information on this one; it’s worth a look!
3. Age of Wonders 3
Even though it appears on our list of 4X games, Age of Wonders: Planetfall is a turn-based wargame that’s closer to Civilization, but with another mythological spin. Everything you’d expect from a Civ-like is here, including the empire administration, armies, technology trees, and spells. There is a distinct tactical battle mode in Age of Wonders 3 where armies fight it out in greater detail.
It is possible to engage with quest-like nodes like dungeons or abandoned mines, as well as NPC dangers and other empires, across the environment. Subterranean levels, accessible only by strategically placed tunnels, are another possibility for maps. AoW3’s dwarfs, for example, like to live underground. Building forts and outposts to hold crucial positions without having to establish a complete city has always struck me as an interesting feature of the game, and it continues to do so.
When discussing games like Civilization, you can’t avoid mentioning Freeciv, the ultimate copycat. It’s free, and it’s been actively maintained and worked on as an open source project since 1996, when it was first released under that name. It has a lot in common with Civilization II in terms of gameplay, and its architecture is based on an ancient shooter game named XPilot..
A new “longturn” structure was created in 2004 that allows for games with up to 30 players, and the project has grown and changed since then. If you know what you’re doing, the game supports both 2D and 3D visuals.
5. The Battle for Polytopia
An fantastic, short summary of the Civilization 4X experience is here. With 12 civs, numerous procedurally generated worlds, and all of the hallmarks of a 4X strategy game, Polytopia is worth checking out even on the PC despite its humble beginnings as a mobile game.
There are no in-game purchases for significant updates like in Northgard, but extra civilisation packs can be purchased for a fee. A significant balance pass was recently completed, and the devs have many more ideas in the works. It’s here that you’ll find a more condensed version of Civilization.
Finally, the ideal Civilization-like game must be one that actively seeks to dethrone Sid Meier’s golden throne. The developers behind Endless Legend and Endless Space’s Humankind are back with a new strategy game that combines a turn-based tactical gameplay with diplomatic, empire, and victory systems in an attempt to make you the King of the Hill.
A great deal is at stake for Amplitude as this is the culmination of their efforts. The short version is that Humankind is off to a wonderful start. You can read our complete review here. However, it’s no worse than Civilization V or VI when they were first released in terms of late-game balance issues. This is just the beginning for the developers.