Tobold's Blog
Saturday, March 23, 2024
Not a "fan" fan

I have already written a bit about Millennia, and I will certainly write more after the game releases and I can play the full version. I am very much looking forward to playing this, as the complex economic system is something I was missing in other 4X games. So you could say that I am a fan of Millennia. But I hesitate to use the term, as there is a connotation to "fan" that I don't subscribe to.

Buying a computer game usually requires a bit of money, and playing it requires some time. That is an investment. In some "fans" of a game, the money/time investment leads to a sort of emotional investment as well. It is as if they had made a life choice, and they need confirmation that this was the right life choice. Thus they get angry if somebody criticizes the game, or there are bad news about the game, as that would criticize their life choice. I don't tend to get that emotionally attached, and I am certainly not "rooting" for Millennia.

While there are many things that I look forward to in playing Millennia, I am very well aware that this is a deeply flawed game. It is lacking game balance, and the user interface is sometimes so user-unfriendly as to make me cringe. It is also not a very pretty game, with the combat animation (especially naval combat) looking almost ridiculous for a game of this price category released in 2024. And then there is a problem which would still apply if a miracle patch fixed all the balance, UI, and graphics problems: Fundamentally Millennia is a more complex and less accessible game than its competitors, like Civilization 6, Humankind, or Old World.

Civilization 6 was released over 7 years ago, and there are still over 60k players every day at peak that play it. While that is down from an all-time high of 160k, the longevity of Civ6 is extraordinary. Humankind on Steam peaked at 55k and is down to 1k after less than 3 years. Old World has even less players (also because it was only available on Epic for the first year). I would honestly be surprised if Millennia even beats Humankind at Steam peak concurrent users. The people who think that Millennia is a "Civ Killer" are deluded or smoking something. Millennia is a cross of different game genres, none of which is exactly mass market suitable. It lacks the cartoon character appeal of Civ6. The fact that you see the bad graphics and UI flaws immediately, but need many hours before the advantages of Millennia in game depth become apparent won't help either. The bad habit of Paradox Interactive to release not quite finished games and then make them better with patches and DLCs later won't help. I would consider it extremely likely that in a week the Steam concurrent user numbers and user ratings of Millennia can only be described as "disappointing". That doesn't make Millennia a bad game, it only makes it a game that is niche, and needs improvement. I buy it at release because I like the depth, I can live with the current flaws, and I have confidence in Paradox to make the game better over time, based on previous form.

I do somewhat hope that Millennia isn't doing so bad as to be unsalvageable. It does happen that a game releases flawed, but with potential, and then never develops that potential due to lack of financial success. But I am not a "fan" sort of fan of Millennia, who will get extremely angry if other people criticize the game or simply don't buy it. I didn't even say "recommended" about Millennia on any of my posts about it, because it isn't a game that I would recommend to everybody. If you read my very long previous post about Millennia with interest, you are probably an exception, and this might be the game for you. But if you are not a hardcore fan of 4X and/or Paradox grand strategy games, chances are that Millennia won't appeal to you.

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