Here’s how Humankind’s war will work

“War is an inescapable part of human history,” the devs of the upcoming strategy game Humankind note alongside a new ‘Feature Focus’ clip exploring another of its gameplay systems. Humankind will be no exception – sometimes you’ll have to go to war, and Amplitude Studios has now shown how the 4X game’s warring will work.

In Humankind, the devs explain in a press release, you won’t just act as the decision-making figurehead of your burgeoning empire – you’ll be handing out battle orders directly. That means you’ll need to polish your skills in the art of war. “Outside of battles, units move grouped into armies, allowing the player to efficiently command many units,” executive producer Jean-Maxime Moris explains in the below clip. “Once battle starts, units deploy and act individually inside a limited battlefield on the map.”

All of the armies contained within this projected battlefield space will fight, the dev explains, which means if things get a bit sticky, you’ll be able to drag reinforcements in to bolster your chances. You’ll even be able to bring armies into battles currently raging on to up your reinforcements – “for instance, to outflank [your] enemy”, as Moris says.

Each unit has a class and up to one ability that’ll play into the game’s combat, with effects ranging from things like combat strength to specific, nifty effects. Battles will be fought on the main world map, too, rather than a separate war-specific one, which means the “‘where’ and ‘when’ of battles matters as much as the ‘how'”, according to the dev.

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The benefits of the level of direct control over your troops in war that Humankind offers is further discussed by senior game designer William Dyce. Explaining that you’ll have total control over where all your units are positioned during a battle – so, where units can move to, and who or what they can attack – he says that this “means you can really take advantage of the terrain configuration of the battle”. This is key, with terrain last year being described by Amplitude as a “pillar of Humankind’s gameplay” – something that informs your strategy in important and varied ways.

Get ready for battle: Pre-order Humankind here

You can use the map’s terrain to protect or gain an advantage in battle. Cliffs can be used to shield ranged units from melee soldiers, for example, and cavalry can be plonked in a forested area to camouflage their presence. “The battle will be defined based on how the two armies meet initially,” Dyce says, so you’ll need to “think about where the battle is going to take place, as well as where to position your units once you are in a battle”.

The good news is, though, if you’re more of a lover than a fighter, there’s an ‘auto-resolve’ option added in which will let you skip the gritty stuff altogether. Phew.

You can watch the clip above for the full rundown on Humankind’s war mechanics. There are some particularly neat animations demonstrating real-life unit formations – such as the ‘Testudo’ formation – around the 3:10 mark that’ll be worth checking out if you’re excited to learn more.