Cross oceans, irrigate lands and conquer the world, all in about thirty minutes. The Battle of Polytopia is a 4X game designed in a clean, accessible manner, working as a perfect introduction to genre beginners and a bitesize challenge for veterans.
You may already know of The Battle of Polytopia, by Midjiwan AB. The 4X strategy title made waves on iOS and Android when it launched, ultimately gaining millions of players. It’s a real gem, and one I only found out about because I was pitched the upcoming PC and Mac versions while at Sweden Games Conference 2018.
While it is definitely a condensed take on the genre, The Battle of Polytopia retains most of the core mechanics of its elder siblings; it also solves a few of the issues they have regularly run into. For instance, it dumps diplomacy straight in the bin — which in many ways is much better than having advanced AI double cross or fail to understand bargains. Part of the reason for scrapping this is, almost definitely, the shortening of the number of turns to forty for the main game. But, with diplomacy gone and city improvements also gone, it means players can focus more on the four Xs (eXplore, eXploit, eXpand, eXterminate) of the genre, rather than the four Is (Idiot allys, tile Improvements, buIldings and tImeless vendettas).
The effect of diplomacy being ripped out isn’t as sweepingly violent and destructive as you might think. Enemies are more reactionary than outwardly aggressive, and you’re much more likely to stumble into two of them fighting each other than you are to receive a large ambush attack from them. But face it, it’s a half-an-hour-long game; you aren’t throwing out a three-hundred-turn Civ VI campaign after a sweeping backstab from your closest ally.
Removing city improvements makes a lot of sense within the bounds of a shortened, streamlined effort. It was achieved by removing elements like power, health or happiness, as well as any currency except for stars. You gain stars from tile improvements, by using elements outside tiles or based off the population of the cities you control. These tile improvements and exploitation techniques are gated behind tech-trees, which begin slightly different for each of the factions — another separation being different visual styles between them.
Perhaps the most charming thing about it all is the humble polygonal artwork. It gives the whole game a cheerful and approachable aesthetic. That, combined with the default mode (there is a conquest-style mode where you fight until everybody else lies dead) having a short playtime, makes for a great gateway strategy game.
There isn’t a massive amount of detail regarding the changes to the PC and Mac versions of The Battle of Polytopia, however it will feature multiplayer between platforms, an expanded map and unlocked access to many of the factions which would otherwise be microtransactions on mobile.