Religion demystified in Civilization IV

Publisher 2K Games and developer Firaxis have revealed new information on the religion system in the strategy sequel Civilization IV.

Andrew Park
Andrew Park
Andrew Park
is a senior editor at GameSpot.
3 min read

Publisher 2K Games and developer Firaxis have revealed new information on the religion system in the strategy sequel Civilization IV. The upcoming PC game will be the fourth in the long-running and much-beloved strategy series that lets players take control of a real-world nation so they can attempt to conquer the rest of the planet through force of arms, scientific research, or other means.

The new information was provided by Firaxis producer Barry Caudill, who explained that in Civilization IV, founding religion will be tied to researching a specific technology. Religion can then spread through players' holdings and across trade routes, and it can also be proselytized by missionaries that players can recruit. Firaxis has previously stated that the role of religion in the game is not to promote any sort of specific agenda or to suggest the superiority of any one religion. But rather, it's meant to act as an interesting new general system that will add gameplay depth across the entire game. Caudill explained:

"Religion has always played a critical part in human history. Through religion, man has sought to make sense of the universe around him and to determine his place in it. Religion has inspired, enlightened, and ennobled man. In its name, men have erected beautiful buildings, written books of great wisdom, and made music of surpassing beauty. In its name, men have also murdered and enslaved their fellows. Given the importance of religion throughout history, it seemed fitting that we should try to address it in Civilization IV.

"Through our tests, it was determined that the optimal number of religions for gameplay purposes was seven (a number that seems to come up quite often when designing versions of Civilization). We then set about making a list of seven important and recognisable religions. After a lot of deliberation and more testing, we narrowed the list down to these: Buddhism, Christianity, Confucianism, Hinduism, Islam, Judaism, and Taoism.

"If you are the first to discover the technology associated with a religion, the religion is founded in one of your cities. Religion can spread passively throughout your cities and even into neighbouring cities belonging to your opponents. Establishing trade routes can help spread your religion faster and farther. Certain religious buildings can also help this passive spread. But if you want to move the process along, you will want to create missionaries. Missionaries are units that you can move to another city (your own or an opponent's) and attempt to directly convert that city to your religion.

"In addition, having cities that have converted to your state religion can give you monetary and happiness bonuses. You can also get some line-of-sight benefits and provide yet another interesting decision in a game already filled with interesting decisions."

In addition to adding an all-new religion-based system, the upcoming sequel will also include a host of other additions and changes over the previous games in the series. The game is scheduled for release later this year.

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