Do you like civilization games with lots of strategy? What about ones that are exceptional yet completely free and open source? If you’d like a historic twist on games like Civilization akin to Age of Empires, but want a free, open source, and cross-platform game, then 0 A.D. is exactly what you’re looking for. And before you start doubting it as a game without much potential just because it’s an open source game, think again.
About 0 A.D.
0 A.D. is a real-time strategy game where you are one of several ancient civilizations. During the course of the game, you must make your town grow, raise armies, and conquer your foes while maintaining stability within your civilization and fending off attacks from others. As I mentioned above, the game is available for Windows, Mac OS X, and Linux, so anyone is able to install and play it. It is developed by a group called “Wildfire Games”, which describes itself as “a global group of volunteer game developers.” In other words, they work on the game during the free time of its volunteers. Thanks to a recent crowdfunding campaign, they have been able to hire a full-time programmer to work on the game for the next year, so development should progress a lot in the near future. This is good for the game, as the latest release (at time of writing) is Alpha 14.
When you first start the game, you have a choice between single-player mode and multiplayer mode. Single-player mode is simply a local game against A.I. opponents or sandbox mode where you can take your time to build a glorious city/civilization. The game menus have a spot for campaigns under single-player mode, but they have yet to be implemented. Multiplayer mode, as you can imagine, is a regular game but against other human opponents. The mechanics of the game should be the same for both modes (except for a few settings that the host can change).
Each game starts with a predetermined number of civilizations — one being yours. You only have a simple village and a few workers and warriors to work with. You’ll need to find a way to collect resources with your workers, build structures, create more workers and/or warriors, and generally grow. Once you’ve reached certain criteria, you can upgrade your village to a town, which means that it has an increased area of influence akin to “your territory”. The same can be done later by upgrading from a town to a city once more stringent criteria have been met.
The game offers quite a bit of diversity. There are various types of resources available in the game, different species, different architecture styles, and so much more. There are also various different warriors that have their own stats, creating strengths and weaknesses. As your town grows, you’ll have to choose what enhancements it should focus on. However, by choosing some items, you’re not allowed to upgrade others. Therefore, you have to make your decisions carefully. It also makes the game more fun when you replay it as you can always choose something else and see where that takes you in your current game.
What I’m most impressed about are the graphics in this game. For an open source game, they are pretty fantastic, yet they don’t cause a performance hit nor do they have high minimum requirements. Any decent graphics card made since 2005 or later should be able to handle the game. If you do find that it is running rather slow for you (as you should expect pretty smooth framerates), then you have to go into a configuration file in the program’s installation folder to disable a few options. There’s supposed to be an in-game screen where you can change these options and more, but it has yet to be implemented.
Overall, I find 0 A.D. to be a fantastic game, especially for its open source nature. A lot of thought has been put into it, and it’s already very playable despite the fact that it’s still only an alpha build. It has plenty of remaining potential, and now that it has a dedicated programmer working on the game for the next year, we should be able to see some substantial progress. If you want to donate to the project, you can do so by following this link.
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What are your thoughts on 0 A.D.? What features would you like to see implemented into the game? Let us know in the comments!