It's been a little while since we've seen some hardcore strategy grace the pages of the Humble Bundle packaged offerings. Fortunately, Firaxis has come to the party this morning to rectify that, offering some of its best titles for close to squat.
Unexpectedly, it's called the Humble Firaxis Bundle. It's broken up into three tiers, and if you have any interest in turn-based strategy, Pirates, or grids with hexes on them, then this might be the best deal that pops up all month.
Tier 1: Pay US$1 or more
- XCOM: Enemy Unknown
- Sid Meier's Pirates!
- Sid Meier's Civilization 3 Complete
- Ace Patrol Bundle
This is a pretty solid offering for US$1, even when you factor in the exchange rate. Any one of these games, or bundles, is worth the asking price on their own. XCOM: Enemy Unknown is the one that stands out the most, because it's mentioned first and it's the most recent. But I'm going to go out on a limb and say that Sid Meier's Pirates! is genuinely worth everyone's time as well.
The Pirates! game in this bundle is the 2004 version. You might still need to rustle up some fan mods to get it to play nicely in a widescreen resolution, but otherwise it works just fine on modern systems.
Tier 2: Pay more than the average (currently US$8.60)
- Sid Meier's Civilization 4 The Complete Edition
- Sid Meier's Civilization 5
- Sid Meier's Starships
- XCOM: Enemy Within
- XCOM: Enemy Unknown -- Slingshot Pack
- XCOM: Enemy Unknown -- Elite Soldier Pack
- 10% off Humble Monthly
- More games to be announced
The second tier also happens to be the second best offering in the entire bundle, although it could vastly improve depending on what extra games are added later. (Alpha Centauri, anyone?)
As it stands, however, this is a perfectly satisfactory offering with the XCOM expansion and the more modern Civilization games. I'd venture playing Civ 4 with all the expansions is more worth your time than playing vanilla Civ 5. Starships is comfortably the weakest game in any of the tiers next to Civilization: Beyond Earth, in my eyes at least, but the quality of Enemy Within and the Civ games should be enough to overlook that.
The Humble Monthly discount is an interesting one. It's only 10% off, meaning you'd be paying just over US$10, and the offerings haven't been that spectacular. The most recent monthly offering his The Masterplan, Mushroom 11, Spelunky, A Fistful of Gun, Grim Fandango Remastered and The Talos Principle, while anyone who subscribes before early February gets Alien: Isolation as well.
Personally, I'd rather spend slightly less on individual bundles. The monthly offering is more tempting than the third tier of the Firaxis offering, however.
Tier 3: Pay more than US$15 to unlock
- Sid Meier's Civilization: Beyond Earth
- Sid Meier's Civilization: Beyond Earth - Exoplanets Map Pack
- 33% off for Sid Meier's Civilization: Beyond Earth - Rising Tide DLC
A 33% coupon for Rising Tide means you'll still have to pay over US$20 to get the expansion for Beyond Earth, which should be viewed as an utter necessity. It doesn't go all the way to adding the requisite depth that Beyond Earth should have had at launch, but it doesn't go far enough and comes with frustrations of its own.
Luke went as far to say that he wished he'd never recommended Beyond Earth at all, and the game was comfortably my biggest disappointment of the year (although having such a strong affinity for Alpha Centauri didn't provide the best starting point). I'm still holding out hope that a second or third expansion will put Beyond Earth into the place it deserves to be -- Civ 4 and Civ 5 underwent similar transformations, although the vanilla versions were arguably in a much better state.
But until that happens, it doesn't make a great deal of sense to jump on Beyond Earth or the third tier at all. Stellaris, Master of Orion and Endless Space 2 are also all due out in the next 12 months, for those who want their fix of 4X in space. Even older releases offer more promise: Distant Worlds remains a beast all unto itself, Galactic Civilizations 3 is slowly but surely improving, and Endless Space with the expansion still has that "one more turn" magic.
Proceeds donated to charity through this bundle will go towards Action Against Hunger, a charity that works with malnourished children and their communities by providing clean water and solutions for sustainable food. You can also personally direct how much money goes towards 2K or Humble Bundle in the process, although keep in mind the games are all packaged together by tier.