Is Old World, Worth Playing?
While Old World is one of the best-designed 4X titles on the market, unfortunately, it also suffers from some of the worst performance issues in the genre.

The Lowdown.

Product Details
Genre: 4X Strategy
Developer: Mohawk Games
Publisher: Hooded Horse
Price: $39.99
Release Date: 5 May 2020
Supported Modes:


Except for a small window of time following Old Worlds’ initial release into early access Epic Game Store, Old World has suffered cataclysmic performance issues that render gameplay after turn 100 difficult due to extreme lag and general instability.

While the developers have made some headway, and Old World is now technically playable after turn 100, performance is still sub-par, and by turn 125, my mouse was rubberbanding around the screen of its own accord. AI turns time ballooned from 10 to 120 seconds in just a few turns, despite the AI factions being no more or less active than they had been only a few moments prior.

What makes this more interesting is while many (myself included) believed this to be a simple memory leak, even restarting the PC and loading a save file from any in-progress game over turn 100 results in the same issues across a broad swathe of hardware from budget PCs to top of the line gaming rigs.

While I could partially excuse performance issues while Old World was in early access, there is simply no excuse for game-breakingly poor optimization almost a year after leaving early access.


Developer Credentials.

Soren Johnson is well known in the strategy community, having been the lead designer for Civilisation 4 and Offworld Trading Company. Many people were very excited to see what he had up his sleeve, and while optimization is abysmal, Soren’s apathetic reaction to a problem that renders Old World almost unplayable for a large swathe of the community has been disappointing.

In almost every other area he and his team have delivered, Old World is the most interesting and enjoyable Civ-Like on the market.

That being said, unless Soren and his team can get a handle on performance issues which have plagued the game since early 2020, it’s unlikely that Old World will ever be recognized for the excellent title it is due to the vast majority of players being unable to finish a full 200 turn game without extreme performance issues rendering gameplay unenjoyable.

Is Old World Worth Playing In 2023

Narrative Events.

While narrative events are nothing new in the strategy genre, and titles like Crusader Kings and Stellas have refined the medium to fine art, it’s uncommon to see a Civ-Like even attempt to go beyond what is possible in civilization, and honestly, after playing Old World, I must admit as a huge fan of Civilization that Civilization does seem dull in comparison, with family drama, political scandal and sweeping international conspiracies occurring in each game, Old World takes the tedium out of mid to late game, and at times allows the narrative events to dictate the flow of gameplay, such as peace or war being made due to the result of interactions between various characters.

In a recent playthrough as a Christian woman, at the behest of the leader of Christianity, I imprisoned a court advisor who was actively working against the spread of Christianity. This seemingly mundane event led to six other related events culminating in a diplomatic incident with Persia and a brush with extinction due to my actions outraging the Persian leader who shared the same faith as my imprisoned Advisor.

This is only one of the hundreds of possible scenarios. Each civilization draws from a pool of shared and civilization-specific events from real-world history.

Soren has found a way to liven up the traditionally mundane mid to late game of 4x titles. If he and his team can address the longstanding performance issues, Old World may threaten the Civilization franchise, which has suffered from creative stagnation for some time.

Is Old World Worth Playing In 2023


Old World’s soundtrack was composed by award-winning composer Christopher Tin and was nominated for a Grammy in late 2022.

For those unfamiliar with Christopher Tin’s work, he composed Baba Yetu (Civilization 4’s main theme), the first music piece created for a video game to win a Grammy.

Substantive DLC.

As of October 2023, Old World has received three very moderately priced DLCs that add substantial content to the game.

Heroes of the Aegean DLC ($9.99): This DLC adds a new civilization (Hittite), dozens of narrative events and six scenarios that chronicle key moments in Greek history, such as the Battle of Thermopylae.

The Sacred and The Profane DLC ($4.99): This DLC adds over 350 new events and overhauls religions to be more dynamic, such as allowing for religious unrest, persecutions and uprisings.

Pharaohs of the Nile DLC ($9.99): This DLC adds a new civilization (kush) and six historical free-form scenarios, each with unique characters and objectives set in New Kingdom-era Egypt.

Is Old World Worth Playing In 2023

Even Losing Is Fun.

Titles with a heavy focus on narrative are one of the only genres where even losing can be enjoyable, with a  greater emphasis on the journey rather than the destination, surviving till turn 200 or going out with a blaze of glory after insulting the leader of your greatest rival is equally rewarding, with each step of your journey being just as important as the last.

In my most recent playthrough, a careful start and family infighting have resulted in Rome falling behind its nearest rivals (Carthage and Greece). As a result, I am forced to pay them tribute lest they conquer my severely diminished and crippled by religious unrest Roman Empire.

Is winning still fun? Absolutely, and I never start with the intention of losing, but even though victory has been well beyond my grass for over 75 turns, I persist as the journey has been amazing. If performance were better, I would see it through to its conclusion, whatever that may be.

Community Engagement.

For better or worse, Mohawk Games is one of the most engaged and community-focused developers, involving the community with each stage of development and, where possible, including community-created content in their games.

A prime example of this is the inclusion of user-submitted photos as in-game characters, which has allowed for an astonishing amount of unique character portraits; while some of these portraits look far too modern for the Ancient World, it is certainly better than seeing the same face multiple times on your family tree.

One of the most popular community events had people submitting their baby photos for inclusion in the game, and they are truly adorable, even if it’s a little hard to imagine some of these angelic faces growing into the lazy, drunken, vengeful tyrants that seem to flow from my brother’s side of the family.

Is Old World Worth Playing In 2023


While sharing many similarities with Cinvilatiomn, the combat in Old World is much faster, and armies need to be much larger due to sieges often taking multiple turns and capturing a city, often resulting in upwards of a dozen counterattacks when facing powerful enemies.

For me, as a 20+ year civilization veteran, it was a rude awakening when my 50-unit army was swiftly swept aside by a near flood of enemy units the further I pushed into enemy territory; however, it is this challenge that keeps me coming back, even with Old World’s long term performances issues.

Is Old World Worth Playing In 2023

Old World FAQ

Old World is a 4x strategy video game developed by Mohawk Games and published by Hooded Horse , it was released on 5 May 2020 and retails for $39.99.

Platform Availability.

Old World is available exclusively on PC.

Are The Developers Active?

Mohawk Games continues to release updates for Old World regularly; however, it’s clear that development is now split between improving the base game (free updates) and DLC, which is to be expected for a title which is fast approaching its third birthday.

Is There Group Finding/Matchmaking Support?

Old World offers the following matchmaking options:

  • Server Browser

What Peripherals Are Supported?

The following peripherals are officially supported:

  • PC - Mouse and Keyboard.

Is There Any Mature Content?

Old World is unrated and contains the following:

  • Mature Themes
  • Sexual Content
  • Violence

Final Verdict.

Old World is an excellent game, and if not for its long-term, game-breaking performance issues would be one of the best, if not the best, 4X strategy games on the market, while I can still partially recommend it for those who can push past its performance woes, I cannot give it a full-throated endorsement at this time.

Is Old World Worth Playing In 2024?

Honest Video Game Reviews has given "Old World" a rating of 7/10, indicating that it is a good game, that is well worth playing, and while it may have a few shortcomings, the average gamer will enjoy it.

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