A return to world conquest and the Civilization series has been known about for some time, but we've had very few details on Civ IV - until now that is. According to a report on fansite Civilization Fanatics' Center, an upcoming edition of print publication PC Gamer (US) carries information on the next title in the series from Firaxis.
It's revealed that Sid Meier is himself heading up development of Civilization IV, with Firaxis going back to the drawing board for the sequel and creating it from scratch. A flexible 3D engine is being employed that'll allow you to zoom in from global view right down to city level, and there's news that units in the game will accrue experience and obtain upgrades. And, spearmen will no longer be able to defeat tanks. Apparently.
Changes have also been made to the tech tree, according to the report, players now able to follow a variety of research paths to attain high-level tech ("Now you won't have to follow a strict research path to be competitive later in the game - a design that opens up a whole new world of possibilities," says Civilization Fanatics'), and there's word that Civilization IV has been developed firmly with the mod community in mind and that we can expect at least co-op play in the multiplayer component.
Civilization IV is currently expected to arrive in 2005.