Created by XL Games and published by 2K Games, Civilization Online, if all goes well, could be exactly what the MMORPG genre needs to get away from the predictable and tired design-copy of Worlf of Warcraft.
Of course it will be very different from previous Civilization games. Players will take real time control of a single character with the career of their choice, which will allow them to build, research technologies, wage wars and much more. As an important cog in the machine of their chosen people, every effort they make will be towards not personal gain but its progress, as it slowly evolves from the stone to the space age. The graphics, despite the use of the powerful CryEngine 3, are somewhat cartoony, yet retain a sense of wonder.
There isn't much official information, but though Massively's interview we learn of the most important differences to other MMO games. In Civilization Online, players will also assume the role of mayors, generals and other officials in order to coordinate the efforts of others. You see, despite the differences to previous games in the series, competition remains. In every server, initially four nations comprised of players will compete against each other, often with little knowledge of the opponents' state as the world will be generated on the fly and new areas will often be added. The game will also end and reset when one of the nations reaches a victory condition, which could be done in many ways; for example through world conquest or by achieving a technological level that allows space travel. Some player traits will carry over to the next match in order to give a sense of continuity but most will be lost.
There aren't many details about exactly how each of these features will work, but there's more than enough to intrigue. Civilization Online will most likely be free to play and was announced for PC.