After speculating for one year, I have finally managed to play Humankind, the latest release of Amplitude Studios and a long-awaited competitor to the Civilizations series. Personally, I only had time to play through the first era of the game, but I definitely agree that Humankind is a true competitor for Civilization. In regards to which game is better, I cannot say for now, because I feel that, for this sort of game, what matters the most is how your decisions affect the gameplay thousands of simulated years into the game. However, in the early game, the way early decisions seemed to affect the next centuries seemed promising.
One should understand that the beginning of the game takes place a lot earlier than Civilization starts you out (in the Neolithic, way before cities or even agriculture was invented, rather than starting with your first city). You begin playing as a bunch of hunter gatherers that plunder around forests and hunt mammoths, then spend their evenings collecting dinners and as many things about their surrounding as possible. At some point, you know enough in a certain category to settle down and actually start a civilization. It is in this initial stage that I noticed an interesting feature: Humankind really goes very far to let you play according to your personal preferences.
My first Humankind playthrough was as the science-oriented Babylonians. With them, I managed to set up mortar and bricks really fast, so I managed to start piling up on ancient wisdom to make objects such as telescopes. In two or three turns, I actually got out of the Neolithic, which was quite impressive. After that, I split up my nomads and sent them out in the wilderness to search for more knowledge. The second time I played, my focus was on hunting animals.