I’d like to be able to build, trade and fight large empires, based on the empires of Europe from the 16th- late19th centuries.
Sounds interesting, however I’m going to have to go with the fallback answer: This will most likely not be included in the release from the developers, so it would make a cool, yet complex mod. @Labigcheese are you thinking of modding this in yourself?
I can guarantee this will not be happening in vanilla. The team has already stated that they want players to focus on one town.
Definitely in though the large empire part won’t be. I believe the only way to do something similar is a PvP match with loads of friends in which you have set “Empires” and each person controls one city-state.
I might try to create a mod involving units based on the Napoleonic wars era and indeed that of the conquistadors and other early pre 19th century colonies and empires.