Sid Meier’s Civilization is back with a sixth installment. Announced earlier this year, the studio put forth a new look to their website and a sneak peak into their final stages of development. With over 33 million copies of the Civ series sold over the years, 8 million to Civ V alone, Civ VI has a lot to live up to.
And it will not disappoint. Since Civ is a rather unique series in its own right, this review will be structured as a mechanic by mechanic breakdown, looking how each element functions and how it compares to past entries in the franchise.
Developed by: Firaxis
Published by: 2K
Release date: October 20th, 2016
Platforms: PC (Reviewed on PC)
Launch Price: 59.99 USD
Civilization 6 Features
- See the marvels of your empire spread across the map like never before. Each city spans multiple tiles so you can custom build your cities to take full advantage of the local terrain.
- Unlock boosts that speed your civilization’s progress through history. To advance more quickly, use your units to actively explore, develop your environment, and discover new cultures.
- Interactions with other civilizations change over the course of the game, from primitive first interactions where conflict is a fact of life, to late game alliances and negotiations.
- Expanding on the “one unit per tile” design, support units can now be embedded with other units, like anti-tank support with infantry, or a warrior with settlers. Similar units can also be combined to form powerful “Corps” units.
World Creation Screen
You have many options to chose from and a variety of difficulties ranging from Settler to Deity, 6 different map sizes, and the same aging and temperature as previous games. Multi-player is alive and functioning with 3 mods to chose from, or create your own!
The revamped World Map is a work of art. Taking inspiration from old-word cartography charts, the world map is beautiful by design and flawless in execution. The fog of war slowly moves outward as your units move giving a real feeling of discovering a new area.
The map can display many numerous bits of information and allows you to filter what you want to know vs what you do not need to know at the moment. The pin system is fantastic for making notes and keeping tabs on your areas.
The most anticipated part of the new Civ is the city planning. Unlike V, the cities are now “unstacked” and will sprawl in a more city-like environment. You can build a few buildings in the City Center, but other buildings will need planned Districts. Each District is separated into sections of what can and cannot be built. For example, in the Holy Site district you can have a shrine or temple, worship buildings. There are Campus districts meant for Libraries, Universities and Research Labs. And you remember the Harbours right? The unstacked harbours of Civ VI will make bring sea-faring (or warring!) civilizations proud.
To add even more depth, there is now a day and night cycle with advanced camera rotation controls. The game feels a lot more intuitive and real time than ever before. The new engine that built Civ VI will allow even the most modest computers be able to run this beautiful game in all its features. Last month the team announced on Steam the requirements needed to run Civ VI so even your 5 year old lap top should keep up.
For veteran CIV players one of the most annoying aspects was keeping population in check. You need just enough population to build better than your opponents but not so much they are unhappy and revolt. Civ VI has a new Housing metric. Your population cannot grow without all the necessary benefits it needs to thrive. Even if your city has more than enough food it simply will not grow without access to fresh water and proper amenities. This added feature brings your citizens to a new level of the Civilization series in that your citizens matter.
Housing is broken down into this: If you have a granary you are allowed 2 housings, if you build sewers you add two housing. You can easily control other parts of your population in your social window. These features will allow you to build a diverse world. One city can be your Industrial Military Complex, pumping out all the fighters you need, while another city can send food to support the endeavor. Adding this little strategy gives a new depth to planning.
Similar to the previous games, there are tiles that will house luxuries and resources. Without giving too much away, you will see the return of cattle and sheep and another added food source: rice. Some civilizations have restricted resources tied directly to their civilization. Strategic resources are back with your basic horses, iron and coal, but a name change of saltpeter to “nitre.” You will also have a few more unique mine resources like jade which add to your production points.
Within these resources and buildings you now have Builders instead of Workers. Builders will complete their jobs instantly but have a limited amount of uses. This will allow for a better planning of your city and mining operations so you are not constantly bombarded with idle workers once they have finished improving a city. At first I was unsure how well this would work out but the way that they operate, how long it takes to build one and the types of improvements they do streamline a better build queue. This nice addition to the game will again, add that little bit of extra layer that is strategic rather than monotonous.
The bread and butter of your Civilization. With improved features and larger interface, understanding the Tech Tree has never been easier.
Governments are back! With customization features with various policy cards you get while playing the game you can breathe new life into an old system. These governments are centered around non-scientific and non-military aspects of the game so that your government can focus more on cultural development and diplomacy. The governments have a Civics Tree which progresses by cultural development rather than scientific development. If you wanted, you can ignore scientific research and pour your heart into cultural achievements instead. Who needs pottery when you have art?!
In previous games, the religious Civilizations had to side build with military and/or cultural builds in order to move forward. No longer! The religion feature comes with a new unit, Apostle, and allows for a religious victory. When you found your pantheon early in the game it cannot get overwritten by foreign religions. While they only provide a small bonus to start, adding in more religious features will give you more bonuses. Apostles and Inquisitors will be able to enjoy bouts of Theological Combat with other religious units. To add to this, the previous “Diplomatic Victory” has now been changed into “Religious Victory.” With the changes of how government and cultural production is achieved this will not be missed in Civ VI.
One thing to note about dealing your new policies cards. While some cards offer clear advantages, there are a lot and it can get overwhelming. Some of them become obsolete but still remain within your deck. It is wise to focus on one main area of your government and have one supplement policy while ignoring the rest. You can mix and match as you go along and re-focus at any time. Maybe in the beginning you focus on a heavy military but then slide into more cultural advantages. There is always an option to change your strategy and is the highlight of the new governments and policies. Play around…live a little!
New leaders will be in charge of your Civilizations. Gorgo and Pericles replaces Alexander for Greece. Each one brings something new to the table. England gets a revamp from the Naval genius, Queen Elizabeth replaced by Queen Victoria. Instead of the usual founding father of Washington, American now has Theodore Roosevelt.. but still keeps the “Founding Fathers” in their ability name. France’s usual Napoleon has been replaced with Catherine de Medici. Historically speaking many people have glossed over the name of Catherine de Medici, who was Italian by blood and ruled France by influencing culture and the arts. An interesting choice as she was a controversial figure in French history. Returning heavy-weights are Cleopatra of Egypt and Ghandi for India. The interesting aspects of these civilizations is their primary focus matters. If you are diplomatic you can earn more diplomacy and do not always have to result in warring early on to get ahead. Each Civ is more unique and offers clear advantages and disadvantages.
Playing with various civs will be a highlight for returning and new players.
Great People can be acquired by fulfilling specific tasks to earn them. The benefits are listed for you ahead of time. Previously Great People were more randomly recorded and not as easy to keep track of. Good job Civ VI dev team!
Diplomacy & War
A new Diplomacy menu is more complex than ever. You can meet a civilization that is polite at the start but slowly becomes envious of all your nitre and can get crafty and want to sneak things from you or start an all out war. The leaders you meet have two Agendas; one that you see right away and the other is a hidden Agenda that becomes unlocked while you keep playing. Playing against the same Civilization twice, the second agenda appears to be random and you can either play into their nice side, or provoke them into declaring war. Even better is if you unlock the right policies you can earn points for “Casus Belli” (Latin for “reason of war”) which allows you to declare war without too many penalties. Waging war, or declaring war has also been revamped.
In this new incarnation of waging war comes in the style of “Surprise War” all the way to “Formal Declaration.” Different types of players will be able to create any sort of different wars and make their civilization truly unique. You will also be able to build spies as a military unit, rather than them being just something randomly assigned. Your spies can gather intelligence or steal other Civs’ technologies.
The bottom line is this: a more realistic feel to how diplomacy works, or does not work. These advanced features really bring Civ VI to a whole new level.
Military units get a nice little boost in this installment. When you stack two identical units they will earn +10 to combat; add anoter and add +7 for a total of +17 attack points. You will not gain any additional defense points,but this strategy is good at getting rid of pesky Barbarians. Escorting units is a lot better in VI and will increase your defensive positioning of builders and their defenders. While the Barbarians are smarter, your units are braver (Right?!). Keep in mind that when promoting a unit, you get healed automatically. No more choosing between “heal a unit in a dire situation” vs promoting their stripes.
Bonus: You can rename your military units. Your ships can now be the Pirates that say Ni if you so chose.
City states are back in full force with a slight tweak. In Civ VI you will have to enact specific policies and complete missions and send envoys to gain their approval. If you gain enough approval you will become an honorary leader of that City-State and earn a bonus. Note: I have not tried to declare war on them…. that would be rude! The new immersion you get from the restyled City States will feel more engaging and meaningful during your play.
And what about those pesky Barbarians? Their AI has been improved which will be a source of annoyance and triumph for any player. You will actually see Barbarian Scouts sent ahead to scope your budding city. Prepare a good defense and mount an offense early as possible. Your military units can now be assigned to protect your civilians and with advanced tactics you will engage in more polished skirmishes. Battles have improved animations and better notification of how many health points your unit uses.
The UI has not strayed much from Civ V, however, with so many added features it might feel “cluttered” at first. There is a lot of information going on and I suggest using the basic UI before the advanced AI. Give yourself a quick and easy play through the first time. There are new windows, of course, for the Religious, Diplomacy and Government tactics but overall it has the same feeling as Civ V with some enhanced features. Because your builders are not like previous workers, their shortcut keys are different. Just remember to read everything, do not glance and think you know what is going on there. There are some juicy tidbits all over the place if you are willing to pace yourself. And remember: Your advisers are here to help!
With all the new and enhanced features of Civ VI I believe that patience will win over the hearts of gamers everywhere; veterans and any new player will gain enjoyment out of a strategy game that will require a lot of thinking in all the right places. All the diversified changes means no one real victory, or Civilization, will be better than other, just different. Those differences are placed into your hands and will shape and mold your game for hours on hours.
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