I’ve been a massive fan of the Civilization games for a long time. I think it was something about being able to re-write history, at least virtually. I loved the idea of creating a war-mongering Gandhi or a cultured and pacifistic Genghis Khan. Civilization was a game that but history’s what-if questions in the palm of your hand, and it was damn fun game to boot. So, imagine my joy when Civilization 6 was announced, and that it was set to be even better than civilization 5. Can you imagine it? No? Well, imagine a small child on Christmas morning. That was my level of excitement.
Civilization 6 will still bring you all the things that you would expect to find in any game of the franchise, exploration, city-building, diplomacy, war, resource management etc. However, they have looked at it closely and brought in some pretty exciting changes to what I think are the three key areas.
Firaxis took a look at research and found that most people would research in a predictable way.
“We want players to adapt to the map every time they play the game,” says lead designer Ed Beach. “We want people to think on their feet, to respond to being put in different types of terrain, to being put in situations while playing different leaders.”
For example, some players might open up the Tech tree click on Gunpowder and simply race straight there. I know I’m certainly guilty of this, but logically it doesn’t make sense. A simple tribe mud huts could not charge from discovery to discovery and get straight to explosives? Well, in Civilization 6 what you can research is heavily dependent on your current civilisation as well as geography. For example, a civilization surrounded by mountains could unlock mining research, but naval travel wouldn’t even be an option until they had discovered the sea. A tribe surrounded by lush verdant farmland, may discover ways to improve farming etc.
Firaxis also took a look at City Planning. In civilization 5 they had the idea that you can only build certain buildings once criteria have been met. Well, in Civilization 6 you can now only build building once a geographical condition has been met. So, if you always build things in a certain order you will have to review things. Districts can now be built within the cities radius. Districts can be of various types trade, defence, culture, farming etc.
“One district is a military encampment, where your barracks and stables and military academy and those types of buildings go,” says Ed. “You can have a doubly defended city with two ranged strikes if you put up walls around your city and build an encampment. But the rule is, that encampment always has to be on the outskirts of your city. It cannot be next to the city center.
A lot of other districts get bonuses for being near your city center,” he adds. “We have 12 different districts and each of them has rules about how you place buildings, which our user interface helps you through. You’ll learn pretty quickly how all these layout decisions work and what’s going to be an optimal layout for your city.”
So, in Civ 6 you can’t just plop down buildings in a pre-decided format. For the city to thrive, you’ll need to plan in a specific way working with its geography.
In all honesty, in all the previous civilization games I did my best to not interact with any other leaders. I found them to be tetchy individuals how would get pissed at me for no reason and then attack. Well, Firaxis must have had the same problem because the AI of leaders is also being looked at.
Each of the leaders is going to have what I would consider to be a primary objective. Whether the goal is that they cover the most land, have the biggest and most dominant navy, or the biggest trade network. Generally, speaking the leaders will be nice (or at least not aggressive arseholes) to you providing you don’t do anything to either stop them achieving their goal, or dare to go in competition against them for the same thing.
“Take a leader in world history who was renowned for having an empire with famous world wonders. That leader feels like he’s the greatest wonder builder that history has ever seen. He’s going to play Civilization 6 that way.
He’s going to be obsessed with building more wonders than anyone else in the world. If you back off and don’t try to compete with him that often, he’ll be fine. He’ll be your friend and you can establish a peaceful diplomatic relationship with him. But if you decide to compete on the thing he cares deeply about, he’s going to fight you on it.”
So, I have to say Civilization 6 is looking pretty darn good, and I can’t wait for its release. Of course, I have to wait unless Piraxis or 2K are kind enough to send a review copy my way (smiles sweetly). Oh well, Civilization 6 is due for release on October 21st, on PC. You can find out more on the official site.