The Civilization series of strategy games is now 26 years old. That’s right, this franchise is now not only old enough to drink and vote, but to also have completed most, if not all the training required to be a Doctor. It’s a very well established series. I’ve played every other game in the Civ franchise so I’m experienced enough to run through the newest edition, Civilization VI through its paces.
Firstly, this review assumes that you have at least a basic understanding of how the previous games worked. In that you choose a leader from history, and then by way of technological advances, culture, religion or military might you make sure that your civilization lives on through the ages. A task made considerably more difficult by the other leaders who are all desperate to the do the same thing, and who tend to often get in the way.
What does Civilization VI have that V doesn’t?
Leaving the bulk of the gameplay aside because you really should already know, let’s take a look at the things that are different in Civilization VI.
You can’t stack all your units on one hexagon to turn them in to a towering Goliath troop tower any more. Certain troops can stack and you can now link a combat unit with a settler, trader or builder for their protection. You can now also only fortify a city with limited troops, so make sure they’re good ones. There’s now more emphasis on having the best troop filling a slot then simply overwhelming the opposition with stacked forces.
Still on the subject of stacking and bringing us fairly neatly to one of the biggest changes within Civ 6 is how building placement has also changed. In previous games every building would be stacked on the city square. Sure, there would have been mines, farms and so on outside the city but buildings were built well and truly inside. Plus, every city could make a majority of the buildings which led to some very formulaic and cookie-cut cities. So, bring in the districts.
Districts, as the name suggests are collections of themed buildings that are built outside of the city. There are many different districts and each one not only brings different benefits but also houses further buildings of a similar type within it.
Building a campus, allows you to build educational buildings such as library’s or Universities within it. Place the campus next to jungle and forest and reap even more benefits. A military encampment, though can’t be placed next to your city allows you to build military buildings such as barracks, and stables, and offers further abilities like firing at approaching enemies from the city itself.
You’re unlikely to be able to build every district within every city, so once again the developers are removing the cookie-cut approach to city building and forcing the player to think about each individual situation rather than allowing them to do the same thing every time.
Rather than simply choosing a form of government each with pre-set abilities, they’ve developed the civics system. Civics are gathered in a similar way to research. You choose the civic you wish to advance towards and after an allotted time you get the civic and all the policy cards (and maybe even different forms of government) associated with that civic.
As stated before, a government does not have any effects in itself other than dictating which civic cards you can use. Each government allows a different number and variety of policy cards to be used with it. The first form of government, allows you add one military policy and one economy policy. It is the policy cards that have effects, for example an economy card might decrease the time it takes to build settlers, a military policy might increase strength against barbarians or increase the experience gained by scouts. It’s up to you to invest time into the civics and use the policy’s that will benefit your civilization the most.
Leader’s desires have also been looked at in Civ VI. In previous incarnations the leaders of other civilizations were a little two dimensional in what they wanted and it was difficult to stay in anyone’s good books. Now, the leaders of other nations have deeper wants and needs, they still have their primary need but they also have a number of hidden ones. Later on in the game espionage can help you understand just what all these things are, but suffice to say that you can be friends with other leaders for a lot longer.
Those are the biggest changes in Civilization VI that I’ve found, and there many more in there such as…
– Builders have finite uses but improvements are completed instantly
– Certain actions and events cut the time it takes to research or develop civics, known as Eureka moments.
– World Wonders need their own Hex on which to be built and not just stacked on to the city
– Roads are created by establishing trade routes
Graphically everything’s been given a darn good polish for Civilization VI, and they’ve kept the hex-grid from the previous game. A nice little graphical touch is that undiscovered areas of the map look like old map parchment from the 15th Century. Discovered land, no longer within sight becomes a map-version of the land you’ve discovered. It’s a little thing, I know but sometimes the little things make all the difference.
Obviously, the late great Leonard Nimoy (Captain Spock – Star Trek) who narrated the earlier Civ games has been replaced. Sean Bean (Game of Thrones, Sharpe, and Lord of the Rings) has now picked up the Civ narration mantle. Now the famous quotes associated with research and civics are read out in the Yorkshire lad’s dulcet tones.
There are still the levels of difficulty you’d expect in a Civilization game from Settler (easiest) to Deity (Most Difficult). The harder the setting the more bonuses the enemy AI’s have from increased gold, free civics, extra culture, holy and tech points. Let’s say if you’re planning on tackling Deity level, then you’ll be in for a rough ride. Settler on the other hand is very simple, and should be avoided by experienced players as it provides a simple, and unchallenging experience. In short, the difficulty levels are well spread out, you just might need to play on a few different settings before you find your ideal one.
You do not need to worry about replayability. Civilization VI has this in giant bucket-loads. There are lots of different leaders, difficulty levels, and several different ways to win from killing everyone to getting your asses into space. Sure, there aren’t any unlockable or rewards for completing a game other than knowing you beat it, but that’s not to say you’re not going to dive right back in and give it another go.