Sid Meier’s Civilization is always one of the hardest games for me to review – Doing a review means that I’ve got to actually stop playing. Civilization VI, the latest in the franchise, is just as addictive.
Civilization is one of those games that’s very hard to fault. It’s built a loyal, and well-deserved, following over the years and rightfully deserves it’s place at the top of the food chain when it comes to turn-based strategy. But then again that’s where the challenge lies – how do you maintain the core of what fans love, yet change enough for it to be a new game and not just a DLC. Maybe that’s why it’s been six years since the launch of Civilization V that we now have VI. Are the changes significant enough though?
Visually, Civilization VI is easily the most vibrant and engaging of the franchise. The world is beautifully rendered while great attention to detail has been shown to the models. Units look amazing as the traverse across the land, and even better when engaged in combat. But it is the cities themselves that really have leveled up and grown.
No longer do cities occupy their solitary tile, instead they now spread out and across across the map to create new, strategic layers that yield bonuses to research, production and your city’s sustainability. Building improvements on each tile, such as water mills and granaries for cities, and power plants for your industrial zones, change the way your map looks and you’ll find yourself purchasing upgrades for their aesthetic nature as much as for their benefit to your city.
I spent quite a bit of time choosing a leader to start with just because it’s quite the buffet, with each civilization having its own advantages and disadvantages, so it’s great that 2k made a video to help you do just that – I ended up starting with Trajan of Rome.
Just as each Civilization has it’s perks, they have their own quirks as well, which comes to the fore when engaging with these leaders. Diplomacy’s been given a touch up and interactions with other civilizations change over the course of the game. Each leader though will react to you based on his own values. For example, Gandhi’s India believes in peaceful coexistence and frowns upon (because they can’t really start a war now can they? So they end up frowning really, really hard) civilizations that revel in warfare. Saladin’s Arabia admires productivity and Qin Shi Huang’s China throws a fit when your civilization has more wonders than his… and then there’s France’s Catherine de Medici who’s got her eyes (and spies) on your bank account.
Early trades for “open borders” with other civilization might seem like a good idea, but then I realized that an unusual number of foreign troops were amassed in one of my cities. A couple of turns later, the Viking Harald Hardrada declares a surprise war. While normally I’d be quite pissed, it’s a good thing our engineering department hasn’t been asleep all this while. Investing time in research and studying the tree a bit will give you the upper hand. In this case it meant that while the Vikings were using crossbows and swordsmen, my troops were behind walls and armed with gunpowder and other things that go boom. A very lopsided encounter where technology easily beat numbers, and one that led to the downfall of the Vikings.
With research, you can now combine similar units to make “corps” and “armies” for added combat strength per tile. This really helps if global domination is your cup of tea. However, that’s not the only way to come up tops. You can aim for a scientific victory by beating the space race, religious victory by spreading the word of you religion across the land, or be the most cultured civilization in all the world. Each game plays for 500 turns. If by then, none of the other victory conditions have been met, scores are tallied – which to me is the most anti-climactic way to win.
Civilization VI while extremely strong across the board, does have its issues. For example, ancient civilizations (especially the more warlike) tend to stockpile armies that are severely outdated and stand no chance against modern weaponry. Also the unit auto select can cause you to give the wrong orders to a unit because it tends to jump around.’
Civilization VI will very likely stand the test of time and is an improvement on what was already a very solid game. It is insanely addictive and one that will make hours pass by as minutes as you tell yourself “one more turn”. If you’re a fan of strategy games, this is a no brainer.