Civilization VI is a 4X strategy game developed by Firaxis and is the newest iteration in the long running series. Selecting a nation, from France and Germany to India and Kongo, you will grow that civilization from ancient times to the future of 2050, battling barbarians, working out trade routes with neighbouring cities and defending against the warlords of time. Coming out after Civ V and Beyond Earth, Civ VI has quite a bit of competition for best game within its own franchise.
The controls in Civ VI haven’t changed much at all, you use the mouse for most of the game, selecting objects or units with the left click, telling them to do an action with the right click. WASD moves the camera around, or you can just drag the map by holding the left click on an empty hex. The main aim of the game is to advance your city, selecting good settling locations, and managing your food, production, science and culture to win in a race against the other nations.
As you play through the game you will gain Gold through supply routes, selling units and mining it from the hexes near your cities. Gold is gained per turn and you have a store of it to use on purchasing units, upgrading them to a newer version, trading with other Civilizations. Or buying an upgraded structure. Along with gold you will also accrue science for researching new technologies and Culture of civics and ideologies that help to improve the way you make units, form them into armies, gain bonuses for certain buildings and more.
There are 5 victories to be had in the base game: Culture, Domination, Religious, Science and Score. Culture requires you to have enough tourism in your cities to outweigh all the other Civilizations amount of Domestic Tourists. Domination victories are achieved by taking control of all the Capitals on the map from the rivalling nations. If you want to convert the land to your beliefs you can win a Religious victory, having your faith being followed by more than 50% of the cities. Science requires you to launch a satellite into space, land on Mars and establish a colony there. A victory of Score is determined by the amount of cities, buildings, units, gold and other factors at the end of 2050 or a pre-set time.
What it does better or worse
Civ VI adds a lot to the base game that would be in Expansion packs, while at the same time taking away other mechanics that are sorely needed. The most prevalent mechanics it has kept from previous games is the ability to form similar units into armies of 2-3 of that unit, saving space on the map as well as consolidating your power easier. On top of this feature you can also link a battle unit, say a spearman, with a support unit, like a settler or general, and when 1 moves the other follows.
Civ VI also brings on the Civics, a more in-depth mechanic to the one shown in previous games and advancing in a similar fashion to research. Through the civics tree you can unlock new Policies, which will improve your military, economics and diplomatic approaches, from increase Experience of your units, production from buildings or how you deal with spies. Alongside this you can also choose governmental types, allowing you to have more policies in place as well as an overall bonus to experience gain or production. These serve as a way to truly make your Civilization unique and helps to create a more focused approach to construction or battle.
The fog of war is no longer a real fog, it has taken on a more artistic style in the form of an old-style map, with illustrations of ships, dragons and the like, which is a big improvement for me. Although the map has taken a turn for the better, I feel the change in AI and evolution of Barbarians has taken a turn for the worse. Before, Barbarians were a nuisance for most of the game, with higher difficulties making them a rival in power to other Civilizations, however in Civ VI they have a much faster research rate and have guns, tanks and much more dangerous weapons during the later game, sometimes even wiping out other Civs before you meet them. Either there are more warmongers, the barbarians are more vicious, or the AI accidentally presses the suicide button as in most games I have played at least ¼ of the civilizations are dead before I ever get the chance to meet them.
Builders now have an amount of “charges” before they die, starting with 3 builds and with upgrades can build 6 improvements before dying. The lifespan of the workers helps to bring immersion to them, as they shouldn’t last forever, making it feel a bit more balanced. Districts and neighbourhoods are also a good immersive inclusion in Civ VI, taking up hexes on the map to hold specific buildings like libraries or barracks, with neighbourhoods being used to increase the amount of spaces for civilians in your city
Among other changes to the game, it is a bumpy ride of transition into this latest release, improving immersion and giving more importance to hexes. However there are plenty of design changes, like the lack of a renaming feature or easy list of troops that detract from the experience.
Overall thoughts and feelings
The music in Civ VI continues in the normal classic style, with pianos, string instruments, flutes and drums, mostly leaving the in-between parts of war to being silent with soft tunes throughout. When war is declared or the action begins that is where the real music kicks in, adding to the energy of battle and the emotion of war. Sadly the most influential tracks you will hear is the menu music, as it is the loudest and most played in the entire game. Like many other Civilization games, you play with friends with music in the background so the music in-game isn’t too important.
Overall Civilization VI gets an 8/10, it starts off on a high-note, with plenty of content that would have been added later, yet sadly missing the mark on too many other parts. The whole experience is streamlined, yet dumbed down slightly in the process, hiding some of the more intrinsic mechanics within the menus. Animations are too slow for the talks with other Civilizations, there are lag issues when taking over cities, you can lose units on the bigger maps with no quick way to find them and the AI isn’t as smart when it comes to trading as they ask you to pay the losing side upwards of 4000 gold when it makes no sense. If you want a complete experience you might want to wait for patches and expansions to add in the missing features, or continue playing Civ V.