Like so many other journalists who’ve reviewed Civ 6, I grew up on Sid Meier’s vision for turn-based strategy.
My experience dates way back to 96. The Statue of Liberty stood prominently on the cover, some pyramids are protruding in the background, and an English ship is drifting to the forefront. Civ 2 will go down in history as one of the most important releases of all time.
And twenty years later, Civ 6 is sure to be remembered as the most polished, well honed version of one of gaming’s greatest franchises.
The aim is the same as ever – become the world’s greatest power through allegiances, wars, technological advancements, the construction of marvels, and the research of leading development. You expand your empire across a hex-based board, sharing turns with other civilisations, striving for constant improvement by any means necessary.
In that sense, Civ 6 doesn’t change it up from a winning formula and that’s much to its credit. It’s the same old experience you know and love, but with some lovely new twists which amazingly make the experience all the more replayable. Impressive for a game which probably has more time spent on it than any other.
For starters, Firaxis have gone to great lengths to ensure the player won’t just follow one-route to victory on the improvement path. There’s a lot more flexibility for multi-choice as certain constructions run parallel to each other and are given equal value.
Players are also encouraged to use the bonus resources more and there’s a greater selection to choose from, including archaelogical dig sites which can be excavated to show off unique exhibits in your museums. In addition, there’s sites ripe for building a farm, mining, even producing pyramids, sphinxes and other landmarks. This ensures the lay of the land during each game varies significantly and that each city can offer something different to an overall civilization through different bonuses.
One interesting change is that all city improvements are unstacked from the central city tile. This has been a staple of past games, but it now means cities are able to adopt their own boundaries and craft some semblance of an identity, rather than feel like mere subsidiaries of the capital. For instance, if a city is placed near the forestry areas, any research facilities can benefit greatly as it helps them study diversity of species on a broader scale.
Another great new feature is the ability to boost ahead with certain technologies, either reducing turns to gain them, or put you on a related path that makes it easier for you to progress ahead compared to others. This is achieved through Eureka moments when you complete an in-game challenge, or occassionally if a famous person creates a work of art in your city.
Perhaps the biggest adjustment to the game is the leniency towards Cultural Victories. Previously, it was really difficult to achieve that and was often easier to just defeat enemies in all out war, or garner the highest levels of technology. Civ 6 has been tweaked to be more open to Cultural Victories by adding a Civics tree. This allows Civilizations to make cultural improvements to your nation, creating a seperate addition with greater focus. This also builds into the policies system, enabling your Civilization to try out different methods of ruling, while also adding set decrees which add specific bonuses per turn. These can include reducing the cost of units or the time taken to build something.
As for the leaders, everyone feels like their real-life counterparts – although Gandhi does still have an odd fetish for nuclear weapons – giving them more life and feeling than ever before. They excercise certain behaviours that would be familiar and expected of that ruler, but likewise if you act a certain way with these Civilizations or barbarians, it could benefit you.
That said, the game’s AI does make some hugely questionable decisions, mostly in the trade agreements. For instance, expecting you to give them lots of money and access to your cities just so they’ll open their borders. There is no real fairness in trade, and they’re rarely willing to consider any counter-negotiations unless you’re stumping up most – if not all – of their original requests.
It’s the presentation that has split people down the middle, though. The more cartooney looking style has initiated some controversy, and there are even mods already available to adapt it in a way people will be more familiar with from past games. Personally, I’m a fan as I think it freshens up the franchise, making the game stand out all over again, and potentially increasing its appeal, but I get why it’s not for everyone.
And speaking of wider appeal, I’ve never felt more confident of just jumping right into a Civ game. Whether that’s because I’m so used to playing them is an arguable point, but it certainly feels like Firaxis have gone to great lengths to make everything user-friendly with the interface, tutorials, and approachability. I can see why previous Civ games could have been off-putting to some people, yet Civ 6 certainly feels very welcoming of new audiences, while doing enough to bring back familiar, faithful fans.
Then there’s Sean Bean. His dulcet tones firing off famous quotes and setting the scene of this progressive world. It’s a simple thing, but Bean really brings another unexpected layer to the game, more than he ever did with Oblivion. In Civ 6, he’s just fantastic.
Sadly, it’s not all perfect. Civilization 6 does seem to suffer with some poor loading sequences. The loading screens to get back into your game are quite painfully slow and occassionally the time between turns seems hiccupy and jumpy. I’ve also mentioned some of the questionable AI which does pull you a bit out of the experience at times and can make games slow-moving as the other leaders continually low-ball you until you accept one of their ridiculous offers.
But I have spent hours and hours losing myself in this wonderful world, clicking my way through policy after policy, building an empire that would rival any built today and you bet that I’m itching to go back. In fact, writing this review has been a real struggle because I’ve been thinking about skipping it and jumping back into the game the whole time. Civilization games are such a rare thing in that they have a capacity to still be incredibly entertaining, whether it’s your 20th hour or your 2,000th.
Civilization 6 is an incredible feat for Firaxis. Easily staking a claim for Game of the Year, this might just be the finest Civ yet, warts and all.
+ You’ll be plunging hours and hours into this.
+ Excellent gameplay tweaks that keep the game fresh
+ Sean Bean
– Loading Screens are slow and arduous
– AI makes some questionable decisions
– Games’ look is divisive.
9 out of 10
Platform review on :- PC