Building On Strong Foundations In Civilization VI

Years ago, a friend told me that the Civilization franchise seems to go through cycles. All the odd numbered games tend to be the more experimental, while the even number games tend to be the ones that perfect the formula and are therefore the better game. This has largely been true, though Civilization V has gotten significantly better with the expansions. With Civilization VI around the corner, the new game is showing signs of being absolutely essential purchase for fans of the series.

Playing a preview build certainly unearthed a lot of new features, the main one being Districts. While cities in previous games were largely self-contained, needing only builders to get more out of the land, Civilization VI allows you to create new districts within your city’s borders and build structures within them, such as Banks or Markets to increase the gold yielded each turn by your Commercial District. Where they’re placed also matters as certain territory grants bonuses.

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This not only makes cities sprawl across the landscape, but also forces the player to think carefully about where to build districts and the impact of such construction. On top of this, Wonders are now visually represented on the map, so you can clearly see anything from the Eiffel Tower to Oxford University. Landscapes look much busier in the late game, taking on visual changes as you progress through the ages.

Another change that drastically improves the speed of the game is that the Research Tree has been split into Technology and Civic trees, requiring Science and Culture points respectively to improve the speed of research. The Civic Tree will get you new policy cards to attach to your civilisation, boosting various stats, but dependent on the government you current have.

One big issue that Civilization games have is that turns could be rather slow, especially in the mid-game. What Civ VI does to combat this is introduce “Active Research” that grants progression bonuses to both Technology and Civic research once a defined condition is met. This encourages you to do things you may not normally do, such as make a trade with another civilisation or push to create a coastal city. In that way, the game pushes you further down a path you’ve chosen,.

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Buildings and research aren’t the only things that have seen a change. Units can now be combined with others, such as support units or escorting more vulnerable units to their destination. As such, those pesky barbarians will have a much tougher time capturing your non-combative units and certain militaristic forces become far more deadly.

Perhaps the only thing I really feel needs to be developed more is the Diplomacy. At times, other World Leaders could be somewhat vague with their demands. My game had America spreading religion like wildfire to many civilisations, but quite amusingly, their newly settled town had actually converted to my own.

It wasn’t until over 100 turns later when I defended my religion against theirs that they suddenly had a problem with my religious leaders encroaching on their territory. There’s other oddness too, such as another world leader refusing my proposal for Declaring Friendship, only to offer it himself to me the next turn.

Yet, even with the blemish of these character flaws the art style is clean and has bags of character. The likes of Teddy Roosevelt, the dapper chap that he is, are instantly recognisable caricatures; environments never feel cluttered despite the new mechanics, and even the interface has been streamlined.

Even though the preview build had none of the presentation, only had one difficulty setting, some customisation, and was missing half of the playable civilisations at launch, I’m warming to this edition of Sid Meyer’s classic game far more than I did initially with Civilization V. While that game improved dramatically as time went on, the foundations for this one are much better thought. With the game coming out later this month, the signs are encouraging.

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1 Comment

  1. Nice preview Dave. Civ has always looked like a game that I would enjoy (hell, it’s been sitting in my Steam library for years with only a handful of hours put into it), but I can never bring myself to play it properly as I know it’s such a time sink.

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