The legendary Sid Meier’s Civilization series returns yet again with its sixth instalment and this 4X strategy game series never fails to deliver fun, satisfying tactical gameplay. The game of course still retains its original concept – to build a civilization that can withstand the test of time! Only this time there so many more ways to turn your civilization into world-conquering superpower.
First off, the game looks incredibly beautiful. The art direction of the game took a sharp turn by going to a more cartoony feel in comparison to the realistic looking art style of previous Civ games. Animations are fluid and the landscapes looks more vibrant and colourful. To some, the art style may not be agreeable as they do not reflect the game’s more serious tone. The game is supposed to represent the real world of things and the art style may be a bit out of place in representing that aspect of the game. I personally loved it and I think it adds more personality to the game - especially to the Civ leaders. The game also manages to recruit Sean Bean as the new narrator, his strong British accent definitely adds a nice touch. Sometimes it feels like Boromir is the one reading out famous quotes and explaining how cool my Civ leader is when you load up a new game. It's the little things like these that represents the quality and polish of Civ VI
Districts - A New Emphasis on Tile Management
The foundation of what makes Firaxis's newest installment different this time is the brand new district planning and the importance of terrain tiles. In Civ V you can just construct all your key buildings all stacked up in your main city tile and leaving the surrounding terrain tiles for other improvements. The new city system, in which key buildings such as markets, temples, and barracks that have always been built in nearly every city to give them basic functionality have now been broken out into 11 types of “districts”. These new districts must be placed on tiles within a city’s borders - no longer stacking them within a single city tile. The number of districts you can build is limited by the population of a city, so in certain cases you will be forced to specialize each city’s function. This creates a lot of variety and paths for your game as you can have one city that is focused on generating wealth with its commercial district and trade routes, another focused on generating culture, or just go full military outfitting every one of your cities with an Encampment.
Individual City Happiness Levels
The empire wide happiness level system that was present in Civ V has been reverted back to individual city happiness. Happiness is now based on how many amenities it has available. Amenities are acquired by the natural luxury resources or by constructing happiness generating buildings within the city. This is a nice change if you plan to rapidly expand your territory. As long as your newer cities have the luxury resources to support them, you're more developed cities will not have any major implications to its productivity and growth. Thanks to these new prioritization on luxury resources, it now seems almost necessary to expand fast and hard during the early and mid game phases in order to stay competitive. Definitely a welcomed change compared to the usually mundane mid-game phase that can be found in Civ V.
Governing Your People
Ruling your empire will never be complete without a proper government installed and Civ VI has provided an extremely interactive and customizable government system. You can choose from various kinds of government such as Monarchy, Communism, Theocracy, or Democracy just to name a few. Each of these governments are represented by a few auxiliary bonuses and policy card slots. These policy card slots is heart and soul on how you want to play out your government. They are separated into four different slot types; military, economic, diplomatic, and wildcard slots.
Policy cards can be earned via the Civics tree (similar to the Tech tree but powered by Culture points instead) and can be assigned to its corresponding colour slots. Going for a domination victory? Enforce the Logistics policy card which grants units +1 movement if starting on friendly territory. This allows you to quickly deploy your army to the frontlines and provide reinforcements. For those who prefer to be a production powerhouse, pick up the Public Works policy and you will start churning out builders to help developing your lands. There are dozens of these cards, and mixing and matching them can create a government to go with nearly any type of playstyle you could want.
If you have been playing Civ games as long as me, you will understand how long a game can be and most of the time are spent waiting for your opponents to finish their turns. The first problem that Civ V had is that players will end up, more often than not, more workers than it needs especially towards the late game where you will be stuck with a bunch of automated idle workers when there are no more tiles to improve. Turns just takes much longer to calculate if you don’t manually disband them. Civ VI solves reduces unit clutter by making the Workers (now called Builders) only to have a limited amount of build charges. After a Builder’s build charges has been used up, they will automatically expire. Besides that, this new feature adds another level of interactivity where now even improving tiles need careful thought and consideration so that you don’t waste a build charge.
Alright now we get down on the most apparent flaw that Civ VI has. The AI is kinda awful. The AI civ nations are each guided by one of the available 20 leaders, each with their own agendas. These agendas determines how the AI behaves in your game. This new agenda system is actually great because it makes it easier for you to know what you are dealing with. Not all agendas will be revealed to you however, you either have to cosy up with them or use espionage to reveal their hidden agendas. Sounds great on paper and I have seen this work well in some games. However, the AI seems to throw the whole agenda system out the window at times. The AI are often incredibly bipolar and aggressive at the oddest of times. During combat, the AI will lose all tactical coherence and will often suicide their units into decisive victories for you. Even when the difficulty is cranked up all the way to Deity mode, winning key battles felt meaningless and unsatisfactory as the AI went bonkers and decided to go all in instead of doing a strategic retreat and live to fight another day. This is a major problem that needs to be fixed hopefully ASAP.
Climbing the Tech Tree
Moving on, there are certain minor complaints I have regarding the tech tree. I’m liking the new ‘boosting’ feature where it allows you skip a couple of turns forward into completing your research by accomplishing certain objectives. For instance, you get a significant boost to your research on Archery when one of your slingers kills an enemy unit, effectively cutting a 14 turn research to 7 turns. However, when you arrive on the late game techs, these boosting practically slows to a halt as most of the boosting objectives are increasingly harder to earn for players not going for a science victory. Also there are a lot of dead end tech paths that don’t make sense. For example, early era light cavalry not leading into late era light cavalry.