Review: Sid Meier’s Civilization VI

RENEWING its claim to the throne of a genre of its own creation, the latest instalment to Firaxis’ Civilization series has once again rocked the world of turn-based strategy games. While its predecessor was arguably the quintessential strategic gaming challenge of this decade (boasting some of the largest user statistics for a game on Steam) Civilization VI brings the series into a brave new world, where both tactics and artistry collide.

What’s immediately striking is the overhaul of the game’s traditional look. Civilization VI abandons the raw, gritty style of its predecessor, where each hexagonal tile is a strategic plot of land or sea, for a more cartoonish approach, featuring bright hues dominating the screen.

Does this simplified look hint towards ease of access, especially for younger or new players? Yes, without a doubt. But does it detract from the game in any way? Not at all. In fact, there’s something strangely serene about watching waves crash and lap against the shore of a wind stroked beach as armies descend upon your cities.

…the learning curve for this entry is unlike anything seen before in the series

However, few have ever played the Civilization games to gaze lovingly upon the screen. Civilization is, and has always been, a game of war, thought, and conquest. This latest addition to the series does not disappoint. The player will discover all too soon that the learning curve for this entry is unlike anything seen before in the series, where even seasoned veterans will struggle to get to grips with new concepts and controls that have been introduced.

Backstab a friend, and the world will know of your betrayal

The ‘intelligent’ AI, for example, bring a whole new dimension of diplomacy to the game, with each leader having both predetermined and random agendas in each game; juggling friend and foe now has more user control than ever before. Try as you may to make friends, the Romans won’t respect you and your tiny empire. Backstab a friend, and the world will know of your betrayal.

On initial inspection, there is very little to criticise, but no game is without its faults. This edition introduces the new mechanic of unstacked cities, where cities are divided into districts for individual purposes. While this seems useful and intuitive, it counts for very little in-game. Also, espionage and city-states do seem to be lacking in complexity and usefulness, offering petty rewards for minimal user input, and most importantly, we will be waiting at least a year for the game to be released in its entirety.

Despite this, Firaxis’ initial offering is enough to pique interest. We look forward to see what Firaxis has in store for the future of Civilization.