This week, we’re taking a look at a game with a legacy dating right back to the ancient era. Sid Meiers Civilization 6 has released. It’s time to sit back and enjoy the fun of raising a civilization from the ground and into the stars. As the saying goes, you were born in the dirt, and if you live next door to Gandhi, you’ll probably die in the dirt too!
So, as I sat down with the new Civilization 6, I had but one goal in my mind: To get revenge on Gandhi for centuries of denunciations in previous instalments. So of course, the first thing that happened was that I chose a random leader, and the game gave me Gandhi. “Oh well,” I said, “This is a chance to test out the religious victory mode!” Apparently, in Civ 6, you can win by having your priests fight their priests in some sort of holy showdown! But I never quite got the hang of that one. So what followed was 2 millennia of “What the hell am I doing?”
There is so much more choice in Civilization 6 by comparison to the other games. The technologies you study, the things you build, the government you choose. These things are all connected. They all branch off, allowing you to finely tune your game to how you want to play. This can be a little overwhelming at first, but the end goal is to make your civilization stand out.
However, it should be noted that all this free choice can make things quite muddled. As opposed to streamlining the process of civ, and making your victory goals clear from the beginning, you end up doing a balancing act across every system. Do this so your people are happy. Do this so the other leaders are happy. Work on your military so no one thinks you’re weak and destroys you. Spend all your efforts making units, you have no room to make buildings. It seems like no matter which way you play, you’re losing! It’s very damned if you do, damned if you don’t and can leave the player wondering what exactly they’re doing with their civ.
Yet another unfortunate side effect of expanded choice is the alliance system. It acts as less of a diplomatic agreement, and more of a nuisance. Once you’re allied to someone, you being receiving updates on what they have achieved each turn. So imagine following Montezuma on Twitter, then having your screen covered in “LOL! Just Killed 2 Barbarians! #NoBarbz”. And sure, he’s not gonna attack you when you’re allied, but I don’t know if it’s worth the cost of hearing what he had for dinner last night.
In regards to improvements, there are still plenty. In previous instalments, while you could build and reap the benefits of building wonders, you never got to see the effects. With Civ 6 you can display your achievements to the world, having them stand tall amongst your territory. And yes, what I’m saying here is that you get a little tiny Eiffel tower to show off. It doesn’t do much strategically. But it’s a nice little touch that makes you feel just that little bit more accomplished when barbarians are destroying your capital.
In general, the visuals in Civ 6 are stunning. Everything looks lovely, and the attention to detail is definitely there. From the addition of a bank in your city to the light shining off the rocks from your lighthouse, they haven’t missed a beat. I for one also adore the fog of war being represented as a map that has yet to be drawn. However, it can get a bit confusing since discovered territory turns back into a map once you’ve moved on.
I also think the diplomacy has gotten a lot deeper than in previous games. Each leader in Civ 6 has their own personality traits. Some will favour a strong military, others prefer culture. Whether you choose to appease them or not is your choice, but it makes the game easier. It makes each leader stand out as unique, and less like a moronic AI who doesn’t know what a fair deal is. Though there is currently a causing every leader to be terrible at math. If I were you, I’d take advantage while I could before they all remember that trading a city for 1 gold is a bad idea!
All in all, I wouldn’t call Civilization 6 a bad game. It’s actually pretty fun and just as addicting as previous titles. But I would retain more hope for the future than the present. Civilization is a series well known for improving upon its mistakes. I’ve been playing these games since the fourth instalment, and in every case, the initial game has been lacklustre. But the expansions afterward improve the systems immensely. Normally, I would be opposed to such a system. After all, fixing your game through expansions does seem like a money-grubbing practice (*cough* The Sims *cough*). However, in the case of Firaxis and Civ, I genuinely believe their expansions show that they’re willing to listen to their audience. It’s their way of saying “Hey, we messed this up, so we fixed it while adding new stuff! Enjoy!”
With that in mind, if you’re still interested in Civ 6 and you want to get into it, I heartily suggest buying the Season Pass. Based off previous instalments, the content you get is well worth the extra money. I’m confident there are good things on the horizon in terms of expansions.