Civilization VI Review

The sixth installment of Firaxis Games’ most renowned series has arrived with a slew of new features, while still keeping the best elements from its predecessor. However, Civilization VI is also brand new start for the beloved franchise, as it was developed from a completely new engine with a vastly revamped art direction. While the previous title in the series focused on realism, Civilization VI has taken on a more colourful on arcade-like approach with historical characters taking on a caricature-like appearance as well. The new game also introduces plenty of new features that make this Civ game the most loaded base game ever.

This iteration of Civilization also has the most starting Civs of any previous games. Alongside the traditional mainstays, newcomer Civs include the Scythian peoples who once roamed the Central Asian steppes, the Kongo in Central Africa, and Norway during the Viking Age (However, the traits are just the same as Denmark in Civilization V). New support units in combat, as well as new religious units also make other aspects of combat more interesting. However, the AI at this stage continues to be clueless in both military and diplomatic affairs, and it will probably take a lot of tweaking from the developers in the coming months.

A more dynamic era progression

In Civilization V, progressing through the eras meant bulking up Science yields in your Civ, where numerous strategies have already been devised on the most important technologies to prioritise (or beeline, in community terms) in order to give yourself an edge. However, this model has changed in dramatic fashion, as not only does a Tech tree exist in Civilization VI, there also exists a Civic tree with the same concept, but relies on Culture yields. Accordingly, bonuses gained from Culture have drastically changed as well, whereas in Civilization V Culture is spent on Policy trees, the same type of bonuses from Policy trees are unlocked from the Civic tree in the form of cards that can swapped and used to the player’s liking. A new mechanic known as Eurekas are also present in both trees, where players can perform prerequisite tasks to cut down the costs needed to discover the next Tech or Civic. This is a fantastic addition as it further diversifies gameplay and makes the player think more to assess their advantages.

Districts make the cornerstone of gameplay

Similar to districts from Amplitude’s Endless Legend, Civilization VI now scraps the once-viable strategy of building small empires that was popular in Civilization V. Most of the game’s empire-building mechanics are now formed around Specialty Districts, extensions of cities that each focus on a single yield. For example, building Campuses provide more Science while Commercial Hubs yield more Gold. The relationship between different districts are intricately designed and will need plenty of planning before plotting them down.

Art direction modelled after the Age of Sail

With a beautifully themed main menu and the in-game fog of war modelled after old exploration maps, the art direction of Civilization VI was largely inspired by the Age of Sail during the mid-Second Millennium. These designs are also coupled by a brilliante main theme in “Sogno di Volare,” or the “Dream of Flight” by Christopher Tin, the composer of the timeless “Baba Yetu” from Civilization IV. 

Overworld themes have also changed. In Civilization V, each Civ only had two main themes that were played depending on if the Civ was at peace or at war. In this game, each Civ now has four themes in total, where variations of the same theme differs as you begin to progress through eras.

Unlike the realistic terrain found in Civilization VI, the new Civ game has prioritise more vivid colours and arcadey elements found in mobile games. This style is also coupled with underwhelming leader screens, where as opposed to realistic leaders on fully-animated backdrops, leader screens in this game only the feature the leader in front of a watercolour background. Prior to launch, many players have voiced their issues with the new game’s artstyle. And while I was disappointed by the less-detailed leader screens compared to its predecessor, you cannot help but marvel at the gorgeous environment in the overworld, where the visual experience is further enhanced by wonder movies and the option to turn on a day-night cycle.

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