Apologies for the late review. Every time I sat down to type this, I got distracted and played “Civ VI” instead. I also wanted to wait for some patching to take place, but my main computer is a Macbook. Mac users get updates late. It kind of sucks.
So how is “Sid Meier’s Civilization VI?” In short, it’s pretty freaking amazing. The newest patch has dramatically improved the intelligence of the computer players, fixing one of the most complained-about issues. With everything finally in place, “Civ VI” has become, in my eyes, one of the best strategy games ever made.
For those of you not familiar with the “Civilization” franchise, they’re games where you play as one of the world’s great civilizations (from Egypt to China to England to America). Your goal is to become the best civilization by crushing the throats of your enemies beneath your steel-clad boot. Or by overwhelming the world’s culture with your blue jeans and pop music. Or by going to space. You build wonders like the pyramids and the Eiffel Tower, raise armies, do science, and work with diplomats of the world’s other civilizations. Essentially, it’s a civilization simulator.
To showcase some of the newer aspects of “Civ VI,” I decided that I’m going to walk you through the first hundred or so turns of a game.
I will be playing as Saladin, leader of the Arabian empire. This installment of the series has completely revamped the religious system. They’ve made it possible to win a religious victory, which makes religion more than an afterthought. Saladin has unique bonuses that allow science and faith to compound each other, allowing for mad research and religion. I’ll explain what all of this means as we go on.
The first step is founding your first city. The game is (usually) good about giving you good starting locations to grow and expand. You select what you’re going to build, what you’re going to research, then start exploring.
One thing you might have noticed is how freaking beautiful the game is. Aspyr went with a more artistic style for this installment. It’s gotten some hate from the community, but I love it. It’s a game I feel totally alright staring at all day.
Research is an integral part of Civilization. As you research new technologies, you can build new buildings and districts, units, and improvements to your land. You start small, with technologies like Animal Husbandry and Mining, then work your way up to advanced missile systems and networking. I’m going to start with Pottery.
As my warriors are poking their noses about my outlying lands, they encounter a barbarian scout. Barbarians are small, ever-spawning groups of antagonistic brutes that want nothing more than to annoy you by slaughtering your people and putting your lands to the torch. A real nuisance, if you ask me. In this version of the game, barbarians actually have scouts that need to go out, find your city, and return before they start attacking you. The problem is that scouts, being faster than most of your units, are very hard to catch. I’ll let this one go and make sure that I have enough military might to defend myself when they come knocking.
I’ve made my own scout and started to explore some more, and look who comes knocking: Frederick Barbarossa, leader of the German empire. Diplomacy has received a huge overhaul. You can now receive word of the goings-on of your peers, provided you’ve sent them a delegation and maintain diplomatic ties with them. Frederick can be fairly aggressive, so I’ll try to stay on his good side and play it nice.
One really cool thing they’ve added is boosts to research technology and civics. When you trigger a boost (in this case I triggered the Eureka! for Writing by meeting another civilization), half of the research requirement is automatically filled. This makes sure that you put a lot more planning into what you’re going to build and research.
My first civic-Code of Laws-is complete! Civics operate like technologies in “Civ VI,” only you use Culture instead of Science to unlock them. Each new civic gives you policies that you can put into slots, the number and type of which are determined by what kind of government you have. You start out as a Chiefdom, so you only have two slots — one for each a military and economic policy. I’m going to take the ones that give my scouts more experience (for better exploring), and that gives me extra Gold and Faith in Cairo.
I’ve met a city-state. City-states are mini-civilizations that can provide bonuses if you’re nice to them. You gain influence with them by sending envoys, and the more you send the more benefits you get. Since I’m the first civilization to meet Jakarta, I get +2 Gold in Cairo.
Once you get to a certain point, you’re going to need builders to develop your land — making farms, quarrying stone — that kind of thing. Builders get three charges, and can use each charge to build an improvement or to harvest a resource (chopping forests for production, harvesting wheat for a boost in food, etc.).
I’ve accumulated enough Faith to form a pantheon. This is the first step to founding a religion. You choose an early, basic belief that provides a small bonus.
I’ve made a settler, and am now ready to found a second city! Location is extremely important — you want to pick a place that gives your city room to grow (like next to a river), and that has access to lots of food and production.
Wonders are an integral part to the Civilization games. They’re massive structures that provide unique and powerful bonuses. Since my civilization has figured out irrigation, I’m going to build the Hanging Gardens of
Babylon Cairo. In “Civ VI,” they actually require a place to put them. By taking up a whole tile you actually have to put some planning into your wonders instead of just spamming them like in other games. I’ll put it next to this river, and we’ll check back on it when it’s finished.
I’ve unlocked more systems of government. This is a feature that they skipped in “Civ V” and that I’m happy they brought back. Each government brings you more slots for policies, as well as providing unique bonuses. I’m going to go with Autocracy for now, since I can use the extra wonder production.
My hanging gardens are complete. Now my cities will grow faster, and I have a dope garden-palace chilling outside my city.
I earned a Great Prophet and can now found my religion. I’m going to stay true to the Arabian culture and found the religion of Islam. When you found a religion, you get to choose what kinds of bonuses you get. Jesuit Education allows me to use Faith to buy libraries, universities, and cultural buildings. This will go really well with my Arabian Science/Faith synergy. I’m also going to pick the Mosque for my worship building, since that gives my missionaries and apostles more charges to spread my religion around the world, an essential part of winning a religious victory.
This is where I’m going to leave you in my tale. Will Arabia go on to dominate the world with its armies, or through its faith? Perhaps it will become a leader in science and culture. That’s the beauty of this game: you have the freedom to go anywhere with your civilization. You get to forge your own story, and your own destiny (unless, of course, Gandhi nukes you. That’s a standard in these games).
I honestly don’t have any complaints. The AI used to be irrational and stupid, but they fixed that in the newest update. The game is engaging, entertaining, and surprisingly educational. One of the best things about it is how replayable it is. No two games are the same. The maps are randomized, and the civilizations in play change from game to game. You might spend one game building rocket ships as Germany and the next trying to conquer the seas as Norway. The game allows for such a wide range of strategies and options that you’ll never get tired of it.
All-in-all, I highly recommend this game. Sure, it has bugs, but it’s a rare game that gets me to play 134 hours over the course of just over a month. Even if you do somehow manage to burn out, Aspyr is usually pretty good about releasing new content to keep the game fresh and interesting. The game can be hard to learn, but once you get the hang of it you won’t look back.