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Review | Civilization VI


As usual, whenever a new Civilization game comes out, there are a lot of changes. Civ VI seems to have taken this to an extreme compared to previous editions. As usual there are the standards shifts in graphics and textures, and so forth. This time however there is a very interesting and big difference. Districts.

That’s a single city

In previous Civilization entries, every building was with in the city tile. This meant that cities did not need much space to prosper and island cities were very common. Districts are specific parts of a city, such as a commercial hub, military emplacement or campus. The majority of buildings have now moved out to the districts, with only a few staying within the core city tile. I really love this change as it makes cities more realistic, with a military emplacement on a hill outside of town and the commercial district near the river and trade routes.

One amazing thing this means is cities no longer need to be on a coast to construct naval units. As long as the city is nearby some coast, the harbour can be built on a nearby water tile and be a bit of a hike outside of the city, just like in real life. Cities now also gain bonus amenities for being near to rivers or the ocean. While this is a small change it has dramatically changed how I play the game, encouraging me to create empires that following meandering rivers. Another cool feature is that encampments act as mini cities, being able to garrison units, launch ranged attacks and having a health bar that must be destroyed before they are taken. A well placed encampment can make a city much harder to attack, breaking formations and providing easy flanking attacks.

Rivers are a good place to settle

There is now also a new dimension of strategy to the series’ city building. In past games the only choice with buildings was which building at which time. Now the placement of a district can make the difference between your city leading in worldwide research leader-boards, or it just being that useless city you keep for the resources nearby. For example, the campus gains an extra research point for every mountain it is adjacent to, with a lesser bonus given for every rain-forest or other district it borders. This means that planning your city is a must, and as you play more you’ll grow to plan your cities growth hundreds of turns in advance.

One of the things that really defines an entry in the series is the narrator. Leonard Nimoys smooth tones in IV were truly iconic, to counterpoint V’s William Sheppard was sadly forgettable, much like the game itself. But, this time, Firaxis have come back with a beauty, Sean Bean has come aboard to lend his iconic vocal cords to Civ. A good announcer brings majesty and wonder into the quotes read out, and Sean Bean does this spectacularly.

Another big change in Civilization VI is the workers. Previously workers moved around the map, stopping to take a few turns to build an improvement then moving on in a millennia-long job, and regularly on auto-work. In Civ VI workers have been changed to builders, and now can construct improvements instantly. To counter this they only have a limited amount of actions -by default three- before the builder is used up. I do understand why this was changed, moving workers into the background as districts step forward. However, when I was first playing I kept losing my builders, and since I didn’t know about the change I built a large army to search around for this barbarian army that kept stealing my builders. It was only after this tough fight against the barbarians that I went into the civlopedia and found out that builders have a lifespan –  if I’d known that before I might well have left them to the savages. Heck, if the -otherwise very thorough- tutorial had told me about this then all of my confusion could have avoided.

One interesting change I found was that barbarians have been weakened (at least on prince difficulty) This may be because I had two very militaristic city states near me, or the fact that I was wielding a very large scouting army. The barbarians never advanced beyond slingers( early ranged unit) and as such I very quickly surpassed them technologically. On the other hand, the game’s AI have had a revamp, now having their own agendas. Each AI will have two agendas, one which is nation specific and is displayed on the trading menu, the other is a random agenda and is kept secret. The nation specific one focuses on a historical account of the leader, such as Gandhi’s peacekeeper, which centers around not starting wars and despising warmongers. There are a range of secret agendas, such as technophile, which focuses on science and likes other players that focus on science. This means that civs can -for apparently no reason- distrust or like you, which makes them feel much more like real people than just a bunch of code.

Roads have also had a touch up. In past games workers can build roads between cities allowing the cities to trade with one-another (for big bonuses) while also allowing units to move quickly between them. The small change with this in Civilization VI is that Caravan units automatically lay down roads when trading between cities. This brings an importance to trade that is often forgotten, and serves as a great reminder and incentive to use it’s systems.

The civics track has been overhauled to be in line with the research tree, you unlock new policies, buildings, units and improvements while moving further along the tree. These policies fill slots dependent on your government system, with policies divided into three types of cards -roughly covering war, economy and diplomatic- of which you can assign into various slots. These different governmental systems not only have different slots for the cards (as well as some having wildcard slots), but they also give the more traditional perks associated with government types in the older games.

The upgraded civics system and their eureka moments

Each tech and civic has it’s own eureka moment, a requirement that when met will dramatically cut down the amount of research/culture that needs to go into unlocking the technology or idea. For example, when researching Plastics, if you have an oil well built then the game will knock off 50% of the research required to finish researching plastics. This is a really cool and interesting idea, as not only does it give the game more life, it provides players with a reward for rushing ahead with one tech then returning to finish off earlier techs.

One of the biggest changes in Civilization V was the removal of unit stacking. While this did make battles more interesting, with flanking and battle-lines, it made a powerful army take up a lot of space. Civilization VI modifies this rule slightly by allowing multiple of the same unit to combine to create a corp or army. These units have slightly higher stats than a single version of the same unit. You can create corps from a city in exchange for a few more turns of building, or they can be linked up once built.

Civ VI is a worthy addition to the Civilization series, with many great changes and additions. The small problems that I have found in the game can be fixed through patches or DLC.

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