Let me say this off the bat, Civilization VI is the most fun I had with a PC title this year, and is hands down the best game in the franchise. It builds up and improves on the previous games, and refines them to a fine polish. It’s also the most complete Civilization game at launch, with a lot of complexity, and strategic depth, that can keep you invested in the game for hours on end. And it needs it, because Civilization VI is a game that demands you to spend hours thinking about diplomatic decisions, religious tendencies, trading systems, upgrade paths, and more.
I know that the main appeal of this game is the strategic depth that it offers, but you can’t deny that the visual style of the series has become an integral part of the franchise. While Civilization VI changes the art style for a more cartoonish look to it, I have to say that the game looks absolutely beautiful. While this just may be about what one prefers, the new look goes hand in hand with how the game plays out. The cartoonish look amplifies the silliness in some of the decision making in the game (like when I have nuclear weapons in my armament and a nation with horses and measly infantry declares war against me), and the visual change works in favor of the game.
There are other changes however which may be more contentious. You, as a player, start off with a small town and great ambitions. Slowly you set out and expand your horizons, gathering resources, building up your legacy, and ever working towards world domination. It’s a worthy goal with more than a few obstacles along the way. One of the first things you’ll start off doing is establishing military units, because no one will be willing to accept democracy unless it’s delivered via a spear through the throat. But the fun in Civilization is to find non-military methods to progress. And here’s where the game falters ever so slightly.
While there are diverse means of playing the game, there are times when military confrontation seems unavoidable. There are even times when the AI nations get miffed at me for some unfathomable reason (usually religious disagreements), and declare war. But then after a while of doing absolutely nothing against me, they seem to forget what the conflict is all about and peace ensues. It’s a minor complain.
One of the biggest change/addition to the game is the introduction of Districts. While in previous game you could build all units like markets, temples, etc in the city, now they need to played in special zones. and depending on where they are placed, they will give improved outputs. There are geographical hexes, which now give give specific bonuses. This adds even more depth to the gameplay, and leads to more varied city designs, since you are required to think about what you build and where you build it.
Another important change is the removal of the happiness meter. While some might have enjoyed the nuance of accruing wine and building theaters, removing the happiness meter allows you to focus primarily on what’s needed to progress the way you want. Happiness is still a factor, but it’s now on a city level, and is managed by building what’s needed and accumulating the right resources.
Now all of this wouldn’t mean anything if the AI didn’t hold their own. And while the AI is vastly improved from previous Civilization games, they are still erratic, and even suicidal at times (refer earlier bit about nuclear armaments and horsemen). But, AI intentions are far more clearer, and overall interactions are more rewarding.
Civilization VI is an overall improvement over the previous games, and offer more depth in gameplay than ever before. Visual and gameplay changes are welcome for the most part, although a little more innovation would have been greatly appreciated. However, the sheer amount of features and content makes this the most complete Civilization game at launch, and is highly recommended.
For more news and reviews, keep checking back at Gaming Central.