Sid Meier’s latest turn-based “Civilization” game released this week, introducing fans of the series to a wide-array of new strategies, improvements and graphical upgrades. While CIV VI offers the same play-style as the previous installment, importing many of the same troops, the annoying barbarians and the empty threats from lesser leaders – the new game certainly brings a lot of changes to the table.
Many of these new changes seem to be simple-fixes to annoying scenarios that you may have encountered when playing other Civilization games, and many of them revolve around war and bonuses.
The “Casus Belli” is certainly one of the largest, and most welcomed, new feature to be found in the game. It serves as a means to declare war on an enemy without enraging other Civilizations. You can now declare war for all sorts of reasons. For example, you can start a holy war to stop the spread of another Civ that converted your city, or start a war to liberate a neighboring city-state from an aggressive nation. You can even declare war to just protect a city-state, giving you the power that AI players seemed to have exclusively in other games – stopping someone in their tracks without angering the other players.
Having a reason to go to war means that you won’t suffer the full wrath of peace-minded leaders across the globe, allowing you to use might when you need it. You can use the feature in a wide-array of scenarios, and more unlock with tech and policy upgrades. It’s a great way to add more combat to the game, without having to fight everyone at once. It also means that everyone can answer to deceptive practices, like having cities converted or being denounced by a player. Now you can answer in force for all of these digressions, making the game a bit more active. I even went to war with a player because their technology was so far behind mine, and the other leaders didn’t even care.
Bonuses are a card based system now, much like you would see in a FPS multiplayer game. Each style of government that you choose has a certain amount of slots available for ‘Military’ cards, ‘Social Policy’ cards or even ‘Wild Cards’, and as you unlock tech and policies, you get more cards to choose from.
Early in the game you might have a government with 2 Military slots to fill, and you can fill the card slots with options like extra strength against barbarians, or a boost in building infantry units. The cards also work with social-policies, like giving you a boost in religious output or allow you to earn more gold or culture per turn.
As you progress you will choose a government that helps you achieve which sort of ‘win’ you want, and the slots change depending on which government you choose. Aggressive governments will give you more military slots, but may offer fewer policy-slots, so it’s a great system to keep things active while you play. You can change these cards often, so if you need to build settlers or workers fast you can do so, then switch to a card that lets you build ships or archers faster.
The ‘Districts’ system is another big change in the franchise, but one that I found interesting and useful. In previous games when you built a library or a theater, it simply disappeared into your city and you got the perk for it. Now things are a bit different.
Districts are the foundation for all buildings in that category, and they take up a hexagon on the map the size of a city establishment. You get perks for where you place the district, depending on what they are, so it’s important to plan out your city while you build it. Plotting down a Holy Site near a forrest for example might get you an extra religious point per-turn, and new district location is also where your temple and shrine will appear when you build them.
The same design goes for other districts, the commercial district is needed before you build a market, and the market will appear in the district hexagon when you build it. The more advanced your district is, the more likely you will attract Great People of that type. If building your city and plotting out construction sites is your thing, you will most likely really enjoy the district scenario. This also means that all of your upgrades and buildings are outside of your main city, meaning they are exposed to raiders and barbarians. It’s a challenge to keep them safe on high difficulty, but increadibly fun to raid if you choose the Vikings. You can get a great look at the district system in the First Look video below from 2K Games.
The new Envoy system is another big upgrade, and its how you will win influence with city-states. As you play the game you will earn an envoy, you can send that envoy to a city-state of your choosing. The more envoys you have stationed at a city-state, the more perks they give you. If you have enough, you become Suzerain of the city, and that allows you to levy their military (basically take it over and control it for 90 turns for a hefty price) and it allows you to enjoy all of their resources. Suzerain is the new ally, if you are coming from a previous CIV game. You get envoys as you progress, but you also get them by completing the missions that they give you. The city-state missions are usually the same unlocks that you are looking to get anyway, or they might be to train a certain military unit, or send a trade-route their way.
The quest system is actually wonderfully useful, and makes perfect sense. Now you get a scientific boost for a certain tech by achieving a prerequisite. The game calls these ‘Eureka moments’. For example, in the early game, if you kill an enemy with a Slinger unit it will give you an Eureka moment for Archery. Others are even simpler, like building a city on a coast will give you an instant boost for building ships. The city-states usually give you these moments as missions, and they are a great way to keep you busy and gain favor with city-states. The bonuses are a huge plus, they can cut the research time of a tech by up to 50%, making them a must for an early scientific advantage.
While the game offers amazing new challenges, it seems to be a bit easier on the lower difficulties than previous games. If you are experienced CIV player, then odds are you will roll through the Prince or King difficulty.
Other small changes that make the game less tedious are things like road-building and workers. Now you automatically build a road by sending off a trade route. Much like in real life, the path is carved by the constant traffic, this means that you won’t need to have workers spends dozens of turns building roads to connect your cities. In fact, workers barely need turns at all. Now you get workers that instantly build a resource upgrade, in just one turn, so no more standing on the Wheat field for 20 turns hoping all the while that a barbarian doesn’t come along and steel your worker.
I tested Civ VI on an MSI 980ti 6GB, at a 4K resolution. The game’s new design offers a more colorful, more detailed map to play on, but it has lost some of the realism. There are more animations to be found within the different military and religious troops, and overall I think it’s the best looking CIV game to date. The 980ti had no issues running the game on max-settings, and I think anyone with a 970 and up should be able to run the game rather flawlessly. It’s not a very fast-paced game, so I would think running at anything above 45FPS would seem quite smooth.
While the developers certainly used the new installment to rollout dozens of changes, I enjoyed all of them during my time with the game. I think CIV fans will find the new installment to be entertaining, and still familiar enough that they will be able to dive right into the new systems.