Sid Meier’s Civilization VI game review

Sid Meier’s Civilization VI is a turn-based 4X video game and the sixth main title in the Civilization series. Civilization VI was developed by Firaxis Games, published by 2K Games, and distributed by Take-Two Interactive. The game was released on October 21, 2016 for Microsoft Windows and on October 24, 2016 for OS X. A port for Linux is planned sometime later. As with other games in the series, the goal for the player is to lead their fledgling civilization from an early settlement through many millennia to become a world power and achieve one of several victory conditions—such as through military power, technological superiority, or diplomatic leadership—over the other human and computer controlled opponents. Players do this by exploring the world, founding new cities, building city improvements, deploying military troops to attack and defend from others, researching new technologies and cultural civics, and engage in trade and negotiations with other world leaders.

 

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Development of Civilization VI was led by the teams that produced the expansions for Civilization V, and includes many of the gameplay mechanics introduced from those expansions as part of the base game. A critical design focus was to avoid having the player follow a pre-set path of improvements towards their civilization which they had observed from earlier games. Civilization VI places more emphasis on the terrain by “unstacking” city improvements from the main city space and giving bonuses for placing improvements near certain terrains. Other new features include research on the game’s technology tree based on nearby terrain, a similar technology tree for cultural improvements and a better government civics structure for those playing on a cultural victory path, and new artificial intelligence mechanics for computer-controlled opponents that include secret goals and randomized engagements to disrupt an otherwise stable game.Image result for sid meier's civilization vi cover

 

Civilization VI is a turn-based strategy video game in which one or more players compete alongside computer-controlled AI opponents to grow their individual civilization from a small tribe to control of the entire planet across several periods of development. This can be accomplished by achieving one of several victory conditions, all based on the 4X gameplay elements, “eXplore, eXpand, eXploit, and eXterminate”. Players found cities, gather nearby resources to build and expand them by adding various city improvements, and build military units to explore and attack opposing forces, while managing the technology development, culture, and government civics for their civilization and their diplomatic relationships with the other opponents.

 

City improvements such as military installations are now unstacked from the main city tile in Civilization VI. The game also uses an old-fashioned drawn map approach to illustrate tiles that have yet to be explored or are currently unobserved by the player, such as those at the top left of this image.

Civilization VI builds upon the general gameplay of Civilization V, including continuing the use of the hex-based grid introduced in Civilization V. New to Civilization VI is the idea of “city unstacking”: some improvements to cities must be placed in the hexes in the bounds of the city but not within the city’s space itself, whereas in previous games, all improvements were considered stacked on the same map hex or square that the city was located in. The player must assign specific hexes as “districts” in the city, which have certain limitations but grant bonuses for improvements placed in that district.[2] For example, one district type is of military encampments, which grants bonuses to military structures, like barracks, placed within it, but such encampments may not be placed next to the main city center. Other improvements gain bonuses for being placed in appropriate terrain; universities benefit greatly from being placed in forest or jungle hexes, reflecting on scientific advance from studying the diversity of species within such biomes. Players can opt to attack specific districts of a city instead of the city center, which can affect the city’s operation. However, these districts may also add new strategies to the city’s defense; for example, with a military encampment in place, attacking forces approaching a city is not only subject to ranged attacks from the city center but also from the encampment, and the attacking forces may need to take the encampment first before they can successfully strike the city center.[3]Image result for sid meier's civilization vi cover

In order to reduce congestion on the map, players are able to perform a limited amount of unit stacking (a change from Civilization V), but are only able to stack similar unit types or symbiotic units.[4] For example, a warrior unit can be assigned to a builder unit to protect that unit from barbarians in the early game.[5]

The game’s technology tree, now known as the active research system,[6] has also been modified to help boost technology research if the player has access to appropriate improvements or resources. For example, having built a quarry helps boost the research into masonry.[7] Technologies based on having access to water, such as sailing, would be limited if the player started in the middle of a continent. A new feature, Eureka Moments, is able to increase the player’s progress towards certain technologies after completing a specific in-game task: for example, discovering a Natural Wonder would contribute towards the Astrology technology improvement.[3]Image result for sid meier's civilization vi cover

Past iterations of the game were found to be difficult to win if one chose to follow a Cultural victory route.[8] To help balance the game towards Cultural victories, a new Civics tree has been introduced. The Civics tree brings in the cultural improvements that were previously part of the technology tree in earlier Civilization games, such as Drama and Philosophy, into a separate mechanic. Culture gained from cities is used to build on the Civics tree in the same manner Science from cities builds up the Technology tree. Completing certain Civics will then unlock policies towards the civilization’s government. In Civilization VI, the government is defined by placing appropriate and available policies, represented as policy cards, into a number of slots divided between Military, Economic, Diplomatic, and Wildcard categories. These define boosts or limitations for the civilization, such as improved attack bonuses for military units against certain types of enemies. These can be changed for free upon completing a single Civic, or at a small cost at any other time, allowing a player on the Cultural route to adapt to a new situation as needed, according to lead producer Dennis Shirk.[3] More advanced cards, only obtainable through significant advancement in the Civics tree, can unlock improvements that give the Cultural Victory player advantages over other players, such as reducing the time or cost of producing new units.[8] Various choices made by the player may cause unhappiness in their population as with previous games, but in Civilization VI, many of these were localized to the city affected by the choice rather than the entire population, further aiding towards Cultural victory-style players.[5] The Religion system introduced in Civilization Vs Gods & Kings expansion is built further upon in VI, featuring more units and improvements that can lead to interreligious conflicts.[5]

AI opponents, represented by famous historical world leaders such as Qin Shi Huang and Theodore Roosevelt, have new agendas that influence how the player interacts with them. Some of these are unique to each leader, using historical aspects about how that leader generally behaved during their rule.[8] For example, a player may gain favor with Cleopatra by showing military might against neutral barbarians.[9] However, each AI player also has a second hidden agenda, requiring the player to discover this themselves.[10]Espionage now also works towards revealing these hidden agendas.[5] Some civilizations in the game can have two or more leaders that the player can select from, providing a different set of unique leader abilities atop the unique units that the civilization itself has.[11]

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The game was developed by the same Firaxis teams that developed the expansions on Civilization V, and most of the new mechanics introduced in these were present in Civilization VI at its launch.[12] This follows from Sid Meier’s “33/33/33” rule of sequel design: 33% of the game should retain established systems, 33% should feature improved systems over the previous version, and the remaining 33% should feature new material.[13] Firaxis used “Frankenstein”, a small group of dedicated Firaxis fans, to bounce ideas for gameplay improvements.[13] Because of the larger number of systems in place, the studio expects to ship the game with a large-scale tutorial, separate but supplementing the guidance given by the player’s various in-game advisors.[13]

A major foundation of the development of Civilization VI was to prevent players from following routines in playing through a game, according to lead designer Ed Beach. The developers placed much more emphasis on the significance of the procedurally-generated map in how it would influence the player’s strategy as the game progressed, so that no game of Civilization VI would be the same.[14] For example, the redesigned technology tree was aimed to pull players away from automatically following a rote path through the tree, and instead adapt a path through it based on their placement on the map.[3] Features like the unstacking of cities and city districts lead directly to support this approach, since some districts and city improvements depend specifically on what available terrain is nearby.[14] Such changes were also the result of design choices made by Civilization Vs lead designer Jon Schafer during its development, such as the unstacking of player units. These changes in Civilization V exposed other weak areas of the core gameplay of the series, specifically how cities were simply seen as places to dump improvements and Wonders with little effect on the map, according to producer Dennis Shirk.[13] Beach, as lead designer for Civilization VI, wanted to improve upon these weaknesses, desiring to make the game map “just as important as anything else in the game”, and took the step to unstack the cities to accomplish this, following in how Schafer took to unstack unit tiles in Civilization V.[13][3] According to Beach, these features add city management elements similar to those found in city-building games, and force players to make decisions based on the geographical location of the city, instead of sticking to a specific city improvement route.[3]

Because of the importance of the surrounding terrain to the growth of a city, Firaxis had to review their procedural generation for game maps to meet this new approach. Beach noted that early testing with the unstacked cities on archipelagos generated by their older system made gameplay nearly impossible, and that with mountains becoming a valuable resource towards city expansion, test players would restart maps built on the old map generation system to get the right placement of mountains to exploit them successfully.[8]The new map generation system attempts to spread out terrain more, and in areas where one type of important terrain may be absent, makes up for this by including other valuable terrain spaces, such as a river-rich region where there is a lack of mountains.[8]

Senior gameplay designer Anton Strenger compared their approach towards the development of the computer opponents, with main and hidden agendas, similar to concepts they had used in Rising Tide expansion for Civilization: Beyond Earth.[15] They selected historical leaders to span a diverse range of race and philosophical aspects, while also looking for figures that had “really interesting personalities” that they could fit these agendas into.[15] Beach previously designed a system in the Civilization V: Brave New World expansion that gave a “Mayhem level” in the computer opponents;[8] internally, the game tracked how much action was going on for the players, and if it determined that the player was progressing without little change, the computer would cause one or more of its controlled opponent to make erratic moves, creating a new situation for the player to deal with. The Mayhem level was used in Civilization VI, as according to Shirk, it is a “really interesting way of making sure that there’s always something that’s going to pull the player away from what they’re doing or what they’re focused on all the time”.[13] Whereas the process of tuning this for Brave New World required manual playthroughs of the game, Firaxis had set up several computers in their offices to run Civilization VI, using only computer-controlled opponents; the results and behaviors of these games were reviewed by the part of the team dedicated to the artificial intelligence systems and used to balance the Mayhem level.[8]

The game was developed with a new engine that is expected to be more friendly to modification.[12] The game’s visuals and tools featured were inspired by the Age of Exploration.[16] User-interface elements feature elements like compasses and astrolabes. The fog of war is rendered using a cross-hatch drawing style to replicate old maps from the Age of Exploration.[17] The developers planned to bring back the movies they had shown players upon completion of a Wonder from Civilization IV, but are now rendered in game, and as to make the final shot of the Wonder more impressive, they developed a day-night cycle that continues on in the game. While this cycle does not affect the core gameplay, art director Brian Busatti anticipates that this feature could be used by modders to create new tactical considerations.[17]

The game uses a more cartoonish look than those of Civilization V, as according to Firaxis, with much deeper gameplay, they wanted to keep the visuals simple to avoid interfering with the complexity of gameplay.[9] The graphics of individual units and buildings are being developed to be both readily-detailed when viewed in a tight zoom, while still being recognizable from other similar units when viewed from a distance.[17] This necessitated the simpler art style to allow players to quickly recognize units and buildings while looking over a city without having to resort to user interface tooltips or similar distractions, according to Shirk.[5] Individual units were designed to include flair associated with the given civilization, such as applying different helmet styles to the same class of footsoldier units.[17]

Composer Christopher Tin, who wrote “Baba Yetu“, the Grammy-winning theme song for Civilization IV, returned to write Civilization VIs main theme, “Sogno di Volare” (translated as “The Dream of Flight”). The theme was written to capture the spirit of exploration not only in “seeking new lands, but also the mental exploration of expanding the frontiers of science and philosophy”. Tin premiered the song at a London concert in July 2016.[18] The game’s original score was written and orchestrated primarily by Geoff Knorr, who was assisted by Roland Rizzo, Griffin Cohen, and Phill Boucher.[19] Each civilization features a musical theme or “core melody” with four variations that follow the era that the civilization is currently in.[20]

Sean Bean, who narrated the early trailers of the game, also provided his voicework for quotes read to the player as they progress along the technology and civics tree.[2

 

Accolades

Year Award Category Result Ref
2016 Game Critics Awards 2016 Best PC Game Won [31][32]
Best Strategy Game Won
The Game Awards 2016 Best Strategy Game Won [33]

There are also couple of expansion pack available for the game – The Vikings,The Poland scenario,Scenario Pack, Civilization VI “25th Anniversary Edition,” a custom bundle designed to celebrate legacy of the series and Digital Deluxe version of the game.

  • developer:Firaxis
  • publisher:2K Games
  • date of release:21.october 2016.

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