Sid Meier’s Civilization series is a highly rated turn-based historical strategy game which allows one or more human players to compete against computer-controlled artificial intelligence in a race to expand from a small kingdom of just a few tiles to an enormous empire which spans the entire map. The goal is rather simple: each player will attempt to make their specially designed nation or ethnic group superior when comparative to the others and to win the game through different elements: from science and culture to domination and diplomatic skills. This year something new is being added to the 20-something year old franchise: Civilization VI.
I was a huge fan of Civilization V, although not as extreme as some of the hardcore, diehard fan-base that has created the foundation for Firaxis, the developers of the franchise, to pander to. The CIV Team is constantly working to create more and more user-friendly and community-based expenditures, from browsing the forums where their initial target audience resides to copying from mods added onto the game.
I, as of June 11th, 2016, have 310 hours into Civilization V — and a refund from Civilization Beyond Earth (which I did not enjoy for a multitude of reasons that perhaps I’ll drift into in a separate post). I’m only a recent addition to the fan-base, however, only picking up the game last June. In a little less than a year, composed of 365 days, almost 13 full days have been dedicated overall to the historical strategy game. That’s 3.5% of my last year being based on this franchise. If my math is correct — don’t quote me — around 33% of our year is spend sleeping, so it’s a relatively high number for the casual gamer like me. I’m not one of the people that have over 6,000 hours in Civilization V, but that doesn’t mean I’m not excited for the next installment of the series.
That brings me to Civilization VI — announced about a month ago and expected to release on October 21st, 2016. Although the game is expected to build off the previous titles, as most Civilization games tend to do, there are some really important and exciting additions coming to the gameplay and the design attributes that make up Civilization VI. For example, while previous games have introduced a hex-based tile status, Civilization VI is going to go a step further when it comes to city layout. Instead of the typical “city” unit being based on a single tile and infinitely expanding, piling over to other tiles despite resource management and imperial layout with no consequences, Civilization VI is creating a status of “districts” within the city structures.
So, what does this actually mean? Well, in previous Civilization titles, if you built a library it would be stacked in the city. If you built a market and eventually a bank, they would be stacked in the city. If you built a monument, it would be stacked in the city. Seeing a trend? All of the most important buildings that a city could ever need were nothing more than population-based city structures acting as simple beneficial statistics. If a city was taken, districts would be reassigned. But that’s the problem: you’d have to take the city and hope the specific buildings you desired did not need to be rebuilt.
With the introduction of these districts, now spending time building important structures doesn’t necessarily mean you’re stacking within the city anymore. And now, in an attempt to make it even more mandatory, buildings in these “districts” become more important based on what biome they’re placed in. Libraries and universities, for example, will benefit greatly from being placed in a forest or jungle tile, rather than becoming a simple manipulative statistic in the city center.
Perhaps the most important aspect of this change, however, would be the fact that players do not have to waste their military strategy and ignore the entire stretch of the empire to get to a city. Instead of simply taking a city and ruining all progress in infrastructure setup, players in Civilization VI will be able to target specific districts rather than the city center — which allows people to severely impact a specific station of operation that was at one point beneficial to the city center. Attacking a market district would ruin the player’s economy; attacking a university district would ruin the player’s science; attacking a barracks could harm the civilization’s military production. That’s more speculation, though, depending on what buildings will be “unstacked” from the city center.
Other than that, many other new changes are coming forth as well. A newly designed technology tree is more modified to boost research skills and the appropriation of resources. A civics tree, a new addition, will create a new cultural mechanic that goes past the traditional sense of “social policies”. Ideologies — famed as FREEDOM, ORDER, and AUTOCRACY in previous Civilization games — have been replaced with government types — so far leaked to us as DEMOCRACY, COMMUNISM, and FASCISM.
In order to reduce congestion on the map, which was a heavy problem in previous games due to the spamming of units during the late game, Civilization VI will be combating traffic jams of units by allowing players to perform limited unit stackings, bringing it on the same playing field as games such as Europa Universalis in terms of strategic unit movement.
One of my favorite changes that has been announced is the brand new “worker” unit. In previous games, someone could spam out literal hundreds of workers that last forever. These workers would be put on auto AI, going around the empire like a massive army repairing and building on tiles within the borders. That being said, domestic problems and tile management could easily be left up to an infinite, never ending army of worker units. In Civilization VI, however, the “worker” has been completely redone. Now known as a “builder”, these units only have a limited three to four uses before the disappear completely, forcing players to become more resourceful and strategic when it comes to how they work their own tiles.
One of the major controversies about Civilization VI so far is the new design. I’ve seen some people refer to it as a mobile game based on the clunky, childish design implicates that have left a thorn in the side of many players. I for one have no problem with the design elements based on what very little we’ve seen so far. Players tend to forget that Civilization V was a childish, clunky set of graphics as well. I guarantee that the some people complaining about the graphics will be completely enthralled by the game mechanics and gameplay before the first month after the release is over.
Overall, I can’t wait! I’ll probably have more hours in Civilization VI than Civilization V by this time next year. I’m hyped, and hopefully I’m not let down come this fall. You can pre-order it here if you’re interested.
Civilization VI References:
- Larabel, Michael (May 11, 2016). “Civilization VI Is Coming This Year, Linux Will Be Supported”. Phoronix.
- Tack, Daniel (May 11, 2016). “Civilization VI Coming October 21, Big Changes To Core Gameplay”.
- Williams, Mike (May 25, 2016). “Civilization VI Preview: Rebuilding an Empire”. US Gamer.
- Campbell, Colin (May 11, 2016). “Civilization 6 Is Coming In October, With Big Changes”. Polygon.
- Livingston, Christopher (May 25, 2016). “New looks and classic gameplay: 60 turns of Civilization 6”. PC Gamer.
- Mahardy, Mike (May 11, 2016). “Civilization 6 Revealed, Brings Major Changes”. GameSpot.
- Smith, Adam (May 25, 2016). “Hands On: Civilization VI Is Exciting, Complex & Aggressive”. Rock Paper Shotgun.
- Smith, Adam (May 11, 2016). “Civilization VI Releases October: Here’s Every Detail”. Rock, Paper, Shotgun.
- Mahardy, Mike (May 25, 2016). “Civilization 6: How Much Has Changed Since Civ 5?”. GameSpot.