We could forgive anyone for feeling a bit long in the tooth upon realizing that Sid Meier’s “Civilization VI” marks the 25th anniversary of the series that first defined the real-time strategy (RTS) genre in 1991. Amazingly, a few relatively minor drawbacks aside, this latest installment feels as fresh and immersive as the early iterations that a generation of now-adult gamers came of age playing right alongside their parents, aunts, and uncles.
“Civilization VI” manages to interlock its many new and returning nuances in ways that allow for some satisfyingly deep playstyle personalization. Adjustable match parameters now run much deeper than just tweaking difficulty, adding adjustments for the number of opponents, the map’s overall scope, and either the presence or omission of barbarians. Reducing the “standard” map size was a nice touch, as the more crowded confines promote a faster-paced game that forces players into more interactions. That isn’t to say there’s anything necessarily wrong with two players competing on a larger map, but less densely populated board means accepting slower international trade as a cost of easier territorial expansion.
The larger changes without a doubt work to the advantage of attentive players willing to experiment with strategic variables in the name of refining a perfectly comfortable style. More intricately interwoven warfare factors make any of the revised win conditions completely viable by way of myriad approaches. Shrewdly choosing efficiently profitable trade routes will prove essential to offsetting the pricey necessity of maintaining military units. Meanwhile, war itself will eventually cultivate fatigue among an empire’s people, forcing the issue of diplomatically bargaining with allies for luxury resources to appease their war-weariness and avert rebellion.
Meanwhile players can also expect the successful pursuit of richer, deeper win conditions centered on Culture, Religion, Science, Domination, and Building to hinge upon the rewards of active attention to several revamped gameplay dimensions. Civics has replaced Social Policies as the core factor in unlocking new cultural possibilities according to how players customize their governments to their playstyles. Closely managing housing and amenities now significantly rewards more engaged leaders. Similarly, more active approaches to research meet key technological advancement conditions significantly faster than allowing research to progress passively. Finally, the new mechanic of “unstacking” cities creates an outward sprawl that requires players to carefully think ahead to how they will capitalize on their cities’ surroundings, since certain structures can only function amidst specific typography and others will thrive on certain types of land and falter on others.
“Civilization VI” is not without its failings. We wouldn’t consider any of them game-breaking flaws, but they do stand out. Certain menus are prone to varying, awkward degrees of lag. The UI can be confusingly erratic, especially when highlighting seemingly random units when notifying orders are needed. Curiously, the AI seems to follow little rhyme or reason. Cleopatra might be a strategically flighty, unpredictable adversary, but expect Catherine Medici to be much more practical, shrewd, and forward-thinking. On the upside, the fresh agenda system will at least ensure that the game explains in no uncertain terms why a leader with a specific style denounces you. That’s more than be said for the murky-at-best rhyme and reason to understanding how to achieve cultural victories through tourism.
The most obvious alternative to matching wits with the mixed-bag AI would be indulging in the beginner-friendly online mode. Newcomers run through a brisk, focused tutorial centered on the main mechanics and can engage the “New to Civ 6” tips option that lays out and explains what has changed since “Civilization V” to soften the latest version’s learning curve.
Overall, “Civilization VI” is a deep but smoothly accessible experience. It never feels like any of the new or revamped systems and mechanics have been changed for the sake of change. Everything intertwines with an obviously logical motivation. The strategic depth is absolutely stunning and any lingering frustrations never advance in irritation past “mild annoyance.” It’s a well-executed entry point for newcomers and a polished treat for veterans. Not to mention, superb narration by Sean Bean.
Source – Gamespot