A few weeks ago, we were lucky enough to spend a few hours with Civilization VI. For those that are unfamiliar with Civilization, it’s a turn-based strategy game in which players compete, or cooperate with computer-controlled AI to develop their own civilization. Having only played Civilization V (and loving it) for a short time, we were intrigued by Firaxis’ new addition to the series. The game already seems incredibly detailed, so what could there possibly be to add? As it turns out: quite a lot.
First Impressions Video Preview
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(Please note: any gameplay values shown in this video are subject to change until close to launch)
Upon launching the preview build, one of the things that surprised us the most was how cities are constructed. For players that are not familiar with the Civilization series, cities in Civ. V mainly grew vertically, rather than horizontally. By that, we mean that when you built important components such as walls, aqueducts and markets they would appear in a single tile on your map (the city centre). This left your surrounding tiles looking very separate from that single built-up tile. Thankfully, this has been completely reworked in Civ. VI and you will now be required to plan the area around your city more carefully as your cities will spread across the surrounding tiles as you build. You will also be rewarded for making smart decisions. For example, when constructing universities and libraries, you will have to place them on a campus. If you build these close to a forest or mountain, you will then be awarded a bonus for research. This also links with the technology tree so, if you were to settle close to the coast, you would also gain an advantage in Sailing, simply because you chose to build a city close to water. As a result, players will have the opportunity to progress through the technology tree quicker, gaining a head-start in some of the technologies. This inclusion of realistic and logical links will surely be a welcome addition to Civ. VI as you are rewarded for thinking ahead and considering which technologies you believe are the most important, in advance. ‘Great People’ have also been improved and now have specific abilities in the game, enabling players to tailor their cities to specific focuses and technologies.
Furthermore, the fact that cities will now be more spread out leaves them more vulnerable and therefore, more interesting in terms of combat and defence. The ‘unstacking’ of cities in Civ. VI will leave more of your territory exposed, enabling Barbarians and other enemies to potentially take more from you earlier on in the game. However, you can also use this to your advantage. Foreign City States will most likely be equally exposed (unless they have heavily invested in fortifications and an army), enabling you to target specific tiles and weaken the city’s overall infrastructure, before storming into the centre to finish the job. When building city walls, players will now have to consider their city’s entire perimeter rather than just protecting the centre.
Another promising feature is Civ. VI’s new leaders. So far, Firaxis has announced the following leaders:
Pedro II (Brazil)
Catherine de Medici (France)
Montezuma I (Aztec)
Qin Shi Huang (China)
Hojo Tokimune (Japan)
Theodore Roosevelt (America)
There is a new diplomatic system for these leaders, referred to by the developer as, the ‘Agenda System’. Firaxis have purposely picked leaders renowned for having big personalities, embracing their historical record of temperament, values and policies to create a unique play style for each leader. We are particularly interested to see how this pans out, especially when you consider how some of the leaders may have a more aggressive nature than others. The fact that each leader is unique should also mean that no matter which stance you want to take when you play the game, you should be able to find a leader whose views and plans fall in line with yours.
Civ. VI effectively splits the technology tree into two, creating a branch for ‘Civics’. This tree greatly builds on the policies that featured in Civ. V but again, provides players with a deeper level of control and customisation. By learning Civics such as ‘Code of Laws’ and ‘Foreign Trade’ players will reap the benefits of increased Culture, Production and more. The government system is now far more advanced and will enable you to switch between various policies to suit whatever you are currently focusing on in the game.
Moreover, Diplomacy has been further extended with the introduction of Envoys. For those unfamiliar with the term, an Envoy is a diplomatic representative that can be sent to a City State, to further the player’s agenda. It is possible for envoys to earn resources over time, which can benefit your own territories. You can also increase your influence in City States by sending multiple envoys, with you eventually having the opportunity to become Suzerain of that State. In turn, this level of influence can secure allies for when you declare war on another City State. For a price, you may even be able to borrow the State’s military forces and utilise them for your own gains, for a short period of time. Interestingly, you will also be able to send an Envoy to a City State that you are already at war with – something that will definitely be useful if you have a change of heart and want to make peace during the conflict. However, if you declare war on a City State that has an Envoy present, the Envoy will be removed.
Unfortunately, we were unable to test the multiplayer mode. Nonetheless, there appears to be a lot to look forward to. Players can expect the traditional multiplayer modes that were present in Civ. V however, Firaxis have also brought something new to the table. Civ. VI players will additionally have the luxury of engaging in shorter multiplayer modes that can be completed in a single play session. We’re incredibly excited to hear more about this and are sure that these modes will appeal to many players that want to play with friends but don’t have many hours to spare. Whether you prefer to work cooperatively or competitively with friends, these modes definitely deserve a look when the game releases.
Overall, our experience with Civ. VI has probably left us with more questions than it has answers. With the game being so magnificently vast, we believe that we have merely scratched the surface in this preview however, we are incredibly excited by what we have seen so far. The unstacking of the cities alone will provide players with even more control than we’ve ever seen before and combining this with the Civics tree and new leaders makes the game look all the more promising. Hard-core players will feel a noticeable shift between Civ. V and VI but, with the added depth and control, it seems as though it will be more than worth it.
The Civilization series is known for supporting a number of mods and it looks as though Civ. VI is set to follow suit. Firaxis have not given much away yet but in their ‘First Look: The Development Team’, they stated that “when we get to talking about modability, people are going to go nuts with how much power we’re going to put in place”.
Civilization VI is set to release on PC on 21st October 2016.
Most Anticipated Feature
Testing out the shorter multiplayer modes with friends.