Civilization VI reaches new heights
After the deluge of video game releases at the end of last year, it is only now that I've found the time to get right into what may well my favourite game of 2016, Sid Meier's Civilization VI.
It's hard to believe that Sid Meier's revered series has been going for 25 years. The grand-daddy of turn-based strategy games has spawned many copy-cats, but none have managed to capture the depth of gameplay offered by the Civilization games.
I've been playing the Civilisation games since the days of the Commodore Amiga. In recent years, though, I've only had the time to dabble with the series. 2010's Civilization V gave the game a huge interface improvement. It was nice to finally play a Civilisation game that didn't feel like a front-end to a SQL database.
With Civilization VI, Firaxis have dragged their game right into the 21st Century, giving us the most polished entry in the series yet. The visuals are magnificent, giving you a beautiful view of your domain, as well all the information you need to make those important leadership decisions.
Based on the traditional hex pattern of tabletop strategy games, Civilization VI invites players to build their own society and take it from humble tribe to a space-faring nation. All the time keeping your people happy, your neighbours at bay and your military at the ready.
Civilization VI, as with its predecessors, is a turn-based strategy game of the X4 variety- meaning players explore, expand, exploit and exterminate. The basic aim of the game is to develop your civilization by building cities, infrastructure and amenities.
Being turn-based, the game is quite laid back, giving you plenty of time to analyse your neighbours and plan your own strategy. Coming from the comparatively bloodthirsty Total War game back to Civilization was a bit of a shock; as all-out war is more of a last resort that the main aim of the game. You can prosper without violence in Civilization VI, but there's a high chance that tempers will fray at some point, as either you or your neighbours start scrambling for territory.
Your settlers found cities and each city can create buildings, infrastructure and units, but only one at a time. You will have to choose if a granary to feed your people is more important than knights to defend them.
You must research technology and culture, gather resources and build relationships with neighbouring countries. Researching civic policies and enacting them provides players with political bonuses. These allow faster construction, higher yields, greater accumulation of wealth and other perks. Switching policies and government types to complement changing strategies helps your civilization to develop as the optimum rate.
As the game progresses your building and units update. Galleons become destroyers and musketeers become corpsmen. It's kind of funny to see your traders switch from horse-drawn carts to trucks.
Veering away from the realistic look of the landscape in Civilization V, Civilization VI opts for a very fitting indicative visual style, with the fogged-out sections of the map becoming inked sketches of the landscape and neighbouring settlements (once discovered, of course).
The single-player campaign gives to the choice between playing as or against twenty historic leaders representing civilisations from Rome to America. As well as these nations, there are also a number of city-states on the map. Single player games can be customised allowing you to select the map type, their size and many of the gameplay conditions.
Multiplayer pits you against real opponents either online or on a local network. You can also play hot-seat, with players playing against one another on the same machine by taking turns. You can choose to play a custom game or select a game from a number of scenarios with a set number of turns.
There's no denying that Civilization VI is a complex game, and can feel a bit overwhelming at first. However, it does come with tutorials and a large in-game guidebook explaining the nuances of the different actions that you will perform. The game is, however, very well designed and, even though you will be prone to making mistakes, it is easy to pick up and very intuitive to play. It's easy to learn the game as you play.
Sid Meier's Civilization VI offers players an epic gameplay experience, and incredible value for money. The gameplay is deep and complex, but well-presented and easy to pick up. It looks glorious and is an absolute devil to put down. It's a game that will sap hours of your life and keep you going for years.