With each release, Civilization struggles against fan pushback to emerge from the long shadow of its predecessor. It’s nearly an impossible proposition considering there are still fans of Sid Meier’s playing previous Civs for ten years straight. Is this newest iteration of the classic game worth a buy? Of course. It’s an especially interesting release for hardcore fans of the series while being accessible enough for newbies. But is it worth getting right now, when things are heating up this holiday season?
Civilization VI has embraced the stylized, cartoon graphics of Civ V (and Civilization Revolution on consoles) and given this release the brightest and cleanest look in Civ‘s history. It’s a vibrant look and the optimization shines giving a better experience than the six-year-old Civ V. Even on my somewhat aging rig, the water effects, shadows and sun shining over my busy cities are breathtaking. The whole artistic style is warm and inviting. It’s something you have to look at for hours and hours, and it doesn’t get boring or tired.
Oh, and Sean Bean narrates everything. Wonderful.
Civ VI is about building vertically, not out in a sprawl like the previous games. The changes to city building are subtle at first, then, with each new game played, it’s clear that you’re going to have to plan your cities carefully, and you’re not always going to have a metropolis featuring every type of building and amenities.
What’s interesting is that it seems like Firaxis isn’t so much innovating, as they’re changing the chessboard to challenge players. You can’t rely on build orders to plop down a city and call it a day. Each new city will expand in unique ways and be tied to its environment more than ever before.
There’s plenty quality of life changes. Trade routes build roads, and managing workers are less of a slog than in previous late-game scenarios. This mitigates the grind of working on multiple cities with dozens of workers considering there are more important things to think of, like your tech trees that are now two-pronged affairs. Like previous Civ games, you research technologies like mining, animal husbandry and pottery, but also civics that provide bonuses to your culture.
Policy Cards also replace the cultural tree of Civ V, giving you a wider range of options in how you want your government to operate. Want to go full military build, or have your main city build output more gold? It’s up to you and extremely interesting.