While rehashing the same old, tired run and gun games or wall flipping edge lords may work for some. The strategy genre keeps making leaps and bounds, while maintaining its roots and core base. Civilization VI is no exception.
Being relatively new to the series, I booted up the tutorial and actually found myself anxious and eager to get stuck in. Backing out of that early I figured what could go wrong? A lot, it seems. I apprehensively engaged in a quick match, where a random world leader from history is assigned to you.
Assigned with Theodore “Teddy” Roosevelt, the America faction is characterised by its unique, modern era attack plane unit and rapid need for expansion. Winning with their preferred victory condition, culture, meant building specific structures — film studios and national parks — but their downside is they are weak in the initial stages of the game compared to other factions such as the Scythian empire. The Scythian’s access to an excellent unique horse archer early on will cater to the warmonger inside you, it certainly did me.
That’s not to say that’s the only way to win. It’s just easier to do it if you play to the factions strengths, although upon hearing the hushed whispers from other veteran Civ players of the tyrant Mahatma Ghandi bringing peace to the world in a sea of nuclear fire, was unsettling to say the least.
It’s an interesting way to get acquainted with the various leaders of the series, albeit daunting. There is no discernible easy leader. Some are geared for conquest through arms, others religion, and others spy craft/diplomacy; a personal favourite.
That being said, in custom game mode the breakdown of each historical leader is outlined in detail. Interesting historical elements such as country specific units and agendas are included, along with a back story of the civilisation. Being a huge history nerd, reading this was quite a treat.
Visually, the game looks beautiful. The world leaders are gorgeously animated and stylised in each of their mannerisms; from welcoming diplomat to full on furious warmonger. This adds an excellent light-hearted quality to the game. True to form, the game features various locales and environments such as vast deserts, snow-capped tundras and sweeping plains; each one critical to the new city building mechanic.
Placement of key districts in your city isn’t just another menu to observe and instead they’re built into the hex grid, adjacent to the main hub. Building monuments, colleges and observatories depends on your knowledge of the surrounding area (observatories can only be built on hills and mountains for example) and in turn provide noticeable bonuses for your chosen city.
The learning curve is very steep and you will absolutely wallow in ancient and classic ages for a quite a while. Defending against constant barbarian attacks, micromanaging governmental policies and finally crushing your enemies and seeing them driven before you means Civilization VI will eat your time like you wouldn’t believe. And you know what? That’s not at all a bad thing.
I found myself starting the quick game — mentioned earlier — mid afternoon and by 2am not only had I lost complete track of time. I recoiled in horror at the message “Gilgamesh of Sumeria has left the modern age and entered the nuclear age.” I was chuffed to have just finished research on a battering ram and turning my club wielding warriors into swordsman.
In the time I have spent building my empire in Civilization VI, I found myself completely immersed and engaged in every facet of the game. This probably comes from my avid love for tabletop gaming. Fumbling through it as I was initially however, drove me to get better. It’s a rare game indeed that can do that without clear carrots to chase.
The saying Rome wasn’t built in a day rings very true with Civ, but it’s the journey through strategy that wins in the end.
Game title: Civilization VI
Organised Barbarians - 6/10
Starting Wars Based on Gossip - 8/10
Launching a 90kg Stone 300m - 10/10