When first starting a new 4X game, I often find myself overwhelmed by the sheer amount of information that is presented to me all at once. Having such a steep learning curve can be off-putting; especially when there are so many other games I could just pick up and play instantly. Although Civ VI seems to be catered towards 4X veterans, it’s clear that Firaxis have gone to a lot of work to ensure that gameplay is as simple as possible to newcomers of the franchise as well. The tutorial allows for new players to understand the basic functions of a Civ game and goes into what important decisions must be made in the first few moves. With everything laid out cleanly, the UI really shines through, making an intense and information heavy game seem as simple and user-friendly as possible.
When choosing where to settle at the very beginning of my campaign, I was reminded of how enjoyable the game’s new stylised design is. Paying homage to previous Civilization titles, the hex grid remains, but this time with a twist – cities are unstacked. Buildings now belong in districts (such as a Holy Site or Commercial Hub), and each district inhabits its own tile. Having buildings separated into districts allows their detailed features and design to shine through, letting players visualise just how much they have accomplished. Whilst this move makes the game much more aesthetically pleasing, it also affects gameplay much more than I had originally anticipated.
In previous titles you could get away with creating mega cities all on the one tile, meaning that if you had the resources, there was no reason not to add more buildings to a tile. In Civ VI, districts are limited to your city’s population size, meaning that viable space for cities can disappear quickly. Because of this, the game forces you to be constantly thinking about the impact the decisions you are making might have in the future. Often times, you’ll find that you are forced to specialise your cities to perform different functions, as space no longer allows for mega cities that are capable to doing everything. These unstacked cities mean you’ll need to put extra strategy and thought into how you build your empire, resulting in Civ VI having a more realistic feel than its predecessors.