2016 marks the 25th anniversary of Sid Meier’s Civilization franchise, which still boasts an extremely loyal fan base to this day. The newest addition to the Civ lineup is Civilization VI, set for release on 21 October for PC, with Mac and Linux release dates planned to follow shortly afterwards. I was lucky enough to play the game and found myself immediately impressed by the balance it strikes between new and old concepts.
Before I go into gameplay, let’s talk about the elephant in the room – the new Civilization VI art style. Normally I’m not one to judge a game on visual elements alone, but due to the game looking less realistic and more like a Clash of Clans mobile app, I did start off the game thinking that I wasn’t going to be given a proper Civ experience. Luckily, it didn’t take long to adjust to the new art style and I soon found myself enjoying the almost cartoonish looking cities and armies that were amassing before me. I found that whilst the art style doesn’t seem too impressive to begin with, it really does begin to shine and stand out from the previous Civ games once you have a large city. From the subtle changes in the clothing and build of different types of units, to the colourful and vibrant landscape your city and their buildings provide, Civilization VI took an artistic leap that definitely paid off.Complementing this new design is the fact that cities are now unstacked. All buildings and Wonders that used to be compressed in the city centre are now located in districts around the city, adding to the game’s new aesthetics.
Another welcome change is being able to see your Wonders built in your city right before your eyes. Unlike in previous installments which used images or pre-rendered videos, Civilization VI Wonder animations are built in-engine. This means that they are shown being constructed on the map wherever you choose to place them, making your in-game experience all the more immersive.But it isn’t just design related elements that developer Firaxis Games have changed. To help make the game more balanced, a new Civics has been introduced. The Civics tree will allow you to unlock governments and set social policies that come under Military, Economic, Diplomatic and Wildcard categories. These policies (along with your government) can be changed during the game for free whenever you complete a Civic, meaning that players have the ability to adapt and respond to new circumstances as their empire grows.