An ageless strategy masterpiece
By Chong Jinn Xiung December 19, 2016
- Build, conquer or inspire your way to victory in this landmark strategy game
- Has a steep learning curve, may turn away newcomers but will pull veterans closer
FEW strategy games can claim to have a long and rich history that span over two decades. Sid Meier’s Civilization series made its debut in 1991. Since then, it has undergone many transformations but its core game has stood the test of time.
The latest game, Civilization VI (Civ 6) masterfully refines the age old turn-based formula that feels familiar to veterans while being approachable for newcomers. It is a game with complex interlocking systems that are a challenge to master but will immensely rewarding once you do.
For those new to the Civilization series, Civ 6 plays out like a big old digital board game. You play as one of several civilizations at the dawn of time, racing to establish your presence across the continent to gather precious resources.
It even looks like a board game and we like the new stylised map. It looks just like an old map that shows you uncharted lands and highlights explored sections in colour.
The good news is you don’t need an all-powerful computer to play this game. Civ 6 is not a graphically demanding game so it should be able to run even on a mid-end PC or notebook.
Throughout the early parts of the game, as you are building up your empire, you will encounter vicious barbarians, discover natural wonders, meet neutral city states that can add benefits to your capital and set up trade routes with friendly parties.
As you progress through the ages, technological advancements will matter more and you will construct wonders that will attract Great People who provide bonuses to your civilization’s technology and culture.
Just as before, there are many paths to victory open to players. You can be a ruthless military dictator that crushes all who stand in your way, a thoughtful leader who focuses on economics or science to advance your civilization or set up a religious society that can convert other nations to your cause.
Civ 6 keeps many of the core facets of the original games intact while innovating on others. There’s plenty of depth to the game and there is definitely a learning curve that you need to get over when starting out.
Our first few games were met with failure as were overwhelmed by the new systems, charts, statistics and tutorials. Before we knew it, Barbarians were knocking on our capital’s door, severely retarding our progress.
While it may be daunting, at the very least, actor Sean Bean’s performance as the narrator, explaining the background of each civilization and the describing each innovation, is a welcome addition.
New styles of play
As mentioned earlier, part of the charm is that the game presents many different layers and ways to customise your approach.
Each decision you make needs to be carefully thought out. You must decide where do you want to build your settlements, what are the resources around you, are the conditions right to build a new Wonder such as the Pyramids of Giza, which can only be built on desert tiles.
Also new in Civ 6 is the inclusion of districts within your cities. Instead of concentrating everything in your city, you can spread out and set up special districts that offer you militaristic, economic, faith or cultural bonuses.
Laying out the districts in a Lego-like pattern and ensuring that they synergise with one another is part of the fun and forces you to plan how your city grows.
Civ 6’s softer approaches to victory include researching key technologies, generating enough culture to attract tourists to your city and using religion to spread your influence.
The new government system in the game offers you a limitless amount of customisation to policies that can be enacted to offer bonuses to production of units, Wonders or research.
A Wonder to behold
Even if you don’t really know what you are doing, the in-game adviser makes helpful suggestions on what structures or units you should consider building to advance your civilization.
To be frank, it is not an easy game to recommend, especially to first time players thanks to its complex interlocking systems. But once you have a basic understanding of how the game plays out, you will come back time and time again.
No two games of Civ 6 are the same and before you know it you might find yourself staring at the clock at three in the morning and wondering where time went.