Civilization VI ReviewPrice:
Things are getting decidedly cosy on our continent. While we're all allied, members of the 'nice boy alliance', my conquistadors are alert at the borders, waiting for any sign of foul play from the Brazilians or the French. Both have been good neighbours for the last 500 years, but there was that minor spat when I pushed 'Don't Trust France' as a religion across the continent.
It was a bit of a dick move, I admit, but it's not me that has them all riled up. It's Sumeria. It's 1852 and we've just met Sumeria. We met Sumeria when we learnt to traverse the deep oceans recently, coming across a nation of rockets and robots far larger, and far more well equipped, than anything our Victorian world could fathom.
Germany, unable to comprehend a world in which it isn't the dominant technological superpower, used trade and an embassy to steal secrets from Sumerian labs, weaving them with his own knowledge of science to make submarines and tanks.
War is coming, and… well, it's got all of us little people nervous.
Civilization hasn't changed, although VI has introduced a few elements to make it more compelling and more interesting. Taking some of the finer elements from Civilization IV, V and even, whisper it, Beyond Earth and pulling it all together to make what is, in my opinion, the best launch-day Civilization yet.
There are too many tweaks and shifts to list here individually, but the boldest changes are the civics and city districts. The civics, in the last game a series of selectable perks, have been expanded to become a second tech tree. To become successful now, a Civilization needs to be both culturally and scientifically important, even if culture and science victories are different. This is interesting because the cultural tech-tree, which is what it is, a tree spreading downwards through history with its many branches offering a variety of different types of governance, offers a set of tenets that your government and citizens adhere to. Want to make your military units cost less gold? Want your trade routes to spread your religion? You'll need to work your way down the civic tech tree, gaining culture.
Districts are like little chunks of your city spun out into their own tile. Districts and wonders need physical space now. No longer can you build everything up on a single god-city, walls heaving under the weight of world wonders and every amenity a growing empire needs, and many things, particularly the wonders, need a specific setup. Trying to find space next to your stone source to build Stonehenge makes sense from a thematic point of view, but it also encourages you to think harder about what you're doing with placement and that's a big theme of Civilization VI. Often in games there are wonders you can build but just can't find space for, or some that simply can't be built in the frozen tundra you've found yourself started in.
Mechanically, the districts are the most interesting part of Civilization VI. You've always been encouraged to specialise your cities in Civilization, but here you physically have to assign them: This is my industrial city; this is my holy city; this is where my soldiers come from. They also need to be protected as they can be pillaged and do serious damage to your income and resource gathering when destroyed. The districts show that Firaxis is thinking harder about the micromanagement and making the now trivial process of building an empire a little less about clicking a series of buttons and a little more reactive.