It has been six years since Civilization V wormed its way into my gaming library and swayed me with its strategic depth and charming historical leaders. I had played Civ IV for a couple of years before that, and while that got me interested in the series, Civ V made me obsessed with it. For those who do not remember, Civilization V had two major changes to the Civ formula: destacking units and the hex grid. In past titles, military units could be stacked upon one another, forming a massive metal tower of death that would mow down your opponent (and vice versa). The tiles were also squares, which always made borders very jagged.
The two changes put in Civ V changed the way the game was played. Instead of building a fleet of tanks and stacking them one on top of the other to obliterate cities, players had to be strategic with their unit placement. Do I move my cavalry to intercept the enemy gatling gun, or do I send my artillery into that space to capture the capital? I had to make choices like that frequently in Civ V, and the hex-based grid emphasized those choices. While there initially appears to be less mobility–units would now only have six tiles to move to instead of eight–it prioritizes committing to combat rather than guerrilla tactics. You have to hold that front line, too, because you can’t just have your infantry run away through your troops. You’d have to switch places with each and every unit, effectively ruining your offensive line.
If you can’t tell yet, I’ve played a lot of Civ V. I’ve currently spent 270 hours on it, trying to perfect my strategies and get better as a player. Once I heard about Civilization VI and its imminent release, I was overjoyed. Then I heard about the changes.
We here at the Game Fanatics have tried to keep up with the announcements, but to give you a rundown here is my short list. First, there is the art and graphics. Instead of attempting photo-realism like they did in Civ V, the new Civilization will feature a more colorful and cartoonish depiction of history’s great leaders. Second, cities will be unstacked and divided into buildable districts that each require a new tile to construct, causing the city to sprawl out of its original tile. Finally, wonders require a whole tile to be built upon. Let’s go over each of the changes and what that could mean for Civ VI.
The New Look of Civ VI
Personally, I think the art style the developers have chosen is a good fit. Some people will complain that it looks like something from Clash of Clans or any number of mobile games. Yet I see this style as a good thing. Firaxis has stated that they want to convey a sense of wonder and use the “Age of Exploration” as the major motif of the game. That’s fine for me. When the Brave New World expansion came out for Civ V, the game shifted from a general feel of “the growth of human civilization” to “the birth of the modern world.”
I think shaking up the major theme every now and then is a good thing, as it distinguishes between the different sequels and expansions in a way that stat changes and changes in victory conditions just does not convey. Plus, the simplistic style has a better chance of running well on older or non-gaming oriented devices, which could easily boost Civ VI’s player base and sales.
The designs for the leaders appear to be more animated than the ones in Civ V. The choices of leaders so far has been decent, with Teddy Roosevelt for America, Cleopatra for Egypt, and Hojo Tokimune for Japan. I think it’s nice that I have no idea who Tokimune was or what he meant for Japan because it shows off one of Civilization’s strongest aspects: history brought to life.
Sometimes I just flip through the pages upon pages of text about each civilization and what they do just to know what it is that makes the Huns such a force to be reckoned with or why Poland is a cultural powerhouse. I think I will be doing that a lot in Civ VI.
Oh, boy. This one is going to be a doozy. It is a little difficult to go over this change, as no one knows exactly how it is supposed to work. Does each district work on a building at the same time? Can they each produce units? Or is production limited to the original city tile? I honestly do not know. I would guess and say that buildings would be restricted to the city itself while units may have specific districts that they spawn in. The pikemen would spawn in the military district, the Great Scientist would be in the Science district, and so on and so forth
The idea of the districts, however, is what interests me the most about Civ VI. I noticed that in Civ V cities would slowly grow larger while buildings and wonders filled the area around it. But that never really screamed “modern metropolis” by the time you hit the late game. Plus, the main strategy of “place your cities as close as possible” never appealed to me, since that might wind up with my city in a desert or a tundra. Not only does the unstacking increase the city’s sheer size, but it also increases the military tactics available. Now, I could send bombers toward the military district and cripple their numbers or toward the Cultural district to impact their border expansion. But, time will tell if that will be as effective as I hope.
Despite being called Wonders, they always seemed a tad small on the map. It was often difficult to tell what city had what wonder just because you couldn’t see the darn things until you zoomed in or read the city info screen. The only one who got to bask in the glory of the wonders was the player who built one, but that was often limited to a short cutscene and a velvety narration from a famous voice (personal favorite: Civ IV had Leonard Nimoy).
While nice, it could get rather tedious after hearing it a dozen times and forgettable after a few turns. Forcing players to put the wonders on the map itself, I believe, does three important things. It makes them a visible feature on the map, it communicates more clearly which player has what, and it limits wonder fanatics to placing wonders that they need instead of churning them all out. I’m curious to see what the wonders will actually do once they are on the map, but I can see the potential. Perhaps the Brandenburg Gate could be a literal gate that grants a buff to units that pass through it, or maybe the Great Lighthouse reveals more of the map around it.
Those are just some of my thoughts so far on Civ VI, and I have to say that I cannot wait to get my hands on it. Will all of these changes stand the test of time? Or will they be implemented so badly that people will just go back to earlier Civ games? Let me know what you think about them in the comments below!