The hardest part of writing about Civilization VI is not knowing how to approach it. Do I talk about the various resources, the buildings, technology, civics, great people, factions, the scumbag barbarians, the various monuments and so on and so forth? That’s only scratched the surface of a game that can only be described as nuanced. There are so many different approaches that you can take in Civilization VI , much like in this review, that it’s easy to feel overwhelmed. Combined with the fact that there is no tangible tutorial makes the game even more difficult for those, like myself, who have never played a Civilization game before with the only “tutorial” options you get is to pick whether you’ve played a Civilization game before or not. Picking one or the other will increase/decrease how many times your advisor pops up who is effectively your guide to the different aspects of Civilization VI.
The two main aspects of the game that appeal to me the most are the fact that there is no tutorial and the difficulty settings you can mess around with when creating a new game. There are so many options you can change, remove or tweak to suit you and your playstyle. If you think the other civilisations are too easy then you can increase the difficulty but if the game is too overwhelming at that difficulty you can remove the barbarians so you only have to contest with the other players. If it still doesn’t help you can change the type of map you start on, the amount of resources available on the map and whether or not everyone starts on equal footing. This amount of choice makes for creating scenarios and games that potentially no one else in the world will experience which is wonderfully fascinating.
For those who are new to a Civilization game, there are a couple of things to note when playing Civilization VI. There is no single player campaign storyline that you might get in games like Warcraft III though the games are similar with certain game mechanics. Another is that you’ve no idea who your enemy on the map is and the only way to find out is to explore the continent and make contact with them. The different players will like and dislike certain things, like you having more Great People than them; fuck you, Pablo of Brasil and your declaration of war. Everyone else liked me before you attacked but it doesn’t matter since I’ve managed to ally with Rome who now has my back! You done fucked up now! The last thing to note for newbies, such as me, is to make builders as soon as you can and build a couple of them. They improve and upgrade tiles on the map giving you more production, resource harvesting and increase food from farms. Obviously, as you progress through the ages there’s more to learn and to do but at the start increasing production and food is incredibly vital.
Let’s talk about Civics and Technologies which are the bread and butter of the Civilization VI as I’m sure they were in previous titles. Civics are unlocked by accumulating culture. Each civic unlocks different things you can use or make to gain and advantage over the other leaders such as buildings, policies, districts, wonders and government types to name a few. The Civic tree starts at Code of Law ends all the way at Social media with ridiculous amounts of other civics in between. Civics act as a secondary tech tree you can research and is a more general way of advancing your civilisation. The Technology tree allows you to research specific aspects of civilisation like Pottery, Mining and Animal Husbandry (which is the raising of animals not wedding them but I suppose that depends on your culture, wahey).Researching pottery allows you to build a Granary which increases housing and it also allows you to harvest wheat and rice. Mining allows your builders to strip tiles of their forests to build mines or quarries which give you the ability to harvest resources like iron or copper. Animal Husbandry allows you to build a pasture, camp or a Kurgen and allows harvesting of cattle. These are the basic three at the start and there’s hundreds more to unlock which sounds like hyperbole and exaggeration but I am pretty sure it’s not.
All of this adds to your overall placement on the victory tracks of which there are a possible four. They are Science, Culture, Religion and Domination and then there is also your overall score which takes into account how many wonders you’ve built, how many technologies or great works you’ve researched and made as well as the amount of Great People recruited and cities converted to your religion. The score is a tie breaker if I interpreted the wording correctly so you can draw with someone in the culture race at the end but having a higher score gives you the overall victory. Certain buildings, districts and wonders increase your standing on each track and doing so will often give you the edge over your enemies, like Pablo.
Even though he had a massive army and a siege tank he couldn’t do anything against my navy, catapults or crossbowmen. I had eight turns to defend myself with only one troop of warriors (that died in the initial attack) and archers. On the eighth turn I had an army of two ships, two crossbowmen and two catapults and with my two cities I had the ability to range attack them combined with a minimum of 50 defence points in each city meant that in turn ten we were at peace and he was paying me two gold per turn for thirty turns. Don’t fuck with me Pablo, I am a scientist! Just in case of further attack I created two sets of infantry troops from my cities on other continents and am currently shipping them to bolster my defence against Brasil. As a deterrent rather than retribution. For now.
It’s difficult to put into words why having no tutorial in Civilization VI makes the game even more compelling than other RTS games that do and why not being told how to actually play the game is a benefit rather than a deterrent. It could be because durdling around in the game is more fun than creating the most efficient civilisation or it could be because when you finally get that eureka moment it’s a lot more thrilling because just like John Snow you knew nothing. It’s also hard to find anything inherently “wrong” with the game. There isn’t anything that can be described as a bad design decision, there are no performance issues on my PC or on my laptop and because there’s so much to research in tech and civic the game just continues to give you more stuff to work with during end game. I can’t even claim that the game gets repetitive in multiple playthroughs because I haven’t experienced a third of what the game offers in terms of playstyles.
As hard as I try there’s nothing in the game that pushes me away or makes the game any less playable and as someone who’s spent over fourteen hours on just one playthrough with no victory in sight the game is hands down a must buy and will probably be my game of the year. The only issue that might crop up for some people is that the end game tends to drag a bit which is part and parcel of the game’s franchise from what I gather. and this hasn’t changed in Civilization VI. It’s not a huge issue and seeing as how there’s so much to do and varying ways to try and win this is just a small bump in the road to greatness. As someone who’s only played Civilization VI, I can highly recommend this game to anyone even at the full retail price.
Game of the Year for me at this moment and unlikely to be budged from the spot.