Civilization VI comes almost six years after the last one (not counting Beyond Earth) rocked PC players everywhere and proved this series reigns supreme in the strategy genre for a reason. How can a game live up to predecessors, a collection that still boasts over 40,000 concurrent players on the daily?
Look, I’m going to be upfront. I am a diehard, true to life, absolute Civilization veteran in the flesh. I have played the games for over 15 years, clocking in ungodly hours into each. I was obsessed with Civilization V and sort of disappointed in Beyond Earth. If you are like me, I’m going to go ahead and speak directly to you for the majority of this E3 2016 preview, though that doesn’t mean you need to be a veteran to the series in order to enjoy this one. On the contrary, because you make your own story as you forge your civilization, it’s incredibly accessible to anyone with the time to overcome its steep learning curve.
That being said, the hands-off preview we were shown featured a lot of interesting new mechanics added in over the course of its development. Since the core gameplay has not changed– you’re still a civilization leader attempting to prove you’re the best by different victory means and you play on a board-game like map– let’s gush a bit about what’s different.
Districts have been added as a way to zero in on certain aspects that will bolster your civilization in specific ways, after they’ve grown to a certain point. They highlighted a religious district that improves the faith of your people, a theater and arts district gives your people a voice and no doubt will affect your cultural output, an encampment that bolsters your army defenses, and an industrial one that is a boost in production for the city it’s affecting. All districts are built on a tile, and they even showed off a Spaceport one that seemed to tie into a revamped Science Victory.
Battles work the same, and the demo showed us how different civilizations can once more lose their cool and declare war on you. Cleopatra and Egypt just couldn’t take how advanced China was getting, so she rocked their lands, taking over valuable resource tiles by pillaging them. The accompanying animation to her threats as well as inevitable submission were far more advanced than before. Now, characters emote well, and it’s clear they’ve put some thought and work into the way the leaders move.
When building a wonder, they did note that you now choose which tile you’d like it to be built on, much like special wonders in the past. Additionally, it seems a cinematic will play, showing you how the wonder gets built up over turns.
After they showed the new policies menu, it was clear that there’s been a bit of a change to those, as well. Now it appears you get to equip up to four policies, each one pertaining to a different aspect of your civilization. Just like before, you’ll have science, culture, etc. all be accounted for with each policy, however, it was interesting to see you enact specific ones from a pool of policies. You can equip one science-based policy, one military, and so on. How this plays out exactly, they didn’t dive into, but there was no sign of the policy tree anymore on that screen.
The absolute most interesting aspect, and one they did not at all showcase enough, is that it appears you can gain levels in different technologies and such through experience now. During the demo, they settled a city next to the sea and a messaged popped up that this increased their knowledge of sailing. Afterwards, they built a quarry (workers are now called builders, by the way) on a tile and then a message showed that their skill in Masonry had improved. It appears you can increase your civilization’s understanding of different technology the more you use that tech. What benefits this gives a civilization, they did not go into exactly.
Civilization VI is absolutely on its way to being a suitable upgrade to Civ V, already looking stellar with four months until its release (Oct. 21). Not only is there a mix of new as well as tweaks, the graphics have been overhauled in a great way. It’s looking to be exactly what Civilization fans have been waiting for.