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Civilization VI review: Learning from some (but not all) of history's mistakes

Hayden Dingman | Oct. 26, 2016
Click softly, but carry a big stick.

Just like that, five days are gone. I fell into quite a few “One More Turn” traps over the weekend, looked up more than once to realize it was past 3 A.M., and I come before you now having made my way through three Civilization VI campaigns.

I’ve got thoughts, both good and bad. But I’ll say this up front: Civilization VI ($60 on Steam or Amazon) is better than Civilization V was at launch.

All roads lead to nukes

A hell of a lot better, really. Oh, the honeymoon’s already worn off and people have started complaining that “Civilization VI isn’t as good as Civilization V with all its expansion packs.” The cycle continues, and I’m sure Firaxis will release at least two expansions (and then an all-encompassing Gold Edition) over the next couple years to fix some of Civ VI’s weaker points.

Civilization VI

But baseline Civilization VI is pretty solid, at least as far as the amount of stuff in it. Espionage, trade, religion—all the B-tier systems Firaxis shoved into expansions in the past make at least a cursory appearance here, along with city states, resources (both strategic and luxury), and a decent number of factions. It at least feels like a full game, which could not be said about its predecessor at launch.

I’m also loving most of the new features—particularly “Districts” and “Active Research.” We’ve touched on both in the past, but only within the confines of the first 150 turns. Blown out to a full-length game the pair start to show flaws, but I think they’re both a valuable twist on the Civ formula.

Districts (seemingly “borrowed” from Endless Legend) make the map livelier, for one. In previous Civ games, all buildings were constructed within the one-hex (or square) tile of the city in question. Barracks? In the hex. Monument? In the hex. Stonehenge? Hex.

Civilization VI

In Civilization VI you still have a city center that houses some of the more mundane buildings. Specialized buildings are now broken out into their own self-contained hexes—like the Commercial Hub for Banks and Markets, or the Industrial Zone for Workshops and Factories. Wonders are also broken out, taking up an entire hex for themselves.

This makes planning a city a bit more hands-on, deciding which districts to construct (you’re limited to one district per every two population in the city) and where to construct them (there are placement bonuses and requirements for both districts and wonders). On the flip side, it makes warfare a bit more strategic because you can individually pillage districts and deny your enemy those benefits.


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