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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.

It’s also weirdly difficult or sometimes impossible to surface information that should be obvious. Mousing over a hex means a two-second wait before any pertinent info appears, the Envoy screen is all over the place, passive tech benefits don’t get their own icon, certain unit actions are hidden for seemingly no reason behind a “+” icon, and the Diplomacy screen is both unreadable at a glance and littered with unskippable (and repetitive) cutscenes.

Civilization VI

2) Speaking of Diplomacy, the AI is bonkers. My favorite occurrence so far: Catherine de Medici convinced me to start a joint war with America. I agreed, we went to war, and then two turns later she denounced me for being a warmonger. In a war she started. Our relationship never recovered, and I’m sad to say I had to wipe her off the face of the Earth after I was done dealing with ol’ Teddy Roosevelt.

Keeping the AI happy on any difficulty higher than Chieftain is basically impossible. They don’t even like each other. Every faction is perpetually unhappy and willing to start a war at the drop of a hat. And then completely fumble that war, even when the odds are in their favor. I’ve also found diplomatic trades lopsided, with the AI always offering way more than it needs to or accepting a raw deal for no reason.

3) This brings me to early-game military action. Barbarians are rampant, with camps often spawning right back into the area you cleared a mere two turns earlier, the second you’re out of line of sight. I like that they’re a bigger threat in the early game, but it’s almost too much now, particularly if you’re playing an expansionist empire.

4) And you’d better be playing an expansionist empire. Civ VI removes the penalty for creating new cities that appeared in its predecessor. The result is that “Building Tall” is not even feasible anymore, and factions that come into their own in the late game (America, for one) are much more difficult than spammy early-game empires like Rome and Sumeria, which can build outwards faster.

Civilization VI

5) The Culture Victory is a let-down, particularly because the game doesn’t signal that you (or anyone else) is getting close to winning. There aren’t measurable steps like in the Science or Domination victories, so when the game goes to a cutscene and says “You win!” it feels almost like an accident.

6) Lastly, another aesthetic concern: Districts don’t change in appearance. Cities still go through all the eras, transforming with each step up the rung from Ancient to Information Age. But that Ampitheater you built in the Theater district in the Classical Age? It’ll still be there 2000 years later. The contrast between that Romanesque look and your city full of skyscrapers starts to get a bit weird after a while.


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