Sid Meier’s Civilization VI – PC / Steam

I had originally planned on this week’s content to be about Eurovision and how each country could compete with its best video game developer and most known game but the depressing reality of how many have had to close in the last 5 years had me craving the simple joy of turning the world into my own private utopia. When you get really into playing the Civilization series you’ll eventually reach a point where you realise if computer games weren’t a thing you’d be really into miniature wargaming. It has the same cathartic sense of control and strategy with a moderate amount of chance to keep things interesting. With 167 hours clocked up on Civilization 5 and an unknown amount of the previous games sitting in my collection (right back to the original) what more can be said about Civilization 6 then I still put another 112hrs into it? A fair bit sit seems;

The first thing to point out is how Civilization 6 has drastically changed since launch. There have been numerous free updates, content and patches applied and now when you launch the game on Steam it will fire up a 2K game launcher instead of the previous Civilization 6 start menu. The option for Direct X 11 or 12 is still present and allows beefier PCs to flex a little graphical muscle but one of the best things about Civilization has always been tweaking it to run on toaster PCs as well. The newest Civilization games have always been visually stunning and when you crank everything up to max, 6 still remains a looker. When everything gets going you can zoom in and out all over the hex sectioned world and see in really impressive detail all the units and cities you’ve been working on. It depends on the scope of the game you’re playing on the loading for the Ai players but in the early stages before you find them it’s all handled in the background at a really fast pace.

Despite being a behemoth title Civilization 6 continues the tradition of buckets of DLC with more coming out even as I write this. The main game has enough content to warrant 100s of hours to play and if this is your first entry into the series I highly recommend just starting with the base game (even if you purchase the DLC expansions you can toggle them off on Steam before loading) Although Civilization 6 does explain the workings and systems in a great tutorial it’s still Civ, you’re still going to need to get a handle on a lot of the basics before you’ll make the most of it. The first expansion Rise & Fall added more systems and fixed a lot of the tedious diplomacy, expanding on it to make everything more interesting and balanced but for the most part Rise & Fall is not really that exciting. It’s a lot of extra content that feels like a step up from playing the base game once you’ve got that mastered.

Everything becomes more wild and interesting with the Gathering Storm expansion DLC. Geological and climate based changes occur visually and more resources are added to the world. It’s when volcanos blow or disasters happen and a powerhouse Civilization feels the pinch that the flow of the game can change. Gathering Storm really injects some energy into what is an incredibly slow paced game. As obvious as this sounds, you’re only going to get the most from the DLC after getting through a few games in the base game. Civilization 6 excels in being the game to podcast and drink a cup of tea to but also the game where you feel like you just can’t quit until you’ve converted a rival out of existence. I do miss Leonard Nimoy and William Morgan Sheppard’s voices for the narrator for important events but Sean Bean sounds fantastic and it’s nice to not have him die for a change. There’s no Baba Yetu level of music to Civilization 6 either but for the most part it’s plesant background noise.

Multiplayer is cracking in Civilization 6. I can’t say I’d bother with playing random people online but playing friends is just as enjoyable as digging out a big complicated board game where everyone knows the rules already. The turns can be mixed so you still take actions at the same time without all players simply waiting for ages as that one player finishes taking a turn. Civilization 6 is just a great experience where you can while away the hours. I find the most fun in the early stages, setting up a city, exploring around and getting into early scrapes but the later end games becomes such a challenge that the “one more go at this” feeling kicks in and you’ll be loading saves 40 turns back to have another crack.

Sometimes you just need to write about something you enjoy to remind yourself why you do what you do and Civilization has always been a game I’ve enjoyed for decades. From the original DOS game to the many spin-off titles I’ve followed the series and 6 is a welcome addition. The tutorials are still a bit light in places but this is the strategy game equivalent of being shown how chess pieces move before you start to think 4 turns ahead. It’s not great how the best visual effects are packed away in the Gathering Storm DLC but the base experience had a huge wealth of content in itself. Civilization 6 has been out for 5 years now and although there’s a new battle pass and efforts to get Switch and console players in on the action I can only hope we’ll see a new entry in the series start to shape soon. In the meantime I’m gonna go try to leave this planet and go to space.

9/10 – Sid Meier proves that Civilizations can six anything

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