Civilization VI Review
So this is a review for the rest of us. People who aren’t familiar with the Civ series, and perhaps think it’s not something they’d enjoy.
I say “we” because I’m not a big turn-based strategy fan. But I am a fan of a fun and addictive game, and this is definitely that.
The easiest way to wrap your head around Civ VI is by thinking about it like it’s a board game. A big, elaborate board game where you play against the computer and there’s great music playing.
You start, as you’d expect, by picking a nationality. Each has specific strengths and unique units, and these are all pretty well laid out. There’s not wrong answer, more just whatever you think would match your future playstyle. I picked Britain because I had just come back from there, and boats are cool.
From here the game progresses like any other strategy game, where you expand your “base” as you gain additional resources, research new technologies so you can get new cool stuff, and establish new cities in additional areas.
The “turn-based” aspect means you can only do a certain number of things before the computer gets their turn. The most blatant example of this is with any mobile unit, which can only move a few spaces per turn. Building things usually takes multiple turns as well, so this could be a few minutes if you’re fast with your turns, or a few hours if you’re slow and methodical (or if the build takes a few dozen turns).
The video below is the intro to the game, so if you want to enjoy it for the first time when you start playing, skip!
Civ VI is my second Civ game, its immediate predecessor being my first. What I liked most about VI is that not only is there always something to do, but you’re never unsure what that something might be. The AI is always prompting you with what needs to be done, whether that’s a builder that’s looking to build something, research that needs to be researched, or a new trade route to be established. It’s not nagging, it’s fast-paced prompting. So there’s no wondering “did I miss something this turn” just to find out 15 turns later that yeah, you did, and now you lose.
Instead of wondering about the game, you’re just given a non-stop series of choices to make. It flows wonderfully. I never felt out in the weeds like I occasionally did with V and regularly did with earlier turn-based games I’ve tried. So even as a turn-based novice, I found it easy to understand and enjoyable to play.
Perhaps most interestingly, there’s no one way to win the game. If you want to subjugate the world under your mighty thumb, you can establish a government with policies and a military that does just that. If you want to go the Star Trek route and remain as peaceful as you can, but dominate the world with your tech and science, you can win that way too. There are also win scenarios based around diplomacy, culture, and the more vague “points” that gives credit for all aspects that you advance. Though this latter victory is a bit hollow if, like me, you were 3 turns away from a Science victory and you get a Points victory instead. Oh well.
The music, always a Civ hallmark, is exceptional here too, with a soaring, uplifting intro by Emmy-winning composer Christopher Tin, and an excellent in-game score by Geoff Knorr.
I found Civ VI to be absorbing, addictive, and a wonderful distraction. Many a late night were caused by “OK, just one more turn.” Highly recommended.
Oh, and yes, that narrator actually is Sean Bean.