Civilization VI mini review

I’ve got 20+ hours of Civ VI under my belt now, which I feel is enough to have a good feel for it, especially since I already have plenty of experience with the series overall. Spoiler: Right now, Civ VI feels like a good baseline that needs 2-3 expansions to fully flesh out the game.

From a technical standpoint Civ VI is very solid. It loads up fairly fast, I haven’t had it crash yet, and even late into a game it doesn’t seem to suffer from the same kind of slowdown previous Civ titles were known for. I can’t say how well it performs on lower-end systems, but on my fairly high-end rig even at 3440×1440 FPS stay above 60.

A lot of Civ VI is also similar to Civ V, which for me is a good thing as I think Civ V is brilliant. If you however are expecting a very different experience, or you don’t want any changes to the Civ V formula, Civ VI is going to disappoint.

My biggest grip with the game right now is that it feels shallow. For example, at any era, there are generally only a few viable units for combat, and more often than not you have a simple three-unit setup of rocks-paper-scissors. Early game is the very familiar spearmen, archer, catapult army. New units come slowly, and rather than compliment, they often simple replace/upgrade what you already have.

The same can be said for city building. Districts are a great addition to the series, and do add some variety as well as future-planning gameplay. However within each district, you almost always have only one building to build at a time, and decisions/options are rare (in the military district you can decide between a building that boost mounted or ground units, but such choices are very rare). And while districts are a good addition, the fact that there aren’t that many of them compared to how many you can build in a city means that even those choices aren’t as major as they should be. Most large cities are going to have many of the same districts, so while your city build order isn’t going to be exactly the same, its not going to be as drastically different game-to-game as you might expect.

The result of this is that turns feel very basic and minimal, and the game just moves along almost on auto-pilot far more than in Civ V, especially if you aren’t at war. I didn’t expect to feel that sense of sameness nearly as quickly, but I do (on King difficulty right now, but I’ll be moving that up for the next game). As I wrote at the top, with a few expansions or sizable DLC additions, I think the formula will have enough meat to really be great, because the groundwork that Civ VI introduced is all really good.

About SynCaine

Former hardcore raider turned casual gamer.
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10 Responses to Civilization VI mini review

  1. Dobablo says:

    Rated 1 to 10, where 1 is No Man’s Sky, 2 is CiV, and 5 is Crusader Kings, how feature complete is it?

    • SynCaine says:

      Assuming you meant CK is 10/10? Civ VI would be around a 4, and I’d put Civ V (all content) at about an 8. Those 4 are good, in some cases very good, but it just feels like a pretty basic game right now.

  2. brindle says:

    i heard the AI is terrible (even for a Civ game). Is it just using the normal Civ ‘give AI massive bonus and cheats’ difficulty levels to have any challenge?

    • SynCaine says:

      AI is a bit weird because leaders now have very specific traits, like England liking you if you have cities on their continent, but not liking you if you have cities on ones they don’t (you are out-colonizing them). It makes why they do things a little more clear, but it also means if you, say, suddenly surge ahead in tech, the AI that was friendly because you were behind is suddenly your blood enemy because now you are ahead. It makes sense, but its also a little counter to what it was in the past, plus with hidden agendas, it can feel very random.

  3. Sleepysam says:

    What’s more fun? civ v (as is now) or civ vi?

  4. pkudude99 says:

    I’m completely with you on the “districts aren’t as big a deal as they seemed” idea. Since the number of districts you can build is limited by your population and whether you have the tech for it or not, by the time you’ve researched the tech, you’ve probably grown the city to where you can build it anyway, so as you say — most big cities are going to have all the districts anyway.

    Biggest “problem” with districts is that they destroy the output of the tile that you put them on, so if you scatter them all around, or have a bias for putting them on farm tiles instead of production tiles then you can gimp your city’s growth. This can be mitigated by settling in a triangle or square shape and putting all of your districts toward the middle of the shape, and leaving your “frontier” for you farms and mines, though. Plus your Industrial and Entertainment (yellow, not purple) districts spread their bonuses out 6 tiles, so putting them in the middle stacks their bonus on the cities in your shape, effectively giving each city 2-3 bonus districts on top of the ones they built and that can REALLY make you dominate a game. Case in point:

    I have 110 production in my capital, and over 80 production in the other 3 cities in that square formation due to all of the staked bonuses I got from having the districts inside the red square. At Turn 200. France just declared war on my with spearmen, crossbows, and catapults. I have field cannons, bombards, and musketmen. I wonder if I should just go take her over or be content with being awesome with just what I’ve got? ;-)

    • SynCaine says:

      That’s another aspect I don’t love about districts, and some of the other systems in general; if you don’t min/max them, you give up a TON of power. In Civ V min/max helps, in Civ VI it turns the game into faceroll mode.

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