I did a mini review of Civ VI back in Oct 2016. In the first paragraph, I write that Civ VI will feel better after some expansions/DLC. Its now 2019, and hey look, Civ VI feels better (with the second expansion set to drop in a few days).
Since playing the game at release, I haven’t really followed its development closely. I read reviews about the first expansion, Rise and Fall, but came away from those thinking I could still wait.
I’m back now mostly because my buddy and I need a good multiplayer game to play, and we really enjoyed Civ V multiplayer back in the day. Plus with Civ VI Gold being on sale (all DLC + first expansion) on Steam right now, it seemed like a good option. We have played a few hours so far, and I’ve played a bit of single-player as well, and I must say I’m really enjoying the game now.
The biggest issue with Civ VI at release was that the turns felt too simple, and the number of difficult decisions to make was very limited. Even without the latest expansion, the game today already fixes this. For starters, there is simply a lot more ‘stuff’ in the game now. More units, more resources, more impactful natural wonders, more tech, and more systems layers on top of the already solid base game. This also means a steeper learning curve, but even my friend was already to make sense of things in his very first game, and he hadn’t played a Civ title since we played Civ V years ago.
I’ll just mention a few of the changes I really like here, with likely a second update when we put more time in, post second expansion.
First up are governors, which you earn via different technology, and can be assigned to a specific city to give it bonuses. There are 7 different governors, each with their own skill tree, and the impact they have on the city and your overall civ can be pretty dramatic. For instance one of the governors is military focused, and if you put him in your most productive city, or one on the border of a war, he gives you a MASSIVE boost. I was in a war that was going south, and assigning that governor in a city on the edge of the war turned it around, mostly because now my units were more powerful than the enemy, even though we were both using the same type of unit (swordsman).
Governors are an interesting decision because the number of points you get for them is limited, and once a point is spent (either on recruiting one or promoting them), its committed. You don’t get enough points to hire and upgrade all governors, so those points are kind of a big deal. In my game where I hired and upgraded the military-focused gov, I somewhat committed my civ to a military focus, and so once I won the first war, it only made sense to continue in that direction. I wasn’t forced, and certainly I could have held back and used that gov more defensively or as need arose, but I figured I should maximize those invested points.
A more minor feature, and I think this was already in the base game, are natural wonders. They are varied not only in the bonuses they provide, but in size. Some are a single tile, but others can be much larger. Putting a city near a massive multi-tile mountain, for instance, really shapes the focus of that city and its related districts. Now finding those on the map is a cause for excitement and could instantly change your planning on where to settle and what technology to research.
As mentioned, more commentary likely to come, and I’m now really looking forward to playing the second expansion to see how it further mixes things up and what layers it adds.
I got the 1st expansion when it came out, and tbh, didn’t much care for it. The Dark/Normal/Golden ages seem designed to force you to play a certain way. The loyalty mechanic also makes taking over other civs via war a LOT harder as well as limiting your own settling choices. I think the loyalty mechanic was even less successful than the various age brightnesses.
When they announced the 2nd expansion and highlighted its features, I have to say I really wasn’t excited about it at all, but Civ fanatic that I am, I’ve still pre-ordered it and am looking forward to playing around with it tomorrow anyway. Loyalty’s unchanged and one of the new leaders actually has abilities that reduce other civ’s loyalty and allows for immediate loyalty swaps, so they’ve doubled down on loyalty for sure. We’ll see how it goes….
Not too much experience with loyalty, but so far I think the penalty it brings to war in terms of taking cities makes sense. I’ll have to see if it gets annoying with more time.
Same for the golden age thing, although I do like how it tracks the various things you do, and rewards you for doing different things, or being the first to something.
I like the scroll, sure, but the ages themselves…. Dark Age is merely a loyalty penalty and some policy cards you can slot in, if you want (I never have, they aren’t that good). In dark and normal ages, playing normally will earn you points toward the next age, but if you get a golden age you get a loyalty bonus, but then just a very very slight bonus to your inspirations (or whatever you pick, but still “ooh, it’s a 50% bonus instead of 40%” is usually only a 1 turn difference on something — China gets that 10% bonus permanently and is considered to be one of the weakest civs….) while also losing the ability for the standard play to earn you era score, making it entirely possible to easily drop from golden age to dark age. Over time you learn how to game the era score system by going after certain techs/civics, and of course you can always build wonders to goose the score too, but IMO a golden age is actually a slight penalty overall.
OTOH, the loyalty bonus in a golden age is 50% so it’s a lot easier to prosecute wars without needing a full-on blitzkrieg if you’re in a golden age, so there’s that….
How is AI for single player? Is it improved? I never bought 6 because I heard from my Civ 5 friends that the AI was horrible- making single player no fun/challenge. TBH civ 5 was a letdown compared to civ 4 and it seemed that they were heading down the dumb-down path each release (i guess to support consoles).
So far it seems ok? They expand well and build cities in a logical manner from what I can tell. In war they still aren’t great, but also aren’t a total pushover. I’m only playing on King difficulty right now though.