Civilization VI review: we played it for you

Civilization VI PC review. Let's see together the new game mechanics, the improved interface and the progress made compared to the previous Firaxis title

Human history and mechanics have always piqued my curiosity and my interest, until it becomes my daily job.

The role that video games have played was fundamental: I am thinking of Europa Universalis, Crusader Kings and all those games in which the "machine" has an intelligence to put the player in difficulty, just like in Kasparov's chess games, in which AI plots the thousands of possibilities against the few all-too-human choices.

Civilization is one of those sagas that put me to the test and that has played the role of "ace takes it all" against other titles, of another genre, left aside for months

Mark Zuckerberg's post on Facebook was just a few days ago in which he showed the whole world his love for Civilization, according to him the strategic videogame that helped to choose an engineer path. Now, I don't want to compare myself to Zuckerberg in the slightest (a difference might be that I have far fewer zeros in my checking account), but Civilization is a bit of why I chose to make history my job.

Each "chapter" of the series baked by Firaxis is a pleasant discovery: sometimes you find yourself a video game with in-depth aspects to the detriment of others, as has practically happened from Civilization II to V.

We have witnessed a series of profound transformations, without taking into consideration the graphics sector which represents one of those things that take a back seat in such titles, and at the same time simple. Remember Civilization II? In addition to making the game interface simpler, the developers made military clashes more balanced, increased the possibilities and paths to be taken with one's civilization, until reaching a computational complexity and simplicity in the eyes of the player, a combination that has always characterized this series.

Each chapter brought a substantial element, which was taken up by the predecessor and developed to the nth degree. With Civilization V - Brave New World, we believed we had seen as much and everything as possible.

But is not so. There was still something that could be improved (there is always something that could be improved nds), which although it was present in Civilization V, it did not have the right space and the right importance.

"So what's so good about this Civilization VI?"

Let's start from the beginning and from something that the trailers and videos that have been running on the net for some time have already transmitted to us.

Let's install and start the game. Have you ever seen the TV series / documentary titled “Mankind - The Story of Us All” broadcast on History Channel? Put simply, the history of humanity from the last 13.000 years to the world as we know it is told, using a least common multiple for each installment of the series: The epic. That humanity has discovered how to cook a piece of meat, until the development of nanotechnology, everything is told as if it were the most epic affair ever done until then (and it was basically so). As soon as you start Civilization VI, the opening cutscene will continue to let you breathe that epicness that you enjoyed in the past pre-launch cutscenes of the game.

After about ten seconds you will have on you that pride (and that hope) in the human race that will remain with you even when you decide to lead an imperialist nuclear superpower.

"Not a misplaced note"

One thing the developers invested a lot in was the soundtrack.

In addition to having an overbearing Main Theme, from the initial screen you can appreciate the musical depth, played by an orchestra of the highest technical level. During the game you will be able to hear all the nuances of an expertly built and in soundtrack harmony with the whole product *.

"From Firaxis they study history"

As the series has long accustomed us to, we will be dealing with some of the civilizations and "historical" leaders, like good old Gandhi, but we will also have some unexpected surprises.

The new entries, including 19 leaders available (and as many civilizations), are important figures of the historical and impact landscape for the civilization bonuses they provide. Let's take the emperor for example Trajan, leader of the Roman civilization, which supplants the good dear Julius Caesar. Trajan provides a series of commercial bonuses that follow his historical figure as emperor, when in the second century. AD handed over to his successor an empire in its maximum territorial extension, to the point of being considered, by his contemporaries and by historians, the best Roman politician, strategist and administrator of all time.

Barbarossa, in all its splendor 


Analysis and synthesis.The interface we will use during our games will be simple and intuitive. The layout of the keys will partly follow what we had already seen in Civilization 5, however, by improving some aspect ratio of the keys, such as those to start scientific research or cultural processes, without affecting the main game map. The latter is also simple and quick to read, so as to allow the player to have one overview of one's political and geographical situation at a glance. A pleasant intuition had by the developers was that concerning the management of unknown territories and the so-called "Fog of war", that is the areas not under the visual coverage of one's own unit.

Just started and already the counselor is worse than those pop-ups that come out while you browse the internet
Here is a city-state, in the blanket of the "fog of war". Stylized like the saplings on the right.


The unexplored territories are not black, but part of a parchment-style map (with the dimensions you set at the beginning of the game), with depictions of sea monsters, just like in the ancient navigation cards, which will still make us more to fall into the historical setting of the title. While as regards the areas not subject to control of our units, they will be discolored and will take on the same aspect of an ancient map with the slightly stylized elements.

As I said before, simplicity is not superficiality, on the contrary. The aspects improved and radically borrowed from the previous title are many and during the first game it takes half an hour of play to discover them and get familiar with them.

"I have a strange impulse" 

Another pleasant surprise was to encourage technological advancement by completing a mini mission present for each scientific discovery, obtaining a "momentum"In the search for the same.For example: discovering a natural wonder pushes one's civilization to question the beauty of creation, increasing the predisposition to develop “astrology” technology.

In this way we will finally have the opportunity to concretely influence scientific development, without suffering it while waiting for the search bar to take its inexorable course.

Export trade and democracy. Can't wait to have the catapults.


Geography is important. Although we will soon find ourselves having a city between Buenos Aires and Carthage, or witnessing a war between the English and the Spartans, the developers wanted to give greater importance to the morphology and territorial characteristics, introducing the city districts, which will give a connotation to one of your cities and will push you to plan urban expansion.

You will have to build your district on a square under the control of your city (as well as for wonders), e this construction will be possible only if the geomorphological aspect is suitable for the district you want to build.For example: you will hardly be able to build a wonder that will be in absolute contrast with the surrounding landscape. This, in addition to giving greater variety to each game, will allow you to develop new strategies determined by the geographical context in which you are moving (and tell me if this is not what humanity has always done!).

The real Stonehenge doesn't have those snow-capped mountains behind it, but oh well, so it's believable the same.


Columbus's egg.Another novelty of this Civilization VI is the separation of technological and cultural progress. We will in fact have two more or less independent development trees, which will allow us to guide our civilization towards new discoveries, taking on different bonuses based on the path we have decided to take. Cultural discoveries, in fact, have nothing to do with scientific discoveries, although the latter may partly favor the development of the former.

The civic progress tree is rich and full of strategic opportunities


For example: if we discover for example the technology of working with clay, we could at the same time develop a civic advance called “craftsmanship”. I really like this one, because in the previous chapters of the series (and in essence also in other "historical" games), the two things were confused and the development of a certain technology was confused with the state of the art of the same. 

Even if you know how to work with ceramics, you don't necessarily have to make exceptional bathroom fixtures.
Hobbes and his trust in humanity.


With writing we could, in fact, write the laws, so as to obtain civic progress that will allow us to access another aspect of Civilization VI: government policies.

We will have the opportunity to change our government policies whenever progress affects our civilization. Each "card" obtained will have a top title and a bonus if applied. Our government will be the set of policies we will adopt, such as military, economic and diplomatic ones, having a wide choice among the bonuses obtained with our cultural advances.

I will be a righteous king, but a bloodthirsty one, I promise.


But let's go back to another aspect related to wonders. The latter, as we have already seen before, can only be built in certain hexes that meet the requirements. Their function, in addition to giving permanent bonuses to our civilization, becoming one of the keys of victory in Civilization, is sometimes linked to religious figures.

After building the wonder of Stonehenge, we could bring a prophet there to found our Pantheon. Similar to what has already been seen in Civ5, obtaining faith points will allow us to access a series of bonuses and to exert a religious (and political) influence on other civilizations who will do everything to safeguard their identity. Indeed, we will soon find ourselves seeing our religious units "fight" against those of other civilizations, in honor of their beliefs. Staying on the combat front, we do not register any particular changes compared to the previous title: there are the classic units and the "rock-paper-scissor" combat system, with a series of support units that will grant bonuses to the front row.

I am undecided between God of Heaven and Lady of the Reeds of the Marshes.
How to send troops to suicide. Vol. 1


But beware, we have some interesting changes for two types of units! We will have a change regarding the workers' units and the number of uses available. In fact, we could only use a "constructor" a number of times, to then leave the map and disappear, so as to avoid having that "build automatic improvements" that forced us to maintain a unit used indefinitely in the improvements of the territory. While, as regards the special units, that is the great historical figures and leaders, these will be "nerfed", that is, they will not have that weight and that power that we have known, but they will provide limited and more particular bonuses, forcing us to use them for certain strategies.

The technical sector? Civilization VI also manages to run on PCs that are not exactly in step with the times, guaranteeing fun and enjoyment substantially even to those who have a machine not dedicated to gaming. The graphics, as I said in the initial part of this review, are treated in detail, but without getting lost in the frills and flexing your muscles at the expense of gameplay. The development of Civilization VI was not directed towards the visual improvement, but towards the user friendly screen and towards the game mechanics behind a strategic title, something that sometimes the gamer cannot perceive.

What impression did I get from this Civilization VI? The player is provided with a number of tools, in a simple way and with an intuitive control screen, to lead their civilization to glory. The challenge, unlike the previous chapters of the series, is to adapt to the geography of the territory and to one's technological path, adopting an effective strategy, a bit like in a great game of chess. This time Civilization has decided to play hard, presenting a rich dish, between habit and strategic news. The gamer will be able to undertake a multiplayer challenge (with friends or strangers, but know that a game structured to have games for hours and hours can hardly be enjoyed with casual matchmaking), against the AI ​​and, basically, even against themselves. Civilization has always shown that it knows how to build a parallel world, applying its algorithms and supporting the human element. Think of that game played by the user reddit Lycerius with Civilization II for years, up to the game year 3991, in which the game map is full of craters caused by atomic bombs.

3991. Atomic Disaster.


We cannot fail to consider Civilization as a "civilization simulator".

This Civilization VI recovers some of that depth, giving the player the chance to breathe one of the possible thousands of future world configurations.

* You may have a small problem with the audio, caused by a bug or a compatibility problem with some sound cards. I solved it by going into my PC's audio settings, setting the sample rate to 16bit, 48000Hz.

8.7 Masterpiece


Civilization VI recovers some of that depth, giving the player the ability to breathe one of the possible thousands of future world configurations.

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