Wednesday morning brought with it a surprise announcement of Civilization VI, due to be released October 21st, 2016. It was a pleasant surprise announcement that brings with it endless speculation. The Civilization series carries one of the biggest names in gaming, and Civ 5 set a pretty high standard. If the opening round of news gives us an idea of what to expect, it seems we have quite a few reasons to be excited.
Taking a page from indie-RTS hit Endless Legend, Civ 6 will feature much more developed city expansion. Instead of occupying a single tile, cities will now sprawl out over time as each major upgrade adds to the city’s limits. I think this could mean a few things for gameplay. Expect cities to take on much more specific personalities as cities develop around surrounding resources. If expanded to the extent I hope, city building and management could become a game within a game.
Larger cities would also mean larger maps, as opposed to Civ 5’s tightly packed maps. Combat will most definitely be affected as well. No longer can you park a few units outside a city to overwhelm it. In Civ 6 Ranged units will become particularly useful to weaken specific boroughs as armies fight block by block to overtake capitals.
Civilization 6 changes up science gameplay by giving bonuses to nations according to the resources within that nation. Develop cities around mining or industry heavy resources and you’ll start to excel at technologies dependent on those resources. It should be a fun pairing to the new city planning additions, but it would be a shame if it pigeonholes nations into more narrow playstyles.
If I had to pick a single aspect to improve upon for the upcoming game, it would be Diplomacy. Civilization 6 looks to add more personality to its leaders, with each having personal goals they look to achieve. If we’re lucky this will mean more dialogue options between players and their opponents. All good speculation requires a bit of outlandishness; could more personality mean multiple leaders per country/region? I can only hope so.
I’m curious to see how these personalities play into endgame diplomacy. Real world diplomacy is dependent on a ridiculous number of variables spanning from economics and politics, to geography and religion. I can only hope Firaxis finds a way to tie all of these variables together.
One of the biggest letdowns of Civ 5 was growing your army to massive numbers… to not do all that much actually. Civ 6 looks to remedy this by reintroducing unit-stacking to combat. Stack 2-3 units of various types together and create a single army. This should promote even larger numbers of military units per nation and open up maps in a way that enables a wide variety of combat. It’s a small change on paper, but in practice it should require players to completely rethink both offensive and defensive strategies. Even better? Stacking units with settlers means we should never have to worry about those damn dirty barbarians stealing entire cities out from under us.
Combat still needs a good number of additions before it reaches its potential. Civ 5 naval combat was abysmally one-sided in favor of players, and warmonger penalties made domination victories nearly impossible. All I ask is that I am able to fulfill my fantasies of being a bloodthirsty warlord hell bent on cracking the world beneath my will.
There’s still more to discuss in regards to Civilization 6. The game’s graphics and art style has been an early point of contention. I personally wasn’t a fan at first, but they’re starting to grow on me. Yes, they’re cartoony, but I like just how much detail is visible in cities and national wonders. If the gameplay comes through, the visual style will hardly be a deal breaker. I also want to say that I am looking forward to revamped multiplayer modes, particularly in regards to scenarios.
That about covers it for my first look at Civilization 6. Firaxis’ next entry to its flagship series will release on October 21st, 2016. You can bet that I will be following every scrap of info released between now and then, so be sure to check back and see what’s to come.