Civilization VI Trailer Demonstrates Unstacked Cities

So you’ve read all four thousand of Adam’s Civilization VI [official site] words, his overview and his hands-on preview, but that’s only, what, four pictures’ worth? I’m not sure how well the idiom applies to video frames – though of course none deny its power and universal truth – but surely two minutes of video at 30 frames per second holds at least a little descriptive power. Here, check out this new trailer explaining how Civilization VI has unstacked cities, sending them sprawling into outlying districts:

To recap: Civilization’s cities have historically occupied only a single tile, cramming buildings and upgrades in there, but Civ 6 will unbundle these out to themed districts each in their own tile. Certain upgrades can only be built in certain terrain types or near certain districts, and districts can give bonuses to those around them – theater districts are boosted by being adjacent to a Wonder, for example. It’ll deepen players’ connection to the geography of their empires and encourage them to be a little more flexible with tech tree plans, Firaxis say. How does it pan out? Our Adam said:

“I haven’t played anywhere near enough to know how well the cities will work out over an entire playthrough (or a hundred), but there’s a definite sense of creating something distinct rather than simply filling an empty vessel. Each city is an element necessary for your particular civ at this particular point in this particular situation. Whether you’ll be able to satisfactorily or successfully respec them as the times require isn’t yet clear, but it’s an enticing possibility.”

Civilization VI is due on October 21st.


  1. michaelolsen1 says:

    I for one am excited to play Civ VI, unstacked cities and all. I am Also really interested to get more info on the early game road-building changes that are supposed appear naturaly based on trade routes.

    • 2late2die says:

      Check out this demo from E3 link to

      At about 3:10 you see a city build a trader and then he proceeds to make his way to the capital and as he goes the road is built. It’s pretty nice. It does appear to be “faster/cheaper” to build roads this way, but on the other hand you’re limited to roads between cities. You can’t for example build a road leading up to borders of an enemy to move units there faster. So I guess it balances itself out.

      • Komutan says:

        They told roads can be built by military engineers too. I am assuming engineers will be available no earlier than the medieval period.

        • Jungle Rhino says:

          I think you are overlooking Roman roads?

          Military engineering is the oldest engineering profession – indeed it is the origin of the term Civil engineering – i.e. anything NOT Military.

          Alexander the Great also had a famous engineering corps who among other things built a mole in order to capture the island fortress of Tyre.

          So should definitely be a Classical period thing. :)

          • Voqar says:

            The debate and discussion surrounding Civ are always hilarious (leaders and civs that get included for ex).

            The thing I like to have folks remember is that Civ is historically influenced – not a history sim, so it doesn’t have to faithfully or accurately recreate history, and will take liberties in the name of gameplay over historical accuracy.

            So, if they decide you can’t build roads until modern times (extreme example) that would be ok becasue they don’t have to completely nail one tiny slice of history exactly as it occurred – rather, they go with the big picture “man creates roads” not “man first created roads with engineers on this specific date and location”

          • Voqar says:

            And anyways, Civ VI is looking impressive – hopefully it IS as good as it looks and not anything like BE.

  2. stuw23 says:

    One small feature I noticed in the video that I rather liked: the colour theme of each specialised tile seemed to correspond with what it produced (e.g. the blue roofs on the campus buildings matching the blue science icon, the culture district having a pink theme, and so on). It’s a small touch that, hopefully, will make it easier to see what a city is geared towards at a glance.

  3. jonfitt says:

    Fallen Enchantress and Endless Legend both had multi-tile cities. In EL they were just identical tiles, so it wasn’t really comparable, but in Fallen Enchantress the buildings all went on outside tiles.

    In FE it didn’t really do much as far as I experienced because the AI seemed so docile. Also the entire city garrison defended all tiles as one entity.

    With an unstacked city it looks like it’ll be really hard to defend. Assuming the tiles are all their own defendable objects, it’ll be like defending all your improvements from barbarians, but now it’s actually your granary, or temple, and having it pillaged is a huge deal.

    Looking forward to it.

    • April March says:

      Warlock: I Think It Had a Subtitle also had districts. I don’t even know how they worked in combat with another wizard.

  4. Aninhumer says:

    It looks good mechanically, but it would be nice if the districts looked a little more connected. They could have buildings spilling over the edges, and perhaps more varied roads than a single straight line between the centres of the hexes.

  5. Zenicetus says:

    Maybe it’s just me, but I can’t get over how ugly the new bright cartoon look is, compared to Civ 5’s softer and more realistic-looking aesthetics.

    It looks designed for easy visibility on mobile screens, and maybe that’s the point. I suppose I’ll get used to it, if the game is fun. I still don’t like it though (grumble).

    • Sic says:

      Oh, it’s not just you. It really looks horrendously bad.

      I really enjoy certain aspects of it, though, like the fact that things in the fog of war turns into an old map-like sea of sepia. That’s great. The rest, though, not so much.

    • Zorgulon says:

      I quite like the cartooniness myself- it harks back to Civ IV, and suits the amped up personalities of the new leaders.

      I think I’ll miss the more realistic leaderscreens of V though. The static 2D backgrounds lack a certain something.

    • socrate says:

      not just you everyone i know think it look horrible…the “new addition” aren’t all that great either for me…the fact that they tend to still not talk about AI which is still a big problem in this game is still turning me off…sadly their isn’t anything else to play in that genre so guess il keep playing with other genre till the end of time i guess.

    • UncleLou says:

      Yeah, I am not a fan, either. I liked Civ V’s aesthetics from the very first screenshot, but this looks a bit too plain. I don’t mind the cartoony look as such, mind, but something here just isn’t right.

    • c-Row says:

      I like it. Why shouldn’t a game look like it is fun to play?

      • Rizlar says:

        Depends what you want from it, fun boardgame with lots of quirky rules, yes. Simulation of human development based on real history, a chance to watch societies grow under your guiding hand, not so much.

        • Zamn10210 says:

          Civ is clearly moving towards the former. Unstacked combat introduced fun board game mechanics at the cost of any kind of military plausibility. Unstacked cities will do the same for geographical plausibility, with cities now spreading out over an area of hundreds or thousands of miles.

          The series no longer trying to represent anything realistically, it’s becoming more and more abstracted and gamey.

          • Zorgulon says:

            Honestly, it was really only Civ V that lurched towards the more realistic end of the spectrum with its graphics. People seem to forget that its predecessor was very cartoony, especially in its leader screens. And then there’s Civ 2, with Elvis as your FMV cultural advisor.

            Civ has always had heavily abstracted gameplay and graphics. The units tower over the cities! Leaders live for thousands of years! It has never claimed to be a historical simulator.

          • BBJoey says:

            Civ has always been a game about N civilisations spontaneously forming in exactly 4000 BC and proceeding from there. It has never remotely attempted to be historical or realistic, it’s just used history to provide the canvas for its strategy layer.

  6. tomimt says:

    But do the citizens build a palace to the glorious leader, if he’s doing well? I’ve always loved that little feature.

    Unstacked cities does sound pretty nice as well. It does open up some more strategic possibilities when placing the cities.

  7. Heavenfall says:

    I don’t understand what the difference is to Civ5. In Civ 5, larger cities had larger borders and we used worker units to transform the land. Now we… build the nearby tiles from inside the city instead? That’s the grand change?

    • Zorgulon says:

      In Civ v you built improvements to improve the yields of tiles and obtain resources. Buildings and wonders that improved the city’s outputs all resided within the city tile itself.

      In Civ VI buildings are built in districts that group buildings based on output (science, production, faith, etc) and confer bonuses based on adjacent tiles. This also changes how you target cities you are attacking to disrupt their output. Wonders occupy tiles by themselves, with different requirements as to where they can be placed.

      Hence unstacking cities.

    • ElkiLG says:

      All of these things you used to build in the city, things you could only see in the city menu, they will now take a spot on the map.

    • 2late2die says:

      You also can’t spam wonders in a single city since each one takes up a whole tile. This IMO is a really welcome change.

    • socrate says:

      unstacked city isn’t really new its been done in most of this genre and civ as always is just really really late to the party and yet still is the most popular for some reason.

      • Calculon says:

        Could be I’m cynical – but I’m mostly left with a ‘who cares’ feeling with respect to unstacked cities.

        Mostly Civ VI has the feeling of milking the (gamer)Cow to me rather than bringing anything truly new or interesting to the table.

        • DThor says:

          I’m sort of feeling the same. It’s all just abstraction of course – the notion that a city has a “research” resource is fine, but the notion it’s tied to a geographical region makes no sense at all and simply provides an artificial way to say you can lose an entertainment bonus if you lose *that* hex. It’s an abstraction that’s too tied to game mechanics over simulation for my tastes.
          Anyway, it doesn’t throw me off the game, but it doesn’t market to me either.

  8. Herzog says:

    Looks promising. Still Civ VI will be the first part of the series I won’t get on release day. Civ V needed two expansions to get really good. Will have to wait for reviews.

    • 2late2die says:

      To be fair though Civ 6 starts with pretty much all the mechanics from Civ 5 (which for Civ 5 took the expansions to get). So stuff like religion, espionage, archeology and culture related stuff. I get the impression not 100% of those stuff will be there but north of say 80%. So at least in terms of content it’s going to be complete out of the gate. It’s still obviously a totally legit opinion to say you’re going to wait for reviews, but just FYI.

      • Xocrates says:

        To be doubly fair, Beyond earth was released with pretty much every feature from Civ V (it dropped religion and tourism – and by all accounts religion was in it during development) and people dislike it to this day (though I personally always really liked the game, and with the expansion after patched up I like it more than BNV)

        • c-Row says:

          It’s a good game on its own. I guess most of the dislike stems from BE not simply being Alpha Centauri 2.

  9. NephilimNexus says:

    Oh yeah, unstacked cities… I remember this feature from “Warlock – Master of the Arcane” back in 2012. Cool.

  10. ishumar says:

    Civ V is still the best goddam movie adaptation of Atlas Shrugged ever made

  11. Rob Lang says:

    Seeing the pyramid being built sent shivers down my spine. Can’t wait for this!

  12. Erfeo says:

    I’m huge civ (IV) fan but I’m not getting too excited by this. I don’t want a 100% accurate simulation, even if that were possible, but this seems to boardgamey for me. I hope someone makes a competitor to civ that takes the other route, but I’m not sure who has the resources and expertise to make it.