Sean Bean Narrates The Entire History Of A Civ VI Nation

Civilization VI’s [official site] E3 demo will not only teach you a lot about the game, it also happens to be a fascinating cultural object. Narrated by Sean Bean, it follows a tribe from their first settlement through barbaric battles, early diplomacy and trade, technological development, and into the terror of modern warfare. Then they jump in a rocket and set off into space. The erstwhile Ned Stark/Richard Sharpe provides commentary throughout. It’s as if Sean Bean has transitioned into a career making Let’s Play videos and, by god, I had never known how much I wanted such a thing until now.

I’ve chosen to believe that Firaxis sat Sean down in front of the video and asked him to describe what he was seeing on the screen. No script, no rehearsals – just an honest reaction to the events unfolding. And then he really went for it, even managing to speak in time with the little cartoon advisor who appears just before the one minute mark, syncing his speech to the movement of those whiskered lips.

I love this video. I love it because Sean Bean’s voice soothes my tired mind and makes me think of agreeable ale in the Yorkshire Dales. I love it because it makes me believe, even momentarily, that the old thesp has been indulging in bouts of Civ for years now, in between taking the occasional acting job and travelling the country to watch Sheffield United in action.

Mostly I love it because it actually does a bloody good job of showing lots of Civ VI’s new systems, and the ways in which it reworks old ones. It’s not a gimmick, bringing a famous voice on board for laughs or prestige – he’s doing the work that a developer might do during a playthrough, but with a lot more style and a much better accent. Early on you can see how builders work, expending themselves as they improve the land and construct districts rather than toiling forever like the workers of Civs gone by. Then there’s a quick run through the way in which trading leads to road construction and resource exchange.

There’s even an explanation of the new district system and city specialisation and you’ll get to see the diplomacy screens as well as the card system that dictates the use of civic policies. On the aesthetic front, you can see the gorgeous hand-drawn map that occupies the fog of war.

It’s the deepest look at the game so far, outside of our hands-on preview, and it also manages to be a story rather than a lecture. Good work, Mr Bean.

Civilization VI is due on October 21st.


  1. Snids says:

    Nobody make the “HAR HAR I wondr if he dise?” joke please.

    • Asurmen says:

      I wonder if he lives?

      • Snids says:

        I assume at some point he is alive. Unless at the end of the narration he reveals himself to have died and left it prerecorded in some kind of gothic twist.

    • badmothergamer says:

      Hate to spoil it but in part II he gets nuked by Gandhi.

  2. Thirith says:

    Of course it also seals the civilisation’s fate. It was nice while it lasted.

  3. xfstef says:

    SPOILER: He dies at the end of the classical era.

  4. cpt_freakout says:

    The Sean and the Bean: A Secret History of the Babylonian Conquest of Scandinavia

  5. Trenchdog says:

    “Good work, Mr Bean”

    That made me think of such a video being narrated by Rowan Atkinson with his curry house owner accent… That would be something!

  6. Premium User Badge

    phuzz says:

    It still annoys me that Sean and Bean are both pronounced differently, despite being spelt (almost) the same.
    That’s the bloody English language for you I suppose :(

    • Capt. Bumchum McMerryweather says:

      Actually you can blame the Irish for that one.

    • Darth Gangrel says:

      We also have the Shaun/Sean thing, whereas the first is immortalized in the “Press X to Shaun” glitch from Heavy Rain and the other just sounds like it.

      I wonder if Sean Bean will do more of these narrations or even a Let’s Play. Or will he be all like “Bean there, done that”?

    • mgardner says:

      I pronounce his name Seen Bawn. You could too!

    • Niente says:

      I always pronounce it ‘seen been’ because I’m very witty. And a Sheffield Wednesday fan.

  7. MrLoque says:

    That UI is maybe the worst I’ve ever seen in a game. It really looks ugly and outdated.

    • Zenicetus says:

      The UI is a step backwards from Civ5, but so is the map view. The more I see of it, the more I’m convinced the art direction is designed for mobile devices. I’ll bet this will be available on iOs and Android along with PC and console versions.

      • Nauallis says:

        Did you even play Beyond Earth? This looks like a shinier version of that. Too bad that you don’t like the UI, but calling it a mobile port is about the least imaginative insult I’ve ever heard.

        • Zenicetus says:

          Yes I bought (and regretted buying) Civ BE. This doesn’t look anything like that, to my eyes. Here’s what the current iOS game looks like:

          link to

          Note the similar bright color palette and simplified cartoon objects. Also, note the similarity of the big-headed Abe Lincoln figure on that page, to the way they show Cleopatra in this preview trailer. Much less realistic and more cartoon-ified than Civ 5 or Civ BE.

          • Zenicetus says:

            Drat the lack of an edit function.

            What I’m trying to say here, is that this isn’t necessarily a PC port of a mobile game, but that it looks like they’re merging the art direction and art assets so they’re the same between PC and mobile.

            The PC game may be deeper, but it looks to me like it’s using art assets that can also be used on the mobile version, so that “Civ” can be one unified product. And I hate the new look, but that’s just personal opinion.

      • teedle says:

        I’m a little surprised you could prefer the ugly, old-school UI of 5
        link to
        over something that is so much more clean and polished
        link to

        • Preston Brown says:

          Clean and polished is, in this case, synonymous with featureless. There’s a thick percentage of the Civ fan base that have little interest in a simplified game-note the prevalence of the Enhanced UI mod in V. But really, what I think most people are reacting to is the agregious new art style.

          • Nogo says:

            Seems the whole point of Civ6 is adding character to cities, which probably necessitates exaggerating features. Take wonders now occupying an entire tile, allowing them to become distinctive features of the terrain vs Civ5’s “ha, look at my water pyramids.”

            Character requires expression which needs contrast. Compare the old farms to the new: distinct rows and heavy color contrast; everything is bigger, but more expressive. They want ladders on scaffolding and barking tank commanders, so they need to be larger than the two pixels Civ5’s scale would allow.And the animations seem to balance the tendency towards the cartoony. There’s a lot of movement, chaos and violence in them. Similarly, proportions within items aren’t too bizarre. It’s a difficult problem to resolve for a game like this. How to allow for distinct characterization of buildings and units without being overly representative or abstract.

            That said, units, actions and tiles all appear much more readable now, won’t be hard guessing who’s building what wonder anymore!

          • Nogo says:

            Additionally, (damn you edit!) the new lighting looks like it will mute the caricature issues significantly. Getting away from the constant ‘high noon’ look of the previous ones can only be a good thing.

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      Adam Smith says:

      When I played, the UI was one of the main things Firaxis said they were still tinkering with. I wouldn’t be at all surprised if it look tidier by release.

  8. Jeroen D Stout says:

    We discover our true potential…

    LA TOUR EIFFEL, Vive la France!

  9. liquidsoap89 says:

    I’d never thought about this, but a Civ game with narrator DLC packs (like Dota2) could be really really cool!

  10. dangermouse76 says:

    Nice! He is great in Elder Scrolls Oblivion as well. It’s actually funny listening to Sean Bean then going to some high pitched, gaudy sounding trader. Quite the Contrast.

  11. HigoChumbo says:

    Hah, only brits could referrence Sharpe over LotR’s Boromir ^^

  12. Sian says:

    Okay, I dig it. I thought I might not like this new look, but it’s neat. Love the comically overacted performance Cleopatra delivers there. One thing that slightly annoys me, though, are those flashes when a unit’s built. I wonder if they’ll actually be in the game and if so, whether one could deactivate them.

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    distantlurker says:

    That is *adorable*! How has this not happened before?!

  14. Drinking with Skeletons says:

    I am still not especially pleased with the art direction. Some elements look rather cheap, like the wave effect after units pop into existence. The CGI advisor at the beginning is especially terrible looking.

  15. stuw23 says:

    I wasn’t too bothered by the art style in previous screenshots and the like, but watching that video had me starting to dislike it. Whilst I doubt it’s a sign that the game will be ported to mobile devices, it does seem a bit too cartoon-y, especially when I’m so used to Civ 5 (almost 800 hours on Steam).

    • Koozer says:

      Between this and DoWIII, I think developers have spent too much time flicking through the App Store.

  16. Ross Angus says:

    I may have misunderstood that video. Is the purpose of the game to build Las Vegas?

  17. BurningPet says:

    Small nitpick: Cleopatra was a most probably a greek speaking Macedonian, not a dark skinned Egyptian.

    I like the districts and buildings on map approach. is the one unit per tile limit still on? how are ranged units works, like in Civ5?

    • Zorgulon says:

      Dark-skinned? She looks pretty Greek to me. And while they could’ve had her speaking Greek, Cleopatra was one of the only Ptolemies to learn and use the Egyptian language, and seeing as the Greeks are almost certainly in the game as well, it makes a very nice change for her to speak Coptic.

  18. NephilimNexus says:

    “Mostly I love it because it actually does a bloody good job of showing lots of Civ VI’s new systems”

    Yes, all one of them.

  19. PhilBowles says:

    It looks a lot more similar to Civ V than the suggestions that the district system etc. would be something fundamentally new suggested. Love the fog of war and the early-period Chinese buildings look great, but that terrain is still horribly cartoony and I strongly dislike the teleport graphic for unit production and the comedy blood explosion combat animations.

    A subtle plus is that – assuming this is optimal play – city placement doesn’t seem heavily dependent on luxuries this time round. And the Civ IV-esque civic system will undoubtedly appeal to many people. The terrain/activity-based tech acceleration is something the series has always wanted, so that’s very welcome.

    Nitpicks: Not a fan of Cleopatra as the Egyptian leader. Also, I’d read they were going to be using more culture-specific graphics for units such as tanks and aircraft, and buildings like theatres, but I’m not sure that’s the case here.

  20. Rosti says:

    Of course Sean’s first city would be Xi’an [roughly: she-anne], capital of Shaanxi Province in central China. That’s perfect.