17 Day-One Observations About Civilization VI

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Unlike Adam, I’ve not been lucky enough to spend the last month soaking in a deep Civilization VI [official site] bath, so I leave it to him to give you the complete picture. I’ve spent a big chunk of today with Firaxis’ latest historical turn-based strategy epic though, and already it’s filled me up with things to say about it. I’m genuinely surprised by how different it feels. There are reasons why I’m massively charmed by it, and there are reasons why it’s been frustrating me.

I’m going to present this is a gallery sorta thing, as it’s easier to show off what I’m talking about this way.

If you’ve not used one of our galleries before, these are the ropes: click the arrows below each image (or on top, in the case of the first one) to progress back and forth, or use your cursor keys.


  1. heystreethawk says:

    Agreed about the UI issues, with the main menu in particular irritating me in a way I feel guilty about; everything else I’m extremely pleased with.

    Haven’t seen anyone else mention it, so maybe I’m hallucinating, but I could swear the narrator has a selection of different possible quotes for when you discover technologies. Which is a pretty cool touch, if I’m not imagining it.

    • Premium User Badge

      Adam Smith says:

      A couple for some techs – maybe for all, though I haven’t heard variants for everything. It is a nice touch!

  2. Shinard says:

    OK, so a lot’s opaque for new players, and a fair bit’s changed for experienced players. I’ve played a lot of Civ V, so do I need to learn much in advance to be able to just dive in and not feel like I’m losing horribly just because I misunderstood something new? On the easiest difficulty, at least at first.

    And c’mon, no renaming cities? Really? Though being able to name that one badass unit that’s been winning wars for 3 millenia straight sounds awesome.

    • Alec Meer says:

      I was in the same boat as you as of first thing this morning, and have pretty much figured it out on medium difficulty, so you should be OK – just expect to run into a few temporary head-scratchers and UI frustrations.

  3. Boozebeard says:

    Little concerned you thought the leaders might be FMV, not because they don’t look great but because of how stylised they are proportionally. Must be some funny water round your parts.

    • vecordae says:

      Perhaps he meant pre-rendered CGI animations rather than live actors?

    • syndrome says:

      fmv means full motion video.

      fmv doesn’t imply live acting; it is a term in the gaming industry that describes live-streaming prerendered video frames through a codec, instead of having a 3d modelled scene that is gpu-rendered in real-time.

      technically, both can look the same from the player’s perspective, but FMVs typically looked better in the past (and were more likely to be used in the production, as an intermediate product that’s much easier to integrate with the rest of the project, also it performs better on the end user hardware) — hence the OP’s confusion about it.

  4. thewintermarket says:

    Here for the Littlest Hobo. Quality CanCon.

  5. kevmscotland says:

    Had exactly the same confusion and difficulty assigning Envoys my first time too. The UI is about my only negative aspect so far and I’ve played every Civ game.

  6. Lord Byte says:

    Cleopatra has always been a monster, in Civ IV too :)

  7. Zankman says:

    The strategic map really is a lovely thing, could definitely see myself playing just with that view.

    Cleopatra is very pretty.

  8. Andy_Panthro says:

    Playing as England, the second city I founded was Sheffield. Is it random? Or did Sean Bean put that as an extra demand in his contract?

    • Joriath says:

      I forget which was England’s second city but in my Rome game I noted with some besument that Stoke-on-Trent was founded before Birmingham as their third city. I have doubts that Stoke should be considered a shining light of English urbanity, but that it may be founded before Birmingham is a bit ridiculous.

    • SpaceAkers says:

      the capitals are always the same but the cities afterwords are random from a pool.

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        phuzz says:

        Your ‘facts’ are in no way as entertaining as the idea that Sean Bean insisted on Sheffield being the second city.

  9. Rumpelstiltskin says:

    Could it be that the default map view is a bit too over-the-shoulder to be strategically useful, and the strategic view is a bit too dry to be.. delightful?

  10. Frank says:

    Ah, I totally disagree about city states, which I think are great. I’d drop religious non-prophet units, which are so boring to fight with and against; and great works, which are a deck-building game I didn’t sign on for.

    • C0llic says:

      I think the city states are useful as another thing to guide AI behaviour on.

    • cannedpeaches says:

      Really? It might just be because, as Cleo, I accidentally wandered into something that looked like a culture victory, but I’m quite liking the Great Works system. I ended up with a lot of early faith-generating engines, and given I was lagging far behind in a religious victory (and not entirely sure what the conditions were for it, anyways) I had nothing to spend that faith on but outbidding my neighbors on Great People. Add to that a ton of Cathedrals for religious art and an early lead in archaeology and I was able to put together a reasonable good canon of works in my homeland for tourists. That just made other systems like war and diplomacy more fun as I tried to fight or bicker with my opponents over Great Works I thought would help me theme my museums better. I think it’s a great example of a system that seems dumb and unnecessary, unless you’re the one using it.

  11. Zeroebbasta says:

    Let me ask the most important question:
    does Gandhi still like to nuke everyone?

    • Unclepauly says:

      I’m curious about Ghandi as well. You’d think someone around him would try to calm him down a bit on the ole’ nukedom

    • JonWood says:

      In my current game, yes, Ghandi loves to nuke everyone. However I think that second trait is randomly selected at the start of each game – I don’t know if certain leaders are more likely to randomly pick a trait though.

  12. ScorpioShirica says:

    Seems AI is a bit mentally handicapped, worse than Civ 5. To make up for it, they gave them all a bunch of bonuses. The most blatant is Emporer AI starting off with an extra setler. Even as low as Prince AI gets a substantially boosted production. Not as noticeable on standard speed, but on Marathon, my town surrounded by high 2 hammer or more tiles was ridiculously out produced. In the first thirty turns, somehow they managed to get three warriors and two archers. (Typically, that’s how long it takes to get a scout or monument)

    I mean, not balancing around Marathon is OK, I guess. But Civ V Prince didn’t need to do this.

    Then the diplomacy. America asks me to declare war on China to help them in their war. They immediately denounce me as a warmonger for agreeing to declare war on China. Every other AI in turn does the same thing on that exact turn that I agreed to join.

    AI appears to be near dead on arrival levels.

    • brucethemoose says:

      Atrocious AI is a Civ tradition.

      What frustrates me is how it affects the flow at higher difficulties. Other civs race past you early game because they can produces a soldier every turn, and like you said, it feels ridiculous.

      But at the end of the game, their strategic blunders start to stack and they fall way behind.

      • ScorpioShirica says:

        Yeah, but like, usually… Prince is default. They give players bonuses at lower and AI bonuses at higher. IT seems like they had to give them bonuses to even be barely competent at normal. I don’t want to play on easier difficulties than Prince, but when AI cheats, it just makes me frustrated. Even if I win, then I have to rely on some gamey things that I don’t even feel accomplished over. And I don’t want to cheat either with bonuses on easier difficulties.

        Just a frustrating thing all around, I wish they balanced it like Civ V.

  13. Zerpherion says:

    I was playing Civ 6 last night for couple of hours and while the new mechanics take awhile to get use to I feel the game has vastly improved from Civ 5 and Beyond Earth.

    Constantly attacked by barbarians and one Ai civ who was next to me (attacked me twice in one session).

    I am playing as China and only on Second difficulty.

  14. khaoselement says:

    I’m…I’m sorry but, why was this split into 18 pages? I mean, really, it’s not…I just…why?

    • aepervius says:

      If I had to advance a guess, that means that instead of getting hammered for each page view by 18 picture load, they get only one the rest is handled by java call when you click on the arrows. Heckt hat way if somebody is not viewing the picture they even spare bandwidth. I could be wrong tho.

  15. Sebastian Janssen says:

    I miss the long audio introductions for each leader. And… why start each leader with the same common intro? By the time they get to the good part, the BEGIN button is already active.

  16. bill says:

    It really does look lovely – especially the maps.

    It really does look like Warlock though. (- except the maps)

  17. Chaoslord AJ says:

    “Most of the ‘buttons’ in-game are tactile and inviting, whereas the flat outlines on the main menu barely look or ‘feel’ like buttons at all.”

    Was probably the same designer who worked on Windows 10 then.

  18. Yontevnknow says:

    I wonder why the tiles lost their clean lines in strategic view. It just seems like it would busy up a view that needs to be taken in with a quick glance.

  19. anHorse says:

    They copied loads from Endless Legend without realising that the clean UI was the single best part of that game

  20. ignare brute says:

    For once since a while, I have a similar feeling with the reviewer with this game.
    The same things seemed opaque too me, I enjoyed the same news aspects and I was stunned that naming town was no longer an option. When there was no other Civ than the first, the naming policy of your civilization was the obvious marker.
    It would have been much funnier if they actually get some automated translation/adaptation of cities names when they are conquered by another country.

  21. Mungrul says:

    I too love the character models on the AI. Like when I tell doddery old bastard-faced Pericles to stop bloody spying on me (someone should really tell him how a hat works), he says “No, sure, my mistake, desperately sorry, won’t EVER do it again, scout’s honour!”, while his face says “Hehehe, do you think the sucker bought it?”. Bah.
    A good Bah though.

    Or Trajan’s little subtle tap of his sword hilt when negotiations don’t go his way. Lovely.

    BTW, one of my personal bugbears, given how important they are to districts, but re-finding Natural Wonders after you’ve found them the first time; is there an easy way to do this other than trying to remember where you saw them? Finding them on the “delightful” fog of war map is a right royal pain in the arse.

    • Someoldguy says:

      Even telling grassland from plains from desert on the ‘delightful’ fog of war map is a right royal pain in the arse. in fact these fabulous graphics at a zoomed-in can’t-see-more-than-5-tiles view become rather muddy when you zoom out to a level where you actually play and get a decent overview. It’s very disappointing that you need overhead icons above each unit to distinguish them because the unit models have lost most of their identifying marks (the infantry and builder types that is, the more unusual units remain fine.)