Civilization VI Review: Just one more turn - back with a vengence

Kongo leader Mvemba a Nzinga.
Kongo leader Mvemba a Nzinga.

Civilization VI will end up being the cheapest game per hour played you've ever bought

Here at AltChar towers, we have had the privilege of an extensive early access preview to Civilization VI, thanks to the good people at 2K Games. Or that might be the evil people at 2K Games, given that we forgot to water the plants or feed our children during extended playing sessions.

Civ VI Great Wall
Civ VI Great Wall

But the Civ series has always been about "just one more turn". It was even used as marketing phrase by Firaxis. Never knowingly moderate with my own behaviour, my earliest recollection of the series is playing Civilization I back in the 90s for 17 hours straight, with only bio breaks and two cheese sandwiches as an interruption.

Roll through II, III, IV and V, and I probably could have used to the time spent on them to learn another language, as well as a new skill, like glassblowing multicoloured unicorns or crafting Samurai swords.

Civ VI Minas
Civ VI Minas

And so here we are with the delicious beast of a game that is Civilization VI. It does tend to follow Sid Meyer's recipe for game evolution: 33% of content should be retained systems, 33% improvements on existing elements, and 33% should be entirely new. The remaining 1% is presumably in the lap of gods. Or maybe the laptop of the gods.

So, what have they cooked up for us this time around? Without giving too much away, here are some tasters.

City districts
Probably the single biggest change is the city districts. I don't care what other people say, this is the big one. It changes everything. If you were to take the fact that town planning now really means that, and that tiles that feed you now need to be balanced against a space-port, that tells a story. Adjacency is also a new factor to be taken into account - what type of tiles are next to, for example, a Holy Site, influence the amount of faith it produces. Oh, and don't forget the new Appeal mechanic - you might want to put your housing somewhere nice, so your people are happeir. And all this is great. It makes cities more complex, but in a good way, by providing another dimension to the game. There's also greater on-screen visual appeal to cities now.

Combat and conflict
I am a science victory type a guy, followed by playing through until everyone has been wiped out. Armageddon in other words, but only after I have served you some Mars-grown tea. Well, combat doesn't seem to operate in quite the same way. As we have written already, stacking is back, however, don't think you will build your doom army in a hurry. Units take longer to build it seems - and are not in such plentiful supply. So you won't crush opposing armies with such ease, let alone capture other cities quickly. And barbarian units are smarter, sending out scouts before attacking - and seem to upgrade technologically with great speed. You also have the new option of casus belli, or just war - which enables you to declare war for a variety of reasons, without the full warmonger penalties.

The sinews of war are infinite money. Gold governs games. So make sure those traders are a plenty, especially as they also establish roads. Trade routes also establish trading posts in other cities, which provides additional gold from other trade routes passing through. Benefits from trade routes include science, culture, food, faith and production. You can also still direct trade with other leaders - and it seems the deeper AI has more influence on what is offered to you in Civ VI. That is to say, other leaders can like you, or dislike you, for more reasons than previous games. You remember the ones in Civ V where everyone suddenly rolled down the shutters on you, just because you slapped an uppity neighbour around a bit? Might still happen, but it's easier to get out of the isolation hole.

Religion has many similarities with Civ V, but there are some important differences. As well as prophets, you still have your basic missionary unit - used to spread the word of the one true god, or gods, or goats - each to his own. Now, however, now there is also the Apostle - they can spread faith, but they can also participate in the battle of ideas - fighting opposing faith units. So good news for civs such as Spain and Arabia and their monotheistic ways.

Cultural modifiers
Culture is still an important metric. Very useful to help turn a bad situation into a good one, with your influence on other civs. Also culture now provides advancement in the new Civics tree - which in turns leads you from time to time to the chance to change governmental systems and also allows for new types of districts, buildings, wonders, etc. You also get a number of policy slots, increasing as you advance, that allow you to tailor your civ to your particular likes and requirements. You can also move into a different era through the civics tree, not just the technology one.


Even with all the changes, tweaks etc, this is still unmistakably the same ol' Civ. What struck us in particular was how quickly we adapted to the new mechanics. This is not to say that everyone liked every change, however, we are confidently predicting that this gem of a game is worth every penny or a cent you spend on it. There is very little chance of you not enjoying it, and with just one more turn to just do that last thing before bed time, we will see you online at 3am.

We give it 9/10 based on this early showing.