Civilization 6: First Analysis
Let's get excited - or not?
First of all - thank you, dear blogging platform, for deleting ALL my old pages here. I understand, you needed a fresh start, however, it was kinda frustrating to return for this Civ article just to find that my old hubpages are gone, including some that had several k clicks. Ok, let's start over again.
A new Civilization is coming! In 2016!
If you weren't surprised and excited by this news, you are either Sid Meier or you are wrong here. In that case, move on, search for pictures of cute kitten or cookie recipes.
Here is something for you!
All others, lean back once more and take a look at:
Official Announcement Trailer
Oh! My! God!
Yes, that was pretty much my first reaction. And hell, I am not ashamed of being put into the fanboy category when it comes to Civilization. This game is a huge part of my (and my wife's) gamer identity, the Civilization series has always been one of our favorites. In addition to that, it was always an excellent counterargument whenever someone came up with the usual "violent, mindless video gamer" stereotype. Basically, you could always say:
"Oh you think so?! Well, take a look at Civilization: It´s just like chess, only hundred times more complex and very educating, by the way."
But, whenever there is light, there are also shadows cast. Even fanboys like me can't deny that the last installments couldn't live up to the high expectations of fans following Civ since it's humble beginnings.
Ok, let's be honest:
Civilization 5 was far from being bad, it wasn't even a real dissapointment for the die-hard Civ fans. On the other hand, it wasn't great, either. Especially the strong defense capabilities of even the tiniest small starting villages made all "rushing" tactics futile. And the lack of huge, stacked, amassed armies limited armchair generals all around the world.
Civilization: Beyond Earth
THIS was the all-time low.
Yes, I know, with all DLC'S attached, even "Beyond Earth", was a funny strategy game to play, and you could sink dozens of hours of playtime into it. However, this is still almost nothing to the hundreds of hours the typical Civ player spends on the regular games of the series.
Beyond Earth may have started as "Fan Service" to show what happened to the countless of starships you had sent to Alpha Centauri during your Civilization career, but in the end, it was like a limited, shrunk Civ with:
- A map that was tiny or at least felt small compared to huge Civ maps
- A very repetitive gameplay with heavily limited strategic options
- Especially during early and mid game
- Illogical and extremely balance-breaking random encounters
- Arguably one of the worst CIV AIs ever, especially regarding the alien monsters
- And, last but not least, an awful art design
Art & Design
And, how very untypical for a strategy game and especially for a game like Civilization, the Art Design of Civ 6 is one of the hottest topics in the fanbase discussions right now. It felt like someone at Firaxis had shouted "Let's cry havoc and let slip the dogs of war!" before releasing the screenshots. Just take a look:
Civilization goes Legoland!
No, really, it's not that bad.
Despite the plastic look and some elements that reminded me of Unity store asset experiments conducted by my nephew, it actually doesn't look bad. And, for the befeit of doubt, I will swallow Firaxi's explanations that this look is needed to provide the best overview. I also believe their promise that the detail view of each unit will be quite impressive.
However, I heavily oppose the argument popping up in fan discussions
"A real stragegy player doesn' care about the graphics".
This is nonsense. It's the same like the stupid mantra
"Indie fans don't like sophisticated 3D worlds, they want this reduced 8bit retro pixel graphics"
I hear from reviewers, players and devs alike. What a BS! I AM an Indie fan. And if a small, humble Indie dev comes up with a really good 3D world that can put the big studios to shame, we don't only like it, we celebrate it. Think "Dear Esther". However, back to Civ. Which is not indie at all.
However: Civilization is about strategy, but it is also about immersion.
You want to feel like the god of an entire world, like the powerful leader of a civilization, you want to walk in the shoes of Napoleon, Cleopatra (did she have shoes back then?) or Caesar (sandals, I suppose). And while Civilization NEVER featured hyperrealistic graphics, they still have to be believable enough to feel like controlling the fate of the world and not the one of a Lego diorama. I hope they nail that.
And now for the gameplay!
Yes, this is the most important of all. Let's hand over the microphon to BAStartGaming (a highly recommended channel, by the way) for that:
Civilization 6 Gameplay Footage with Commentary
And now for the ANALYSIS!
Ok, delete the impressions you got before as good as you can, as we are still many months away from the release, and I bet Firaxis is still tweaking one or another element. Let's go back to the original announcement and the bullet points there, and comment them:
- EXPANSIVE EMPIRES: See the marvels of your empire spread across the map like never before. Each city spans multiple tiles so you can custom build your cities to take full advantage of the local terrain.
Yes, wonders and special buildings will swallow tiles. Yet I am still curious how it will affect the total usage of the map. When I take a look at the screenshots provided and the first gamplay videos, it seems that you would end up having all your territory (or even the world!) covered by city / building tiles far too soon.
- ACTIVE RESEARCH: Unlock boosts that speed your civilization’s progress through history. To advance more quickly, use your units to actively explore, develop your environment, and discover new cultures.
Perhaps the most interesting feature, and also one veterans could be hating most, as their old research strategies won't work anymore.
- DYNAMIC DIPLOMACY: Interactions with other civilizations change over the course of the game, from primitive first interactions where conflict is a fact of life, to late game alliances and negotiations.
Yeah, heard that before. And before. And before.
- COMBINED ARMS: Expanding on the “one unit per tile” design, support units can now be embedded with other units, like anti-tank support with infantry, or a warrior with settlers. Similar units can also be combined to form powerful “Corps” units.
I personally hat the "one unit per tile" design, but this could come as a relief.
- ENHANCED MULTIPLAYER: In addition to traditional multiplayer modes, cooperate and compete with your friends in a wide variety of situations all designed to be easily completed in a single session.
"Easily completed in one single session" ? Nope, I will pass on that innovation.
- A CIV FOR ALL PLAYERS: Civilization VI provides veteran players new ways to build and tune their civilization for the greatest chance of success. New tutorial systems introduce new players to the underlying concepts so they can easily get started.
That´s actually a marketing blah I could believe. The one unit per tile rule has lead to newbies beating veteran Civ players in MP session, and I expect the same from the new research mechanichs.
Please, don't suck!
At the moment, I feel a pretty solid mix of excitement and skepticism. However, right now I would rather bet that we will get a game better than CIvilization 5 and close to the glory of former parts (like my all-time-fav, "Civ 4: Beyond the Sword").