Hello dear readers and welcome back to Shoot the Rookie! Today’s post is another in my occasional ‘The Rookie Plays…’ series where I take an in-depth look at a game I’ve played recently. The game for this edition is Civilization VI, the most recent entry in the legendary turn based strategy series, so let’s click one more turn and take a look shall we.
I have been a fan of the Civilization series for a very long time. Since the first game in fact. I was quite young when the original game came out (7, to be precise), but even then I loved it and this love affair grew until we hit the 4th game in the series at which point life got in the way, my PC packed up and I left Civilization behind.
Just before Christmas I decided that I would give the most recent game in the series a try, largely because I noticed it was available on Nintendo Switch. It took me a few failed attempts to get started, but once I’d got into it I was addicted. What follows are my thoughts on the game, based largely on my only completed play-through to date.
Things have undoubtedly changed a lot since I last played a Civilization game, but on a fundamental level the gameplay is still very recognisable. Build cities, develop your cities, explore, build more cities, research stuff, form a government, set policies, make polite conversation with other civilizations, make less polite conversation with other civilisations, build an army, send out some envoys and watch out for those fricking barbarians. Heck you can even form your own religion if you want to go down that victory route. As you can probably tell, there is a lot going on in this game and it all comes together to form an immersive if complex experience.
Playing the Switch port of the game was always a risky choice in terms of learning to grapple with the controls, but overall it has been mapped well, with just a few niggly things that could be improved upon, mostly relating to the actual communication of how to navigate particular menus. Although I know this will come with practice, there were various things in the game that weren’t explained very well (thank god for google), and I have some definite doubts about the competence of the AI, but overall it is well executed.
It is possible that some people enjoy Civilization purely for the numbers, but at heart I’m a story person, and one thing Civilization does exceptionally well is create unique stories. Civilization VI is no exception and based on my experience of it so far I’m going to be partaking in a large number of intricate stories of people, places, struggles and success. Admittedly you may need a certain type of mind to build these stories, but if you see each new game as a world of possibilities then you can become completely immersed in the workings of that world. To me, my cities have personalities and although I shouldn’t, I often have favourites (hi, Skedsmo), with each one blazing its own trail.
The other civilizations play a major role in creating the story and Civilization VI seems to have executed this part of the game particularly well (although possibly a little inconsistently due to the odd choices of the AI). I felt a genuine sense of camaraderie and gratitude towards my allies (hi Kongo, hi Rome) and although I never actually went to war, I felt the less friendly neighbours (hi Spain) had strong personalities and I looked forward to them giving me a good telling off as it was often quite a funny experience. These are little things that come together to make the game a truly compelling experience and without the personality the developers have injected into the game it would be a far less enjoyable experience.
In terms of graphical presentation the game is kinda varied. Some elements are gorgeous. Being able to zoom in close to your cities provides a stunning view and zoomed out the world looks pretty cool, with the natural wonders being a particular highlight. However there are quite a few elements I think they could do better. I miss the ability to straight-up bask in a city’s beauty in a cityscape view. It is sometimes difficult to tell what things (like resources and units) are just by looking as some of them are quite similar to each other. My biggest complaint is the inexplicable decision to make terrain that has been previously explored but currently out of sight beige. It makes it impossible at a glance to judge good city locations and makes everything look kinda samey.
The other thing worth mentioning about the presentation is the music and sound design, both of which are fantastic. The theme from the game, Sogno di Volare by Christopher Tin, is indescribably good, and the in-game music which (I think) varies stylistically for each Civilization, takes you on a journey through history. Something I absolutely love about the sound design is that the background sounds vary depending on how zoomed in you are, with birds chirping at the closest setting. I also love the fact that in diplomatic conversations the other leaders speak in their native language, allowing me to hear some languages I have never heard before. There is the occasional blip where the music hangs slightly (on the loading screen in-particular), and some of the battle noises are a bit loud compared to other stuff, but really there is nothing here to criticize, it is beautifully put together in terms of sound.
Civilization VI has re-ignited my love for the game in a way I never thought possible. The diversity of experience you can get from it makes it possible to go back time after time and it is so engrossing that when you get into it, it is near impossible to put down. I can’t wait to start my next adventure and explore different strategies and victory conditions and learn what else the game has to offer. There are elements which are a little clunky and I think better explanation and a bit more polish would improve the experience, but really it is everything I was hoping for and I don’t see myself walking away until Civilization VII comes out! One more turn please…
So what do you think? Does Civilization VI sound like your jam? What type of victory do you think you would go for? Would you enjoy annoying King Philip II as much as I did? Let me know your thoughts and strategies below and don’t forget to join me next time for more video game and anime chat!
Thanks for reading,