Title: Sid Meier’s Civilization VI + Expansion
Developer: Firaxis Games
Publisher: 2K Games
Genre: Turn-based strategy
Platform: PlayStation 4
Age Rating: PEGI 12
Release Date: 22/11/19
Price: £44.99 – Rapid Reviews was very kindly provided with a review code for this title.
Over the last three decades, the name Sid Meier has become synonymous with strategy games and the Civilization franchise has been instrumental in defining the genre. As of November 2019, PlayStation and Xbox owners have been able to experience the sixth instalment of the franchise, following its initial release on PC in 2016. I have had little experience with strategy titles and Civilization 6 is my entry point to the franchise. This Rapid Review is, therefore, most certainly from the perspective of a newcomer.
Civilization VI is a turn-based strategy title that plays very similarly to a table-top board game. As your campaign progresses, you take turns to expand your initial settlement by exploring the map, making improvements to your cities and building an army to compete alongside AI or human opponents. Each campaign can spread across nine eras, from 4000 BC to 2050 AD, and victory can be achieved in a multitude of ways. Depending on how you construct your civilization, you may wish to utilise your army to conquer the capital city of every opponent. Or perhaps you pursue a Science Victory, in which you create a civilization destined to travel outside of the solar system. The scale of the game and the sheer number of possible actions a player can take may seem confusing at first – and that’s because they are.
When embarking on my inaugural campaign, I was utterly overwhelmed within the first half-hour. The learning curve is steep and understanding the different systems at play, from religion to research to civics, can be potentially off-putting to those starting out. For players unwilling to put in a considerable amount of time, it will be difficult to fully appreciate what Civilization has to offer. For that matter, the tutorial was certainly beneficial, allowing those with little experience of the franchise to at least tread the water, rather than diving headfirst into the deep end. The Civilopedia, an in-game encyclopaedia that provides descriptions on all aspects of the title, is extremely helpful in providing information on all of the detailed systems and proved useful when I forgot parts of the tutorial.
The amount of detail Civilization VI offers is impressive and the opportunities for player-choice are staggering. You begin each campaign by selecting a leader for your civilization and, in total, there are 45 to choose from. Each has their own unique traits and abilities which impact on your approach, and include historical figures such as Cleopatra, Theodore Roosevelt and the first sultan of Egypt, Saladin.
A minor gripe I have with the game is its control scheme. Navigating in-game menus and manoeuvring troops around the map can take some time to get comfortable with and often feels unintuitive. I would expect that Civilization feels much more at home on a PC with a mouse and keyboard. Despite this, I still greatly appreciate the attempt to bring this title to home consoles and would recommend it as an alternative to those without a capable PC.
Audio and Visuals
From the onset, Civilization VI makes clear the significance and grandeur of your task to conquer the world. Anthemic choral music greets you at the opening screen, setting up the epic journey ahead. Renowned actor, Sean Bean, also accompanies you on your travels, narrating the introduction to each campaign with gravitas and reciting historical quotes upon completing research tasks. Each civilization has its own unique soundtrack which, although rousing, can become rather repetitive once you are deep into a campaign. Thankfully, progressing into a new era brings some variation to the soundtrack. Civilization’s somewhat cartoonish art style might not cater to everyone’s taste and is far from graphically impressive, but it in no way hinders the gameplay experience.
The sheer amount of content available is admirable and the customisable options benefit both experienced and novice players. In the main campaign alone, you are able to set parameters on the map size and layout, selecting from eight difficulty options and altering the game speed to impact the number of turns it takes to complete various tasks. Outwith the main game, Scenarios provide a one-off experience that is more structured in terms of the rules and goals. You may, for example, wish to guide a Medieval Civilization through the devastating Black Death or assume the role of Alexander the Great and set out to conquer every city on the map. The options are staggering and such a wide variety of modes could easily keep you entertained for upwards of 100 hours.
Much of the enjoyment that comes from Civilization is the product of frustration. Each failed campaign is a lesson in strategy and technique, as you attempt to decipher the best way to play. Getting to grips with all the title has to offer is certainly a major investment and learning how to maximise your efforts during a long and arduous campaign will be a steep learning curve. For those willing to put in the time, Civilization VI will become a masterclass in turn-based strategy games. The amount of content available on a console is staggering and the customisable options allow for every player to embark on a journey that is best suited to their preferred gameplay style.
Rapid Reviews Rating
If you would like to purchase Civilization VI for your PlayStation 4, you can pick it up here: https://store.playstation.com/en-gb/product/EP1001-CUSA15381_00-CIV6BASE00000000