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The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

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Video game review: ‘Civilization VI’ has checks in all the boxes

“Civilization VI” was released  Friday, joining five other Civ games in the expansive franchise. Battalion science and technologywriter Joshua Hopkins has played hundreds of hours of other games within the Civ franchise and purchased a copy of “Civilization VI” upon its release Friday.
The newly released game “Civilization VI” has succeeded at meeting the unenviable challenge of bringing something new to the table while maintaining the core tenants that have made the series great.
The decades long franchise of Civilization has long been one of the cornerstones of the strategy genre. The turn-based strategy game places the player in charge of a civilization, which they must guide turn by turn from the ancient era to the information age. The player, and his AI or human counterparts, will research technologies, develop culturally, found religions, start wars and ― ideally ― build a civilization that will stand the test of time.
The challenge for the developers was to create a game that was distinctly different from the game’s predecessors, without losing some of the key aspects that have made the franchise great. In that Firaxis Games, the developers of civilization, succeeded beyond all expectations.
“Civilization VI” dramatically changed the city building mechanisms of previous Civilization games with the introduction of districts. While in all Civilization games specializing cities is a strategic and practical necessity, “Civilization VI” takes the idea a step forward by allowing your city to sprawl across the hex-based landscape.
Players now build districts within the territory surrounding their cities. Each district, be it cultural, economic, or military, has special tile adjacency bonuses, which make each decision in city building and placement important.
The new system gives meaning to each of the players decisions and allows the player to visibly see their city grow throughout the ages. The removal of prior games happiness systems and the addition of a new “amenities” system makes planning ahead crucial to survival in “Civilization VI.” 
“Civilization VI” also brings dynamic changes to diplomacy. In addressing the arbitrary feeling personalities of leaders in previous games, Firaxis has embraced AI personalities entirely. Now each civilization’s leader has clearly outlined personalities and traits, easily viewable to the player with factors that can be addressed by the player if they so desire.
Changes to alliance and war mechanics give the player more diplomatic options while simultaneously adding a great deal of transparency to what your AI friends and enemies think of actions you take. In my game of “Civilization VI,” the Indian leader Gandhi cheerfully warned me that my continuation of aggressive “military exercises” near his land would be viewed as a blatant aggression and lead to war.
“Civilization VI’s” updated graphics and soundtrack can hardly be beat. The game’s new graphics are bright are colorful, and do a stellar job at conveying important tactical information to the play, all while looking really snazzy. The game’s soundtrack is filled with songs not heard in previous games, but fit right in with the few classics brought back.
Finally, Firaxis made some terrific additions to the UI (user interface.) “Civilization VI” has stripped out some of the unnecessary and confusing charts and graphs of previous games and refined a large number of others. Now, many of the screens that were hidden several clicks away in previous games are easily accessible and clearly identifiable.  
Despite the positives that came with “Civilization VI,” the game does have a number of downsides. The additional complexities brought with the district system and other new mechanics make the game have an incredibly sharp learning curve. Even as a Civilization veteran, I often had difficulty determining the precise mechanics of some crucial early game decisions I was asked to make.
While some tools exist to help players, both the Civilopedia, an in game wiki, and the in game tutorial, answer some questions while completely failing to answer others. Both tools are notoriously hard to navigate and information is often dispersed and difficult to find. Whether a returning Civilization player or someone new to the game, it will take several likely frustrating games to be able to perform well in the brutal early turns of the game.
Additionally, while the AI in “Civilization VI” has improved as a whole, it does so inconsistently.  The AI seems to be extremely competent in the early turns of the game, but as the game gets later, the AI continuously makes poor choices. If a player is able to survive the early game, it becomes very easy to outsmart the AI to secure a victory.
Overall, “Civilization VI” is an incredible addition to the Civilization franchise. New mechanics and content make the game a pleasure to play. If a player can manage to beat the sharp skill curve involved in understanding all of the components of the game, “Civilization VI” offers hundreds of hours of reliability. I wholeheartedly recommend “Civilization VI” to anyone looking to add a new strategy game to their arsenal.

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