Civilization VI – The First 60 Turns

Hello everyone, and welcome to yet another Civilization VI article, of which I hope I don’t go overboard with in the next five months. We’ve gotten a plethora of new information recently after some Youtubers, including Marbozir and quill18, were brought to Los Angeles to play the first 60 turns of Civ VI. I’ve watched both of their videos (which I’ll post at the end of the article), and in the small amount of gameplay these Youtubers got, we’ve actually learned quite a bit. I do want to preface this article by saying that Marb’s video was the first I saw and the one I took notes on, so this article will probably follow the flow of that video, in which he went through a short video of gameplay provided by Firaxis and explained what was going on. This also means that the stuff I talk about will be in about the same order it happened in Firaxis’ video, whereas quill’s jumped around about more. That’s not to say I won’t add in things from quill, of course! I’d also like to make it abundantly clear that this is an early build of the game. We’re still five months from launch, and the way these things work, the build was probably outdated by the time the guys even got to play it. So keep in mind that none of this is set, especially things like build costs and names. Now, without further ado, our first preview of Civilization VI!

Marbozir and quill18, among others, recently got to play Civ VI
Marbozir and quill18, among others, recently got to play Civ VI

This is going to be similar to my Civ VI announcement article, I’ll be talking about the news and throwing my thoughts in. First off we have the base game mechanics and the art. Civilization VI will contain tourism, religion, espionage, and basically everything from Civ V‘s expansions, Gods and Kings and Brave New World. I have to say this is pretty sweet. I’ve never played vanilla Civ V, but if I imagine a lot of the game mechanics being removed that were added with expansions, it does seem like it would be a bit bland. And that’s what I’ve heard from the community as well, the game didn’t really get great until more was added. To have all that added stuff on turn zero,–er, day one–the game will feel so much fuller. As for the art, it looks way less cartoony all the time, especially with the new screenshots. The first few we got were pretty zoomed in, and I wasn’t a huge fan. As I see more, the style is really growing on me, and the fact that it has strategic view, which Beyond Earth didn’t, is really nice. Of course I can’t mention the art without talking about the fog of war, it looks like a map! That’s actually a really nice, fun touch.

Next let’s look at some changes to technologies, social policies, and dimplomacy. Now instead of having numerous small social policy trees like in Civ V, Civ VI will have one policy tree that behaves like the technology tree. Policies will still be unlocked with culture, but they’re a bit less direct. Instead, you’ll get points which you can use to enact policies, which you can later retract if you’d prefer another policy. This is a very nice touch, it’s one of the many things happening in Civilization VI that makes the game feel more like real life. Your governmental policies won’t be the same all throughout history! As for technologies, it works mostly the same, you earn science and research through a tech tree. However, there’s a new addition: eureka moments. Basically, fulfil a certain requirement, and you’ll get a large boost to a technology, nearly 50% of the tech cost by Marbozir’s estimation (again, numbers certainly will be changing). One requires you to meet another civ, another to build three triremes. This is a very welcome addition, as are the new social policy changes. Civ V is pretty straightforward in the early game when it comes to what you research, build, and what social policies you take because many are just so powerful. You have to play linearly or you’re screwed. But with these changes, you might have to change your strategy. No coastal cities? You sure won’t be building three triremes! Better choose something else. It kind of reminds me of the late-game events in Stellaris, though a bit toned down and all game. As for diplomacy, it starts off pretty simple. Which again, makes sense in a historical context. There will be a lot less you can do earlier in the game, more diplomatic options are revealed as you progress through the civic tree (policies). Leaders too, have more colour. Unlike previous games where an array of numbers where used to approximate how a leader would act, leaders in Civ VI have two agendas, one hidden and one not. The not hidden one will always be the same, for example Theodore Roosevelt “Big Stick” agenda makes him dislike war near him. However there will also be a hidden agenda, which will be different each game and must be found through either traditional espionage, or rumours brought back my your traders. The hidden agenda sounds like a great way to mix up individual matches, although I really hope the non-hidden agenda doesn’t become too stale. I’m sure it will be fine though, and I’m guessing we still will have personality sliders working behind the scenes. One last thing for diplomacy before we move on, no more city-state influence! It’s such a pain trying to juggle city-states in Civ V, and I actually turn off diplomatic victory often because I dislike it so much (#AllAboutTheMoney). Instead it will kind of work like the spy system now, you’ll send envoys to city-states, and the more you have the better your influence with them. No influence numbers, just “one envoy gets you this, two gets you this” and so on.

Teddy Roosevelt leads America in Civ VI
Teddy Roosevelt leads America in Civ VI

Now, on to how tiles and tile improvements work in Civilization VI. If you’ve played Civ V a lot is the same, the tiles are hexagonal, workers (now called “builders”) construct improvements, and different tile features cost differing amounts of movement points. However, there are some changes. A fairly big one, movement-wise, is the inability to move into a tile if you don’t have enough movement points. Say for example you have one movement point left and want to move into a forest tile, which costs two movement points. In Civ V that’s no problem, you can do it despite not having the required movement points. It’s more that the tile takes away two movement points than actually needing two movement points. However, in Civ VI you actually do need those movement points. Want to move into a forest tile with one movement point? Wait a turn. It’s an interesting change that will really make movement and combat different, and I look forward to seeing how it works. As for improvements, we’ll discuss roads first because they’re probably the simplest. Instead of building actual roads, they’re created automatically by your trade routes, which will also do some information gathering, your first spies. (I think roads are free as well). Like the diplomacy changes, this is how things were done “back in the day”, as it were. Roads were just kind of slowly built as people needed them more than they were planned out. It’s an interesting change, one that reminds me of stations in Beyond Earth. As for actual tile improvements, they’re instant now. Instead of immortal workers that take time to build a farm, your builders will create a farm instantly, but only have a few uses before they disappear. There is still a bit of a tile improvement time in the actual production of the builders themselves, but it’s more secondary (and of course existed in earlier games). Finally let’s discuss wonders and districts, two (kinda) new things in Civ VI. Like my earlier guess, districts are constructed directly by a city, sort of like how you’d move an aquatic city in Beyond Earth: Rising Tide. They then behave almost like a great person improvement, producing high yields. However, unlike great person improvements, they can’t be built anywhere. They each have specific criteria that must be met, and will provide different yields depending on where they’re placed. This means that no city can be a jack of all trades, each city will have to specialize (some buildings can only be built in certain districts as well), and you’ll have to make many more considerations when settling. As for wonders, they too take up a tile, and many more need specific tiles to be built. In Civ V there were only a few wonders that had requirements, for example Petra needed desert and Neuschwanstein needed a mountain. Now more wonders will need similar requirements, which in conjunction with them taking up a tile will make getting all the wonders not only a bad idea, but impossible. You’ll really need to consider what ones you want to build. Finally, when you  do finish a wonder, you’ll see a little movie of it getting built. It’s pretty neat!

Next let’s talk combat. One new thing being added is the concept of “surprise wars”, in which you don’t engage in any kind of diplomatic hostilities before declaring war. For example, if you declare war without any recent denunciation of your target, it will be a surprise war. If you declare a surprise war early on, it won’t be a huge deal, there’s not that much diplomacy in the early game anyway. But do it later on? You will make people really unhappy, and take larger warmonger penalties. This is a nice touch as well, as it requires you to have more of a goal in a war, rather than just warring for war’s sake. Barbarians get a bit of an upgrade as well, now having units they use to scout out your lands. If they find your city they’ll go back to their camp and rally an invasion force against you, so you either have to stop them before that happens or be ready to fight. They’ll also make more of an effort to attack you while still protecting their camp. In Civ V they’ll just stay in their camp and not come out a lot, and I’ve also had times when I’ve had one unit surrounded, and was able to get out of it (very slowly) by killing one at a time and healing while they left me completely alone. I’m a bit on the edge about these changes, I think they could be good but I’m worried about being forced to build military over infrastructure in the early game. Finally, and more of a late game thing, is improvements to air combat that we don’t know much about. Whatever they are, they’re pretty welcome, air combat in Civ V is a bit stale. You just bomb a city to smithereens, drop in a paratrooper or XCOM Squad, and voilà, city’s yours. There’s more to it than that of course, but not a lot.

A military base city district in Civ VI
A military base city district in Civ VI

Finally, let’s talk about how the game will run. Civilization VI is based on a brand new engine, and will be 64-bit. Modding will also be a lot easier, and mods will be allowed in multiplayer. That’s most of what we know so far, so I’ll leave it to you: what new features are you most excited about? Which ones do you not like? What do you want added that isn’t there, or hasn’t been announced yet? Be sure to tell us, I’d be happy to hear your thoughts! Before I say goodbye I’d just like to remind you once more that this is an early build of the game. Things can and will change before the launch in October, so don’t get too mad or excited about anything just yet. It might be different already!

Here are Marbozir’s and quill18’s video’s on the time of Civ VI they got to play. Others got to play as well, but Marbs and quill are the videos I watched and got my information from, so I’ll be linking to their videos. Enjoy!

Are you a Civ fan? What do you think of the new info?

Tell us in the comments below, or on our subreddit!