Developer Firaxis and publisher 2K have got strategists’ minds whirring with their announcement of Civilization VI, the latest in the genre-defining series of games that sees players take humanity from the stone age to the space race. Announced with a trailer in May and set to be released in October, Civilisation VI will be one of the A-List titles on display at E3. All our favourite alternate histories, canny technologies and uniquely skilled nations are being represented – but just how much has been revealed already?
Big on the agenda in Civilization VI is fine-tuning your Civ, from the constituent buildings in your cities – which now grow to swell over their surrounding lands more organically – to the new ability to ’embed’ units within one another. What does that mean? It means your plucky settlers are not such easy pickings when out to found your next utopia – you’ll be granting them military escorts to stave off barbaric hordes.
Promising a refined experience for both new players and veteran leaders of the world stage, Civilization VI looks to build on Civilization V and its expansions in whole new ways. The technology tree has been transformed, meaning that you’re no longer inventing the wheel, then bronze spears, then mathematics and writing systems via cause and effect. Instead, players will have the opportunity to bolster their scientific skills by conducting complementary activities, from exploration and diplomacy through to using structures such as quarries to boost your people’s understanding of masonry, as one example.
As always, the actions of your civilization will be defined by the choices you make as its ruler, represented as ever by famous world leaders from the pages of history. Both established faces and figures relatively new to the franchise have been made known – so whereas the likes of Egypt’s enigmatic Cleopatra remain front and centre, America has recently been announced as replacing series veteran George Washington for another famous democratic titan, namely the charismatic Theodore Roosevelt, as the leader you’ll play as.
Leaping beyond the slick art-deco trappings of the previous game, Civilization VI is being developed with an artistic comic book style that nevertheless speaks to the games’ famed ability to combine sweeping historic sagas with wry humour and the odd moment of sly satire. Sustaining the tabletop game aesthetic by which the series first found fame, Civilization VI sees your empire surrounded by vast green meadows, treacherous golden deserts, chunky mountains and smooth, shimmering seas. It’s a grand tapestry of topographies upon which your legacy will unfold, with plenty of refinements to AI Civs as well. Each of them will have characteristics, much as before – yet each Civ will also operate under a ‘hidden agenda’, which will define the actions they take in-game, as well as how they interpret and react to your activities.
Combine these innovations with a multiplayer that the devs promise will merge traditional campaigns with new co-op and competitive scenarios for more rapid-fire sessions, and we might just be looking at the most compelling Civilization game yet once it launches this October.