In the year 1886, Greece was a world superpower thanks to unparalleled scientific discovery and widespread cultural influence. Sparta was home to great scientists like Sir Isaac Newton, and world wonders such as the Hanging Gardens of Babylon. Edgar Allen Poe wrote The Raven there, while gazing out of his hotel window at the herd of elephants on the horizon. It was beautiful.
But then Mahatma Gandhi launched a surprise attack on the ever peaceful nation, using tanks to obliterate the simple archers and club-wielding warriors defending the city, and Greece quickly fell. You snake, Gandhi.
Upon reflection, we probably should have taken the time to train up a military capable of protecting our glorious nation, but excuse us for thinking that we could all just get along and not invade each other whenever we felt like it. Appalling behaviour, quite frankly, but then that's Civilization VI – a superb turn-based strategy game in which millennia spanning empires aren't built on kind words and playing nice. Chances are, you're going to have to get your hands dirty.
A standard game of Civilization sees you picking a famous historical leader from one of the world's great nations, founding a capitol city in 4000 BC, and then trying to guide your people through to modern times and beyond. Each turn you'll be able to move military units, decide what to build, choose research options in order to progress, and more.
You've got a lot to think about here. The map is broken up into hexagonal tiles, and every tile has worth. Maybe it'll have a resource like wheat or coal on it. Perhaps it'll be ideal for farmland, or marshes will make it unappealing to the masses. Every city you found can make use of the surrounding tiles, so you'll need to take food, fresh water, luxury items, and free space to build on into account before setting up shop. Movement takes up valuable turns so you'll want to decide where you'll need to find your perfect home quickly.
You can improve your cities by surrounding them with districts devoted to productivity, religion, education, and more, and the more your cities grow, the more of these districts you can add. Each of these districts can be improved upon with buildings: libraries and universities go in the campus, improving your research speed, while galleries and the like find home in the theatre district, generating culture.
There's world wonders to build that give you special perks, and city protection to take into account, lest you end up like our poor defenceless Greece. And depending on which leader you're playing as, there's unique buildings and units to consider.
Every building, unit, research option, and movement across the map takes a number of turns to complete based on your productivity, the size of your city, and others variables, and since you've got a finite number of turns to play with, using them wisely is one of the keys to victory.
There are numerous ways to win a game of Civilization VI. You can achieve a religious victory by spreading your faith around the world like a virus – our own religion, Johnism, was massive in Sao Paolo but failed to make much of an impact elsewhere. You can out-culture everyone with great works of art, turning your civilization into the number one sight-seeing destination. Winning the space race means throwing everything you've got at science, while a military victory means... well, smashing everyone up.
Aside from the bog standard game, you can play with another human in the multiplayer mode - the game speed is significantly increased to accommodate online play – and there's a scenario mode which gives you very specific conditions that need to be met in order to succeed and move on to the next one. There's no real campaign here, so to speak, but there's enough variables in play to make sure that each game of Civilization feels different to the last.
Fans of the previous, PC-only Civilization games may be wondering how the game has handled the transition to PlayStation 4 and the answer is: surprisingly well. Obviously, these games are easier to control with a mouse and keyboard, but Civilization VI has been well optimised for the DualShock 4, and aside from a couple of cumbersome mechanics, it rarely frustrates.
All told, Civilization VI is quite brilliant, offering a thoroughly engrossing and frequently rewarding experience with a high level of replayability. There's a lot to love here, and as far as the strategy genre goes on PS4, there's no better game than Civilization VI. But there are a few wrinkles which might put some players off.
By far the biggest issue here – and this has always been an issue for the series – is that when you finish your turn you have to wait for the A.I. to complete their turns before you can move on. On a small map with few fellow civilizations this wait is tolerable, but in a huge world with a dozen competitors you'll be waiting as much as you're playing. It's not unusual to be waiting thirty seconds to a minute between turns.
When you've got sixteen turns left before you finish building the Great Pyramids in the outskirts of Hull, you could conceivably be doing nothing but moving to your next turn for whatever sixteen multiplied by thirty seconds is. It's not a deal-breaker, and if you're into strategy games then you've presumably got patience to spare, but it's still a bit much.
The music can get pretty obnoxious, too. There's a mix of sounds from around the world going on, running the gamut from instrumental, traditional folk tunes like Scarborough Fair and Greensleeves to aggressive chanting that sounds a bit like the All Blacks doing the Haka. Your best bet is to mute the music and run the Spotify app in the background.
Don't mute the speech though because then you'll be missing a treat. Every time you discover something new like, say, the wheel, or gunpowder, or nuclear fusion, Sean Bean turns up to deliver a timely quote about it in his soothing Sheffield twang. It's like a cup of warm cocoa for your ears.
Civilization VI is an excellent strategy game that offers numerous ways to play, and all of them are viable options. You can lead a peaceful nation or a war-mongering empire and still have an engrossing and rewarding experience like few others on PS4. Excessive load times, grating music, and some occasionally irksome controls are the only real downsides to what is otherwise the system's best strategy game, and a title that strategy fans can scarcely afford to skip.
I have never played a Civilisation game. I'm very tempted now, great review
Does Sean Bean die really early on in this? I was going pick this up on Switch but will get it on PS4 eventually. Good review!
Sounds like fun, been quite a while since the last Civilization was on Playstation.
Sometimes I love strategy games, and sometimes I really don't. Civ VI sounds great — I may be tempted to pick it up further down the line. Great review as always, John.
Best time sinker ever invented and my most anticipated release this year on ps4. I loved every Civ instances and this will be mine on ps4 despite having it on pc, since I would love to see more and more strategy games on console.
Also check out Stellaris and Planetfall, both are 2 amazing 4x games ported to ps4
@Orange_Man_Bad anyone with a slight interest in strategy and history should buy civ at least once. Its fantastic and unlike any game you would have played. I personally battered 3 and 4 and absolutely loved it. Then I wanted my life back.
I could see myself losing a lot of time to this.
"Honestly, the music is rubbish". How does one even come to have this opinion? The music fits perfectly (if it's the same as the PC version), and it's what makes the waiting times bearable. What would you rather have? Techno? Lol.
So... didn't know this was coming. I've never played a civilization game. But doesn't a lot of hours on tropico 5 and 6....how is this in comparison to that?
Love Civ. games. The best "just one more turn" game. My favorite was civ 2 ww2 senerio. This and Jedi fallen order are my next 2 purchases.
I've played every Civ game since Civ2 on PC, the "one more turn" loop is almost impossible to quit.
@SinisterPledge Well, some people might like the music. Some people like Panic At The Disco. People are idiots. :')
If you like the music then at least you don't need a Spotify account or a backlog of podcasts.
In all seriousness I just found it really irritating. The folky stuff is fine, but by the time the chanting starts I'm getting wound up.
@Cutmastavictory Tropico and Civilization are fundamentally different in a couple of really important ways.
The first is that Tropico is either objective based - i.e. the campaign - or you're just building a massive country in sandbox mode. Civilization is different in that you're competing against other nations in a game that will last around twelve hours or whatever.
I guess one way to think about it would be like comparing the Call of Duty campaign to the multiplayer - one is a series of objectives to complete in order to move on, the other is a big competition in which you can mess around with the rules, and even though the mechanics are the same, the game feels different every time.
Bit of a rubbish analogy but here we are.
The next most important difference is that Civilization is turn based, not real time. You have a finite number of turns in a game - 500 in the standard rule set - and once you use a turn you obviously never get it back. If you take a while to get things going in Tropico it doesn't matter. If you take forty turns to work out how to make pottery in Civilization then you're probably going to wind up crushed by Panzers while you're still messing about with slingshots.
Civilization also has Sean Bean in it so
This is awesome. I gave up upgrading and tweaking gfx on PC a long time ago but really missed strategy games. On my Xmas wishlist!
have to wait asked for this as one of my Xmas presents feel like just buying it on the sly now☹️ but I will wait! the great review has not helped me wait.
How does this play in comparison to Civilization Revolution on the PS3? I loved that game.
@lacerz what if I tell you that you start the game as a young man and when you turn off you Ps4 your look older than Gandalf?
If the graphics and load times are better than the Switch version, I’ll probably buy this again.
If it means I get my hair back I might consider it...
@lacerz by the time you put the game down who knows which technological breakthrough will humanity reach?
Got this on switch and really enjoyed it. Definitely worth checking out if you’re on the fence like I was for ages!
I had this on switch and I just couldnt get my head around it. I love strategy games but am generally crap at them 😂. Civ just bamboozled me for some reason. I liked it but didnt have a clue what I was doing or why I was doing it if you know what I mean.
Have this on switch, definitely addicting. If you haven't played a civ game before once u figure it out u can't put it down.
Oh wow this looks completely out of my comfort zone. But hey Tetris was out of my comfort zone and I ended up loving to bits anyways! And this seems to be really popular! I’ll def give it a look.
@johncalmc always seems to be reviewing the games I've got my eye on, you lucky swine.
I'm a little disappointed the DLC isn't included in the console version seeing as it has already been released and is, in fact, ready to purchase on day one as well. Have you had a go with these or just the base version?
I've played Civ5 so many times on my MacBook that I know the game inside out. The complete overhaul of the game mechanics looks a bit overwhelming but I will be giving it a go for sure.
As much as I love Civ and have poured many thousands of hours into the series, without mods it just isn’t worth it. There needs to be proper mod support on console, it’s too important to the overall experience.
@Thrillho I played Gathering Storm and one other I can't remember the name of... for shame.
They didn't get included in the review because you have to purchase them separately from what I understand. And to be honest, they don't change that much about the core gameplay. If you're proper into Civilization and you have money to spare then I would probably say chuck some coin at it and get them because they do add a few features, leaders, and new rules etc. But they're not needed to have a great time.
Wow! I used to play Civ 2 many years ago and must have sunk hundreds of hours into it. Civ 3 was good as well, but I never got on with the later versions. Might give this one a try, but would probably wait for price to go down tbh
Tap here to load 29 comments
Leave A Comment
Hold on there, you need to login to post a comment...