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Civilization 6 Review

In 1993 I finally convinced my dad to upgrade our 286 PC to a 386 by finding a deal on a used at a local PC repair shop. Apparently they sold it to us without wiping the hard drive and one of the items installed on it was a game called Civilization. I’ve been hooked over since. 23 years later Civ 6 launches and I spent my weekend digging in, forgoing both shower and healthy food like a true gamer in order to determine if this iteration with “Stand the test of time.”

When I finally unstuck myself from my office chair I was left feeling a mixture of excitement and disappointment. Civ 6 does a lot right, introduces a lot of new ways of planning out a civ, and successfully reinvents the franchise. However, the AI at launch holds it back to such a degree that all these improvements are rendered innate for the time being.

As usual, Ghandi is in my game ready to nuke you to "keep the peace"

I had my suspicions raised when I, playing Sumeria on Immortal difficulty, wiped my competition off my continent early (as that is sorta their thing). I noticed the AI wasn’t really good at fighting, in fact, so bad that it would simply not attack me as I took its cities. Just stood there and watched. I progressed steadily through the ages, medieval, renaissance, industrial…. No sign of any other civ. Sadly the way the game placed me I had no real coastal cities and little interest in seeking out an AI that would ruin my massive lead. When I hit the Modern Age I decided enough was enough and sent out a battering ram (yeah, still had it laying around) to explore the world… and there I found the AI. Sorta sitting on their own small sized continents. They weren’t expanding, or declaring war on eachother. They were just sorta sitting there. I had an insurmountable lead at this point and restarted.

Whatever game the AI is playing here, it isn't Civ 6.

Round 2. China (Immortal). Random map puts me on a Pangea and this one goes a lot better in terms of AI. The AI expands SUPER RAPIDLY thanks to the difficulty bonuses. Due to the fact that there’s basically no penalty for spamming cities as fast as possible this is a serious problem. I decided, however, I’d try to compete without waging war. It didn’t work. Two AIs (Rome and Japan) manage to massively pull ahead in every category. Spain declares war on me and I begin a mass-mobilization effort. The army approaches… and then just kinda stops and sits there as my archers wreck them. They attack only twice, killing nothing, and lose about 8 units of their 10. And that’s it. I realize in this moment I could win simply by declaring war and expanding against the AIs stupidity… but that’s not my style and it isn’t fun. So I close Civ 6 and sit down to write this review.

The new features in Civ 6 appear to work great. Cities building things on tiles makes for a variety of interesting planning decisions throughout the game. The vast number of build options make the “Build everything” method of prior civs obsolete, forcing players to carefully pick their focus based on a mixture of long term strategy and city location. The new Civics system appears to work great for short term planning changes, while the diversity of civ bonuses allows for a wide variety of strategies based on your starting civ.

Balance, however, is nowhere to be found. That’s a common problem for recent Civ games at launch, and 6 is no exception. Scythia is totally broken, allowing you to generate MASSIVE sums of gold by building and selling units. Russia can easily generate enough faith to near-instant Religion win at any difficulty mode (something like 50+ faith per Tundra city). So on and so on. In multiplayer maybe these things aren’t a big deal, but the AI simply can’t and shouldn’t be expected to handle it. Patches will undoubtedly fix the worst of these issues. Whether they can successfully make the AI work is yet to be seen. As soon as they do, Civ 6 will become my go-to for months to come. Until then it will sit in my Steam library waiting like the princess at the top of the tower. A beautiful dream just beyond my reach.

46.2 faith production? Totally broken.

Verdict: Wait for some patching to the AI.

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