Honey I Shrunk Civilization 6 to iPhone

Honey I Shrunk Civilization 6 to iPhone

Refined UI, smaller screen, same ol' Civ.

There was a time where it felt like every game was being ported to phones. In most cases, it didn't work. Sometimes disastrously. Then the phone port trend largely slowed down, with only the essentials coming to our mobile devices. Some games, such as Final Fantasy XV, got their own remakes for the platform as well. The latest game to join phones is one that may seem at first unexpected, but actually works quite well for the touch screen: Civilization 6.

In late 2017, Civilization 6 was ported to iPad, so its journey onto mobile was never completely outside of the realm of possibility. And, like its tablet counterpart, it's surprisingly intuitive on mobile. You pinch the screen to zoom and scroll around. You drag your warriors and whoever else to different spots on the map. (Sometimes though, you have to zoom in very close to get a good handle on them.) Mechanically, it reminds me of a lot of other management sims on the phone, only minus the free-to-play fluff. The one problem I'm left with is that the average game length for Civilization 6 oscillates anywhere from three hours to dozens of hours. It's a major battery drain too, and I'd advise having your phone plugged in while you play. Its portable, pick up and play wherever value may help, but I've always found mobile games are at their best when designed with short spurts in mind. Civilization 6 has the opposite approach: just the whole game, on an itty bitty screen.

Screenshots captured natively on iPhone XS, which doesn't have "official support" yet, but still runs on the phone.

Civilization 6 released back in 2016, and has only gotten bigger in the years since. This year saw the release of its first big expansion, Rise and Fall. Its mobile counterpart doesn't come with that expansion yet, though Aspyr's FAQ notes that it "hopes" to support it in the future. The biggest catch with its mobile iteration is that it's free-to-start, meaning you can download it for free, play for 60 turns, but then you have to pay up. Until October 16, the full-unlock of Civilization 6 is only $23.99. After that, it shoots up to $59.99.

While it's not free-to-play, it has its own paid DLC packs that you can purchase. Poland, Australia, and Nubia's civilization and scenario packs are $4.99, as is the Vikings scenario pack. There are two beefier packs too, with Persia and Macedon coupled together for a civilization and scenario pack, as well as Khmer and Indonesia; both packs cost $8.99. The base game of Civilization 6 requires 3.36GB of space on your iPhone, compatible with iOS 11 and later. Comparatively, it's about a fourth of the PC version's 12GB storage requirement.

There are a lot of tutorials available too, for all levels of players. The moment I booted up a game, the first inquiry was three selections: Was I new to Civilization, Civilization 6, or just mobile? With whatever option you choose, the tutorial helps you out accordingly. In the main menu, there's a proper, longer tutorial for new players to the series as well. For the mobile release, the UI's a bit different in order to accomodate the smaller screen, with collapsible menus everywhere and a handy built-in battery icon, so you can know how much longer you can build up Qin Shi Huang's civilization before throwing your phone on a charger again.

During the few hours I've spent with Civilization 6 on my iPhone, I've run into no hitches, no crashes, no frame rate problems. By all accounts, it runs as well as it should. That said, I am playing from the new iPhone XS. On older phones, it's possible that it will have some problems. For years, I only had an iPhone 6, and I sacrificed normal meals this month to finally upgrade. My pantry may be really sad right now, but it's okay because I can play Civilization 6 on my iPhone with zero hiccups.

Civilization 6 isn't just on iOS now, it's coming to Nintendo Switch later this year too; though as mentioned before, Android's still unconfirmed. I imagine its Switch edition will also feature touch screen support, as I'm not sure if moving an analog cursor around would be the most comfortable way to play a 4X turn-based game. In the meantime, if you're looking for an on-the-go option, then look no further than Civilization 6's iPhone and iPad ports.

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Caty McCarthy

Senior Editor

Caty McCarthy is a former freelance writer whose work has appeared in Kill Screen, VICE, The AV Club, Kotaku, Polygon, and IGN. When she's not blathering into a podcast mic, reading a book, or playing a billion video games at once, she's probably watching Terrace House or something. She is currently USgamer's Senior Editor.

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