2K and Firaxis games surprised a lot of people today with the announcement of Sid Meier's Civilization VI. The biggest change seems to be that cities will no longer be comprised of a single title on the world map. The hexagonal map returns from Civilization V, but players are encouraged to place city additions on adjacent titles, adding a larger city planning aspect to the title. Players of Endless Legend will find the idea somewhat familiar.
"Sid Meier's Civilization VI builds on the firm foundation of the Civilization franchise, and we've added many exciting new elements," said Civ VI lead designer Ed Beach in the press release. "The visual presentation of the game is inspired by the maps and tools of the Age of Exploration, and we've made several key gameplay changes such as expansive cities and active research that makes Sid Meier's Civilization VI an entirely unique experience while remaining true to what makes the Civilization series so special."
"One city can only go out three tiles in all directions," Civ VI lead producer Dennis Shirk told GamesBeat. "One city with maximum land can't build every Wonder. If you build every district in one city, you will not have enough farmland to support your population. You have to make these decisions city by city. We are unstacking the cities and taking that to the nth degree."
This means players have to think about what they build in each city beyond just the Wonders. Cities themselves will become more specialized under the new system. City placement becomes more important, given the restrictions on city size and the fact that certain buildings can only be constructed on certain tiles. Offense and defense becomes a whole new ballgame, since you can target certain city tiles to cripple one aspect of that city or empire.
City composition also touches on a system that Firaxis calls active research. Having a quarry in one city can speed up the research and acquisition of masonry, for example.
"Now there are things, for pretty much every technology in the game, that you can do out in the game world to push you in that direction," Beach told PCGamer. "So if you want to push masonry or construction because you want to build walls, you better go out and establish a quarry. That's going to teach your citizens the skills they need to become good at masonry."
"If you want to develop a navy, in previous games of Civilization you could research all the technology for that without even having settled a city along the coast," he added. "Here you actually get a significant boost towards sailing when you put that city on the coast. You can get further boosts for other naval technologies by creating fishing boats and starting to harvest naval resources."
Firaxis has also rethought the AI and diplomacy systems in the game. The civilization leaders now have specific agendas and aims, not just reactions to the player's moves. If you challenge a leader on their specific agenda, like building Wonders or a massive maritime fleet, you'll likely come into conflict with them.
"Let's take a leader who built a whole bunch of wonders," Beach explained to GameInformer. "In our universe, that leader is going to feel like he's better than anyone else in world history at building wonders, and that should be reflected every time they are in a Civilization game. Wonder obsessed. So that civilization will get a bonus toward building wonders, but they also get an obsessive personality where he will get angry if anyone else is building more wonders than they are. So you might have a strategy where you always go for Stonehenge and Hanging Gardens so you grab those right away. If this guy is next to you and he sees you doing this, he's going to be up in arms and invading your borders."
Combat is getting another pass with the new support units. These units can be added to primary units and share a single title, so you can have a warrior escorting settlers of anti-tank units with your infantry. Firaxis has also taken a look at multiplayer, speeding things up and adding scenarios so sessions are only an hour or two long, not an entire day.
Civilization VI is coming out on PC on October 21, 2016. Players can also pick up the Digital Deluxe Edition, which includes the base game, the 25th Anniversary Digital Soundtrack, and access to four post-launch DLC packs.