Fall Games Preview 2016: Civilization VI Will Build on a Timeless Formula Without Straying Too Far From Its Core

Fall Games Preview 2016: Civilization VI Will Build on a Timeless Formula Without Straying Too Far From Its Core

Civilization VI will remind us once again why the series will never get old.

Another holiday season is up us! Here's a look at the biggest games of the season as we make our way to the end of 2016. You can find our other previews here.

You can practically set your watch to a Civilization release.

New entries in Firaxis's venerable strategy series have been coming out every five years or so like clockwork, and Civilization VI is right on time. But with Civilization V struggling out of the gate and Beyond Earth proving to be a disappointment, it's not necessarily a given that Civilization VI will be a success. Here's what to expect when the latest entry in the series launches later this year.

What is it?

Another Civilization game! It seems like only yesterday that people were complaining about Civilization V's launch; but Civ V is five years old now, and that means that it's time to update the series again. Aside from a fresh coat of paint and a really neat fog-of-war that looks like an ancient map, Civilization VI will change up the formula a bit and introduce a number of incremental improvements. But at its heart, it will be the same game fans have loved for 25 years now: An epic journey through history in which you take control of a civilization, build it up over the course of hundreds of years, and watch it get nuked by Gandhi.

It is an annual franchise?

No, it isn't. However, Civilization is one of Firaxis's staples, and its large fanbase ensures that it will never really go away. In another five years, Firaxis will be back with another Civilization, and the process will begin anew. This isn't necessarily a bad thing! Some games formulas are timeless, able to transcend the years and appeal to each successive generation. Civilization is one of those games.

Are we excited?

I'm pretty excited, yes.

Believe it or not, I'm actually pretty new to Civilization. My experience with the series dates back to the release of the Brave New World expansion for Civilization V, which solidified its comeback after a disappointing launch. I was assigned to review that expansion (you never say no to work when you're freelancing); and after a steep learning curve, I found that I was in love. Civilization V had the depth and the scope I craved in a strategy game, and it allowed me to tackle my run through history in a variety of ways. It hit the strategy genre sweet spot in so many ways.

At its core, Civilization VI will be the same. You will still be taking on the role of an immortal world leader; building up an empire, and either achieving world peace, watching it burn, or ascending to the stars. You will still be staring down Montezuma or Cleopatra as you tensely negotiate an alliance or put their empire to the torch. The formula will still be there.

But plenty will be different as well. For one thing, workers will expire after a certain number of actions, which will make for some interesting choices in what to build. For another, you won't be able to just load up a city with tile improvements and wonders: The Pyramids of Giza will now take up additional space, so you'll need to be careful about how you fill in your city. Even the tech tree will be different now that Firaxis has decided to decouple the civic research and technological research trees - an intriguing design decision that will make it much easier to keep up your pace toward a cultural victory without sacrificing your defenses.

Firaxis has demonstrated their strategy chops time and again; and while Civilization Beyond Earth was a disappointment, they're back on more familiar ground with the core Civilization series. Most promising of all is that Civilization VI is taking the opposite approach to its predecessor, which was initially bent on streamlining its features and strategy as much as possible (it got better). Civilization VI isn't straying too far from the franchise's basic concepts, but it is taking a number of interesting risks with the formula, which ought to keep it fresh for years to come. And that's all without the inevitable expansions.

I can't wait.

Additional Reading

Sometimes we include links to online retail stores. If you click on one and make a purchase we may receive a small commission. See our terms & conditions.

Kat Bailey

Editor in Chief

Kat Bailey is a former freelance writer and contributor to publications including 1UP, IGN, GameSpot, GamesRadar, and EGM. Her fondest memories as a journalist are at GamePro, where she hosted RolePlayer's Realm and had legal access to the term "Protip." She is USgamer's resident mecha enthusiast, Pokemon Master, and Minnesota Vikings nut (skol).

Related articles

For Honor Preview: A Whole New Sword Game

Jaz plays Ubisoft's upcoming sword fighting game, and talks to creative director Jason Vandenberghe about how it was developed.

Dragon Quest VIII 3DS Preview: New Characters, New Dungeons, New Challenges, Black Sabrecats

Though Dragon Quest VIII: Journey of the Cursed King for the Nintendo 3DS isn't a ground-up overhaul the way Dragon Quest VII 3DS is, there's still tons of new stuff to get excited about.

Will Final Fantasy XV's Big Twist Ruin The Game?

Early details about about FFXV's endgame have emerged, to much consternation.

Final Fantasy XV Travel Diary, Final Day: Stray Thoughts and Observations

There's still plenty to see and do in Duscae, but it's time to close the book on this massive RPG (until November 29).

You may also like

Press Start to Continue

A look back on what we tried to accomplish at USgamer, and the work still to be done.

Mat's Farewell | The Truth Has Not Vanished Into Darkness

This isn't the real ending, is it? Can't be.

Eric's Farewell | Off to Find a New Challenger

It's time for us to move on, but we'll carry USG with us wherever we go.