Can we be civilised
This month, we here at Two Beard Gaming were lucky enough to be offered the chance to review one of the most hotly anticipated releases of the year; Sid Meier’s Civilisation 6. Collectively, all of us in the office are huge fans of the long-standing strategy series, so to be gifted such an opportunity by those fine folks over at 2K Games was a dream come true. But would Civilisation 6 live up to our very high expectations? Or would it crumble before us quicker than Pompeii at the foot of Mount Vesuvius?
For the uninitiated (aka Barbarians) reading this, Civilization is a series of turn-based strategy games originally created back in 1991. Originally inspired by God games such as Sim City, Sid Meier’s long-running video game franchise has gone from strength to strength, crossing multiple platforms, to become one of the most successful and beloved franchises of all time. Civilization VI was originally released in 2016, but wouldn’t find its way onto PS4 or Xbox One until last month, finding new life with expansions packs called Rise and Fall and Gathering Storm.
A great leader
Players take on the role of one of histories great (or not so great) leaders, as they build new settlements and communities to rule over as they see fit. Once a settlement is established, rulers must then train armies, build monuments and housing, and farm their lands in order to advance themselves and build their reputations. But becoming great brings with it new enemies, outsiders intent on tearing down the foundations of the society you have forged, and leaving you no choice but to crush them like ants beneath your sandal.
Choosing your character has never been more difficult because there is now a whopping 46 different world leaders to choose from. Whether you want to go with a classic like Teddy Roosevelt or Cleopatra or opt for one of the other greats you might not be so familiar with, there is someone for everyone. Character selection can be random but we’d suggest having a think about what your choice brings to the game, as each leader has their own set of unique qualities that will either help or hinder you as the game goes on. They also all have their own hidden agendas that will materialize as you progress through the game.
Eye of the storm
The Gathering Storm expansion brings with it never before seen natural disasters that will do their damnedest to smite you from the Earth. But these disasters don’t necessarily mean the end of the game. For example, players can harness the power of a flood by building a flood wall, allowing you to benefit from the fertility of such well-irrigated land. Likewise, volcanic eruptions can also result in the creation of rich soils that help your crops to flourish. You just need to be clever enough to know how to bend the will of the God’s to your own ends. Previous incarnations of the Civ games have had ‘random events’ to contend with, but there’s never been anything quite like the Gathering Storm. There’s also a message in all of this about climate change. You might never have considered such a thing before, but believe us when we tell you that you’d better start to think about it now because your impact on the climate could spell your civilization’s doom.
Anyone who can find fault with the visual aesthetic of the Civilization series obviously has nothing better to do with their time. They are always a sight to behold, and Civ VI is no exception. Everything from the cartography to the character design is a thing of beauty. Don’t be mistaken, this isn’t Death Stranding, but for what it is Civilization VI is very pleasing on the eye. I can remember playing the very earliest offerings in the Sid Meier’s series and could never have imagined that they would end up looking anything like this.
The controls are definitely the most difficult aspect to get to grasp with, especially if you’re not a seasoned Civ player. It’s not so much that there’s any difficult sequences or combos to remember, it’s more about remembering what button does what when you’re playing your next move. There are simply so many options to choose from, and no one is going to tell you if you’ve made the wrong choice. You might even miss sections completely because you simply don’t know where to look. This is why playing the extensive tutorial is a must, even if you’re a pro at these games. If you’re willing to put in the time to learn the mechanics of Civilization VI then you will reap the rewards.
We’ve only had our copy of Civilization VI for just over a week, and have no doubt there are many things left undiscovered that we’ll come across as we play. That’s the beauty of games like this, they have an immense replay value because no two games are ever the same. Whether you’re new to the series or a grizzled veteran we’d encourage you to pick your side and assemble your army. A storm is gathering friends, and you’re going to want to ride this one out.
Civilization VI: The Gathering Storm is the ideal expansion for fans of the long-running strategy series. Instead of acting as a simple patch to appease fans, the team behind Gathering Storm has actually devised a whole new game to make the port to the current generation of consoles way more appealing. Strategy games can be tedious if you’re not willing to learn how to play them but open yourself up to the gaming experience as a whole and you’ll be treated to one of the very best titles of 2019.
Review code provided
Platform: Xbox, PC, PlayStation, Nintendo
Release Date: 22/11/2019
No. of Players: 1-4
Developer: Firaxis Games / Aspyr Media, Inc.
Download link: Microsoft Store