Ladies and gentlemen, a brave new world is on the horizon. Pack your bags and saddle up those horses – Firaxis Games have just announced their latest project, the highly anticipated sequel to the colossally successful turn-based strategy game Civilization V. The title of this new entry to the acclaimed human history simulator? Civilization VI. Yes I know, the name is as bland and soulless as the marketing director who conjured it up, but it by no means detracts from the sheer jubilation surrounding a new Civilization game.
But before we raise the white underpants and open our wallets in deference to Firaxis’s all-conquering leviathan, I think it’s essential to cast our gaze upon previous entry in the series. While Civilization V has been highly successful, even garnering considerable popularity to this day (it is currently the third most played game on Steam), there are a number of nasty niggles that lurked beneath its gleaming armour; even more if you consider the game’s status at launch. In the hopes that history, for once, does not repeat itself, here are four problems Civilization VI must address come the game’s October release.
One of the biggest problems of Civilization V was the often erratic enemy AI. Opposing leaders would frequently make baffling decisions out of the blue, completely juxtaposing their established historical personas. The celebrated Ghandi-pocalypse (a fixture since the first game) was only the tip of the iceberg. Denouncements or even declarations of war would flare up like raging flash fires, completely decimating your strategies, with little evidence to explain the reasoning behind the abrupt pronouncements. Additionally, the AI would straight-up cheat its way to victory, utterly ruining gaming sessions with alarming frequency.
Another heinous crime committed by Civilization VI’s forebear was the lack of content upon launch. Many aspects from the previous entry in the series, including espionage and religion, were removed without so much as an exclamation. While these elements were later re-added through expansion packs, their initial absence left players with an incomplete experience, which is inexcusable. Firaxis have announced that the content in Civ VI will be comparable to that of Civilization V’s post-expansion state, yet until more information becomes available, a level of scepticism should persist. After all, given the state of the games industry these days, less is often more. At least when it comes down content versus costs. I’m looking at you, Sims 4.
Balancing a game that can often last 30+ hours per session is a tall order, and is something even the crowning kings of the industry can often fall prey to. Civilization V is no exception, with the late-game often descending into a snowballing avalanche that saw the leading player sweep aside all in their path like mere toy soldiers. Upon gaining a mid-game advantage, a player could easily sow the seeds of their victory hundreds of turns before the eventual conclusion, with the others enduring hours of pointless hardship and toil as victory became an unobtainable goal. Civilization VI needs to find a way to allow for late-game surges, keeping things exciting and ushering in some much-welcomed unpredictability.
Civilization V’s singleplayer experience is the toast of armchair generals the world over. Unfortunately, the same cannot be said for its multiplayer. Whereas the former is the perfect blond-haired prince, the latter is the rambunctious second son who gets wasted at the local inn and vomits on the foreign diplomat’s suede shoes. The connectivity is as reliable as a lead canoe, often crashing and resetting without warning. Given the importance that multiplayer has in today’s gaming landscape, Civilization VI needs to address these issues, and fix any problems that arise post-launch rather than leaving them for the birds.