It might be blasphemy to some but my first taste of Civilization (Civ) wasn’t on the PC. I heard of it first on the PC, but my first try at the game?

That was on the original Playstation.

Yup, I first played the series via Civ II, when it was ported to Sony’s little rectangular box.

It wasn’t as good as the PC version (which I only found out years later) but for a console port, it was a pretty good game.

So, more than two decades later, does Civ VI continue that tradition?

What is Sid Meier’s Civilization VI?

Civ VI is a turn based strategy game that’s a strict follower of the 4x mold; eXplore, eXploit, eXpand and eXterminate. There’s more nuance to the gameplay in Civ VI (you don’t need to exterminate other nations to win for one) but for basic swipes, that’s what the game essentially is.

You choose a historical leader, build your empire from scratch and then use the resources you have to research new technologies that fit your play style. Once comfortably established, you can then move on to how you want to win; whether it’s through peaceful methods or by outright crushing all who oppose you.

Civ VI for the PS4 packs a ton of previously released content (on PC)…EXCEPT the Gathering Storm and Rise and Fall expansions. 2K Games has graciously given us the expansions along with our review copy of Civ VI, but for this review we’re just tackling the vanilla game.

I’ll do another, shorter review of the Gathering Storm and Rise and Fall expansions later but if you need a verdict now, then yes, you SHOULD get them. They add a ton of new, fun gameplay systems to the mechanics of the game (I love the World Congress feature from Gathering Storm), and enhance the vanilla experience.

Just the main game for now.

The vanilla game isn’t lacking content though, despite the two expansions not being included. It’s packing all the DLC that’s NOT part of the expansions, which gives you a couple of extra new scenarios and leaders to play as.

You can pick from a handful of game modes including special historically grounded scenarios. I honestly wish there were more of these; at the very least there should be one for every playable leader but that’s not the case. It’s a shame, because they’re fun and give off a different style of play than playing normally with their altered victory conditions.

Of course, you’re still free to create your own custom games and customize their settings. The settings are numerous but there’s sadly no support for user created content or mods. Sooner or later, you’ll probably get tired on playing with what’s on hand. Going to take years, but it’s definitely going to happen.

New to Civ VI are the redesigned cities. Now your metropolises can spread out across multiple hexes as you can create new districts for your buildings. Wonders too now have special build conditions, so you can just build everything willy nilly, even if you do have the resources.

Gameplay is still the classic turn based system we all know and love.

You move your units, task your cities and advance your agenda when it’s your turn. Once done, the AI moves.

Trouble…

Here’s where my main issue with the game lies.

Ironically, this is the SAME issue I’ve had with every Civ game that I’ve played. The longer your game goes on, the longer you’ll have to wait for the AI to play their turns.

It’s inevitable, and like death and taxes, a fact of life.

That’s why I suggest that you only play with two (or three) AI and don’t have any city states (minor AI cities that can ally with you) in the game at all to facilitate a smooth endgame.

Even then, you’ll still be waiting a fair bit between turns as the AI will probably have a ton of units AND cities to manage when it’s their turn to bat.

There’s honestly no surefire way to solve this (other than introducing a unit and city cap but that would ruin the fun) and it’s a necessarily evil all fans of the series (and of 4X games) would be familiar with.

The second bit that needs work is the UI (User Interface).

I love that it’s chunky and features blocks with huge text for easy readability.

It’s not bad (certainly better than Age of Wonders’ in my view) but it’s still a tad unwieldy and requires too much clicking to get to what you want. It’s much streamlined over the PC UI but there’s still some tweaking that can be done to improve it.

There’s a decent tutorial that kicks in when you start a new game but I feel that it could’ve been more through. It just skims over the basics (especially if you don’t pick beginner tutorials), with more nuanced gameplay systems completely ignored or just glossed over.

Despite that, playing (and searching online) will teach you all you need to know so it’s no biggie. Then’ there

Looks aren’t everything…not in this case.

Visually, Civ VI seems to look much more cartoony than previous iterations. It’s not as cartoony as the Revolution series, but the leaders and units certainly aren’t as realistic looking as in past main entries.

That’s fine. The new art style isn’t obnoxious or ugly (though it is an acquired taste) and you’ll soon forget about it once you’re engrossed with the game anyways.

Sid Meier’s Civilization VI_20191206111737

The framerate moves at a fair clip (though the response times do get a little sluggish in the endgame) at 4K, on a PS4 Pro. There’s a some slight slowdown if you move around while it’s the AI’s turn but other than that, most of the game runs well.

The music’s also pretty good; it’s all orchestral fare but it makes for a perfect companion to the game as you’re playing. It’ll flit in and out of your attention as you play, complementing the game extremely well. I especially love the rousing main theme that plays in the main menu and as the game loads your game.

The bottom line.

Sid Meier’s Civilization VI_20191206122112

I’m going to come out and say what’s on everybody’s mind; it’s a bit disappointing that Civ VI on the PS4 doesn’t include the expansions for free.

It’s understandable why they aren’t free but for them to come out day and date with the main game and NOT be included together, that stung no matter how you cut it.

Look past that and you’ll find that there’s still a good amount of content included in the main game.

Plus, the gameplay itself is still top notch. Civ VI hasn’t missed a bit and is still one of the best turn-based strategy games I’ve played this decade. The visuals are fine, the music’s great…the only issues are the long wait time between turns, the lack of scenarios (and mods) and a UI that could use more streamlining.

That’s not bad considering everything that could’ve gone wrong in porting the game over to a console.

If you’re looking for a good turn-based strategy RPG and don’t like sci-fi (which mean Stellaris and Age of Wonders are out) then you’ll definitely want to give Civ VI a shot.

TLDR:

The Good

  • Lots of leaders to play as.
  • Fun gameplay.
  • Great score.

The Bad

  • Time between turns can get insane when there’s a lot of units.
  • Tutorial could be better.
  • UI needs more work.
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Sal's been in the industry since the early 2000s. He's written for a ton of gaming and tech publications including Playworks, Hardwarezone, HWM and GameAxis. A geek and hardcore gamer, Sal will play everything, on any platform.

Sal's been in the industry since the early 2000s. He's written for a ton of gaming and tech publications including Playworks, Hardwarezone, HWM and GameAxis. A geek and hardcore gamer, Sal will play everything, on any platform.