Civilization is the leader of the historic 4x genre. While there are many excellent games out there to enjoy (and I play multiple different civ-likes, including Humankind and Old World), without some catastrophic misstep by the 2K and Firaxis Games, Civilization will always remain the king of the genre and the standard against which all other historic 4X games are judged.
While the Civilization franchise will face heightened competition from the likes of Xbox Game Studios and Paradox Interactive in the months and years ahead, for now, Civilization VI is the best historic 4x game on the market. Unless something truly unprecedented happens, that is unlikely to change until well after the release of Civilization VII.
At its easiest difficulty levels, Civilization VI can be enjoyed by even the most casual gamer; however, as the difficulty levels increase, players must plan which path to victory they aspire to before their civilization creates its first unit.
Because of this, Civilization VI is a perfect game for gamers of all skill levels, and at the highest tiers of difficulty, even the most veteran gamers will struggle to overcome Civilization VI’s powerful yet ultimately well-balanced AI, and each civilization’s unique leader, which in turn influences how they view the world, and the actions their civilization will make on the world stage.
I have replayed Civilization 6 almost every autumn since its release in 2016, and there is always something new to discover; with dozens of unique civilizations, some with multiple leaders and variations, the average gamer will have trouble seeing all that Civilization VI has to offer in less than 1000 hours of play, making it one of the most replayable games in the history of the franchise.
Adding to this variation are various new ways to play, ranging from simple modifications of core gameplay and the introduction of new mechanics such as the black death to entire overhauls of the game, allowing players to experience the golden age of piracy and even the zombie apocalypse.
For players on PC, even more opportunities exist to extend your playtime, with over 8000 mods being available on Steam Workshop, including new civilizations, maps, modes, mechanics, and even total conversion mods that allow players to experience Civilization VI in an entirely new way.
In short, Civilization VI is not a game that you will wonder if you will enjoy playing in six weeks, but rather, it is a game that you will not even have to wonder if you will be playing in six or even ten years.
Civilization VI has received multiple “Gold and complete” editions in its seven-year lifespan, all but nullifying the meaning of the word, with Civilization VI Gold releasing in 2019, Civilization VI Platinum releasing in 2022, and finally, Civilization VI anthology edition releasing in 2023.
While each of these additions was originally intended to be the last edition of Civilization VI, as new DLC continued to be released after each time Civilization VI was declared as “finished”, it only stands to reason that a new complete version would be released to include the DLC in an easy to purchase the bundle. However, that being said, the reputational hit of releasing three “final editions” is not lost on me, especially when each version strongly implied it would contain the “entire game”, not “the entire game released up until that point”.
As of September 2023, Civilization IV is the longest-lived Civilization title in the franchise’s history, enjoying almost seven years of support since its release in October 2016.
Assuming that Civilization VII is not released until late 2024/early 2025, Civilization VI will have enjoyed roughly double the lifespan of Civilization III and existed as the “newest entry” in the series for around eight years, a record for a franchise that traditionally releases a new mainline entry every five years.
At launch, a large percentage of the Civilization fanbase despised Civilization VI and everything it stood for, just like they hated Civilization V at launch and Civilization IV, Civilization III and so on.
While this could partially be attributed to an entitled community (which is partially true), there are very valid reasons for feeling that each new entry is worse than the one that comes before it, for the simple reason that is often the case.
Now, before you pick up pitchforks, let me explain at launch Civilization VI was a better game than Civilization V was at launch, like Civilization V was a better game at launch than Civilization IV was at launch.
However, by the end of each title’s lifespan, after major patches and expansion packs, the previous game was in every case much better than its successor was at launch, often including many more features and mechanics and, without question, offering far more civilizations.
Because Civilization is essentially a grounded franchise with little room for creativity (such as new alien or fantasy races), the developers have very little room to create new systems. Instead, they must expand upon systems and, where possible, improve upon them while maintaining the moment-to-moment gameplay that fans have come to love.
However, new titles often appear bare bones in doing this, with certain features being cut entirely or having little more than a token appearance until being fleshed out as part of a DLC or expansion pack down the line.
Honestly, this was controversial back when Civilization V launched. More so when Civilization VI launched in 2016, but with Civilization VII scheduled to release in 2024-2025, I feel the developers are in for a rude awakening if they think that gamers will not riot when they are forced to rebuy civilization packs for the 3rd or 4th time, with even far favourite civilizations often missing the base game, and being sold as DLC.
I feel that Civilization VI should have been the last Civilization game released, and the developers should instead focus on expanding it. At the same time, it is a dirty word to some; making Civilization VI a game as a service (GAAS) with fairly priced content updates would be a better option than forcing players to purchase a new game (Civilization VII). Then, bit by bit, repurchase the civilizations and features they have already paid for and enjoyed in Civilization VI since 2016.
Let us explore outer space, alternative history, and fantasy settings, introduce new mechanics (turn-based battles, for example), anything but launching Civilization VII as a demonstrably worse game than Civilization VI and then expect the fanbase to repeatedly for it over six or so years before the cycle starts all over.
Will I buy Civilization VII at launch? Absolutely, and that is part of the problem; Civilization games are so good that the vast majority of the Civilization community will purchase every new release the day it is released, even if we know that it will be at least two years before it is as good as the game we already own.
Despite being released almost seven years ago, Civilization VI is one of the most played games on Steam, peaking at around 62k active players each day; these numbers are even more impressive when you consider that Civilization VI was given away for free on Epic Game Store, and likely has many window store users due to its length duration on PC Game Pass.
Combined with its healthy console population and multiple appearances as part of Xbox Game Pass and PS Plus subscriptions, it’s easy to see why Civilization VI is possibly the most-played 4X game in the genre’s history, with an estimated 6.4 million monthly active users.
Sid Meier's Civilization VI is a 4x strategy video game developed by 2k and published by 2K, it was released on 21 October 2016 and retails for $59.99.
Sid Meier's Civilization VI is available on the following platforms: Nintendo Switch, PC, Playstation 4, Playstation 5, Xbox One, and Xbox Series X|S.
While the developers are still making minor balance adjustments and bug fixes, most development resources have been reassigned to Civilization VII, which is expected to launch before the end of Q1 2025.
Civilization VI supports:
Steam and Epic Game Store users can play together thanks to the addition of unified matchmaking; however, beyond this, there is no way for players on different platforms to play together.
Civilization VI offers the following matchmaking options:
The following peripherals are officially supported:
Civilization VI is rated PEGI 12+ and contains the following:
Civilization VI is a fantastic game and, more importantly, one that will be as enjoyable in 2043 as it is today, in much the same way that titles such as Civilization II are still very fun to play 27 years after its original release in 1996.
I fully recommend picking up any variation of Civilization VI as while DLC has made the game much more enjoyable, players who want the full experience should aim to purchase open of the “complete editions”; even the base game by itself provides thousands of hours of engaging and often very rewarding gameplay and fans of the strategy and 4X genres will certainly get excellent value for their money.