'Civilization 6' At E3, First Impressions

The Community Team was treated to a 27-minute video showcasing Civilization 6 gameplay at the 2K booth at E3. Kevin, Josh and I have all been avid Civilization fans, so this was on the top of our respective lists for what to see at E3 this year.

Pete Murray from Firaxis introduced us to the walkthrough, showcasing gameplay that has had a few minor changes since Tom's Hardware got an early hands-on back in May. The first thing you pick up is narration, by the dearly beloved Sean Bean (Game of Thrones' Ned Stark, among other famous roles). (I got a bad feeling the narrator might not survive till the end of the tech tree.)

His narration was strong--complementary to the flow of the game, additive but non-disruptive--but it felt a little jarring listening to Boromir walk us through stages in Civilization development. Spock was previously an interesting choice for narrator, but it may just be a personal taste, and time (and gameplay) will tell. It will be difficult to resist the urge to name one's first founded city "Winterfell" with Bean's lilting tenors in our ears.

The animations for units were quite smooth, though the unit creation swooshes were a tad overdone for what is a strategy game. Gameplay itself appeared to be fun and engaging, classically reminiscent of previous Civilizations. We were impressed by the cartographic representations of terra incognita, the fog of war existing beyond the explored map area, though.

In any case, we wouldn't deign to judge a book by it's cover, as it were, so we're withholding judgment until we get a proper hands on.

Founding cities on the coast or under other interesting circumstances yields event-based increases. In the video we were shown, we saw the founding of a city on the ocean, as well as the subsequent research bonus gain for Seafaring resulting from that action.

City spread looks quite interesting, although the districts system seems derivative of Endless Legends' approach to city construction on the game map. Religious districts and military encampments are familiar to fans of the genre who've experienced these in other strategy games. Industry changes up the game a bit, requiring more attention to district management as resources emerge and require exploitation.

There's nothing new to report on barbarians, as their behavior looks identical to previous Civs. Policies are new, which looks to be a way to customize your civilization a la Empire Earth, but with cards slotted into various categories as opposed to a Picks points system.

One of the most pressing (although admittedly snarky) questions we had for Firaxis was on the subject of Wonders. The new system requires prerequisites to be met before building a Wonder. For example, Stonehenge must be built in a city with stone in its area, and the Pyramids must be built on a desert tile. We wondered aloud if the developers knew that the stone for Stonehenge was sourced more than 140 miles away from where it was built, or that the Great Pyramids weren't actually built in the desert. The stony silence was ironic.

Civilization 6 is expected to be released October 21, 2016.

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Joe Pishgar
Joe Pishgar is the Community Director of Tom's Hardware US. He oversees the number one tech enthusiast forum in the world.
  • EmperorEden
    Your comment on barbarians was awful, have you not been paying ANY attention?! Barbarians are completly different in Civ 6, they send out scouts looking for your cities and upon finding one they report back to the encampment which then regularly sends out large raiding parties to attack your cities (not to mention they are smarter, unlike you people).
    On a closing note, I would also like to add that the one singular thing about the districts which is similar to Endless Legends is the fact they are called districts.
  • EmperorEden
    And what's this about The Great Pyramids not being in desert? (I do agree with the Stonehenge bit although I think you should need some stone somewhere in your empire.)
  • jpishgar
    Scouts do not comprehensively change how barbarians act, though that was alluded to, the same dynamic took place previously with roving bands of barbarians.

    The districts are fundamentally the same system, and called the same, though Civ cities end up more compact with pop not district oriented it seemed.

    The Pyramids were built on what was lush farmland on the verdant Nile. Not a desert.
  • wysiwygbill
    Does it still take 12 years for a bomber mission?
  • turkey3_scratch
    The Great Pyramids were made by ancient aliens.
  • jpishgar
    Didn't see too much on the specifics of bombers/fighters and air support. Actually, didn't see nukes either. The preview was fairly streamlined.

  • sillynilly
    YEAH! Love Civ 5 - too many hours in that one. The beyond earth sucked in my opinion and I never got hooked like Civ 5. Love that we are coming back to Terra.
  • Joe Black
    Well... If you consider that one game tile could easily be 100 miles wide if you compare it to the size of the globe for scale (assuming a medium size map is equal to the size of the earth's surface)
  • tridon
    Were you able to find any hints about multiplayer? Civ5 non-lan multiplayer was completely broken for a couple of years.

    And did you hear anything about mod support? Mods made Civ4 something truly special and it's still great today :)
  • Haravikk
    On the issue of coastal cities, is there any kind of "port" district? For example, can a city that's close to the coast, but not directly on it actually gain benefits from the ocean this time around? This has always been a pet peeve of mine, that a city that's fully in range of the ocean, but not directly adjacent, can't properly benefit from coastal tiles or build ships; it would be nice if a coastal district could overcome at least the tile-usage side of things (e.g- allow a lighthouse to be built), even if ocean units still require a proper coastal city.