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Archive for October, 2016

Civ 6 First Impressions

I watched the trailer for Civ 6 a long while back, but avoided reading anything about the game after that so I can form unbiased first-hand impressions. These are my thoughts.

Good

This has lots of features for a vanilla release of a new Civ game. I see most major parts of Civ 5 in here. In contrast, vanilla Civ 3-4-5 each felt like two steps forward, one step back — especially compared to all the innovations of Alpha Centauri.

  • I’m reminded once again of the fantastic art and sound team at Firaxis. The art style is beautiful, and characters have a lot of visual personality. I actually enjoy listening to the music in their games, while most other developers have minimal, often repetitive soundtracks.
  • The overall look and feel of the game is very classy. I like the map theme for the art.
  • Specific AI agendas. This was something I liked in Stellaris. It makes them feel more lifelike than the old preferences system.
  • I like how easy it is to swap out policies. It allows the player to experiment and learn what policies work best for the current situation.
  • I like the little improvements here and there, such as completed techs stating they “just finished” instead of “0 turns remaining.”
  • Traders form roads, like how roads appeared historically.
  • Land value is now a thing. It makes sense people don’t want to live in a swamp.
  • Boosts make research more complex than simply queuing up 10 items. It encourages you to adapt to the circumstances of your enviornment.
  • Individual workers and improvements feel more important now, since they’re less common.
  • Wonder-building animations returned! Woohoo! I loved that in Civ 4.
  • Landlocked cities can build ships from a Harbor on the coast.

Neutral

  • Sean Bean ironically can’t die because he’s the immortal narrator.
  • Moving onto a tile now requires the full movement cost for units. This is a dramatic change for the Civ series. We can’t spend our last 0.5 move points to enter a 3-cost forested hill, for example. Rivers feel particularly difficult to cross now compared to the past.
  • Cities appear to automatically provide a bridge over adjacent rivers.
  • Every new Civ game has a new approach to great people. It’ll be interesting to see how this one affects things.
  • Splitting physical and social techs is a fascinating idea. I’m unsure what ramifications this will have.
  • I think they move the minimap around the screen with each new version of civ.
  • I was surprised when my friendly neighbor China declared war and defeated me in my first game on King difficulty. This never happened in a past Civ game. I clearly need to change my opening strategy to deal with the higher AI aggressiveness.

Bad

There’s numerous problems with the interface. In particular, tooltips are sparse or non-existent, making detailed information frustratingly difficult to find. This really stands out after playing Stellaris, which has a great interface and plentiful tooltips.

  • It took me half an hour to figure out the red tent icon on my capital means it grows slower and produces less yields. I never got a tutorial popup about amenities, the “low amenities” notification did not appear on the right, and neither the on-map city bar nor bottom-right city panel has a tooltip explaining the concept.
  • The dark, irregularly textured background of the Civilopedia makes lengthy articles difficult to read. It may look pretty, but there’s a reason most text in the world is high-contrast black-on-white or vice versa.
  • I can’t find ingame information about the chance for missionaries or apostles to fail to spread religion.
  • Can’t figure out how to form an alliance with friends after getting Civil Service. I looked all over the Diplomacy window, including deal options, and could not find an alliance button. I also tried giving my friends absurdly nice gifts, but it didn’t increase their opinion of me further or unlock an alliance. (Update: it appears my friend was at war, which blocked the alliance without announcing this fact anywhere.)
  • No hotkey information on tooltips. Several commands are missing a hotkey entirely, like “heal until fortified” or “toggle yield display.”
  • If I’m looking at the Civics Tree and press T to switch to the Tech Tree, it still shows Civics, with Techs hidden behind it.
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