My behind closed doors presentation of Civilization VI at E3 kicked off with a time-lapse that showed how the franchise has evolved over the years, from 1991, right up until 2016. I found that opening to be incredibly meta, as the goal of every Civilization game is to evolve a society from a barebones existence, through to a bustling hub of culture and technology.

Civilization VI is now the pinnacle of the franchise’s existence. How has it evolved though? What does it have that makes it different and better to its predecessors?

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For starters, players are no longer restricted to having one dense city anymore. it’s now a lot easier to build a few smaller ones (that then form the overall civilization), and spread them out across the map (as opposed to focusing on just one part of it).

Players can now easily have multiple cities outside of their main hub, each of which will then aid the civilization in their own unique ways. A basic example would be building one next to the coast. Doing so will give a significant boost to a society’s sailing know-how. Firaxis really want people to take note of their surroundings, and take advantage of it accordingly.

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On top of this, there’s a whole new district system in place. Previously, cities would have every kind of building possible stuffed into them. That is no longer the case with Civilization VI. Each separate city can be specialised into their own unique district that each provides certain bonuses to the civilization as a whole.

For example, a player could choose to make an encampment district outside of their main hub. It’ll then be made up of relevant military buildings, such as barracks. Another example would be a research district, which would consist of universities and libraries.

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Deciding where to establish a district is rather important. It may be wise to place the encampment one for example in a chokepoint that leads to your civilization. That way, any potential attackers will have to get through your army before they can even hope to reach the city gates.

The holy site district, for comparison sake, works best when it’s surrounded by nature. If it is to be most effective, it’s advised to build it near something like a mountain, or away from the distraction of a bustling city, near the quietness of a forest.

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For newcomers like me, Civilization looks incredibly overwhelming. It’s being designed though, to be as user friendly as possible. There are tutorials in place which exist to introduce players to exactly how the game works, and how it should be played. For veterans, well, the game continues to be as deep as one would hope. With the district system in place for example, it becomes a challenge figuring out how exactly to spread a civilization out to get the most bang for buck (or benefit for location I suppose), all the while making sure it isn’t toppled by neighbouring invaders.

Speaking of which, the AI in civilization has been improved. Diplomacy specifically, has been tweaked to feel more natural – leader’s personalities have been designed to shine through in the way they lead their civilizations.

Teddy Roosevelt for example (as Zoe has already discussed in another recent Civilization VI post), just wants peace. He will place nice, but only if you do too. When opposed, he will retaliate to threats, whether it be from you or other AI opponents.

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Civilization VI may have new systems and optimizations in place, but it looks like it still has that addictive formula underneath it all that’s had fans having “just one more turn” for over two decades now. I’m quite confident that they’ll like what they see come October 21st.