Sid Meier’s Civilization VI logo and artwork

Civilization VI – PS4 Review: I Came, I Saw, I was Conquered!

Civilization isn’t a series that’s new to me, but to say I knew what I was doing would be a massive overstatement. I get the concept from playing older versions on PC over the years and playing Civilization Revolution on the Xbox 360.

Given the opportunity to try a console port of the latest Civilization game, I couldn’t resist. It’s been a long time since I tried to dominate the world (almost always unsuccessfully….), and I have a real hankering for it.

My knowledge of the series and how it’s changed is limited. As is my current knowledge of Civilization VI, the latest entry into the series. So before I even started playing, I’ve jumped into the r/civ subreddit, ploughed through guides and tips videos on YouTube and put a bit of time in.

Armed with the knowledge that I’ll likely need a few games to get to grips with it, I dove in head-first.

With reviews of Civilization VI having been created years ago, and with me not being massively knowledgeable to the series, my focus is as such. How does a PC game translate to Playstation 4? And how on earth does a PC strategy game with so many menus, options and actions work using a Playstation controller?

Surprisingly (to me), very well indeed!

Civilization VI gameplay - Choose Leader screen

To start with, it’s worth mentioning that this version comes with the expansion packs “Rise and Fall” and “Gathering Storm“. So this is a full package!

Ushering in Golden Ages, Dark Ages and city loyalty, there’s a whole new dimension to the experience thanks to the “Rise and Fall” expansion. Along with governors to help you gain loyalty and bonuses from cities.

The second expansion added natural disasters (volcanoes, flooding, hurricanes, cold winds and droughts) and the need to properly consider your environmental impact. Yet again, adding more concerns, more strategy, and a little more of that good old fashioned “Civilization could fuck you up at any time” feeling,

So, here I was, a relative newcomer (playing older games years ago, doesn’t count as adequate experience), with a whole plethora of potential woes, bonuses to earn and civilizations to contend with. With everything there to start with, I had the benefit of just learning everything at once.

And learn, I did.

I think it’s fair to say that any Civilization game requires a good deal of time spent, to just figure out what’s what, how you can balance all those spinning plates, and take over the world.

Civilization VI is no different, although I have to say, it really did handle teaching me the ropes really nicely. I never felt like I was lost or unable to do something. Sure, I was overwhelmed at the start, but only because I was essentially starting from scratch.

Throw-in some Sean Bean-voiced historical quotes, and you’re in for a good time.

Gameplay, Age Information

Civilization VI presents a very complex set of systems for you to master. Expecting you to learn the ropes, choose the type of victory you want to work towards (don’t try to do them all!!), and then off you go.

At its heart, Civilization is, of course, a PC game. So there are things to consider when porting over to a console. Mouse and keyboard controls translating to a game controller, for instance.

The most surprising thing to me when starting my Civilization VI journey, was actually how well it handles. The user interface is clear, and it didn’t take long for me to get to grips with menus at all.

Moving around the map, no matter how big, was easy, and I loved the click-in of a thumbstick to bring your map marker to wherever you are on the map.

Very straight forward, very clear and obviously very well thought-out. There’s so much potential for a game like Civilization to really struggle on a controller, Firaxis Games have done wonders here.

The other PC-related concerns are associated with processing large amounts of moves at once. Often considering the moves of loads of units, from multiple civilizations. In my first few games, I saw quite quickly how my standard PS4 started to grind a little. Never a problem, but definitely noticeable.

Early doors, it’s fine. A couple of units each, and not much going on, but as everyone expands, explores and settles, things slow down a little.

This was of course, always after your own moves, so it didn’t really impede play, particularly. It made it harder to move around the map to see what everyone was doing, as it slowed, but it wasn’t really detrimental to the game in a significant way.

Civilization VI Map

I’ve held trade alliances with Japan, opened my borders to Germany and had historical speeches read to me by Sean Bean. How many other games can you say that about?

Playing Civilization VI has been a revelation. I haven’t followed the series in a long time, and I had no idea how far-on it had come.

Never did I expect to play it on a console in my living room.

The potential challenges with making it accessible on a console aren’t lost on me. We’ve seen efforts for strategy games on consoles before, with a massive range of results. But this is the sweet-spot.

Getting the chance to pour more hours than I thought I had (just a few more turns!) into it has been a joy from start to finish. Sure, it’s frustrating when I’ve been attacked by Poland and have no land units nearby to help. But the only frustrations I ever had were because of my poor strategy.

Starting a new game made me feel more confident as I started to get to grips with things more and more. I never suffered the wrath of a Volcano eruption, as my competing civilizations did. But I suffered flooding and droughts like no other.

Short games on smaller maps are appealing, and I could never bring myself to go for a marathon game. But standard games were the perfect length for me.

Prince difficulty was where I found myself for the most part, and I never really felt the need to punish myself any further. I’m yet to get a victory, so pushing the difficulty up seems a little daft. I will get that victory though, and I’ll start a holy war next time, just to see what happens.

American Empire

That’s the thing with Civilization, there are so many variables, so much to do, to try and to learn. Each game is different, and I expect I’ll be playing this for quite a long time to come.

If you’re a fan of the series, looking to buy it on a console, then it’s a no-brainer. Get it as soon as you can!

If you’re new to the series, it seems to be like the most accessible place to start. So, this is a great place to dive in.

There’s a wealth of knowledge online to help improve your game. From Reddit to Wikis to YouTube. I’ve spent countless hours learning and reading, working to improve my knowledge and skill.

Civilization VI is a great strategy game, with 2 expansions adding new variables and depth that I hadn’t expected to contend with at all.

Easy to learn, complex and deep. With good tutorials and that addictive turn-by-turn gameplay that only Civilization can deliver.

Absolutely wonderful. I’ll be picking it up on Switch as soon as I can, to play on-the-go, because having it to hand all the time is something that I just can’t deny.

90%

Civilization VI TL;DR:

  • Easy to learn, complex and deep;
  • Civilization VI is a great strategy game, with 2 expansions adding new variables and depth;
  • If you’re a fan of the series, looking to buy it on a console, then it’s a no-brainer;
  • If you’re new to the series, it seems to be like the most accessible place to start;
  • PS4 does start to struggle as civilization’s grow, not detrimentally, but expected from a PC game going to console.

Sid Meier’s Civilization VI is a turn-based strategy 4X video game developed by Firaxis Games, published by 2K Games, and distributed by Take-Two Interactive. The review was written by Ben Kirby of Ninja Refinery.

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