October 21 is an important day in world history. It marks the birthday of Alfred Nobel, who gave the world dynamite and the Nobel Prize; it is the anniversary of the first publication of Ernest Hemingway’s For Whom the Bell Tolls; and it is when Tokugawa Ieyasu triumphed at the Battle of Sekigahara, thus launching the Tokugawa Shogunate, which ruled Japan until the mid-nineteenth century. However, October 21, 2016 is poised to be more important and impactful than all of those events put together because it marks the release date of Civilization VI from Firaxis Games and 2K Games. The twenty-fifth anniversary entry in Sid Meier’s critically acclaimed 4X strategy gaming series is one of our Editor’s Choice award winners for E3 2016, and for good reason: they are continuing to push the envelope on what is already an intensely addictive game.
In Civilization, every player faction has an iconic leader, usually a figure plucked from history who is renowned for their diplomatic, martial, and/or cultural achievements. They aren’t exactly always accurate to history, though. Case in point: Gandhi. In Civilization, Gandhi has always been a hyper-aggressive, militaristic monster who will nuke your civilization from the face of the Earth if you look at him the wrong way. Sure, it was thanks to a bug in the coding dating back to the original Civilization, but it became something of a hallmark of the series and an in-joke amongst players ever since.
With Civilization VI, however, Firaxis is looking to improve leader A.I. by making them behave more accurately both within the context of the game and in the context of history itself. To do so, Firaxis has added the additional wrinkle of giving leaders historical objectives, which are motivations and behaviors modeled after the figure’s real-life historical agenda. For example, Teddy Roosevelt, who is introduced in the trailer below, is the leader of the American faction. With his famous “Big Stick” diplomacy, Roosevelt’s primary motivation is defend his home continent while expanding America’s sphere of influence on it. As such, if you settle too close to American territory, he will sic his troops on you. And because of his historical M.O., he gets a special bonus to fighting on his home continent — a literal home court advantage, which can tip the scales in battle.
Sidenote: The fact that the Rough Riders gain culture from hills on their home continent is both an interesting gameplay tweak and a damning indictment of modern American culture.
Here is some more info about the American civilization’s unique units and structures via a press release from 2K Games:
Unique Unit: P-51 Mustang
The P-51 “Mustang,” an aircraft created by America during World War II, was designed as a long-range, high-altitude fighter to serve in dogfights, escort bombers and even enact bombing missions on its own. The P-51 Mustang was able to outmaneuver the best German Luftwaffe fighters above 15,000 feet and even outlast the efficient Japanese fighters, and by 1943 the P-51 Mustang was in service on every American front.
Unique Unit: Rough Rider
The 1st United States Volunteer Cavalry, better known by its colloquial moniker the “Rough Riders,” was a regiment recruited and raised by Theodore Roosevelt in 1898 AD to fight in the Spanish-American War. This volunteer regiment included 1,060 ranchers, cowboys, college athletes, miners and other rugged outdoorsmen hailing from New Mexico, Texas, Oklahoma and Arizona.
Unique Building: Film Studio
Thomas Edison, the much vaunted American inventor and businessman, created the first film studio in West Orange, New Jersey back in 1893. His film studio was used to capture the amusing larks of vaudeville and theater actors, to display within penny arcades, fairground tents and unused theaters. By 1920, there were a dozen film studios in operation around Hollywood, California, each feeding what would become an American and global obsession with film.
One of the biggest changes coming to the venerable strategy game is the notion of “unstacking cities.” Previously, every building and improvement you could construct would be housed in your city, which occupied a single hex on the map. It made for a woefully unwieldy city management screen and felt unrealistic to what the game was ultimately trying to accomplish. Thankfully, Civilization VI is making you feel like building a massive, sprawling megalopolis is as epic as you picture in your head by introducing the concept of districts. New improvements will be constructed in districts adjacent to your city center, with each area conferring different bonuses based on terrain type. It’s a savvy gameplay change that adds a whole new dimension of strategy to city-building, running the gamut from agonizing over where to place specific districts to get maximum benefit to shrewdly using armies to cripple infrastructure surrounding enemy cities before launching a head-on assault.
Civilization VI releases on October 21, 2016.
What do you think of Civilization VI so far? Will you be playing? Let us know in the comments below.
Image: 2K Games/Firaxis