'Civilization VI' Shows How Small Things Can Sabotage a Big Game


Like a bad TED Talk, 'Civ VI' repackages big ideas into empty, bite sized chunks.

This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at https://waypoint.vice.com/en_us/article/civilization-vi-shows-how-small-things-can-sabotage-a-big-game


Perhaps I’m projecting a bit, but I feel like the unspoken point of comparison in this piece is Alpha Centauri. That game has so much more character than any other 4X game I’ve played—I just wish we had a version of it with the mechanical sophistication of a Civ V or VI (don’t even mention Beyond Earth to me!!). Sadly, I think the Civ series has really fallen short on the “character” front in its last few installments, so I’m not holding out much hope for a spiritual sequel that does it justice.


The new quotes in VI were one of my favorite parts of that game. I’ve always thought Civ was too self serious. All the grandeur and spectacle feels weird and out of place in the earlier Civs


I think Civ VI has a lot of problems, but I don’t know if I think this piece does a good job interrogating them.

The only point of comparison the piece considers (even vaguely) seems to be the previous games in the Civ series, but I don’t think the tone of VI is uniquely irreverent or trivializing when you look at the recent history of the series. Civ V is a game that let you LITERALLY CONSUME Nikola Tesla to build a factory that gives you a production bonus. Things like the occasionally-pithy quotes accompanying technology or limited slots for Great Works (which is a purely mechanical concession) don’t really seem out of place, at all, in the context of contemporary Civ.

Maybe this would be better framed by comparing Civ as a series to other games in the genre (the Endless… games, Stellaris, etc.) that care more about the universe you build. Based on my experiences with Civ and shudder Beyond Earth, I don’t think Maxis has any idea how to leverage “narrative” (such as it is), characters, or emotional stakes in a 4X context; I think this is a more interesting problem to consider for the series in general, but that’s sort of tangential to this essay.


The core complaint was that the sillier research completion quotes was at odds with the grand tone of the game. But that seems almost objectively false given the cartoon-y stylization that permeates the game. Everything from the look of the map to the animation of the leaders is all very intently unrealistic and looks like a Cartoon Network version of Civ. Civ VI as a whole does not take itself quite as seriously as previous games so I don’t understand how a few silly quotes have somehow ruined the experience of the game by not fitting in.

Also that diplomat quote is a damn good quote that apparently the writer didn’t understand.