'Civ 6' E3 2016: The 7 Best Things About 'Civilization VI' Gameplay Demo

Civilization 6
Civilization 6. (c) Firaxis / 2K Games

The Civilization 6 gameplay demo seen at E3 2016 is now available online for the general public to view, and here’s the 7 most exciting things about the gameplay shown.


The General Look And Feel


The vintage handdrawn maps replacing fog of war, giving you a misty indication of what might be lying out there in unknown lands. The bright, gently rounded, almost cartoonish feel that makes everything from trees to stone feel pleasant on the eyes. Lights going on in your city at night, sun gleaming on water. A compass rose marker indicating your active unit. The double-colored edges of your civilization. The consistent colors, like purple for culture, used all over the game to provide information visually (not a replacement for info screens, but an intelligent addition). Everywhere, the game is both welcoming and visually informative.

The new Civ VI look feels like a logical extension of Civ V with a stronger aesthetic point of view. I’ve always loved zooming in on my unique units and cities with Wonders to see what mighty empire I’ve wrought. Those details have only been enhanced, enabling you to see even standard buildings like granaries and water wheels adorning your civilization. The combat animations look great too, giving you little mini-movies that you can fill in with your own narrative of your civilization’s rise and fall.


The Familiar UI


The UI is almost the same as that for Civ V, just reskinned and simplified. The Civ V UI is great at conveying a lot of complex information in a simple way all at once, so the decision to more or less stick with it is a smart one. It’s even more welcoming and accessible than ever with its "recommended improvements" tooltip when you hover over an unbuilt hex and eliminating the need to click through to a City Screen. Now all the information you need for a city will be immediately available when you’re looking at it, like how much production and culture it’s generating, as well as new systems like how much housing and amenities you have available.

It’s the little things, y’all.


Resources and Technology


I’m so excited for new resources. The demo showed off a new named resource, rice, and scattered a few more familiar ones throughout the video. I know resources are easily modded in, but expanding them in the base game makes Civ VI feel generous, because they’re not doing what so many other games might and waiting to charge us for what should have come built-in.

More importantly, the gameplay demo showed off the “Eureka” system for technology that promises to make each game more unique by providing a 50% boost to certain technologies after building up certain resources or settling on certain types of land. The Eureka system makes sense and is intuitive, and most importantly, it will drastically diminish the importance of beeline strategies.

Eliminating overpowered beeline strategies by forcing that “line” out of joint based on strategic factors that change each game is a great idea that makes every game more unique and flavorful. I love playing a different game each time, but in Civ V that’s rarely the best strategic choice. The Eureka system will give more diverse strategies a chance.




They look cool: special hexes outside of your main city, themed according to the type of district they are. They seem to play cool: some buildings can only be built in certain districts, such as a Shrine in a Holy Site. They open up a whole new area of strategy: go straight for the enemy city’s heart, or just cripple the cultural district and retreat to give yourself an advantage in a culture win? What do you protect more, your city’s heart or its achievements in science and culture? Do you use that space for an Encampment District to protect the city’s heart, or do you risk it and build a Wonder?

But all strategic considerations aside, the demo shows off how as your city grows and civilization advances towards the industrial and modern ages, your city grows more crowded and more alive. The teeming feeling of all those separate districts growing bigger while remaining visually distinct makes your city feel more vibrant and more truly yours. There’s no greater feeling than masterminding a thriving civilization.




They’re much more specific, which will make them rarer, which will make them, well… more wondrous. For example. Stonehenge needs to be adjacent to Stone and on flat land, while the Pyramids must be built on Desert or Flood Plains without hills. Once you build them, a little video plays that imbues you with a sense of accomplishment for having built this Wonder. And because each Wonder takes up its own tile, which Wonders to build will be a more strategic choice that will affect everything down to where you build future cities.

It’ll be a little sad saying goodbye to the insane Wonder cities of Civ V, but if that means I can now see all of my Wonders and delight more fully in the reality and glory of my cities, that’s an exchange I’ll take.


The diplomacy screen


It could be a bit of a challenge sometimes swapping between Civ V’s many informational screens to get to the info that you wanted, but it looks like Civ VI is rectifying that. The diplomacy screen is a great example. It has a few interesting changes, most notably the intel report, which stores absolutely everything you know about that civilization: the latest gossip, their open agenda, their hidden agenda, their relationships, their form of government, and your level of access to them. It also lets you know what the warmongering penalty will be for declaring any sudden wars.

Also, the leader is done in the same roundish, soft cartoony style as the rest of the game. It's great to look at.




We finally get a look at the much-vaunted cards system for government policies. Military, economic, diplomatic and wildcard policies all share the same Government screen, letting you build a comprehensive government at a single glance. As someone who enjoys a good Culture win, I’m not sure how I feel about Culture cards being relegated to the Wildcard category, but the hugely visible one-tile Wonders do a lot to salve that sting. It all depends on how the cards cycle. While this looks like a fun feature and I was pleased to finally see it in action, I’m not sold yet.

We did get a look at war in the Civ VI gameplay demo, but because the demo didn’t show us anything new to Civ VI (like the situational unit-stacking compromise between the infinite stacks of Civ IV and the no-stacking-ever of Civ V), I don’t consider that an important part of the video. Hopefully we’ll hear more about the changes to the war system as Civ VI’s Oct 21 release date approaches.

What did you think were the most exciting parts of the E3 2016 Civ VI demo? What changes are you most looking forward to? And how’d you like that Ned Stark narration? Feel free to let us know in the comments section below.

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