My opinion/Love letter for Civ VI in particular as a friendly response: (Disclaimer, didn't read all of your post in-depth)Recently, I've been itching to play some Civilization again - but I found it interesting that I had no interest in returning to Civ 6. Rather, Civ 2 (the iteration I first hopped on board the series) that I returned to.
That got me thinking as to why that iteration is the one that has stuck with me, and realized that the trajectory of the series as a whole - and culminating in Civ 6 - has trended away from my own personal tastes. If Civ 7 is a continuation of the Civ 5/6 trajectory (and I see no reason to think it won't be) then it might be the first one I skip.
I recognize that they are indeed my own personal tastes, and don't begrudge anyone their continued enjoyment of Civ 6 (and Civ 7!) - but if the series continues this way, it is likely not for me any more, from a playing or modding perspective. I'll be comparing Civ 6 to Civ 2 in this post, mostly because that's the one I'm playing right now. I know for a lot of people Civ 4 is their high-water mark. That's the great thing about the series, isn't it? There are enough iterations that everyone can still play their favorite.
So, in too many words, here are my thoughts, most of which have probably been seen before.
[ SLOWED TO A CRAWL ]
Civ 6 late game is a tedious crawl towards the finish. This is not a surprise to anyone - everyone knows this is one of the biggest issues with the game.
Scientific and cultural victories pretty much come down to just clicking "End Turn" over and over again until the end.
So you can go full warmonger or proselytizer, which makes the late game more interesting simply because you interact with the game more. This has its own set of problems, though, which is that waging war in the late game is a logistical nightmare.
The bottom line is that once you hit the Industrial era, the game shifts gears down to first as the combined managerial weight of a large empire and lots of units makes each turn take forever, as you play shuffle with your army and curse as your building queues all empty at the same time so you have to go through each city again as you set up your queues.
You have a tightly run, small empire pushing for science or culture and the managerial weight of each turn becomes an obstacle to simply clicking "End Turn" as you try to warp-speed your way to victory, but the game systems keep getting in the way.
Which is a giant shame, because Civ 6 does the early game so well. The game captures the sense of discovery better than any iteration in the series, and watching your humble tribe spread and fill the land with buildings and improvements is tremendously satisfying.
I'm tired of resigning myself to quitting each game half way through when the fun stops or gritting my teeth to actually finish.
[ A SHRINKING WORLD ]
I suspect, the game intentionally tries to slow you down due to its reduced map sizes and the increased importance of a single unit due to the combat system. It spawns a vicious cycle, though.
Enforcing 1 unit per tile makes moving a large army long distances incredibly tedious, so...
Make the maps smaller!
Smaller maps can fill up with units really quickly, so...
Make units take longer to build!
Units take a long time to build, but the player still wants to get them in the action, so...
Make the maps smaller!
I realize this is incredibly simplistic and the actual design considerations were carefully thought through by the team, but I think the end result is suboptimal. The tedium of large empire management also contributes to the decision to make maps smaller, I'm sure.
Previous versions of Civ allowed for huge, sprawling maps where enormous empires would span continents and there would still be room to expand. Things just felt more...epic, in a sense. You got this feeling of the actual clash of empires across the globe, while in Civ 6 it's like everything has been condensed down to a localized conflict area. Even the localized scale feels too big, sometimes, while simultaneously feeling very cramped.
[ ALL SYSTEMS GO ]
Lots of things which were previously "on-map units" have been abstracted. I'm sure in the interests of reducing unit clutter and trying to streamline things - and to be fair, Civ 6 didn't start the abstraction of several of these. But nonetheless, the abstraction of several game systems has made them far more passive and as a result vastly more uninteresting.
Airforce: I will never, for the life of me, understand why they've made aircraft so boring. As it's own self-contained system, first you have to figure out how to even use aircraft. It has its own rules for placement, unique commands that don't really correspond to existing units, and doesn't really live on the map.
Even if you do invest heavily in aircraft (which the AI can't really do effectively, since again - it's a different system from regular units) it becomes yet another thing that's tedious to manage as you have to constantly rebase your fleet as your front moves.
Espionage: The abstraction of espionage has made it super boring. Spies are super expensive to build and in fact hard-limited, so you never have that many of them. Then, as they're own abstracted system, they have their own "movement" rules, and every operation takes a long time to complete.
When spies were a unit that moved on the map, espionage was a dynamic and interesting system. You could send them to infiltrate enemy empires en masse, stealing technology, sabotaging production, inciting rebellion, or planting nukes. These all felt like really significant things you could do to level the playing field or weaken your enemy.
Now, everything just takes too dang long, and while you can occasionally pull off a super cool operation to flip an enemy city, it takes a massive investment in production (for the spy) and time (to level up your spy so he has a prayer of success). It can easily take several hundred in-game years to successfully pull of a single major operation.
Trade: I'm a little mixed on this one. Making trade a system rather than a unit has the potential for making it much cooler - but the implementation is once again...tedious. It's awesome to have a giant trade city with a zillion trade routes coming through it. It's cool to see the trade routes on the map - I even love the concept of trade routes creating roads. But you have to keep renewing them. You have to manage the most profitable destinations. It's more management. More levers to pull. More systems to manage.
[ YOU'RE NOT DONE COMPLAINING? ]
No, sorry. I have a few miscellaneous things that just bug me.
Forts: are. dumb. In Civ 2 they are absolutely critical - of course because the combat in Civ 2 is wildly imbalanced because if one unit in stack is destroyed...all of them are. But forts prevent that. They are literally game-changing and absolutely integral to protecting your supply lines. In Civ 6, they are...a stat boost. That's it.
Unique Civilizations: I just recently realized that this bugs me. But it does. I recognize how cool it is to play as different civilizations with their own unique flavor - but that's not my civilization. It's me playing as someone else, following abilities and strengths dictated to me, rather than creating my own civilization.
Minimum City Distance: C'mon. I think it's a rule just because the AI is dumb.
No Custom End Era: Ok, this isn't unique to Civ 6. It's been a regular complaint of mine since the beginning. Sometimes I just want an ancient game! Or musketeers and frigates! Let me!
[ A STATIC STORY ]
I guess at the end of the day, my personal bottom line is that the broad-strokes canvas provided by earlier versions of Civ gave me much more memorable games and stories than the hyper systems-focused, incremental lever-pushing direction that the series seems to be following.
Like my current game of Civ 2. A large map. My civilization, the Gauls (I modded away all the modern civs), shared a continent with the Parthians. A huge continent had almost everyone else. The Funan became a behemoth on that continent, snapping up smaller kingdoms left and right. As these fell, occasionally a new one would spawn.
Meanwhile, the Scythians were an island nation between these two continents. I encountered them when I loaded up a caravel with several caravans of goods and just set off into the unknown to establish trade routes with whoever I encountered. I used my trade relations and occasional gifts to be a technology and map broker. Business was brisk, and helped me stay current with the large empires as I traded for new technologies almost every other turn.
They expanded hyper-aggressively in both directions, eventually meeting the Funan when the divvied up Rome. They also started expanding into the Parthians, with whom I'd had an uneasy peace since they couldn't push back a chokepoint I fortified heavily, leaving me half the continent. I focused on trade, my little Republic slowly expanding into my half while I sent out great navies filled with trade goods.
Multiple spaceships were launched to Alpha Centauri. I wasn't the first, and technically I didn't "win", but that barely mattered. The Funan conquered the Pyu capital, and their agents blew up the Pyu colony ship in deep space.
Eventually, it was these two giants - Funan and Scythia - ruling the world except for my independent republic. They were fighting each other, but vast navies were blockading my ports, and the former Parthian territories on my border were heavily militarized.
My Republic fell to Fundamentalist politics. Profits were cut, but survival was at stake. I had no hope of competing on the sea, but vast fleets of stealth fighters and bombers were built. Millions of paratroopers were trained. And transports with holds full of spies snuck past the enemy fleets while we were still at peace.
Their targets? The great empires' capitals. It took dozens of tries, but eventually a spy was able to plant a nuke in each of them. Then a single sacrificial unit paradropped in to capture the capital in a surprise attack.
Both empires experienced civil wars when their capitals fell. A huge chunk of the Funan split off into the Babylonian empire. A smaller chunk of the Scythians declared independence as the Greeks - including a significant part of the former Parthian lands on my borders. I quickly made friends with these two breakaway nations, and unleashed an enormous army on the remaining Scythians on my continent. I am now engaged in a war of aerial attrition and fire bombing of the Scythian homeland using vast fleets of stealth bombers as my paratroopers follow, then get killed - each battle reducing their homeland further to ash - there are now quite a few "former" city sites.
But I can't compete on the sea, my fleets are still too weak - and despite fielding AEGIS cruisers to protect my transports and aircraft carriers, virtually unlimited barrages of cruise missiles still overwhelm their defenses.
So I'm stuck fortifying my shores and trying to slowly chip away with my superior air force until I can get a strong enough foothold to start airlifting in howitzers and tanks. Maybe I'll be able to trigger another civil war in the Funan - they are still by far the biggest empire, even after their split.
Or a previous game, where my small Celtic civilization managed to outlast the rest of the world by triggering a continuous climate change feedback loop through never-ending nuclear holocaust. Eventually the rest of the world was so riven by starvation and disorder that I was able to raze multiple empires, and the barbarians captured the rest of the desertified and swamp-ridden world.
The Civ 6 games that have stuck with me are very few. They have occurred - I have a favorite memory of reducing almost an entire continent to near-permanent free city status. Overall, despite the dynamism of the map itself and the early game, each game starts to follow the same old story from the mid onwards. All the systems and tedium make me more relieved when the game is over than enjoying the ride throughout.
Earlier iterations felt like they had space for much more dynamic events - civilizations re-spawning, civil wars, barbarian cities off in the corners (because there was space for that!), flooding an opponent with trade caravans then buying a wonder outright, wonders lost to history when their city is razed, a transport running the gauntlet of enemy ships to drop a huge army off before getting blown up...etc etc etc.
But I guess it comes down to the late game - it always does, doesn't it? In Civ 2, I'm excited as the tech tree runs out because the sandbox toys have just gotten cooler - not more tedious.
[ WRAP UP ]
If you made it this far - wow, thanks for reading my ramblings!
I've played a ton of Civ 6, and tinkered with it even more. There's lots about it I think is cool, and honestly the early game is pretty unmatched. I don't begrudge anyone who loves it and wants more of it. I think there are quite a few things I've complained about here that many of you probably enjoy quite a lot - and that's great.
Maybe it's me, not Civ. But regardless, I'm less and less enamored with the trajectory of the series, and the only one I keep coming back to over the years is Civ 2. Thankfully, I can keep coming back to it.
And who am I kidding - I will follow the development and release of Civ 7 with great interest - I'll might buy it, too. Maybe not - I didn't get Diablo IV - maybe it really is just me.
Anyways, Civ has been great to me. But maybe it's time for me to step off. The rest of you, keep having fun.
I find it interesting that people dislike/not enjoy (from a personal perspective) Civ VI so much. Although I get it somewhat.
For me I love it, and I love the 'direction' they are going with it. My first iteration of the series was Civ 3 I think. I remember still playing it on mac in 2013. I don't blame people for not liking Civ VI though. It takes some getting used too.
I think I did try my hand at Civ 5 I thought it was ok. To me mediocre describes that iteration though compared to Civ 3 and Civ 4. I think each iteration had good things and bad things and it was about (mainly) for me what the gamedevs took away or changed. What I don't like about Civ VI is what is missing. It doesn't destroy the great graphics and the return to more animation over realism in that area (like Civ 3 leaders from memory and Civ 4 map terrain), but it is what is missing that "initially" bugs people out I think. You have to adjust to what is missing and what has been added. This can be hard to do. As you get older (like me mid 30's now) adjusting to new standards and norms even with games and their gameplay gets harder... My brain has lost some of its plasticity.
My personal thoughts on the changes:
A thing I missed about Civ 3 when playing Civ VI given I largely ignored Civ IV because it was too different to III, is that you could "exchange maps" meaning you didn't have to explore every area of the map, you could let another civ or bunch of civs do that for you. You just had to be a half decent civ leader haha. I also missed the way you could interact manually with other leaders or had some fun preset responses that if you got bored could help you have fun and add "depth to the game and gameplay", which would add I think some of the "fun back into it".
With Civ VI, I think simple questions and answers would have done the trick and could have been tied to the grievance system. Such as "we should set aside our differences 'insert civ leader', for the sake of peace, don't be a moron" or at least at minimum have the lines they say to you when you play against them, be the "chat options" with other civs when you play as them, without doing away with the fun of receiving them from others... But then also the possibility to respond to their antics as well. I miss that..
It makes stupid lines like "you don't talk too much" so frigging annoying... It's like well of course I don't you dumbass, because I "can't" haha.
But the game is good enough though, they can just add it later.. Do away with that stupid leader pack in my opinion its awful, maybe just keep Caesar and Victoria Alt and just add:
- Map exchange;
- Territory annexation (by hex) as an ability for some civs or all...
- Chat options for leaders based on the audio and animations you already have in the game; (already mentioned)
- Indigenous tribes instead of "barbarians" that affect your grievances over the entire run of the game... (Just take the "clan system" and perfect it and do away with barbarians entirely)
- Ability to slow game down without mods... Need an option between Epic (66%) and Marathon (33%) like maybe between 44% and 48%%?
Overall though, when I look back and reflect on Civ 3 and IV whilst they had "fun elements" to them, the dom victory as Rome in Civ III in particular, was just way too easy.... Certain civs were just better at winning in the game and in 4 and 5 as well, and others were just too tough so you never played certain civs and only played others. Civ VI is still easy to play for casual gamers like me, but it is much more strategic and focused on "production" of one thing or another with little interaction with other civs. I think with GS turned right up on maybe Deity? Is pretty fun though... The trade unit in Civ VI is cool as, I would keep that and just add a dialog box or command box for him which pending on your choices could affect the civ and its leaders attitude towards you. It's just all about depth and creativity not just strategy..
Although I think overall, a part from that, Civ VI balances this out allright and still challenges you enough. It gives civs and their leaders perks, skillsets and advantages over other civs that you need to be aware of, BEFORE you start playing or at least abreast of, by checking it out during the early game. Ultimately the game requires you to do your research on the civ you're playing or at least your favourite/favourites and then to be mindful of other civs and their perks, skills and advantages over yours. It makes for a much more interesting and strategic game in my opinion.
I like the district system and how builders and other civic/production units don't last, so this forces you to really "plan out" how you are going to use your builder, before it is built. It makes you think about priorities and makes you consider about how you are going to approach the game and what you are going to focus on. It then with the GS expansion, throws curveballs at you with the climate and terrain. I think (if I remember correctly) Civ 3 was similar to a degree or maybe it was 4... The lack of this in Civ V annoyed me greatly. Like WTH do I do with this three person building team I have had since the ancient era. Delete this annoying hanger on and so on. I didn't have to think to play the game and tbh you didn't have to think too much in previous versions either, not that I played them all...
You just had to pick your favourite "winning civ" which for me was Rome or Greece and off you would go. It was easier but not challenging. Civ V did balance it out a bit better, but you could still just choose the right civ (for everything) not just one victory type, and win everything all the time. In Civ VI you have to be more mindful of what civ you're playing as, and all civs have certain advantages for certain victory types (Saladin, religious victory etc..)
But I will admit getting used to all of this in Civ VI was really challenging and tough for me. It took me "months" to get used to it and I had to watch YouTube videos on how to play, for the first time in my Sid Meier playing career... But I think the graphics and money I spent drove me to try hard haha.
I then learnt (eventually) that balance and production for Civ VI is key (I believe), even when choosing one civ and focusing on one thing or everything connected to it (like culture and Greece). No more just take Rome or Greece and dominate. You have to be "strategic." You need to think ahead. Pay attention to what's around you, I mean really pay attention until your used to it haha. Weigh your options, should I go for faith, and if I go for faith (districts focusing on accumulation etc..), how do I deal with my neighbour on an aggresive expansion run? Because I can't focus on faith and spamming units for offfense at the same time. Shall I opt to just build the Holy Site In the Ancient era, then build a few warriors and a few slingers and "surprise attack" my neighbour? deal with grievances and possible alliances at the same time? No more casual play...
When I get my pantheon, should I choose "Divine Spark" so when I later build my Holy Site after researching Astrology, it will generate two points per turn without me needing to build the Shrine and with a Shrine 4 points per turn. Or do I want "Fertility Rites" so I get a settler quickly without needing to waste 20 turns.. Or do I want to not produce settlers but focus on, builders, units and districts because I can see my closest neighbour is on an expansion run leaving settlers unguarded and new cities near my border ripe for the harvest .
As you can see I now love Civ VI... haha. I still suck playing it but love it. Which is why for me, I think its a matter of understanding, ability and skill. Once you "know" or get how Civ VI works, and are then able to successfully start playing it, your love for it will grow and you will come to this knowledge:
"Civ VI Is the Apex of the Sid Meier Civilisation series. Like the Iphone 6 and the Samsung 3, there is nothing more that can be achieved with this game or the series. All you can do is build upon the great foundation of the game and its three DLC's and add maybe some of the features it is missing.."
I don't see how Civ VII could be better, unless it builds upon Civ VI like the Iphone 6 then just look back at the successful "small things" that made other iterations successful (not their graphics) and reintroduced them and maybe improved them.