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Second half Civ 6 & Urban Growth

Discussion in 'Civ - Ideas & Suggestions' started by snakeboy, Jan 22, 2021.

  1. snakeboy

    snakeboy Chieftain

    Dec 12, 2019
    I found this in my notes - wrote it just before the start of the New Frontier Pass, which was a rather big letdown for me personally, with its initial focus on minor (phantasy) addons. In this post I indulge in envisioning a 'perfect' civ 6 game that focuses on adding meaningful urban growth and industrialization in the second half. I wasn't aware of the mod City Lights when I wrote this, that seems to have a very similar vision. I share it now because any voice for this kind of game might help support it in the new iteration of Civ.

    The first half of Civilization VI is a pretty solid game, but the second half leaves much to be desired. Ancient, Classical, Medieval and Renaissance Era offer a nice flow, with a variety of choices to be made, making the cities of your budding empire fun to manage and fairly distinguishable from one another. Come the modern ages however, not only is the challenge gone, but management becomes tedious and repetitive, and your empire turns into a bland blob of cities that all have the same modern highrise look, no matter what the population.

    Something is missing sorely here, and that is actual urban growth. When I think of modern civilization sprawling metropolises spring to mind immediately, yet there is no representation of that in game. In this topic I have indulged myself in envisioning the ideal Civ 6 for the second half game, adding both mechanical and visual gameplay changes. I don't believe this to actually become reality for civ 6, so take it with lots of salt, and hopefully as a fun inspirational ride.

    I start with an overview, followed by visual and then mechancial changes. At the end, there's several less detailed mini topics.


    Four factors will be critical for the second half gameplay:

    - population is a main factor

    - explosive production from Industrial Zones adds the production

    - the exponential growth of mass transport adds speed to urban growth

    - and Engineers connect cities and districts by Rail, Highways and Bridges

    Before going into a bit more detail for each Era, let's first talk some more about the pivotal role of the Industrial Era. Wedged perfectly between the 4 early ancient Eras and the 4 modern Era's, and often marking the point where the game starts to drag and become generic as your empire has grown into 10+ cities, the Industrial Era should become the actual hinge that shifts the early game of war and external empire building into an almost second game of more internal urban city growth and planning. (I am leaving aside Colonialism in this topic, which adds to further empire building).

    In order to create that growth both Industry and Engineers will become much more important, and the latter will become the actual builders of your Urban Civilization, paying tribute to the great engineering feats of the 20th century.


    Starting with the Modern Era, if your city reaches a population of 20 it will transform the first ring around your City Center into an urban look. All tiles, except for Wonders, Mountains and Sea tiles, will turn modern. It will not have highrises yet, as they will become unique city center improvements (and therefore an actual achievement to have the first).

    Surrounding tile improvements will change their look. Farms could turn into a village look, mines & quarries into working class districts, and luxury resources into more fancy shopping quarters. Forest and lake tiles could become park-like, but all of the tiles within this first ring will be interspersed with urban housing. The main effect should be that of a budding metropolis.

    Mind that this is only graphical, and not a gameplay change. Tile yields will remain the same to avoid unnecessary complication for this topic. The graphics can change instantly, or preferably, become visually denser as population grows, and as certain city center buildings are constructed.

    The 20 pop will however unlock a second tier of Districts, offering more specialization, and more visual interest and diversification, giving your metropolis a unique look & direction.

    Reaching 30 population and the Atomic Era, the second ring around your City Center will unlock & transform all the improvements into the urban look. Now the real sprawling metropolitan feel will kick in, as cities might already be encroaching as urban zones connect between your early high population starting cities that are close to each other, with first ring and second ring metropolises colliding.

    Also, with the 30 pop a fourth ring around the City Center will become available for growing into (& purchasing). This offers you more options for expanding and placing (new) Districts, as well as solving the problem of having the odd tile in between cities that is tantalizingly forever just out of reach for your cities.

    Because cities are often close enough to have some overlap, the Information Era wil not transform the third ring as well in order to leave some space for the original look of farms and other improvements (which will of course still be there for all cities below 20 pop).

    Instead, the Information Era will give you the ability to merge three cities into a Megalopolis, if they meet certain specific conditions. Ideally, this would actually merge them, adding a form of regional play: greying out the lesser 2 population cites, giving control to only the biggest City Center. This will help with micromanagement, but it will also unlock a new third tier of unique (multiple tile) specialization Districts. (The new city name can turn into Greater Metropolitan Area of...)

    In a nutshell: concentric outward urban expansion happens by population growth, and automatically changes the visual look.


    Before I go into more detail by Era, just this: the numbers I added are very, very rough. Don't pay too much attention to them as they only losely indicate the general impact of a district or improvement.

    And for the record: I haven't played Civilization games other than VI (and I usually play on Emperor/Standard map/Standard speed).


    Industry & Rail

    City Center

    - Neighborhood (+2 housing, x3)

    - Railway Station (+ 25% pop growth)

    Engineer: Rail, reclaim Lake tiles


    New resource: Steel (produced in Factory, + Iron) > needed for urban expansion

    The essence of the Industrial Era should be Industry and Rail. The way rail is implemented in the game right now is heartbreakingly sad, and I would love to see this system buffed, canals included. Rail should offer big benefits to Industrial Zones and Harbors, where linking up the two provides substantial boosts in production and gold, turning Factories into the powerhouses of modernity that they are. (One could also add the resource Steel and create a little production chain. Linking up your Iron Mine to an Industrial Zone by rail would be essential then.)

    As production (& food) scales massively by boosting your Industry and Harbors, so should then the ability to spend that production on the growth of your urban centers, driving them faster into reaching a population of 20, and unlocking the start of your sprawling metropolis with a second tier of specialization districts. Of course there should be a downside too: heavy pollution and fast growth should create negative modifers and possibly (and highly likely!) slums and rebellion.

    To sustain the population boom with housing, the Neighborhood will become a City Center building, one that can be build up to 3 times (- each one could add a denser visual layer). The actual Neighborhood District will transform into a Suburban District, to be unlocked at Atomic Age.

    In general I would like this Era to feel explosive in growth, but also lacking in amenities so high risk for negative modifiers and even rebellion. Modernity comes with a price, and this should bring an interesting 'growth crisis' phase into your empire.


    Highways & Highrises

    20 pop expands City Center to 1st ring

    City Center

    - Offices (highrise) (amenities, gold, x3)

    - Residential (highrise) (housing, x3)

    - Subway (+ 20% growth, amenities)

    Districts + 1

    Unlocks a Second tier of Districts, for further specialization (pop req = 20)

    Media District (Religion/ideology; amenities)

    (Newspaper, Television (Atomic), Digital (Information)

    Finance District (Commercial; amenities)

    (3 WTC towers)

    World Congress District (Diplomacy; diplo favor + envoys)

    Military Intelligence District (Domination; spy abilities, req for Aircraft Carriers)

    Engineers: Highway

    (+ 50% growth for each linked city, but negatives for amenities & housing )

    Cannot go through Districts, only through tile improvements.

    Here is where the Urban growth starts, and 'manually' developing your highrises through City Center projects could give more reward and diversification for your cities (it also could be seen as tedious, but personally I would like to see the few metropolises that I have grow 'manually' like that.) Also, the Highway ability for Engineers would give you a fresh perspective for your empire, looking at possibilities to link up cities in order to reach the next phase of growth for your metropolis.

    In general I would like the Modern Era to feel a bit like a planning puzzle, with highways adding huge growth to reach the next population requirement (see Atomic) but also being somewhat difficult to place. This age is still somewhat lacking in amenities and housing, making it a challenge to deal with the rising population.


    Mass Transport & Suburbia

    2nd ring City Center, unlocks 4th ring

    City Center

    - no more housing, "forcing" suburbanization

    - second ring subway (+20 % growth)

    New district:

    + 1

    New Districts (no limit, no pop requirement)

    Suburban District (replaces Neighborhood, adj: + housing for appeal)

    (Shopping Mall, Food Plaza)

    Transportation Hub (adj: Airport, Suburban)

    (Bus, Parking, Train) (+ 20% growth to City, + 10% growth to airport, + amenities)

    Park District (adj: Suburban)

    (Fountain, Terraces) (+ 3 amenities)

    Engineers: Bridges (1 tile)

    Highway along Coastal tiles,

    add 1 tile to Seaport & Airport (+ 25% cargo/passsengers)

    This Era will offer you the abilities to balance out your negative modifiers... However, Suburbanization takes a lot of room, and obviously only a couple of cities will reach this pop requirement for the 4th ring to unlock... Will you focus on stabilizing your negative modifiers, or go for even more economic power by expanding your Sea- and Airports? Or put in that extra District, but maybe further complicate your highway network?


    Megacity, Megastructures

    unlocks 5th ring

    Special ability: 80 pop of 3 cities combined (with min pop of 20 each) within 8 tile radius) can merge into a Mega City, or Megalopolis.

    Unlocks the ability to construct Mega Districts (pop req = 80)

    2 tile

    Office & Science Park (Science; amenities)

    Boulevard Strip (Culture; amenities)

    Super Mall (food, amenities)

    3 tile

    Mega Airport

    Mega Seaport

    Mega Bridge

    Engineers: Highspeed Rail (growth, amenities, huge speed bonus)

    New Wonders:

    Burj Khalifa, Marina Bay, Three Gorges Dam, Daxing International Airport and other Mega projects (all 2 or 3 tiles)

    The Information Era should feel like a real accomplishment. Creating a Mega City should be a challenge but rewarding: big districts that give huge bonuses to their respective Victories. Also the Wonders should add to the showoff & prestige feel...


    Terraform the World

    City Center

    - skyrail? (Huge growth and amenities)

    New Districts (3 or more tiles):

    Pyramid Vertical City (+20 housing)

    Engineers: reclaim Coastal tiles and 1 Sea tile in; buy tiles at will (high Gold cost)

    This Era should be the cherry on top. The game is done, you have won already (or lost a while ago). Now you are god. Terraform your world. Reclaim Land. Plunk down that Mega Airport in the sea. Connect those Continents with a collection of huge eye popping bridges. Basically do what you want. Or try to put your population through the roof with the massive Pyramid Vertical Cities of the future, turning your empire into one huge sustainable Global City.



    Seaports and airports should have a much bigger role in the modern age, reflecting the development of modern Megaports.

    Introducing two new 'stats': cargo and passengers. Cargo will count for Seaports and (a new) Economic Victory, Passengers will tie in to Airports and Culture/Tourism.

    Seaports count cargo, that is based on trade routes, production from industrial zones and urban population.

    Airports will count passengers, based on trade routes, Wonders and Culture Districts, seaside resorts etc.

    Both Seaports and Airports can be expanded by Engineers.

    If they are adjacent and/or connected it should add benefits.

    Ranked competitions

    I would love to see ranked competions for seaports and airports. The cargo or passengers you collect create a ranking score, that you can check while in game.

    Being ranked first in cargo and passengers would offer points to an Economic Victory or Cultural Victory.

    This will help with keeping the game interesting, even when you already dominate in other ways.


    I would love to be able to construct highways between cities. This will add visual interest to the map and drive up population even further. They won't be districts obviously, but they will have some placement obstacles and negative modifiers too, making it a mini puzzle game.

    For instance, Districts cannot be highwayed, so you have to work around them. Perhaps wait for Engineers to unlock the create highway along coast ability (think of the eyecandy, with your highways weaving along the coast, passing your urban highrises and districts into your sprawling metropolis)


    I quite like Wonders and the diversification they add to the map. But I would love to see them more dynamic. Wonders up untill the Renaissance will deteriorate over time (say, after 3 Era's). But starting Modern Era they can be transformed into Musea, adding gold and huge tourism bonuses. Connecting them to Transport Hubs and Airports will add further benefits.

    Also: No more late game early wonder building. Each wonder can only be built in the Era + 2. To make up for the shorter benefits, buff them up hard, so they become quite decisive but within a shorter time span.

    A Final Word on Cosmetics....

    If Firaxis would ever go down the road of lots of smaller content packs instead large expansions or civ dlc's, I for one would happily pay for cosmetic packs too.

    Obviously the above idea would take huge amounts of resources to create visual overlays and new looks...

    Yet the possibilities are endless: you could create Bridge Packs, Air- and Seaport packs, Parks, (mutiple tile) Wonders, futuristic Engineering packs. Of course all flavoured in different styles.

    I quite love how the maps look, but I dislike the generic modern bland look of cities. I also rather dislike the look of most districts, in particular the pink theatre square, the rather silly yellowish entertainment complex and the totally uninspired Neighborhood. I wouldn't mind upgrades for that! If only there would be a cosmetic makeover for the Neighborhood, making it fit a metropolitan theme, I would pay gladly for it.

    And while we are at it: how about actual trains, planes and automobiles speeding along rail, sky and your highways! Or big oil tankers cruising the oceans?

    Possibilities are endless, as would me reaching for my wallet in that case ;

    Thanks for reading!
    Ryansinbela likes this.

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