Thoughts on the state of the game since New Frontier Pass

pokiehl

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Introduction
With the Great Negotiator DLC, I wanted to collect my thoughts on the state of the game and the future of the Leader Pass.

Civilization is far and away my favorite game series. It has brought me nearly endless enjoyment, and the games serve as anchor points to some of my most important memories in life. I lead with this to convey my enormous gratitude and respect to the developers. However, beginning with the New Frontier Pass and carrying through to the Leader Pass, there has been an increasing decline in quality.

Bugs and Stability
The New Frontier Pass introduced quite a few bugs, some of which are severe and game-breaking. By and large, these bugs have yet to be fixed or even acknowledged. The Great Negotiators DLC has also introducing bugs such as broken leader music during diplomatic interactions and an exploit for Abraham Lincoln to receive unlimited free units.

Throughout the promotion of the Grand Negotiators DLC, the developers did not mention a bugfixing patch, but after over a year and a half of silence, I was hoping that we’d get some resolution for these issues. However, there are no patch notes, and the game version number hasn’t even changed with the update. As best I can tell, the only fixes we’ve received since the April 2021 patch are that the Eureka text descriptions for Siege Tactics and Replaceable Parts have been updated.

Given that every entry in the New Frontier Pass DLC introduced bugs which remain, and that the Great Negotiator DLC has already brought bugs, I am concerned that every additional release will further break aspects of the game. For the next content from the Leader Pass, I hope the developers will be able to address some of the following:

  • The Culture Industry policy card bricking games
  • The AI overfocusing on Science and Campuses to the detriment of everything else due to a presumed typo
  • The broken modifier in the Letters of Marque policy card, which does not apply the Trade Route yield penalty
  • The Portugal Trade Route UI not showing the Faith bonus
  • General crashing, which increased in frequency throughout the NFP DLC
  • Other issues which have been reported on Civfanatics and submitted to 2K support
Attention to Detail
Details create the big picture, but lately, attention to detail has suffered. Many little things have been overlooked since the New Frontier Pass. For instance, some new civilizations did not get their city style graphics appropriately applied, there are missing icons in the Loyalty lens, and the music for Portugal plays on a different channel than other themes. Additionally, the way abilities are described has been increasingly inconsistent, with missing font icons, different ways of rephrasing similar bonuses, and obvious grammatical mistakes. Some of these have been addressed, thankfully; Kublai Khan is no longer being lauded for his “marshall” skill. Overall, though, these issues have worsened since the first DLC of the New Frontier Pass and the existing ones are largely unaddressed.

The quality of the art has also changed. There is a growing clash of artistic style that doesn’t blend well with existing content. Julius Caesar looks overly cartoonish in his proportions and outfit, and the texturing of Simon Bolivar stands out as noticeably different than texturing on other leaders, for instance. Environmental art has taken a hit as well. The textures of structures in the Mayan Observatory district clash wildly with those of the Library, University, and Research Center buildings—compare this to the excellent Malian Suguba or the Phoenician Cothon, which have wholly unique models for their district buildings. The Honey resource leaves more empty space on the tile than any other resource or tile feature, with only a couple hives ever generating.

It’s not just the game itself—promotional material feels less polished, too. The webpage for the Great Negotiator DLC launched with the screenshots contradicting the captions right below them, for instance. Most have been corrected, but even now the webpage calls Saladin’s ability “The Victorious Military” but in actuality it is “The Victorious” in game and in the screenshot. This is to say nothing of the actual DLC launch, which has frankly been messy, confusing, and disappointing. I still don't have access to the new leaders.

Overall, everything has begun to feel less and less polished. You may not care about typos or syntax or an off-kilter model, but details matter. The little things sum up to the big thing, and when the little things are lacking, invariably this is reflected in the bigger picture. These oversights hurt immersion and make this AAA title feel much less “big budget.”

Civ and Leader Designs
With April 2021 rebalancing and the Great Negotiator DLC, the civ and leader designs have gradually felt less cohesive and elegant. While New Frontier Pass had some great gems, like Portugal’s whole design, the April 2021 patch saw certain Civs receive sledgehammer-sized buffs that result in over-the-top yields. With the Great Negotiator pack, abilities feel much more basic than previous DLC. Nzinga’s leader ability is “Maya, but continents.” Julius Caesar receives a flat Gold bonus for conquest or clearing Barbarian camps, but wouldn’t this bonus feel more dynamic if it gradually scaled with some factor, instead of being flat until Steel, then flat again?

Much of this is a matter of taste, but it would be great to see more out-of-the-box ideas that don’t echo existing design space.

Summary
Although I am truly grateful that this game is receiving additional content, the issues are accumulating to the point where I am beginning to wonder what Civilization 7 will be like. In the excitement of this new DLC, I hope Firaxis can potentially take a step back and address some of the above issues so that Civilization 6 can be retired with the same level of polish that we got in the base game through Gathering Storm.

Again, I am very thankful to the developers for their hard work on this game. I know making a game isn't easy, but they have said they care about fan feedback, and history has shown us they take it seriously, even if they aren't able to be as transparent as we may like.
 
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Gorbles

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It's honestly hard to pick a thread here. There are a lot of valid complaints about attention to detail, technical issues, bugs, issues with 2K (or Firaxis or whomever's) marketing copy (the website), etc. But then there's also a lot of "things I personally don't like or find offputting". For example, I love Caesar. He leans into the "cartoonish" side of things, sure, but then again that's been a thing with Civ VI's art style since before it was released (and the ensuing criticism it received, almost consistently, for a long while after release also).

I guess my baseline is "I agree on the technical issues and general quality control / rollout of the product, but I disagree on everything else that could possibly be subjective" 😅
 

pokiehl

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It's honestly hard to pick a thread here. There are a lot of valid complaints about attention to detail, technical issues, bugs, issues with 2K (or Firaxis or whomever's) marketing copy (the website), etc. But then there's also a lot of "things I personally don't like or find offputting". For example, I love Caesar. He leans into the "cartoonish" side of things, sure, but then again that's been a thing with Civ VI's art style since before it was released (and the ensuing criticism it received, almost consistently, for a long while after release also).

I guess my baseline is "I agree on the technical issues and general quality control / rollout of the product, but I disagree on everything else that could possibly be subjective" 😅
Thanks for reading! You know, I struggled with picking what to call out in certain spots, and indeed, the art is the most subjective thing to critique, and many people with an eye for art have complained about details I don't have the eye to notice, like lighting in the NFP leaders for example. An example of something I didn't call out is the portraits for the new leaders. They are a distinctively different style than before, and look like they've been "painted over." For these, I think they look fine, but it's hard for me to ignore when things just don't "gel" together. I think that bothers some people more than others.
 

Nikolai II

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Regarding bugs and stability, are we even sure what was and was not fixed yet? I am sure Firaxis did fix a lot, even though AFAIK 2K has yet to release a list. It's early, but have anyone checked the reported crashes up against the new patch? :) Just wondering.
 

Duke William of Normandy

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Much of this is a matter of taste, but it would be great to see more out-of-the-box ideas that don’t echo existing design space.
I am glad to inform you that with the supposed leak of the Great Commanders Pack, we will hopefully be getting much more dynamic Leader Abilities. :D

 

pokiehl

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I am glad to inform you that with the supposed leak of the Great Commanders Pack, we will hopefully be getting much more dynamic Leader Abilities. :D


I'm not trying to come off as excessively negative, but I'm not really excited by those either. First of all, the descriptions remain inconsistently written and out of wack with prior content.

But more importantly, they don't feel like great designs to me. They're all fairly basic bonuses that riff off of other content.

Nader Shah has a Trade Route yield bonus, but Persia's civ ability already has one...it feels redundant and hamfisted. Suleiman is probably the most interesting, but half of his ability is 'opposite Lautaro.' Tokugawa is basically Kumasi's suzerain ability + Statue of Liberty with a little extra.

It feels like we're just retreading old territory, not pushing new or elegant designs.
 

Duke William of Normandy

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I'm not trying to come off as excessively negative, but I'm not really excited by those either. First of all, the descriptions remain inconsistently written and out of wack with prior content.

But more importantly, they don't feel like great designs to me. They're all fairly basic bonuses that riff off of other content.

Nader Shah has a Trade Route yield bonus, but Persia's civ ability already has one...it feels redundant and hamfisted. Suleiman is probably the most interesting, but half of his ability is 'opposite Lautaro.' Tokugawa is basically Kumasi's suzerain ability + Statue of Liberty with a little extra.

It feels like we're just retreading old territory, not pushing new or elegant designs.
That's fair. I do hope that Civ 6 gets polished enough as well, even though I don't agree with you on some stuff here and there. :)
 

bbbt

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It's a minor complaint is the scheme of things, but I was disappointed the LP didn't come with achievements.

Having said that, like a lot of places, Firaxis is clearly massively understaffed at the moment. They currently have about 30 openings listed, and they are not a big company: https://firaxis.com/careers/

Something like the Leader Pack is to keep art talent employed while development is working on game engines (a longer process). In the pre-DLC days of the game industry, the art talent used to basically just get laid off and then rehired.

But, seriously Firaxis, delay Civ 7 by another 3-4 weeks to pull resources for a final bug pass or two.
 

pokiehl

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It's a minor complaint is the scheme of things, but I was disappointed the LP didn't come with achievements.

Having said that, like a lot of places, Firaxis is clearly massively understaffed at the moment. They currently have about 30 openings listed, and they are not a big company: https://firaxis.com/careers/

Something like the Leader Pack is to keep art talent employed while development is working on game engines (a longer process). In the pre-DLC days of the game industry, the art talent used to basically just get laid off and then rehired.

But, seriously Firaxis, delay Civ 7 by another 3-4 weeks to pull resources for a final bug pass or two.
Interesting points there--I didn't realize that about the game industry and art layoffs in the past. That makes a lot of sense.
 

conorbebe

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I had really hoped that the release of games like Humankind and Old World would force Firaxis to up their game and fix the many issues that plague Civilization VI in its current state, but this does not seem to be the case.

The game feels more unstable than ever, frequently freezing or failing to launch correctly, and there are so many unpolished or inconsistent aspects of the game now that it's become impossible to keep track.

At this point I'm ready to move on to Civilization VII because Firaxis seems to be showing no interesting in improving the game beyond additional leaders with shallow mechanics that don't actually have any meaningful impact.
 

James_Champagne

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I guess my issue with a lot of the new content (haven't even tried the new leaders yet because, well, like a lot of people I just can't) is that they've made the game worse, not better. Mainly through stuff like the aforementioned lack of polish (though at least the music for NFP was on point), the annoying bugs, and so on. I don't know, I defend Firaxis a lot but if I was running a company and people kept complaining about these bugs, I think it would be a good idea to try to fix it, or at least acknowledge that these problems exist.
 

Thormodr

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The length some people are willing to go to find a conspiracy theory to believe in.
To be honest, the thought had crossed my mind. Lol.

I dismissed it since such bad publicity would be awful for sales. Especially with the increased competion out there.
 

Pfeffersack

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@pokiehl pretty much summed what I would have wrote when starting that thread. No intention to be ungrateful for the freebie and not denying that I had a lot of fun with Civ3-6 despite all the issues, but unless Civ6 will receive some more serious patches I'm leaning towards saying that on the whole it was more a step to the side then forward for the series overall. It has some fantastic additions over Civ5 without a doubt and offers a lot of quantity in sheer numbers of content and features, but it seriously lacks in polish and AI. Plus that modding suffered from the start and still suffers from absend .dll and other restrictions. Again, I'm not regreting the many hours of fun I had with it, but I'm honestly concerned whether Civ7 will improve things again (my fear is that alone sale model will shift even more in direction of multiple small DLC additions, which IMHO aren't good for depth/polish/AI...even if accompanied by patches like NFP) - and for me the magic Civ bubble bursted the moment I tasted an alternative. Now it is just very hard for me to come back and accept all those well-known bugs, exploits and a weak AI - spending my gaming hours elsewhere feels just more rewarding. So the minimum for creating some excitement for the (free, once roll-out issues sorted out...) LP would have been at least some patching, e.g. if the notes would say AI is fixed for monopolies and corporations, that what be a true reason for me to start a game with that mode and a new leader. Trying to exploit a new leader ability alone and encountering new opponents, which will follow the same limited logics (like not even purchasing in ressources on Marathon what they need for a single unit, to just make a random example) isn't a reason for me.
 

James_Champagne

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I guess to me my own personal barometer has been when I realized that most of the fun/best CIV VI games I ever had were the ones that took place BEFORE the NFP Pass. I can't quite put my finger on why this is the case, but it just is.

I think the Game Modes were (mostly) a good idea, it's just the implementation was poor or they were ruined by bugs (esp. the Monopoly mode). I almost wonder sometimes if the Monopoly mode was a test run for some kind of "economic victory" condition for CIV VII (though that's probably just hopeful projection on my part).
 
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