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:
Attention to Detail
- 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
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 become increasingly worse 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 texture of structures in the Mayan Observatory district clash wildly with the actal models of the Library, University, and Research Center—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 Virtuous Military” but in actuality it is “The Viruous” 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.
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.