Sid Meier's Civilization VI (Nintendo Switch) Review

By Tomas Barry 23.01.2019

Review for Sid Meier

Sid Meier's Civilization is one of the oldest turn-based strategy games around. The first instalment released for the PC, way back in 1991. However, despite being one of the most successful strategy series around, Civilization VI on the Switch marks the first time the franchise appears on a console. The complexity of the menu systems, and the challenge of navigating them with anything other than a keyboard and mouse, is likely the reason a console edition has never been produced before. However, the Switch's touch screen functionality offers a way around this ergonomic issue, allowing for a similar point and click experience, without any damaging compromises on that front. On top of this, being able to get the full-blown Civilization experience on a portable device is a dream-come-true for many long-term fans. After all, who wouldn't want to wage a little war as the mighty Gilgamesh, on the morning commute?

If there's one thing the Civilization series is famous for, it's the way it sucks players in. It's remarkably easy for a one-hour session to slip into an unintentional five-hour extravaganza. After six iterations, the formula of this turn-based strategy franchise is probably as polished and refined as it's going to get, without future wholesale changes, so it's a good time for the experience to make the jump to console. Although Civilization VI does deviate from some of the mechanics established in Civilization V, excluding one or two caveats, it's a familiar system that existing fans will acclimatise to without issue. New players, on the other hand, due to the deep and complex nature of the strategy elements, have to accept that the first few hours will be spent absorbing the various mechanics and coming to terms with the quirks of the menu system. Beyond that, even if playing against AI on the lower difficulty settings, there's a great deal of trial and error, and the most crucial lessons are delivered through inevitable mistakes and failures.

Screenshot for Sid Meier's Civilization VI  on Nintendo Switch

For example, the first civilisation that this reviewer established did quite well, for a time. Playing as Gilgamesh, one tends to have an early combat advantage. On this occasion the first settler, luckily, was dropped into a huge mass of land with a wealth resources, which is excellent for a civilisation further down the line. Unfortunately, this knowledge also discouraged the comprehensive scouting of the entire region that ordinarily occurs early on, when resources is one of many issues. With just one pocket of uncharted territory remaining on the player's continent, it seemed unnecessary to send anyone directly to the quietest spot on the map, especially with a nation ready to be invaded in the north. Mistake. With all the War Carts in the land posted up north, suddenly an undiscovered civilisation emerged from the pesky unexplored hexes south. When a scout is finally sent there, it's discovered there's a whole city right on the capital's doorstep. The whole nation is much nearer than once thought and the player is wiped out. It's in this way that Civilization VI teaches the player, very gradually through trial and error, to be mindful of financial collapse, famine, religious complications and countless other threats.

For the new players alluded to, this means there's no avoiding a significant phase of learning the rules and the mechanics. It's most certainly worth it in the long run, though, and fans of the genre will have no problem persevering through this period. Existing fans of Civilization, on the other hand, don't face much adjustment. Besides the control scheme on the Switch, however, there are still various differences between Civilization VI and its predecessor Civilization V. These are mostly tweaks to how numerous different elements work and interact with each other.

Screenshot for Sid Meier's Civilization VI  on Nintendo Switch

One of the most significant new features is the addition of districts. These impact on things both in the short-term and the long term, with twelve different types available to build. Such sites, which come in the form of Holy Sites, City Centres, Encampments, Campuses and more, provide boosts to various traits, yields and other elements. In the short term, these bonuses can often make a huge difference, whilst districts in general are tremendously important for the player's objective. For example, want to master the seas? You'll need a harbour. This provides an extra Great Admiral point per turn, and yields two gold and one science per turn. Making the wrong decisions in terms of what districts to focus on can be fatal, so they're definitely an integral aspect of cities, mixing things up and providing more flexibility.

Elsewhere, the mechanics of religion have been altered, and it now plays an even more significant role than in previous iterations, in both the early and later game stages, with the possibility of a new religious victory. This requires a lot of missionaries and apostles to achieve, meaning it's difficult to be discreet about the pursuit of this end-goal. However, since it's a more concentrated approach than previously, rivals will feel more wary when they encounter civilisations with religious views, especially should they be 'liberating' folk. There are also a series of quite minor tweaks, which are less significant in the grand scheme of things but still mix up the formula. For example, builders just take the one turn to make improvements, and explored regions of the map become illustrated maps if unoccupied. Most of these alterations are for the better.

Screenshot for Sid Meier's Civilization VI  on Nintendo Switch

Impressively, there are very few flaws with the adaptation of Civilization VI to the Switch. The touch screen controls are without a doubt the most convenient way to play, especially as it can sometimes be difficult to identify which menu tab they're currently engaged with, with lots of notifications and information to sift through on a turn-per-turn basis. It is slightly frustrating that there's no way to use this control method and also play in TV mode. This is nothing to do with the developer, of course, but it is strange that in terms of controls, Civilization VI might work better on the Wii U than the Switch. Elsewhere in other domains, though, things are preserved to an impressive degree. There aren't any obvious graphical downgrades to speak of, and everything performs very well, except for the occasional stutter when processing AI turns when deep into a game. Players are treated to the same cut-scenes, will see the same models of the world leaders, and the various map animations all remain too. Better yet, the epic score for Civilization VI is also present and correct, which is wonderfully enchanting and atmospheric.

In terms of multiplayer, Civilization VI only offers local wireless matches, for up to four players. This is probably the biggest disappointment of the Switch version. Veteran fans of the series will find this the most irritating omission, since those who have mastered the mechanics of the title are likely to want to face the strongest opposition around. After all, no matter how unique each civilisation is, the AI is infinitely more predictable than real players. The lack of online functionality is the only genuine loss, compared to the PC experience. It's a shame because it also limits accessibility of mods, which are a huge part of Civilization for the community at large. With that said, to the newcomer, the latter would likely be too overwhelming anyway. As long as players are satisfied with the challenge of AI civilisations, alongside the local multiplayer, then the title still provides plenty of longevity. Any subsequent instalments in the series on Switch, however, must include it. As with various other titles being adapted for the first time, the lack of online is somewhat mediated by the convenience of the system's portability.

Screenshot for Sid Meier's Civilization VI  on Nintendo Switch

Cubed3 Rating

Rated 8 out of 10

Great - Silver Award

Rated 8 out of 10

Sid Meier's Civilization VI on the Nintendo Switch is a huge success. Considering it's the first iteration ever to appear on a console, and a hybrid one no less, Firaxis Games and Asphyr Media have done an excellent job. There are surprisingly few compromises to the control system and sense of flow, meaning it mirrors the PC version very well. Additionally, the aspects that have been streamlined to better suit the platform are thoughtfully implemented, such as the quick action button prompts. It's certainly disappointing that Civilization VI on the Switch couldn't have included the main additional DLC available on PC, especially as Rise & Fall changes some of the functionality. However, when it's so easy to sink hundreds of hours into the base game, perhaps this omission is forgivable. Overall, Civilization VI is an excellent addition to the Switch's library. Turn-based-strategy fans will love this very gratifying portable gem.









C3 Score

Rated $score out of 10  8/10

Reader Score

Rated $score out of 10  0 (0 Votes)

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