After making its console debut on the Nintendo Switch last year, Civilization VI has now brought its brilliantly strategic action over to the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One. Typically, the series has been one that’s better associated with PC gaming – it has always been one of those titles that felt like it needed a mouse and keyboard to be played properly. However, with its re-worked UI and intuitive controls, Civilization VI can certainly be enjoyed by console gamers too.

Civilization VI’s concept is simple: you take on the role of a well-known historical leader, set up your nation by founding your capital city on a hexagonally tiled map, and then lead that nation to prosperity through a variety of different means whilst taking it in turns with your rivals to make strategic actions. You’ll forge relationships and rivalries with other nations during your time playing and constantly research new things for your own nation, with games spanning across thousands of years and different eras. With varying ways to succeed and all kinds of different scenarios to deal with though, no two games will ever feel the same.

That really is putting it in a nutshell, because there’s a wealth of depth to Civilization VI’s gameplay. The tiles in which you grow your civilization offer something different for example, with them offering varying terrains that are suitable for different things – they may be perfect to expand your city in one instance, or they could instead make for ample farmland. Utilising your surroundings to your advantage is vital when building and expanding your nation, but it also means that you’ve got to ensure that you establish your capital in a locale that has ample resources surrounding it.

Civilization VI

The units and zones that you use when building your city are important too, especially when it comes to choosing what you want to specialize in. Do you focus on military growth and try to become one of the fiercest nations in the world? Or do you try to set up your own religion and take over the world with your beliefs? Some would say technology is the key to success, so do you look at setting the foundations in place to eventually be the first nation to head into space? As mentioned, games can last over multiple millenniums, so you’ve got to have the foresight in place to ensure that your nation grows both in scale and with the times. These are just a few of the winning conditions that can see your nation deemed the best in Civilization VI though, with plenty of different options as to how players can decide to play the game.

Of course, you can mix things up a bit, whilst forming relationships with other leaders can be vital to your success too. There were countless occasions where my victories came from ensuring that I kept the peace with my rivals and established trade deals, whilst having a helping hand can certainly turn the tide in your favour when at war. Of course, there are bad relationships to be had too, so if you cross the line with some leaders or don’t adhere to their tyranny, it can quickly see things turn sour. These made for some of my favourite moments in the game though and really demanded some strategic thought to get through.

Civilization VI

Oh, and yes, you can betray nations you’ve formed alliances with. I feel like I needed to put that out there for you Civilization VI players that want to be bastards and betray kind-hearted souls like Gandhi, you cowards. (Actually, watch out for Civilization VI Gandhi – he’s the worst).

There’s so much more to Civilization VI than what I’ve mentioned, and honestly, trying to explain it all would take THOUSANDS of words. Just know that everything ties together perfectly, with the game proving a joy to play whether you’re going for all-out war with everyone, trying to forge relationships to bring peace to the world, or even just going down the cultural route and making your nation one that specialises in the arts of the world. It’s so rewarding to build up your nation and see it thrive, whilst the fact that different leaders act in varying ways spices up each game – you’ll never know if you’re neighbouring a peaceful leader who wants to befriend you or one that wants to burn your capital to the ground, so you’ve got to be prepared. Strategic action has never been so exciting and there’s a real air of brilliance to just about everything you do in the game. Just expect to lose hours upon hours upon HOURS playing…

Civilization VI

Typical games of Civilization VI are fairly open and allow you to play however you want, though there are also Scenarios you can tackle that encourage you to play in a specific way to achieve objectives. I was particularly fond of these, especially when I was learning to get to grips with the game, and it ensured that I learned about the different mechanics that I might not have played around with if I wasn’t made to. I’ll admit that I’m a sucker for taking the ‘WAR WITH EVERYONE!’ approach, so having to play a little differently was a lot of fun and demonstrated just how much depth there is to the experience. There’s also a multiplayer mode in place for those who want to play with others, so you won’t run out of things to do fast in Civilization VI – I’m a little afraid to play with series veterans right now, but it’s something I’m looking forward to sinking my teeth into in the near future.

It’s worth mentioning that there are two expansions available for purchase: ‘Rise and Fall’ and ‘Gathering Storm’. ‘Rise and Fall’ sees your civilization heading into either a Golden Age or Dark Age depending on your Era Score, with each affecting the loyalty of your people. Your actions during either brings with it advantages and disadvantages that can shape the future of your nation. ‘Gathering Storm’ focuses on the weather, and forces players to deal with disasters and climate change. Each spices up the gameplay in different ways and brings all-new challenges for the player to deal with on their journey to prosperity.

Players who want the definitive Civilization VI experiencewill want to invest in these expansions – I particularly enjoyed the gameplay mechanics brought with ‘Gathering Storm’, with the disasters reminding me of my days playing Sim City and having to deal with the different threats that came your way. It’s just a shame that they weren’t included as part of the main package, especially since they’ve been out for some time on PC now.

Of course, it’s been known for some time that Civilization VI is a pretty special game, but how does it hold up on consoles where you don’t have the comfort of a mouse and keyboard to deal with all of the menus? Well, thanks to an intuitive control scheme and a clean UI that makes everything easy to access, it all plays very well. Obviously, it’s a bit more work than being able to click on everything freely, but nothing is too convoluted in the game and there are plenty of tutorials in place to teach you the ins-and-outs of just about everything. Admittedly, it will probably take a good few hours to figure everything out and there is a learning curve in place when using a controller, but it’s certainly a more than viable way to partake in Civilization VI’s strategic goodness.

9.3/10

Summary

Civilization VI on the PlayStation 4 is brilliant. Nothing is trimmed from the game with the player getting the full bona fide Civilization experience, whilst the re-worked UI and intuitive control scheme ensure that it’s easy to play too – sure, it’s not as slick as playing with a mouse and keyboard, but it’s definitely a more than competent alternative for console gamers. The strategic action is still as brilliant as ever too, with no two games ever feeling playing the same and plenty of options in place to ensure that players will be able to have hundreds of hours of fun. It really is a special game.

Simply put, Civilization VI truly feels at home on consoles and gives gamers a fantastic way to experience the epically strategic escapades that it offers.

Developer: Fireaxis
Publisher: 2K Games
Platform(s): PlayStation 4 (Reviewed), Xbox One, Nintendo Switch, PC