“Don’t reinvent the wheel, just realign it.”
February 8, 2018 5:50 PM   Subscribe

Why is Civilization 5 still more popular than Civilization 6? [PC Gamer] “It's hard to make a new strategy game that can compete with Civilization—even when that new strategy game is also Civilization. When Civilization 6 released on Steam in October 2016, it peaked at more than 160,000 concurrent players, quite a feat for any new game. But after the excitement of its first month, Civilization 6 has failed to surpass Civilization 5 in terms of regular players, according to Steamcharts. It’s gotten pretty close in recent weeks as expansion hype for Rise and Fall builds, but Civ 5 still holds the edge. Similarly, community members reported that Twitch viewership between the two games tended to favor Civ 5 prior to press and streamers receiving pre-release code for the expansion (though we were not able to independently verify this). Why is this? Why are 4X fans (at least on Steam) still sticking to the old warhorse rather than moving on to the new hotness? Is it discontent with changes made in the newer iteration? Is it the price difference? Was Civ 5 just that good?”

• Rise and Fall asks the question: Can Civilization VI become something it’s not? [Venture Beat]
“Indeed, Rise and Fall arrives at a strange point for the Civilization series. For over two decades, the latest Civ has been the strategy game by which all others have been judged. But this hasn’t been the case with Civilization VI. It’s not because it’s a bad game — it was certainly better at launch than Civ V was — but the competition is fiercer. Grand strategy games from studios such as like Amplitude (the Endless series) and Paradox Development Studio (Europa Universalis, Crusader Kings) among others are stealing some of Civ’s thunder. Civ VI has even struggled to win Civ fans over, with many still locked into Civ V, which has had more concurrent players than Civ VI even after the sequel’s release (it’s still roughly tied, per SteamSpy). As I mentioned, this is not totally abnormal. Civilization V took years and two expansions to get to the point where it was treated as a classic. But to get to that point, it needs to be able the answer the question: what does this incarnation of Civilization stand for? ”
• Civilization VI: Rise and Fall review: A few turns closer to a Golden Age [Ars Technica]
“Civilization VI was already a good strategy game. Most criticism leveled against it has come down to, "It's not yet as good as Civilizations V and IV," which are great games. With Rise and Fall, Civilization VI attains some of the depth and complexity that series fans felt was missing, and that's a great thing. But it also continues Civilization VI's tendency to rock the boat. When that works, it's welcome. The loyalty system and governors play out beautifully. Since you can always revisit Civilization IV or even Civilization II if you want the classic experience, it makes sense for the series to move forward. But it doesn't always work. Rise and Fall's points-chasing in the ages system feels incongruous with the Civilization experience. Firaxis still hasn't built a truly great Civilization to stand the test of time here, but it does feel like history is marching in the right direction. Remember, Civilization V's first expansion didn't quite get it there either, but the second did. I remain hopeful that I'll still be diving into Civilization VI a few years from now.”
• Civilization 6: Rise and Fall review [Polygon]
“Playing Rise and Fall feels less like a campaign, and more like a sandbox. This shift is achieved by the concept of citizen loyalty, which is closely tied to the power of a nation’s culture and a city’s distance from its capital. A weak culture and a far flung empire is a bad combination. It’s been used before in Civ games of the past, but never with the clarity of purpose shown here. In essence, my people will stay loyal to me only if they feel a part of the greater empire. This entails infrastructure investment in roads and cultural buildings. Governors are a new panel of powerful units who offer different strengths and boosts, all of which can be upgraded over time. Installing a Governor in a city will prop up its loyalty, but there is a price to be paid. I must make a choice between using my limited number of Governors to yield useful benefits from large, established cities, or to quell resistance in small, distant outposts. egrettably, overall score is still heavily weighted towards expansion and acreage, but this simple mechanic is a useful break on reducing the game to an endless cycle of conquest and expansion. Large empires that lack cohesion are weakened by their fringes. This is an accurate reflection of world history.”
• This 'Civ VI' Mod is Translating Trump's Real-Life Policies into the Game [Waypoint]
“One of the more popular mod types for the Civilization games involve dropping new leaders into the strategy game, making it no surprise people wasted little time adding Donald Trump. There are three Trump mods on the Steam Workshop for Civilization VI, and two are played for a combination of laughs and trolling. The headline graphic for Trump Make Civ Great Again, for example, is a heroic-looking Trump piercing the neck of a dragon-themed Hillary Clinton. The third mod, Realistic Donald Trump, is the one that caught my eye. “This is not a purely hate on Trump mod,” reads the description. “This mod gives Trump bonuses and penalties like any real life world leader should have. If you cannot fathom the idea that our president isn't winning at everything then this is not a mod for you.” The goal of Realistic Donald Trump is to craft a Civilization VI leader who changes, based on real-life events. Trump is, for the moment anyway, President, and his administration is rolling out policies that impact both the country and wider world. Modder Matt McDonald is spending time translating those policies into Civilization VI. Recently, Trump’s proposed budget cuts impacted the benefits of a research lab.”
• Cree Nation official concerned over Civilization 6 portrayal, hopes it “helps more than it hurts” [PCGamesN]
“Firaxis and 2K announced that the Cree would join the Civilization VI roster in Rise and Fall, becoming the first Native (North) American group represented in the game. In-game, the Cree are led by Poundmaker, who in real life led the people in the mid-19th century and worked to make peace with the Canadian government. These are the best strategy games on PC. Modern Poundmaker Cree Nation headman Milton Tootoosis is concerned with the peoples’ portrayal in-game, however. In an interview with CBC News, Tootoosis says initial excitement over the group’s inclusion turned sour when he realized how they would be represented in the game’s mechanics. “It perpetuates this myth that First Nations had similar values that the colonial culture has,” says Tootoosis, “and that is one of conquering other peoples and accessing their land. That is totally not in concert with our traditional ways and world view.” While Civilization’s sandbox nature has always offered a variety of ways to play, the most straightforward paths to victory involve proving military dominance, and it’s difficult to achieve more passive victory conditions without some aggressive expansion along the way. In Civilization VI, many of the Cree’s unique abilities and units are centered on building trade partners and strong alliances.”
posted by Fizz (90 comments total) 18 users marked this as a favorite
“Was Civ 5 just that good?”
posted by Fizz at 5:55 PM on February 8 [3 favorites]

I'm still thinking we haven't really bettered Civ IV with its epic theme and Leonard Nimoy narration.
posted by Talez at 6:08 PM on February 8 [36 favorites]

Since you can always revisit Civilization IV or even Civilization II

Was I the only one who liked III? Maybe it didn't have Nimoy narrating, but it was such a clean and unfussed game. And going for my trademark cultural victory didn't require as much fiddly and underexplained micromanagement as the tourism systems introduced in later games.
posted by Iridic at 6:08 PM on February 8 [6 favorites]

I've avoided buying Civ6 because I ended up buying Civ5 twice, once when it came out and again after the 2nd expansion. I'm going to wait until the next expansion and a faster computer until I buy it.

Plus, I haven't really played Civ5 all that much thanks to work and family so there's still a lot of it for me to play.

Finally, a friend bought me Stellaris for my birthday and I've been playing that. But it is so long I haven't even finished one game yet but I think I like it.
posted by any portmanteau in a storm at 6:10 PM on February 8 [1 favorite]

I have actually been avoiding booting up Civ6.

The closest I came to it was last year when I loaded Stellaris. Three(ish? time got fuzzy) days of going to bed at 4am and then leaving for work at 7 and I knew I had to uninstall it.
posted by anem0ne at 6:12 PM on February 8 [7 favorites]

Also, Baba Yetu is still the one and only video game theme to have won a Grammy.

Because it's just that beautiful.

Here's the Soweto Gospel Choir version.
posted by anem0ne at 6:14 PM on February 8 [15 favorites]

I’ve spent so many hours of my life on Civ that my desire to learn yet another one isn’t very high. I barely played 5 and same for 6.
posted by Automocar at 6:35 PM on February 8 [3 favorites]

I like some aspects of VI better than earlier iterations, but the truth is that 4x games are such timesinks that I don't load them up much anymore as a rule. (Like, I've barely touched Stellaris, and all my friends have been raving about that since roughly it came out, and I have yet to actually complete a game of Civ VI.)
posted by mordax at 6:43 PM on February 8 [2 favorites]

You gave me an excuse to post this: Friendship is Civilization.
posted by SPrintF at 6:46 PM on February 8 [2 favorites]

You gave me an excuse to post this: Friendship is Civilization.

You gave me an excuse to post this.
posted by Talez at 6:53 PM on February 8 [3 favorites]

Don’t look at me, I’m still playing Alpha Centauri.
posted by rodlymight at 6:54 PM on February 8 [31 favorites]

"I know some people, especially older ones, who don't really play any other games except for Civilization. They treat the game like solitaire. They don't really need a new version, they already have theirs."
So... that's me and Freeciv.
posted by clawsoon at 6:55 PM on February 8 [9 favorites]

I bought CivVI for my iPad because...well, it's Civ on mobile. It's fine. I don't have high expectations and haven't been disappointed. But I'm not replacing CivV on my laptop. Or CivIV, for that matter...
posted by lhauser at 6:56 PM on February 8 [1 favorite]

I've had less and less interest in succeeding Civ games, because they had less and less personality. I never cared that much about the military side, except insofar as I need to keep my borders intact, and compared to things like SMAC, the wonders reward movies were so generic and dull. IV was the last I played at all, in fact.
posted by tavella at 6:56 PM on February 8

I have played way too many hours of every Civ (except maybe Civ II, but tbh I don't remember the mid-90s that well). There are a few things about VI that I think are improvements over V, and there aren't a lot of new flaws. The three things I dislike most about VI were also true in V: the stupid AI, the flood of missionaries and the interminably long turns once you get past the midway point. I thought the cartoonish animations would annoy me more than they actually do, so that's something.

But at least pre-Rise and Fall, it doesn't actually add anything major to gameplay. The districts idea is a good one, and forces me to think a little more about what I'm going to build next. But it's not fundamentally a game-changer. Civ V isn't quite old enough for its graphics to feel dated, and anyway we're at a point where no one is playing this game for the graphics.

Of course, I only play against the computer and have no real interest in playing against humans. So maybe I'm an outlier in that respect?

Mostly, I think what Civ VI has made me realize is that I'm not interested any more in these small variations on the same basic gameplay, and the same simplistic view of history and civilization.

I stopped playing once I realized that the single biggest improvement I'd made to my experience was acquiring a second monitor so that I could browse the web while the computer played its turns.
posted by Slothrup at 6:57 PM on February 8 [8 favorites]

It is not at all complicated: the AI in 6 can't actually play the game. It can't take cities with military units, because it can't put its siege units where they are both protected and able to fire.

Civ 5 stock is almost as bad, but it has the Community Patch Mod that makes the AI much better.

I think in terms of being a game, Civ 4 was the peak (not counting SMAC). Civ 5 and 6 are something else.
posted by BeeDo at 6:58 PM on February 8 [6 favorites]

Fall From Heaven 2 is the best civ.
posted by Sebmojo at 6:59 PM on February 8 [8 favorites]

oh yeah I went there
posted by Sebmojo at 6:59 PM on February 8 [2 favorites]

I'm still thinking we haven't really bettered Civ IV with its epic theme and Leonard Nimoy narration.

The song is still great, but man does the content of that video not age well. They might as well start playing this song instead.
posted by robocop is bleeding at 6:59 PM on February 8 [1 favorite]

Civ II was the one that I got hooked on, and spent way too many hours playing, until I realized "this is supposed to be a game, why am I doing it if it feels like work."
posted by Daily Alice at 6:59 PM on February 8 [4 favorites]

I bought Civ6. I liked the split tech tree idea. It ran like a dog on my quite-new MBP, so I returned it.
posted by pompomtom at 7:03 PM on February 8

Was I the only one who liked III? Maybe it didn't have Nimoy narrating, but it was such a clean and unfussed game

I liked III an awful lot as well. One feature it had that I'm disappointed didn't come up in later versions was that of colonies - essentially, burning a worker unit to create an outpost on top of resources, so that you had access but didn't have a city to manage. In the end, it was a mechanic that didn't fully work, I don't think - the AIs never used them, and usually any colonies I established eventually got swallowed into my expanding empire. But the possibilities there were worth exploring, I thought.

But most of my epic games, where massive wars broke out or things were make or break, seem to have come in Civs II, III, or IV, with many of them in III. III also made it easy to set up different game conditions - capture the flag/leader, victory point locations, etc, that made for fun and bizarre games to try. I think my last game of Civ III was on the largest size map, with every Civ in the game, conquest only, and capturing the leader unit would entirely destroy a Civ. After a while, the game settled into a pattern - endless grinding war against your neighbours, followed by a sudden land rush when a Civ got eliminated wholesale, back to grinding war with a host of new neighbours. I had thoughts of a mod that would build on the concept, allowing the leaders to be upgraded over time, etc.

Anyways, I'm pleased to see Civ trying new things and new systems, and that the presence of things like Endless Legend and Stellaris are pushing them. It may not work, but rehashing the same formula eventually doesn't work either - IV was perhaps the pinnacle of classic Civ, now they need to try to find a different model of the game that is more diverse in terms of play styles and methods; it may still be a 4X game, but the developers need to be working on the 5th X - experimentation.
posted by nubs at 7:13 PM on February 8 [4 favorites]

Just played an hour or so of Rise and Fall and it's pretty good so far but seems much tougher or at least the barbarians were kicking my ass on Prince level which didn't usually happen in vanilla Civ VI.
posted by octothorpe at 7:35 PM on February 8

Was I the only one who liked III?

I like 3 the best (of 1-5; haven't played 6), but I don't really play it as a contest. Put it on a lowish difficulty, conquer the world, and start optimizing everything for everyone's benefit (eponysterical I guess).
posted by GCU Sweet and Full of Grace at 7:55 PM on February 8 [12 favorites]

I thought Civ: Beyond Earth didn't get the fair shake it deserved, which will forever bum me out a bit. V too two expansions to go from good to great, and I feel like BE was only one expansion away from reaching greatness as well. And it had lots of neat ideas that deserved more exploration.
posted by tobascodagama at 8:02 PM on February 8 [6 favorites]

Fall From Heaven 2 is the best civ.

I put thousands of hours into FFH2 (often with Orbis ModMod). Thousands. What have I done with my life? Oh yeah, played lots of Civ. I can live with that.

Also, I'm old enough to remember when people were making these same sorts of laments about Civ V and Civ IV. Because Civ games just tend not to be super great until the two expansions are in. I played a bunch of Civ 6 when it was released but have put it aside until it is complete. I'm sure many other people have done the same.

Firaxis also really needs to get off its ass and devote a bunch of time and money to working on the AI. It's been shaky from the start but an accumulation of new features with which the AI is incompetent have reached a critical mass where the game is essentially broken until the AI learns how to play.
posted by Justinian at 8:15 PM on February 8 [4 favorites]

As soon as I retire I'm gonna fire up Civ V and really figure it out. I got to play it a few times but not enough to really know it like I did with I, III and IV. I don't understand how people with regular jobs play it at all. Civ is the only game I ever played where I became confused why it was so light in the room when I only had one lamp on, and then I realized it was because I had been playing until dawn, and the sun was now out.
posted by skewed at 8:42 PM on February 8 [17 favorites]

Civ II is best Civ. Obviously.

OK, maybe not really, but it's a great game and also the only Civ I've really mastered.

I tried V but couldn't get into it. Which isn't V's fault; I'm just Civved out.
posted by zompist at 8:50 PM on February 8 [4 favorites]

I still play I and II more than any of the newer ones. I haven’t tried anything beyond V.
posted by fimbulvetr at 8:53 PM on February 8 [1 favorite]

All this Civ talk makes me long for the days of having 17 straight hours free to play a game.
posted by ejoey at 9:06 PM on February 8 [39 favorites]

Yeah, totally. I remember taking my desktop over to my friend's house to play stuff like Civ for like 12 hours on end. We'd sometimes cook three meals together.

Years later, when we were all living in different parts of the country, my friends pooled their money and bought me a copy of Civ V so we could all play together. And we did! It kept us connected for years.

It's been a long time since any of us played together, but the other night I happened to be on Steam for the first time in ages, and I saw that one of my friends was playing Civ V...
posted by shapes that haunt the dusk at 9:16 PM on February 8 [8 favorites]

I almost flunked out of uni because of I and II, and I really can’t afford to try the newer ones. That said, I’m loving Civ Revolution. It’s not nearly as thorough a game, but it lets this addict leave the bar and go home after two or three hours instead of waking up in a ditch.
posted by Capt. Renault at 9:17 PM on February 8 [8 favorites]

Not sure but think I played Civ 1 back in the day. Played tons of Alpha Centari.. (Miriam, ugh), then picked up V when I saw my daughter playing. Was ok...

Does AC play on Windows 10? Think I still have the discs...
posted by Windopaene at 9:17 PM on February 8

Civ got me through hideous pregnancy bed rest and other traumatic times. Installing it means life is terrrible and i am buckling the hatches down. When i uninstall it, the crisis is over.

But i still dream at times of little cities blooming in orderly grids over maps, legions marching neatly across terrain to tinny music.
posted by dorothyisunderwood at 9:24 PM on February 8 [22 favorites]

Look, maybe there aren't enough innovations on the four-X formula relative to the time between releases to justifying buying an entire new game with DLC every sequel?
posted by JHarris at 9:30 PM on February 8 [5 favorites]

A lot of the mini-systems in Civ 6 stress me out. The early game religion rush in particular. There's no time to explore the map or focus on anything else first, if you want decent beliefs. Similarly the district bonuses now tend to dictate what kind of cities you have to build where. And the expansions for it have largely just introduced more dilemmas and management headaches.

It's significantly less fun.
posted by snuffleupagus at 10:09 PM on February 8 [1 favorite]

A lot of the mini-systems in Civ 6 stress me out. The early game religion rush in particular. There's no time to explore the map or focus on anything else first, if you want decent beliefs. Similarly the district bonuses now tend to dictate what kind of cities you have to build where. And the expansions for it have largely just introduced more dilemmas and management headaches.

It's significantly less fun.

Contrapositive: I ran through a whole bunch of classic country French recipies based off of the province of the dish, and basically what you see is remnants of the food and trade routes available... I say that Civ6 may feel like it forces your hand, but in reality all cultures have their hands forced by their surrounding geographies, supplies, and neighbors... Honestly, its refreshing to know that you have to learn to play the map and your opponents and not just follow a cookie cutter pattern for survivial.
posted by Nanukthedog at 10:16 PM on February 8 [2 favorites]

Was shocked that Civ VI presented the social choice of "Triangular Trade" -- best known in real life for slave trading -- as a bonus with no downsides. Old enough to remember when Colonization got into trouble for this type of thing.
posted by johngoren at 10:45 PM on February 8 [9 favorites]

I thought Civ: Beyond Earth didn't get the fair shake it deserved, which will forever bum me out a bit. V too two expansions to go from good to great, and I feel like BE was only one expansion away from reaching greatness as well. And it had lots of neat ideas that deserved more exploration.

I am really conflicted on this, because Beyond Earth has both my favorite and my least-favorite systems among Civ games I've played. I love the simple, clean, effective culture grid, and the quest system is a great way to provide a variety of smaller-scale objectives over the course of a campaign. While I loved the idea of technology web, the complete lack of any sort of organizing principle made the whole thing an exercise in pointless frustration. I was expecting some sort subdivisions within the web, whether that be sections aiming toward a particular victory type, or affinity, or even just some sort of conceptual categories, but instead the whole thing feels really arbitrarily arranged.

Even with the Rising Tide expansion, I had difficulty sticking with a game past the initial rush for quests and culture. I agree that one more expansion addressing some of the major common complaints could have brought it up to a level I would have really liked.
posted by jsnlxndrlv at 10:48 PM on February 8 [1 favorite]

That said, I’m loving Civ Revolution.

I played the hell out of Civ Revolution for similar reasons a few years back. It's probably my single most heavily played phone game ever.
posted by mordax at 10:57 PM on February 8 [3 favorites]

Windowpaene: Does [Alpha Centauri] play on Windows 10? Think I still have the discs...

Yes it should, and it's probably necessary to apply some patches. PC Gaming Wiki has help on these things for many games. See what they say about AC. If it's troublesome to get it up and running from the discs (or finding them), the digital GOG.com version is convenient to install and includes the official patches according to the wiki.
posted by primal at 11:13 PM on February 8 [3 favorites]

Let me first set my stall out and say that Civ IV is one of my favorite games ever. It's just so well balanced. Everything just works in that game and no excuses have to be made. It’s even got a relatively exciting endgame, which can’t be said of any of the other sequels to the original Civilization. By most objective measures it even beats out the original.

That said, all the sequels suffer from a cultural problem. Unlike the original they’re not designed under the mushroom cloud of thermonuclear annihilation. It came out in September 1991, just as the Cold War was ending. Most everyone stopped worrying about the specter of nuclear missiles flying. Part of what made the original Civilization such a brilliant game was that at the end of many, many hours of careful stewardship of your empire, it could all be blown away if your neighbor got their hands on nuclear weapons. Admittedly, sometimes that nuclear-button-happy neighbor was the player, trying desperately to pull ahead of a bigger empire.

I understand why the endgame hasn’t been a priority for the sequel designers in comparison with the beginning, but I really feel that the Civ series needs a bit of the Losing is Fun mentality that total nuclear conflagration brings. It gives the whole game a shape when the endgame has such stark choices.

Nuclear Armageddon was built into the basic fabric of the original, the outcome of waging war with such incredibly powerful weapons. People say that the first Civilization only had two victory conditions, eliminating the other empires or reaching Alpha Centauri. But really, the only true objective was for humanity to fly to the stars, if the player was the only empire left on a radioactive wasteland of a planet, that was a Pyrrhic victory at best. In effect the player's win was shaded by the state of the planet. In later Civs each victory condition is binary, while in the original there's gradation.

In all of the sequels nuclear weapons are an afterthought, they’re present but honestly I don’t remember having to think about them once during the thousands of hours I’ve spent playing Civ II-V. In the sequels, progress is great and wonderful. In the original Civilization, progress is great and wonderful... until you delve to deep!

The original Civilization had a thesis, since absent from the series, which was very present in Western culture during the Cold War: Humanity can reach the stars, but we might very well destroy our own planet first.

The later Civs never had anything that simple and powerful at their core.
posted by Kattullus at 12:20 AM on February 9 [50 favorites]

I've only ever played Civ V, but I seem to remember that most of the conversation around that game when it came out was about how Civ IV was superior.

Are Civ fans just always nostalgic for the penultimate iteration?
posted by joedan at 12:28 AM on February 9 [3 favorites]

I think Civ fans tend to play for so long and in brain engaging ways that a new version is akin to your old vocabulary being retrofitted to a new grammar. It's all familiar but it feels like you forgot how to talk.

I was of the same opinion about Civ IV. I gave V a shot when going through a break up. It was one of the GOTY editions when all the dlc was now part of the game. Unstacked units was weird and alien until it felt like the best single design choice they'd made.

I was holding off on 6 until it reaches the same point in the release cycle. And because it would be the cause of a breakup rather than a reaction to one.

IV would be weird and alien to me now though, just as much as VI would be if I went the other way.
posted by vbfg at 1:12 AM on February 9 [7 favorites]

For me I keep playing Civ 5 over 6 because of Giant Multiplayer Robot. The asynchronous Multiplayer is awesome!
posted by seejaie at 1:31 AM on February 9

I like Civ 6, I even think it’s better than Civ 5. I like the art style, the split tech tree is great. The only problem is the AI, but the AI in 6 isn’t worse than 5.

The Rise and Fall expansion adds some nice features like dark- and golden ages, but I really hope they can improve the AI a bit.

Best Civ is still Alpha Centauri for me.
posted by Pendragon at 2:13 AM on February 9 [7 favorites]

Yup. I’ll nth the Alpha Centauri love. The leaders have personality, there’s enough variation to the classic Civ formula to keep it interesting, and it’s not going to melt my graphics card into a pile of goo.
posted by SansPoint at 4:39 AM on February 9 [1 favorite]

I tried replaying SMAC recently and couldn't get past the clunky interface. It's a great game but user controls have gotten so much better in the last two decades.
posted by octothorpe at 5:03 AM on February 9 [3 favorites]

Please don't go. The drones need you. They look up to you.
posted by Foosnark at 5:15 AM on February 9 [22 favorites]

This happens every generation, with every game.

To answer the article's question: Civ V has higher engagement than Civ VI because it has been around for almost a decade and has been available to purchase with all expansions for $10-15 for the better part of three years. It easily runs on most most computer setups and has many communities built around its multiplayer. It also has a deep library of mods that have developed alongside the game. There is also a lot of documentation that makes it easier for new players to get involved.

That being said: Civ VI is better than V, and I think V was the best in the series. It improves on every new feature that made V so good (trade routes, religion, city states, one unit per tile, thousands of quality of life issues), adds new ones that improve the game (districts, and culture tree), and keeps the main problems V had (poor diplomacy* and AI who are bad at war). If you were able to look past those two shortcomings for V there is no reason not to be head over heels for VI.

Besides the new features and the improvements on V, VI has been balanced in such a way that players have more flexibility and control over their empire. There is a lot of inside baseball examples I could give how this plays out (eg, there is no meaningful distinction between "tall" and "wide" ) but it basically means that you can almost always build yourself into a niche to gain the upper hand on your opponents. This also means that you are less likely to know the outcome of a game by turn 50 judging which early game Wonders you did or did not build. You can miss founding a religion (some Civs require it!) or miss out building the great library (or any number of wonders) and still be competitive. This is all achieved while still making those accomplishments massive boons if you do manage to incorporate them.

It's also worth pointing out that I would be happy with VI if there was never an expansion (a patch to fix the AI would be nice thoug). It is a complete game. When V released it was a good proof of concept but it was a skeleton. The first expansion (Gods and Kings) added flesh and the second expansion (Brave New World) gave it a beating heart. Civ VI is fully formed as is. Hopefully the following expansions don't break what is fixed and only enrich what is already there. I haven't played R&F yet, but it seems like that's what Firaxis are doing.

*Although I find as I spend more time with the game I end each game with more friends and fewer denouncements than when I began. Strong trade agreements build lasting relationships, it turns out.
posted by Tevin at 5:33 AM on February 9 [6 favorites]

I've been playing Civilization since Civ II came out for the Mac in 1996, and I don't think Civ VI is any better or worse than the earlier games, in fact, I'd say Civ VI is better at the point of its first expansion than either Civ IV or Civ V were at theirs. Which is not to say there isn't room for lots of improvement. I think the combat-mode Religion implementation is flat-out stupid, and I usually completely ignore it. I'd like to see economics and trade play a more central role in expansion and have its own victory path. Diplomacy/AI has always been the weakest element of the game, so I'll be interested to see how the new alliances work in the expansion.
posted by briank at 5:38 AM on February 9 [1 favorite]

The Linux port for 6 didn't release until the following February, and by then events in the real world were such that I found The Long Dark more congenial - I'd rather wander alone in a snowy forest eating wolves than play world politics for funsies.
posted by Mary Ellen Carter at 5:54 AM on February 9 [2 favorites]

It took me a few years to move on from 3 to 5, even after splurging on it.
posted by infini at 6:06 AM on February 9 [1 favorite]

This thread caused me once again to become vulnerable to temptation on either 5 or 6. Happily, Amazon has helped me resist by requiring a massive premium for the download of either, over and above the DVD version.
posted by biffa at 6:13 AM on February 9 [1 favorite]

Kattullus: "In all of the sequels nuclear weapons are an afterthought, they’re present but honestly I don’t remember having to think about them once during the thousands of hours I’ve spent playing Civ II-V. "

Hmmm, I remember nukes being a serious deal in II.
posted by Chrysostom at 6:29 AM on February 9 [2 favorites]

Civilization was such a college game for me. I have hundreds of hours dumped into III and IV. everything made sense when you played it - linear progression on tech trees, singular military unit counters with artillery accessories, optimization of cities based on landscape / overall resources, and so on. so much of it was about expansion and optimization in a cycle, a process of perpetual growth that was only halted when it ran up against another inconvenient organism

this made sense in college, especially as a liberal arts double major, because pretty much nothing I ever learned was that straightforward. oh, a primary source said this? well, here's the context with another. and here's one secondary source's interpretation of it but please do consider the critical framework and it's own theoretical lineage and place. systems are messy, interpretative systems that aim to describe these already messy, complicated systems even moreso. Civ games were an anchor in a way that other games weren't because it had the fascia of critical interpretation - an outdated, 19th century interpretation stuck in the pre-Marxist, Great-Leaders-make-history-not-people-and-systems mode of thinking but at least you could see this approach all laid out with the bits and pieces of that framework realized by your own hand

post-college, though, I've pretty much stopped playing 4X games completely, both as a time commitment thing but also as a critical framework thing. there's something pernicious about playing a 4X game and getting completely invested in the game-maker's interpretation of how history or society works when that isn't balanced out by exposure to other interpretations. intentional practice is praxis and every hour dumped into a Civ game or EU is an hour of practice in living out their theoretical approaches. it's a thing that becomes almost instinctive in how you interpret, for example, current politics - like the Trump mod which sees, unmessily, that he alone is responsible for certain developments. under a Great Leader interpretation, you can, in game, reduce research lab output. under a more systems based framework, you see how this ignores the generations of NIH funding slashes, the internecine battle over academic presses and freedom of information advocates, the redirection of funding at the level of universities whose budgets themselves are affected by state decisions, the direction of study for students whose choices are affected by issues of economics and public school education and culture, and so on and on in all of it's real, total, incomprehensible messiness

there are limits to games that seems to pretty much run up to a wall of 'is it fun and if it isn't fun will it sell?' I don't think a postcolonial understanding of the world is ever going to be 'fun' because to see the world that way is to be intensely exposed to how completely fucked up the world is as it existed and currently exists now, and how little, you as an individual, can do about any of it. it's far more fun to be a Great Leader who has power and control over pretty much most of your society, who can test that power against other Great Leaders in direct conflict in fun shiny explosions and ever-growing borders and cities
posted by runt at 6:58 AM on February 9 [15 favorites]

Hmmm, I remember nukes being a serious deal in II.

And arguably in IV, since even a teensy bit of global warming caused massive, rapid, and irreparable desertification.

To counter that, one of my earliest mods to IV was slowing down global warming effects. This made nukes exactly as low-impact as Kattullus described.

To counter THAT, I added a community mod "nuke" that, when you use it, not only contributes to global warming, but…wait for it…turns the target tile and all others to ocean. That's right: the enemy's units, improvements, Wonders, city, and their very land tiles: gone.

When I'm in the old-folks home, they will keep me placid with Civ IV.

I don't think a postcolonial understanding of the world is ever going to be 'fun' because to see the world that way is to be intensely exposed to how completely fucked up the world is as it existed and currently exists now, and how little, you as an individual, can do about any of it. it's far more fun to be a Great Leader who has power and control over pretty much most of your society, who can test that power against other Great Leaders in direct conflict

aaaaaand now I feel bad.
posted by CheesesOfBrazil at 7:02 AM on February 9 [3 favorites]

So what are the up to date Fall From Heaven 2 mods/modmods?

I'm playing Magister right now which is fun but it's super weird to be able to keep exploring the unique features every 3 turns, is that intended behavior?

I remember trying Orbis a long time ago but it was too buggy- is it still buggy or ok now?
posted by Easy problem of consciousness at 7:14 AM on February 9

I'm still playing Civ III over and over again, even though its end-of-game messages now blow up on my Windows 10 computer.

I've got one or more later Civs on my computer, but I might never move up.
posted by tallmiddleagedgeek at 7:21 AM on February 9

SMAC seems to work fine on my Windows 10 after applying all official patches as well as a NoCD crack. It might be worth buying again from GOG just to avoid installation hassles, though.

On topic: I just bought Civ V last month. Based on hardware requirements and the two expansions rule mentioned above, I haven't ever found it desirable to be on the bleeding edge with Civ games. Plus I got the complete game for only $11. I haven't ended up playing all night, though. I seem to get fidgety after an hour or two, which is just as well.
posted by fedward at 7:29 AM on February 9 [1 favorite]

Just want to give a shout out to C-Evo, a freeware version of Civ 2 that forces the AI to play under the same rules as a human player and doesn't let it cheat to be competitive. What's interesting is there's also around half a dozen different user created AI's you can download and assign to one or more computer players. I haven't played in years, but I remembered it was pretty fun. Just downloaded it and it seems to run fine on my Win 10 PC (trying to resist starting a game right now).
posted by FJT at 8:11 AM on February 9 [4 favorites]

I bought Civ 6 but my gaming laptop broke shortly thereafter. 😢 I also think Beyond Earth didn’t get a fair shake—I really liked the technology web vs. the linear technology progress, and that the aliens made the gameplay more consistent throughout. It made the early game a lot more challenging, even at the easy levels, but only in comparison to the early game in Civ V being super duper easy and then suddenly getting really challenging around the industrial era.

Alas for my poor broken laptop.
posted by Autumnheart at 8:21 AM on February 9

I think the last Civ game I bought at or near full price was Civ III. I picked it up in a brick & mortar store in 2002, buying the MacSoft port out of some foolish devotion to the platform (and the idea of showing there was a market for games on the Mac). The port was such a resource nightmare I don't think I ever finished a game. It killed the battery in my PowerBook so it was useless on the long flights I bought it for, and when I tried to run it at home I got tired of the fan noise. I guess I should maybe buy it for Windows on GOG just to see if I can finally finish a game.

In contrast it turns out I bought Civ IV (for Windows, having learned my lesson) two weeks after BTS came out. I got the whole thing for $15.

I'm old enough that when the Mac port of the original Civilization came out I remember thinking how much better it looked than the DOS version I'd played originally. I have a vague recollection this was because the lowest color resolution supported by Macs was so much higher than the EGA/VGA support of the original, and the people porting it redrew all the graphics. This could just be folklore, though.
posted by fedward at 8:33 AM on February 9 [1 favorite]

Previous post about Alpha Centauri with some handy links in the discusson.
posted by Pendragon at 9:06 AM on February 9 [1 favorite]

I'm sure the folks at Firaxis are loving PC Gamer's free market research on their behalf. Seriously, they're probably passing that URL all over the company, top to bottom.

I'm going to come off as an insufferable hipster and say that my favorite was CivI. Not because it's better than the later versions. But rather because it delivered such a unique experience, for its time, and one that I viewed as nearly-perfect. I consider it one of my favorite games and I just don't have the interest in incremental improvements over what was a revelatory experience for me.

I feel the same way about Soul Calibur, and even the updates to The Binding of Isaac. Improving on their near-perfection feels like seriously gilding the lily. And I'm not saying that it's wrong for the developers to make sequels. It's really a personal thing, because I sank so much time and love into these respective titles that it feels almost unfaithful to jump to the latest version. We're talking about many hundreds of hours for these particular titles. I nearly lost a job that I really needed for the first Civilization.
posted by Edgewise at 9:29 AM on February 9 [3 favorites]

I picked up 6 when it came out, played it a few times through and decided to wait for the expansions. It's neat, but it is still very rough. I'm not sure if I'm going to wait for the second expansion before going back to it or if I'll get Rise and Fall and play again. I've played some Gods and Kings stuff from Civ 5, and it's just not nearly as good as when Civ 5 got Brave New World. But from everything I've seen, Gods and Kings was a massive improvement over vanilla Civ 5.

I think most 4x games need major overhauls after release, as the developers find out what actually works and what was a neat idea but doesn't hold up after multiple games. I've been playing a lot of Stellaris and watching the developers for that openly communicate what they are doing with each major expansion and patch has been fascinating.
posted by Hactar at 9:43 AM on February 9 [1 favorite]

Sadly, a lot of what the Stellaris developers are doing amounts to making it more like MoO.
posted by tobascodagama at 9:48 AM on February 9

my favorite was CivI. Not because it's better than the later versions. But rather because it delivered such a unique experience, for its time, and one that I viewed as nearly-perfect.

I agree with you on that .. which is the reason it is still my preferred Civ, dated graphics, flaws and all. Civ I is complex enough to be thoroughly entertaining without a giant learning curve.
posted by fimbulvetr at 9:48 AM on February 9 [5 favorites]

It's funny, this same article could have been written about Civ IV vs Civ V back a few years ago. I mean we don't have the clear data from Steam, but for a long, long time people were bemoaning how Civ V was such a step back. How one-unit-per-tile was terrible. Folks still complain about that actually, both in this thread and on the CivFanatics forums. But after the two expansions to Civ V the game solidified really well and it's a favorite.

Civ VI is excellent. Haven't played Rise and Fall yet but looking forward to shaking up the gameplay.

I'm excited about 10 Crowns. That's Soren Johnson's new game, he of Civ IV fame. Most recently his studio made Offworld Trading Company which was pretty good but failed to catch fire. It's about time there were a proper Civilization competitor. Endless Legend is about as close as it comes, and as excellent as that game is it's very quirky and odd and succeeds as something other than a Civ clone. I'd rather see someone go head-on at it.

The real challenge is to make a game as grand as Civilization but that you can finish in an hour. Rise of Nations comes close, but it's trapped inside an RTS.
posted by Nelson at 10:08 AM on February 9 [6 favorites]

In all of the sequels nuclear weapons are an afterthought, they’re present but honestly I don’t remember having to think about them once during the thousands of hours I’ve spent playing Civ II-V

So my basic Civ V strategy of taking the quickest possible tech tree path to nukes and then nuking the hell out of everyone is not a popular one? I like to think of myself as doing the work necessary so that the Fallout games are possible.
posted by dis_integration at 10:08 AM on February 9 [8 favorites]

Finally got into Civ 6 with the Humble Monthly Bundle. Played with it for a couple hours to explore the progression and base game feel before waiting to dive in proper, when Rise & Fall released.

Played a bunch of Normal Map/Prince/500 Turn Games up to 100 or so turns with Cree, Nederlands, Korea. Finally settled into a full game with Egypt and am currently around turn 350. The Cree was getting fun as the loyalty system had many of my neighbors jumping ship to join up with the Cree. Free comparable cities is always fun.

The Rise & Fall aspect I experienced the biggest ebbs and flows with Egypt, thus far. I think my progression was Normal -> Golden -> Dark -> Normal -> Golden -> Golden and I see Golden until the endgame from where I'm sitting, so far ahead of the curve with my Era points. Cleopatra was isolationist, a trade Monster, Wonder spamming, Spy Master Queen. Early on, barbarians invasions were ridiculous, then a war happy Greece tried to make a dent and failed. Gandhi settled on the eastern coast of my blob, but I unrested his city to a free state, which I've almost taken. The Egyptian Empire looks like a desert/tundra Vegas by way of very early modern 1808, I think suburban empire. Now I'm playing catch up in the culture war of arts and antiquities.

Lots of lulwhut offers from Civs wanting free Great Works and their spies back. Early opinions on Rise & Fall: Seems to be a very good smattering of new Civs and Systems.
posted by chainlinkspiral at 10:11 AM on February 9 [1 favorite]

If you’re the first person to build nukes, it works pretty well as a path to victory because it makes all the other Civs afraid of you. Assuming another Civ doesn’t have enough of a military to declare war on you immediately. I always feel really mean if I actually nuke anyone though. Except Gandhi, that fucker. He usually deserves a faceful of uranium by that point.
posted by Autumnheart at 10:13 AM on February 9 [2 favorites]

I had to install bootcamp on my friends Mac just so he could join multiplayer with us after he bought it. Apparently cross platform was supposed to be a thing but never came out. Other than that timid gripe, I've been enjoying 6 with as much time as I have to offer, which sadly is not much. The expansion looks to be a marked improvement with the AI being able to take cities better now. The whole dark ages/golden age metric looks to shake things up, with effects lasting 30 turns. I'm not sure if it'll be for the better or not.
posted by msbutah at 10:18 AM on February 9 [1 favorite]

Except Gandhi, that fucker.

This was apparently a simple math error that's been perpetuated in … tribute? If that's the right word.
posted by fedward at 10:32 AM on February 9 [5 favorites]

Endless Legend sucked sand out of the hourglass of my life like an industrial strength hoover.
That game is just. so. beautiful.

And you can go so deep with it. Seriously - I think the learning curve is a bit steeper than Civ, but once you suddenly get it, it's awesome.
posted by Baby_Balrog at 11:21 AM on February 9 [2 favorites]

Though, in Civ V, the fact that Gandhi has a huge happiness penalty for starting a new city really cripples my early game expansion if I'm playing on harder difficulty as India, to the point where i feel like that I pretty much need to use those early game elephants to help me knock over a neighbor's capital, since they typically have the extra luxury resources nearby to counter the happiness penalty. Otherwise it feels like I'm playing a city down from what I need to compete with other nations.

So I'd say that's an unintentional incentive for Gandhi to play aggressive? Honestly, it bothers me from a game design standpoint - where the incentives don't match the theme they are going for, and depend wildly on the difficulty level: starting with less innate happiness makes Gandhi's downside worse in a nonlinear fashion, since being knocked down from 3 viable early game cities to 2 is way worse than having to go from 4 cities to 3.
posted by Zalzidrax at 11:52 AM on February 9

And you can go so deep with it. Seriously - I think the learning curve is a bit steeper than Civ, but once you suddenly get it, it's awesome.

I’m going to have to go back and try it again; I enjoy it, but I suck hard at Endless Legend and haven’t been able
to climb that learning curve.
posted by nubs at 2:40 PM on February 9

I don't think a postcolonial understanding of the world is ever going to be 'fun' because to see the world that way is to be intensely exposed to how completely fucked up the world is as it existed and currently exists now

Lots of games offer a fun fantasy version of something that's fucked up in reality, though. I think you could build an empire game on a more sophisticated interpretation of social structure and forces. It would just be "gamified" in a different way and likely evade much of the moral understanding you developed studying this stuff in reality.
posted by atoxyl at 3:19 PM on February 9 [3 favorites]

I don't know if you could make a post-colonial civ game that included military conquest as a potential victory condition. But you could probably make some good post-colonial management sims. You might even be able to make a good post-colonial grand strategy game, as long as you found a good excuse for keeping military conflict out of it.

Lanchester's Laws guarantee that eXpand and eXploit will always dominate any game where eXterminate is a valid path to the victory condition.
posted by tobascodagama at 3:45 PM on February 9 [2 favorites]

If you missed it because longthread, Kattullus posted an awesome comment a ways up.
posted by JHarris at 5:49 PM on February 9 [1 favorite]

Civ II hacked to play in German is the only Civilization version worth playing. It was the last computer game I've ever played, actually - I finally gave it up when we switched to Windows 7 on our home PC, and I miss it sometimes.
posted by Maarika at 6:01 PM on February 9 [1 favorite]

You can run Civ II on Windows 7, but you have to do some upfront work.
posted by Chrysostom at 8:00 PM on February 9 [3 favorites]

Anybody got some impressions of Rise and Fall? Does the AI still shit itself permanently when presented with a city wall?
posted by Justinian at 10:06 PM on February 9

I... just bought it. Why? I don't have time to play this right now. I still have Endless Space 2, the White March expansion to Pillars, Xcom2 War of the Chosen, and a couple others waiting. Why am I so awful?
posted by Justinian at 10:15 PM on February 9 [2 favorites]

The Endless games keep me from going back to Civ. Endless Space 2 is just fantastic. I rarely feel like I'm fidgeting with spreadsheets. An Endless Legend sequel is probably the only game that might force me to upgrade my PC.
posted by Brocktoon at 11:53 PM on February 9 [2 favorites]

Civ 5? Really? I couldn't get more than a couple hours into it because I'm not sure why I should care about micromanaging diplomacy with city states and tweaking budgets to afford maintenance fees and oh, look! even more not-tech tech trees to memorize. I ain't go time for that.

I'mma gonna go back to beating Civ 2 on Deity mode. Get off my palace lawn.
posted by Skwirl at 4:58 AM on February 11 [3 favorites]

Played through a game of Civ 6: Rise and Fall yesterday (on quick speed) and like the update quite a bit although it's going to take some getting used to. The end game seems like less of a slog; the AI opponents kept fomenting rebels in my capital which was annoying but at least fun.
posted by octothorpe at 7:16 AM on February 11 [1 favorite]

I used to play Civ V a lot, enough to reach the level where I could probably beat Deity with a bit of effort, but even if I had the time to kill, my eyes just can't take this sort of beating anymore. So I've switched to watching Quill18 playing Civ VI instead, as I can do it in small bits, which is good for my eyes, and it's also much less mentally taxing.
posted by daniel_charms at 1:08 PM on February 11

And to continue the SMAC derail...

The $5.99 download from GOG.com works just fine on Windows 10. :)

Already dominated as Santiago. Now going with the crazy scientists.
posted by Windopaene at 8:52 PM on February 11 [2 favorites]

Windopaene: You wanna impress me? Snag a Trancendence victory as the Believers.

(Not that I've ever pulled that off. I don't even like playing as Miriam. That research penalty is death.)
posted by SansPoint at 1:17 PM on February 12 [1 favorite]

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