Civilization 6 UK release date, trailers and news: Watch composer Christopher Tin talk about Civ 6’s theme
Update: If you played Civ 4, you’ll be familiar with that game’s brilliant opening theme – Baba Yetu (we’ve got a video of it further down). Good news, the song’s composer, Christopher Tin is back in Civilization 6. The new song is called Sogno Di Volare, which is Italian for ‘the dream of flight’. It’s suitably grand, and you can watch a video about Tin’s process of composing it below.
Civilization 6 (or Civilization VI if you’re feeling particularly Roman) is coming out next week. While initial shots of the game showed a similar – albeit more cartoonish – hex-based map to Civilization 5, peer beneath the surface and you’ll find a swathe of crucial differences from its immediate predecessor.
The turn-based, historical-strategy structure of Firaxis’ long-running series isn’t going anywhere, but a heap of changes stands to make Civilization 6 quite a different game to what has gone before. One of the most apparent of these is the change to cities – which will now spread over multiple tiles. I chatted this week to Sarah Darney, associate producer of Civilization VI at Firaxis, about how cities inject an element of urban planning into the game.
“People that are very numbers-orientated – that want to min max the game and look for adjacency bonuses, are going to find that they have a lot more tools at their disposal than they ever did before,” said Darney. “City specialisation has become such an important part of gameplay. I do think that we’re going to see a very interesting change in the way people approach city planning.
As Darney points out, city districts will now have to contend with bonuses for what tiles they’re placed adjacent to. Put a university district next to mountains, for example, and it will give a leg up to your research output. This makes city planning a game in itself, with players needing to decide where to best place the constituent parts of their urban organism.
“That’s a great way to think about it,” said Darney. “It’s like an organism. It’s almost like a cell, the way all these things are affecting the nucleus… It makes them feel very alive. Just seeing your progress as you’re spreading these cities out, and seeing everything grow, that visual cue of how your empire is changing, that’s been very cool to me. The game feels very organic.”
Talking of organic gameplay, we also spoke about how the research objectives make the gameplay in Civ 6 more emergent. If you fulfil given tasks, it will be quicker for you to unlock certain research points. This means that, instead of following a routine path through the tech tree, players will be nudged towards developing based on their immediate circumstances.
“In Civ 5 you could be landlocked, never see the ocean, and still research sailing as quickly as anyone else,” said Darney “Now, if you want to do that much quicker and create a naval empire you’ll want to settle on the coast, because that’s going to unlock that tech quicker. So I do think the story has become more alive and real in that way.”
From what we’ve seen so far, Civ 6 really pushes the envelope when it comes to emergent gameplay, but city tiles and research boosts are only a couple of the changes coming to the series. Here’s a rundown of the main things you need to know about Civilization 6 ahead of its release.
1. Civilization 6 will come to PC in October
Civilization 6 will be released on 21 October 2016. Like the company’s excellent sci-fi strategy game, XCOM 2, Civilization 6 will only be coming to Windows, and later to Mac and Linux.
2. Cities in Civilization 6 will cover different districts
Previous Civilization games have seen cities occupy only one tile, no matter how many buildings and wonders you build. Civilization 6 will shake this up by requiring the player to place building types in various districts, spread across multiple tiles.
If you want to build a university, for example, it will have to go in your campus district, and this district will receive bonuses depending on where it is placed. Mountains are good for observatories, for example, which means they’re a useful place to put your research-pumping campus district.
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By breaking apart the city in this way, Civilization 6 will put a much greater emphasis on urban development – turning city building into a layout puzzle game, and adding extra complexity to sieges and city capture.
3. Unit stacking (sort of) returns in Civilization 6
One of Civilization 5’s big developments was to remove unit stacking. Before this, you could put as many units as you liked on a single tile, which turned warfare into a game of sheer might over strategy. With Civilization 6, Firaxis is keeping the one-unit-per-tile rule in place for military units, but will allow players to stack civilian units such as Workers or Settlers.
Interestingly, this will also include support units such as siege towers and anti-tank guns, which should cut down on the fiddly necessity of finding space for equipment that troops on a different tile would logically use.
4. Workers in Civilization 6 have limited uses
In previous Civilization games, Workers could essentially live as units throughout the entirety of history – every so often donning a different uniform to fit with the times. In Civilization 6 the Workers are now called Builders, and only have a certain number of building charges before they vanish. They will also build things instantly, instead of taking turns to work.
According to a hands-on from IGN, Firaxis wants to avoid players forgetting what their units are doing, and move away from automated improvements.
5. Government systems in Civilization 6 are more flexible than before
One thing regularly cited as a limitation in Civilization 5 was the inflexibility of government directions. Pour too much into one social policy and it becomes very difficult to shift into a different policy tree later on, but spread your choices too thin and you end up master of nothing.
In Civilization 6, this system has been replaced. Now the player can research civics – parallel to the standard tech research tree – and unlock various “cards” that can be slotted into military, diplomatic and economic slots. The civics cards grant bonuses, such as a +5% attack boost or greater production speeds, and can be swapped every time you unlock a new one. You can also pay gold to swap them at will.
6. Research in Civilization 6 will involve mini quests
In previous Civilization games, research would tick along in the background, sped up or slowed down by the number of resources you had dedicated to it. With Civilization 6, Firaxis is planning to assign specific activities that, when completed, will give big bonuses to certain technology paths.
“So what we’ve done is, for pretty much every technology in the tech tree, we’ve associated a specific activity that’s sort of like a quest,” lead designer Ed Beach told TIME. “And if you finish that activity, boom, we give you a big credit, about 50% of the science that you need to unlock that particular technology is granted to you.”
In theory, this system should make technology research more emergent. Instead of pre-deciding on a research path, players will find themselves unlocking one by playing the game in a certain way.
7. AI leaders in Civilization 6 have historical agendas
Firaxis has allegedly rewritten the AI from the ground up for Civilization 6, and an important part of this involved writing in different agendas for different leaders. The idea is that the diplomacy portion of the game becomes more dynamic, with the player feeling like they’re negotiating with different personalities instead of copy-and-paste AI players.
Part of the agendas given to leaders will be based on their real-life counterparts’ historical traits, but others will be randomly assigned at the beginning of the game. You’ll be able to uncover aspects of their personality through espionage.
8. Civilization 6 probably won’t have a theme song as good as this, from Civilization 4
That said, the composer of Civilization 4’s theme tune is returning for Civilization 6…so we may very well get a theme to compete with Baba Yetu. (Update: The new song is called Sogno Di Volare, which is Italian for ‘the dream of flight’)