The daddy of all strategy games comes to PS4 and Xbox One, but how well does it work on a TV screen with no mouse and keyboard?
One of the key drawbacks of being a console-only gamer is the lack of strategy games. Games like Total War and Starcraft may have audiences of millions around the world but many console gamers have never heard of them, let alone played them. Given how strategy games tend to be the least visually impressive of all genres it’s often hard to convince people that that’s even a bad thing, but thanks to indie gaming attitudes do seem to be changing.
Games like Into The Breach and Wargroove have proven popular enough on consoles that it’s attracted the attraction of big name publishers, with 2K and developer Firaxis earning themselves a surprise hit with Civilization 6 on Switch last year. And now the game’s on Xbox One and PlayStation 4… and it works just as well.
Civilization has been a franchise now for 28 years, but the basics are always the same: you’re given the chance to take control of a tribe of hunter gatherers in prehistory and guide them through the centuries until they’re a world-dominating civilisation. The turn-based gameplay allows you to mine resources and build cities and armies, but it’s entirely up to you how warlike you want to be, with several winning conditions that don’t just involve wiping everyone else out.
Although the two home consoles are much more powerful than Nintendo’s hybrid the approach to this port is essentially the same, with a very similar control system. The extra processing power means the artificial intelligence takes its turns a bit quicker and the graphics, such as they are, are sharper but of course you miss the advantage of the game being portable. It’s swings and roundabouts but if you’re only going to be playing the game at home, and have frequent enough access to the TV, then this is the best console version possible.
All the console editions feature a small amount of free DLC, adding extra civilisations and scenarios, but also released this week – including for the Nintendo Switch – is the Civilization 6 Expansion Bundle, which contains PC expansions Rise & Fall and Gathering Storm. Follow those links and you can read our full reviews of both, but they’re both very good and worth the £32.99 asking price for the pair.
With 2K and Firaxis keen to promote the new console editions, we recently had the opportunity for a quick email interview with Civilization lead producer Dennis Shirk, who had this to say about the game’s unexpected success on the Switch:
‘The Switch’s versatility was a giant step in being able to provide our fans a more comfortable ‘Civilization Anywhere’ experience. We’re not worried about the differing form factors of the PlayStation 4 and Xbox. Our goal is to provide a consistent Civilization experience to as many gamers as possible. Everyone is different, with their own preferences, and each system has its strengths that make it different than the others.
‘Being able to bring Civilization 6 to PlayStation 4 and Xbox One is a result of the Civilization series growing in popularity, the growth of our studio, and the expanding audience desires for different types of gaming experiences. Bringing Civilization 6 to so many different platforms has been a monumental task, but it’s something that’s slightly easier to do than it was a few years ago.’
Although they made no impact at the time this isn’t the first time Civilization has been on consoles, with both the first and second games making it to the original PlayStation – and the first even turning up on the SNES. But it’s spin-off Civilization Revolution, which was made specifically for consoles, which is most fondly remembered, and yet the sequel only ever appeared on the PS Vita and smartphones.
‘We have nothing to announce at this time for the Civilization Revolution games’, says Shirk, although he adds that, ‘We absolutely think there’s a place for a quicker paced Civilization game.’
When asked about the inevitable Civilization 7 he hinted that it may see its audience expand even further thanks to next gen consoles and the rise of streaming: ‘At the moment, we’re focusing our efforts on the Civilization VI experience. With the way technology and the strategy genre is improving, it only means bigger and better things for everyone.’
For now though there is only Civilization 6, but that should be more than enough to keep new fans and old happy as it was already the best entry in the series and works far better on consoles than you would’ve ever thought possible.
CLICK HERE FOR THE ORIGINAL FULL SWITCH REVIEW OF CIVILIZATION 6
Civilization 6 PS4 review summary
In Short: Another excellent PC to console port, with surprisingly intuitive controls and a wealth of content and options that make this one of the best strategy games ever.
Pros: All the same depth of the PC version but adapted as perfectly as possible to playing on a TV and joypad. A mountain of options and customisation tools to play however you want.
Cons: As well thought out as the controls and interface are they’ll never be as good as the PC original. As ever for the series, artificial intelligence can make some odd decisions.
Formats: PlayStation 4 (reviewed) and Xbox One
Developer: Asypr and Firaxis Games
Release Date: 22nd November
Age Rating: 12
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