A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this game.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Sid Meier's Civilization VI is a sophisticated strategy game that can help improve kids' knowledge and understanding of human history. Players lead the development of an empire over the course of thousands of years, doing things such as founding cities, guiding economic growth, and raising an army by researching new technologies and observing how one breakthrough naturally leads to the next. Violence occurs when two nations' armies meet in battle, but it's presented from a raised perspective; combatants appear like tiny toy soldiers, and the player has no direct control over combat. Depending on the player's strategy and ultimate objectives -- victory can be achieved not only through military dominance but also growth of culture, religion, and science -- it's possible to play and win without ever engaging in battle. Parents should also note that while this game may initially seem very complex, multiple difficulties and plenty of in-game guidance make it much more accessible than it first seems.
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What's it about?
SID MEIER'S CIVILIZATION VI builds upon the solid foundation laid by its award-winning predecessors, delivering a familiar but distinctive world-history simulation. The game begins as all Civilization games do, with the selection of a historical leader and the founding of a single city, then progresses through 500 turns where players build more cities, research new technologies, found faiths, spy on their neighbors, and progress through various types of governments and policies, all on their way to achieving a victory through science, culture, religion, or military dominance. But the changes made to this edition will be immediately evident to longtime franchise fans. Cities now include districts, such as holy sites, military encampments, neighborhoods, and industrial zones, and each district takes up its own tile. Different types of units can be embedded in each other to create formations, providing new ways to protect civilian units. A new level of strategy has also been added to technologies and civics by something called "boosts," a means by which the time required to conduct research can be reduced by you performing certain actions. The result is a game that looks a lot like the Civilization of years past but plays quite differently.
Is it any good?
There are plenty of games that simulate worlds and empires, but Firaxis' 25-year-old strategy series remains at the head of the class. Sid Meier's Civilization VI improves upon the design of its predecessors by delivering a smoother, more authentic, and even more strategic simulation of world history. The revamped city-building system, for example, forces players to plan ahead when picking a spot to found a city to ensure that it will have access to all the necessary tiles required to grow the city in a desired direction. They'll also need to make strategic use of builder units, who must now be manually controlled and can only improve three tiles before disappearing, making each mine, farm, or pasture they're instructed to create a tactical choice. Just as important are the changes to the way players govern their empires. The means by which governments and policies are unlocked and selected allows for quick shifts in agenda to meet current challenges, and it permits players to easily change paths toward different types of victories as circumstances change. Picking the right policies for the right phases of your empire's growth can be the difference between winning and losing by only a handful of turns.
All this, and it looks absolutely gorgeous -- even played on a standard PC without cutting-edge hardware. Simulated hand-drawn maps imitate those of ancient explorers and cartographers, and the animations accompanying the building of new wonders are a joy to watch. British actor Sean Bean's powerful and dramatic narration is just gravy. There are no obstacles getting in the way of a boisterous recommendation for Sid Meier’s Civilization VI -- save that, once you start playing, it can be mighty hard to quit.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about violence in media. Is there a difference in how we interpret violence when we see it presented within historical context as opposed to when it's created purely for entertainment? If so, why might that be?
Talk about history. Do you enjoy learning about history? Do you think we are constantly moving forward and making the world a better place? Has humanity ever taken actions that have reversed its progress?
- Platforms: Windows
- Subjects: Language & Reading: reading, reading comprehension
Social Studies: events, exploration, geography, government, historical figures, history, power structures, the economy
Arts: music, painting, sculpture
- Skills: Thinking & Reasoning: applying information, decision-making, strategy
Self-Direction: goal-setting, set objectives, work to achieve goals
- Pricing structure: Paid ($59.99)
- Available online? Available online
- Developer: 2K Games
- Release date: October 20, 2016
- Genre: Simulation
- Topics: History, Horses and Farm Animals, Science and Nature, Trains
- ESRB rating: T for Drug Reference, Language, Mild Violence, Suggestive Themes
- Last updated: May 24, 2020
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Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.