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Sid Meier's Civilization VI (Switch)

Game review by
Chad Sapieha, Common Sense Media
Sid Meier's Civilization VI (Switch) Game Poster Image
Educational world simulator is a perfect fit for Switch.

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this game.

Educational Value

Players can learn about history and strategy in this habit-forming simulation of human civilization. A remarkably comprehensive encyclopedia teaches players about how historic leaders, various forms of government, and key advances in technology, economics, entertainment, and religion come together to create culture. To win, players must create short and long-term strategies to achieve specific goals aligned with the type of victory they're chasing, be it cultural, religious, military, or scientific. Kids are bound to come away with an improved understanding of history and how our world works.

Positive Messages

This game is designed to encourage players to take an interest in history and all the things that make up human civilization. It has a progressive and optimistic feel, exposing players to diverse cultures and a variety of governments, religions, artifacts, and scientific breakthroughs. Players are rewarded for taking a long-term view of the game and coming up with thoughtful strategies.

Positive Role Models & Representations

The historical leaders players can choose from -- such as Catherine de Medici, Ghandi, and Teddy Roosevelt -- have varying personality descriptions and traits, ranging from pacifistic to war-mongering. That said, it's up to the player to choose how to govern their civilization, and whether or not to be generous and forgiving or aggressive and quick-to-anger.

Ease of Play

In-depth tutorials provide as much or as little guidance as players require while playing. Players are always prompted to take care of important decisions as they arise, ensuring they don't neglect anything. Multiple difficulty levels allow kids to tailor the level of challenge to their ability.

Violence

Combat involves tiny soldiers and vehicles viewed from a raised perspective on a vast world map. They wield appropriate historical weapons, such as swinging clubs and swords or shooting bows and guns. Players will hear cries of pain as units fall and disappear. Players eventually earn the ability to use weapons of mass destruction, including nuclear bombs. Regardless of the scale of violence, players never see any blood or gore.

Sex

The words "prostitute" and "rape" are mentioned in a description of historical events.

Language

Occasional light swearing in text descriptions, including the words "hell" and "bastard."

Consumerism

Latest installment of very popular Civilization franchise, which has spawned multiple games and spinoff games as well.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Drugs are referenced in historical context, and players can choose to grow vineyards (presumably for wine) on some tiles.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Sid Meier's Civilization VI for Nintendo Switch is a port of the PC world simulation game of the same name. Players pick a historical leader -- such as England's Queen Victoria, Greece's Pericles, or Japan's Hojo Tokimune -- and begin growing a civilization from a single tiny city in the Stone Age through to the Space Age over the course of 500 turns. They're forced to make important decisions based on real-world historical events and developments, choosing from authentic governments and policies to picking technologies to develop and religious doctrines to follow. Players also have the ability to play in various styles, pursuing peace and cooperation for a scientific or cultural victory, converting the rest of the world to their civilization's beliefs for a religious victory, or building up massive armies with an aim to crush every other empire. Combat's generally pretty mild, with tiny groups of soldiers viewed from a perspective high in the sky automatically attacking each other without blood or gore shown. Parents should also know that the game's text descriptions of characters, events, technologies, and other things sometimes includes mild swearing, such as "hell" or "damn," and it occasionally touches on mature ideas -- prostitution and opium -- in the context of historical events.

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What's it about?

SID MEIER'S CIVILIZATION VI for Nintendo Switch transports the popular PC-based world simulation game to Nintendo's hybrid console. Players take on the role of one of dozens of historical leaders -- Norway's sea king Harald Hardrada, Rome's expansionist Trajan, or Scythia's militaristic Tomyris, to name just a few -- and then start building an empire over the course of hundreds of turns. You'll research technologies and governments, recruit great artists and scientists, engage in diplomacy with other leaders, and get into skirmishes and wars with rival nations, all while working towards a winning objective of your choice, which could mean traveling to the stars or destroying every other country on the map. Virtually everything from the PC game has made the transition to this console edition, from competitive multiplayer -- up to four friends can connect via local area network -- to the active research system, which rewards players who strategically explore and build with boosts to research. It also comes with bonus content built in, including four extra leaders and civilizations to choose from and several scenarios that set up shorter games with specific objectives. Players have the option of playing on a TV or on the Switch console screen, which supports both traditional gamepad controls and a touch screen interface.

Is it any good?

The ability to take Sid Meier's world simulation with you anywhere you go is a dangerous proposition for the millions of players counted among the fans of this long-running series. Sid Meier's Civilization VI is a great fit for Nintendo Switch, capturing the addictive strategy and turn-based play of its PC precursor perfectly. The hybrid interface that supports both touch screen and physical controls (you can stick to one or the other, or use a mix of both) is intuitive and empowering. And the game runs surprisingly smooth on Nintendo's relatively underpowered hardware, so long as you don't tax it too much by playing on a really big map. Plus, it comes with lots of extra content beyond the base game, including additional leaders, civilizations, and scenarios. Players looking for a shorter game with specific objectives can try colonizing Australia without combat, conquering Europe as a Viking leader, or defending Poland from a host of aggressors. These quicker, lightly directed scenarios suit the Switch experience very well, especially when playing on the go.

Of course, as with any port to new hardware, Civilization VI's move to Switch brings over the occasional quirk. One of these is that text details of notifications are now pushed to a separate screen rather than automatically popping up on the right side of the display (as they do in other versions of the game), presumably to keep the Switch's smaller display from becoming cluttered and crowded with information. This can leave you blind to other civilizations' strategies and your own cities' troubles if you don't take the time to check them, so make sure you do – especially if you see a red alert notification pop up. But Sid Meier's Civilization VI on Switch is, by and large, a smashing success. It's fun, educational, strategic, and inspiring. Whether this is your first time jumping into Sid Meier's human history simulation or you're a die-hard fan of the PC series and just want the ability to build empires on the go, it earns an easy, wholehearted recommendation.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about screen time. It can be hard to stop playing a game like Sid Meier's Civilization VI, which constantly prompts players to take their next turn, so how long should a healthy play session last?

  • What qualities are important for a good political leader? Do good leaders come by these qualities naturally, or can they be learned?

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