My body is so, so ready for Civilization VI. There’s something about Firaxis’ 4X games that makes me so very happy, and each iteration in the core Civilization franchise has shown real growth and development. Beyond Earth might have been an experiment in speculating about a future in space, but it’s the experience of playing through our history in new and terrifying ways that keeps me coming back for more. Civilization VI already looks so different in just the few screen shots we’ve seen, and there’s a reason for it.
Speaking to IGN, Civilization VI’s Arti Director, Brian Busatti (who also worked on Civ IV and V) explained that the new Civ needed a new art style.
When we went into this, we looked into how people play the game. Typically in a Civ game you want to see the world as a whole, so you’re pulling out a lot. That doesn’t mean people don’t zoom in, but for the most part. Some people even zoom all the way out and play in tactical mode.
You want to make sure that things are readable from that distance, and one of the ways to do that is to really put an emphasis on shape and form. It’s obviously a little more readable if you have different silhouettes to things. Warriors are definitely bigger. They’ve got a very thick silhouette and are just big massive guys, and you have smaller guys who are still heroic, but leaner. So you can tell the difference right away between an Archer and a Warrior.
I’m so glad to hear I’m not the only one who plays pretty zoomed out. While I like occasionally zooming in and checking out a specific area, for the most part I want to see the world spread out in front of me. That said, when zoomed in, Busatti still promises that we’ll see more detail than ever before. An example he gave was of the basic units and how they’re represented from culture to culture.
We still have our unique units. Like, you see the Samurai, which are still unique the Japanese. But even the base units, like the Pikemen, all have a cultural flare to them. You still need to be able to read them as Pikemen – he still needs a long post, and it’s a very iconic shape. But we’ve gone a little further by changing up helmets, maybe the ends of the pike looks slightly different depending on the region the character is from. We’ve also got different skin tones, different ethnicity for the characters.
Thanks to the inclusion of these elements, modders will also be able to have lots of fun tweaking cosmetics. But it’s the new theme that has me the most excited. This time around, the UI will be themed with the Age of Exploration, the 15th and 16th centuries, where we can expect to see elements like compasses, astrolabes and other tools of travel and discovery. That theme extends to the Fog of War, too.
The big difference in our Fog of War from Civ 5 is that Civ 5 had the clouds. Now we’re treating the totally unexplored areas as a blank parchment with longitude and latitude lines on it. But as you explore that you start to open things up. The mid-fog, instead of being a darker version of the visible terrain, is now drawn in a map style. So we have shaders on it that simulate a pen-and-ink cross-hatch style map. It’s really cool and I’m excited to show that off. And in the empty spaces we have hand-drawn ships and sort of ‘here be dragons’ kind of stuff.
Now that is something I’m excited to see! Other visual things returning are the pre rendered videos when you build Wonders. Firaxis is even creating a day/night cycle in the game just so that the sun can rise or set over your wonder as applicable.
With so many cool changes to the visual design of the game, are the developers considering using VR? Well, it’s not built for it, but it’s not ruled out.
As a company we haven’t made any kind of decisions on that, but I think it would be cool. Pie-in-the-sky, just me talking, I would love to do that. Can you imagine sitting across the table from a leader?
Civilization VI is coming 21 October, with a range of new features.
Last Updated: May 16, 2016