Civilization VI (Civ6) came out October 21, 2016. Since its release, the game has undergone many changes with frequent seasonal updates, faction-oriented DLC releases and a full-blown expansion called Rise and Fall (Feb 2018). But Firaxis is not done yet. The next expansion, set for release on Feb 14, 2019 called Gathering Storm, is almost here. Once again, Civ6 will change and improve, as is the history of the franchise since the 3rd iteration of the game.
So one is left to wonder, what else could Civ6 have in its future? This think piece is a first in a series of articles by eXplorminate writers that will examine that. Let me start with mine, so have fun and let me know what you think.
Civilization VI: Future War
When you end a Civ6 game with the science victory condition, the result is that your civ/faction was the first to build an Intra-stellar vehicle and reach Mars. What if instead, you built several Intra-stellar vehicles for the other purpose of…
That’s essentially what the game will be about. What do you do with these additional tools and what your next set of goals will be.
As a religious entity, do you stop outward expansion and focus on inner growth? Or do you try to spread the good word beyond. As a scientific entity, do you stay local and dig into our origins or prepare for a journey to try to find alien life elsewhere? As a military entity, do you take control of humanity or wage a potential war against the unknown? You get the idea.
I’ll be drawing on three existing Firaxis titles (Civilization: Beyond Earth – Rising Tide, XCOM 2: War of the Chosen and Sid Meier’s Starships) for clues as to how that would work as well as a fantastic book/tv series called The Expanse to explain the mechanics and dynamics further.
Right, let’s not beat around the bush. We humans aren’t built for extended space travel. Our two immediate concerns would be radiation and lack of gravity. Another set of issues we have to grapple with has to do with time and energy. Most people don’t realize how huge space really is and how much time and energy it would take for us to travel even short distances, so, that would be the first part of the game. How about, oxygen, food, water? You see the big picture here.
Typically, the game ends once your ship arrives on Mars and colonization begins. But what if you didn’t aim for Mars? Maybe you sent yours to Luna (our moon) or one of Jupiter’s moons? How about Saturn’s instead? Maybe you have a different plan for the future of your people.
Each civ in the game can choose a different destination or compete for the same ones. You could do it with corporate backing or all alone. You could enter an alliance with other nations to spread the cost around. But all of these are not just quest decisions, because there are actual gameplay consequences attached.
Have Ship, Will Travel
Plans are set, now what? Now it’s time to send out your lone exploratory ship or was that a drone fleet? Each one has its merits. Do you send escorts? Wait, why would you need escorts? Because you aren’t alone out there. A military satellite or space-based missile platform could shoot your ship out of the “sky”. Maybe a fleet is hiding nearby prepped for a lightning raid.
The good news is, Firaxis has a game with the right mechanics already in place that it could adapt. Yea, you know the one, Sid Meier’s Starships. It would make for a fantastic turn-based space combat model. You could build forward bases to support your fleet, and create safe zones for them to refuel and regroup.
Space exploration/exploitation is expensive, so corporate and/or national backers could front the costs to help control and maintain the fleets. They could also go against you and birth the space piracy movement.
You’ve survived the journey and arrived at your destination. Now begins the scramble for planetary domination? Asteroid mining? Space Station renovation? Scientific exploration? Religious conversion? All of the above or any combination.
During this whole journey, your scientists on Earth have been working hard to figure out the next big thing, and depending on which path you take, your area of expertise will change. Maybe the Earth is damaged and your new home will be a fresh start with a more eco-friendly society. Or space holds the clues to fix the Earth. The choices are limitless, and to figure all of this out, you could use a modified but innovative tech-pie from Civilization: Beyond Earth – Rising Tide (Civ: BERT).
With the different possible environs to settle, you follow a similar, but somewhat different path presented in that game. I always felt that Civ: BERT needed a second expansion to polish the game further, and this could be that chance. Different tech for each body in space. A planet follows the obvious path, but asteroids would be more akin to the base building in XCOM2, but with more space and variety and less monotony.
If all of this feels kind of familiar, it’s probably because you’re huge fans of The Expanse like me. This is a modern space opera sci-fi series that tackles all of these elements set in the not too distant future. By the way, if you haven’t read the books and watched the series, you probably should.
What if you don’t like your neighbors? Well, that’s when the Future War begins. During this whole exploratory process, your scientists have been developing weapons, you know, just in case.
Maybe there is an alien threat from outside, or a human threat from within because you know how McMarvins wants to rule the solar shawarma market.
The religious zealots have decided to clamp down because humanity has overstepped its bounds. Corporations are always at each others’ throats competing for innovations and resources. The solar marketplace is rife with espionage and the possibilities for emergent gameplay is limitless.
Politics, science, art, religion, power, everything is up for grabs. So many possibilities, and finally, a chance to fix the combat in Civ. Because Civ6 has the heart of a champion, it just needs that extra push.
For example, Firaxis is not known for their strong AI work, but now they’ll have a chance to change that. Take everything they’ve learned and make the AI competitive without all the boosts and cheats.
Another place that Civ6 needs attention is the tech tree. Civ:BERT really tried to do something unique, and I liked it why not combine the two tech mechanisms and make it a real tech tree at the end. You spend most of the game building your foundation, like a tree trunk and the end game branching out like tree branches. Add in a mixture of late game randomness and you have a real revolution in the making.
Finally, let talk about the elephant in the room: combat, warmongering, and war wariness. There is so much potential here. A proper combined arms mechanic where armies/fleets have a general/admiral at its head. They would have mixed units and count as one, and placement of the units in the army can impact what it does and how it does it. Warmongering would also need adjusting in the Future War because more types of conflict could fix things. You get the idea, don’t you?
Just writing about this is making me hyped. I can’t wait to see what the other staffers come up with and what the community thinks about all of this.