Civilization 6 Switch Review – An Entire Civilization in the Palm of Your Hand

Toby Saunders
Sid Meier's Civilization VI Info

genre

  • Strategy

players

  • 1 - 6

Publisher

  • 2K Games

Developer

  • Firaxis

Release Date

  • 10/21/2016
  • Out Now

Platform

  • PC

rating

When Sid Meier’s Civilization 6 was announced for the Nintendo Switch, it was easy to be skeptical of a PC-centric series spreading to a handheld console hybrid. But somehow, it all works. Whether you’re forging an empire hell-bent on destruction, trying to take the Vikings to the Moon, or attempting to make England the heartland of all culture, you’ll never stop gawking in awe at all the little details in Civilization 6. It does not matter whether you’re playing in handheld, or docked, this is one mighty fine port of an exceptional turn-based strategy game.

Civilization 6 on Switch looks excellent. Most of the details from the PC version are present, even if they are a little rough around the edges. You’ll see fish swimming underneath sun hit waves, foxes scurrying around the environment, and even limited weather effects such as snow blowing from the mountains. It’s vibrant and pops on a good TV, especially the detail in modern cities and the cartoony caricatures of leaders who crop up every now and then.

Unfortunately, in the latter stages of any game, as it all becomes more hectic and spread out, the frame rate does stutter. The lengthy load screens upon starting and re-entering a game are also a problem. While this is understandable, unfortunately, the occasional crash isn’t. I had Civilization 6 on Switch crash on me four times. Hopefully, any issues such as this will be ironed out in patches later on.

Civilization 6 Switch Review – Global Domination on the Go

Civilization 6 Switch Review

There are no further frame rate issues when you play Civilization 6 in handheld mode. Visually, it looks as impressive as it does on the TV, but the small screen size can make things difficult to see. While it’s awesome that you can build a civilization from the ground up towards a powerhouse empire on the go, it just isn’t as fun as when played on the big screen. It can be difficult to see exactly what’s going on the Switch’s small screen. It’s a busy game, and crammed into 6.2 inches it is a little too hectic, particularly in the later areas.

Playing the game in handheld mode does give you the option to use touchscreen controls too. Unfortunately, aside from intuitively pressing the menu items, tiles, and units you wish to access, the touchscreen controls are a little fiddly. While you’ll appreciate them after a little practice, they aren’t as intuitive as simply using the Switch’s traditional controls.

Civilization 6 Switch Review – Take Control of an Empire

Civilization 6 Switch Review

Despite being a franchise famous on PC, Civilization has made the jump to consoles before but it hasn’t ever controlled so well on one. Without a mouse and keyboard, Firaxis had to be smart in getting a Civilization 6 Switch version to be able to do everything its PC sibling does. Surprisingly, everything is intuitive on the Switch port. You’ll have no issues selecting which units to control, choosing new developments to research, or finding opposing leaders you wish to take to war. More often than not, however, choosing what hexagon you want to highlight is a matter of manually accessing it with the analog stick. Details like this would be hard to fix with the limited face buttons on a controller, but thankfully it isn’t that big of a deal. For the most part, Civilization 6 on Switch controls like a dream.

Civilization 6 Switch Review – It’s All in the Details

Civilization 6 Switch Review

While the controls and graphics are a little diluted compared to its PC brother, Civilization 6 on Switch doesn’t dilute any of the series’ famous “just one more turn” gameplay.

Civilization 6 tasks you with choosing a nation and building it up from its humble prehistoric. In a standard game, you’re given 500 (you can choose to have more or less before you start) turns in which to transform your chosen civilization into a powerful empire. To win a game of Civilization, you’ll need to push your civilization toward one of military, culture, science, religion, and score (which tallies points for everything you do) domination. It’s addictive and tons of fun and its portability makes it perfect for those long train commutes.

No matter your chosen path, you’ll bask in the glory of seeing all your miniature units, cities, and the like growing with the times. To develop your burgeoning nation, you must decide where to build new cities and how exactly to expand them, what scientific study to research, what cultural aspect to create, and even what religion to follow. Everything you do and build has a domino effect. For example, if you research iron casting, you will be able to create sword-wielding soldiers, train tracks, and even space stations.

The trouble is that everything you need such as iron, wood, stone, and food is found on the map. Where you build your cities matters, as each hexagon tile contains a different material or potential land to develop. It’s a complicated game, filled with micromanagement, and it can be quite difficult to win.

You won’t be alone, either. AI-controlled civilizations will be playing the game just as you are. It’s up to you to beat them to the punch in every regard. You have to be careful as they might not take too kindly to what you’re doing. At times, the opposing civilizations will declare war on you for random reasons. They also do seem able to create armies and new cities quicker than you can. Thankfully, you can fully customize the game’s difficulty.

This partly showcases how many customization options Civilization 6 has. You can choose map size, number of City States, number of opposing civilizations, difficulty, who you play as, and you can even set distinct rules. If you want to set up an extremely difficult, large map where you can only win with science or religion, there’s nothing stopping you. And that freedom is incredibly welcome.

Civilization 6 Switch Review – Perfect for New Citizens

Civilization 6 Switch Review

It all sounds complicated, but thankfully, Firaxis Games has ensured that everything is simple to execute. To make all the building upgrades, cultural developments, scientific research, and religious advances easier to digest, Firaxis built development trees into the game.

Let’s say that you’re particularly keen to develop a rocket ship. You can see your tech tree at any time and, from here, you’ll be taken to a new screen which shows you exactly what you can research and what you need to have researched beforehand. It’s an extremely useful tool for winning the game in any scenario. You will need to know how exactly to properly advance your army, culture, religion, and science, so the quick referral pages do come in handy.

If this wasn’t enough, Civilization 6 features some particularly strong tutorials. Before setting up any game, you can choose how many suggestions you’d like to receive or whether to turn them off completely. If you’re completely new to Civilization, however, there is an in-depth tutorial which goes through everything you need to know. This helps make Civilization 6 a very user-friendly experience that is perfect for longtime fans of the series, and newcomers alike.

Civilization 6 Switch Review – Just One More Turn

Civilization 6 Switch Review

Most of the DLC has made its way to the Switch edition of the game. There are a number of new civilizations to play as and even a few more Scenarios to play out. One of them, for example, has players take control of Alexander the Great and his army, in an attempt to take out the Persian menace in a set number of turns. While not as engrossing or addictive as the game’s standard mode, these Scenarios are fun little asides that can help teach you the ins and outs of military domination and the like.

However, the biggest single disappointment of the Switch port of Civilization 6 is the complete lack of online multiplayer. Since Civilization 4, players have been able to take civilizations online in PvP. Sadly, this is currently missing from the Switch version of the game, although there is always hope that it will be added in via a patch later on. But, as it stands, there is no way to play others over the internet.

Thankfully, we can play the game in local multiplayer even if it isn’t too practical. You can take the Civilization 6 experience anywhere and play against your friends. Be warned, though. Civilization 6 will drain your Switch’s battery life.

Firaxis Games has done a magnificent job of porting Civilization 6 to the Nintendo Switch. While the PC version offers superior graphics and controls, you won’t be able to put this Civilization 6 Switch port down. It retains the series’ effortlessly addictive gameplay and is the perfect title for newcomers and long-time Civilization fans alike. Just one more turn.


Civilization 6 was reviewed on Switch via a digital code provided by the publisher.

REVOLUTION REPORT CARD

4.5
Rating
Box art - Sid Meier's Civilization VI
Detailed visuals.
Intuitive, simple control.s
The series' famous gameplay remains intact.
Civilization on the go.
Lack of online multiplayer is disappointing.
Occasional crashes.