Sid Meier’s Civilization VI review for Nintendo Switch

Platform: Nintendo Switch
Also On: PC
Publisher: 2K Games
Developer: Firaxis Games / Aspyr Media
Medium: Digital/Cart
Players: 1-4
Online: No
ESRB: E10+

A warning to anyone who goes into Civilization VI on the Switch without knowing how to play: the tutorial won?t help you much. Not only does it rush through all the important stuff, there?s also a glitch that makes it impossible to finish. I don?t know how much more the tutorial was going to show (the glitch kicks in around the 20th turn or so), but based on my subsequent time with the game, I?m going to say that at least a few important points were left out.

While I?m not a total newcomer to Civilization generally — I played Civilization Revolution on the Vita pretty obsessively a few years ago — I was unfamiliar enough with the difference between CivRev and a mainline Civilization game that a more comprehensive tutorial would have been useful. As it stands, after several failed attempts at playing through the tutorial, I finally gave up on learning what I was supposed to do, started playing the game, and discovered that simply playing was the only way to go.

Now, I was still pretty bad at it, even after playing around with the settings so that I had it on the easiest, quickest game imaginable. It took me far too long to realize that, unlike CivRev, it?s not a wise strategy to immediately declare war on your closest neighbour, since it means you waste a lot of resources that could be put to better use. Likewise, many of the finer points of Civilization VI continued to elude me even after several games, and I can?t help but feel that a functioning tutorial may have helped on some of those points.

And yet, despite those complaints, I still enjoyed my time with Civilization VI. I liked seeing my cities grow and flourish, and it was fun thinking strategically about how to build my empire in a way that made sense.

Having said that, there?s definite room for improvement here — though I say that with the caveat that these things may well have been addressed in the tutorial at some point after the game-breaking glitch. For example, interactions with other countries seemed kind of random. One moment I?d get a little animated scene of another world leader saying how pleased they were that our two countries got along so well, the next they?d be denouncing me for reasons unknown. While it was fun to see historical figures stomping around angrily (though your mileage may vary on that), it would have been nice if there was some kind of obvious rhyme or reason to any of it.

It was also difficult to get a view of the map as a whole, so you could get a stronger idea of how things were going in the broader game. Multiple times I had other empires seemingly come out of nowhere to win the game, and I can?t help but feel as though that feeling may have been alleviated if there was some more obvious way to get a holistic view of your match. Again, it may have been possible to see that, and it may have been covered later on in the tutorial, but as it stood, seemed like a mystery to me.

Some of Civilization VI?s other issues run a little deeper than things that may or may not have been covered in a tutorial, though. The load times, particularly when you?re starting a match, take forever. I get that setting things up so that you can go at least 330 turns (in a quick match) without further loading screens may take some magic, but given that the game also features long waits between turns, you spend a long time in this game waiting around for anything to happen.

Even with the waiting, however — and even with occasionally annoying controls, and even with the capricious AI — I?d be lying if I tried saying I didn?t think that Civilization VI was worth playing on the Switch. It?s the sort of game that, at least to me, feels tailor-made for playing on a handheld, and once you get past the loading screens, it runs pretty smoothly (a stark contrast to Civilization Revolution on the Vita, which chugged as you got closer to the endgame). If you?re a Civilization veteran wondering whether you invest in the Switch version, I obviously can?t help you, but everyone else should find plenty here to like.

2K Games provided us with a Civilization VI Switch code for review purposes.

Grade: B+