I'm going to need to re-evaluate "Civilization VI".
I got it as part of a "Humble Monthly" collection back when it was a relatively new game, played part-way through a single match, and wrote it a glowing review
. Just a couple of weeks ago, I got a great deal on the Switch port, and am part-way through my first game there
. And now that I'm battling through a major war, some serious balancing issues are emerging.
But before I get to that, let me say that my current match-- played as "Cleopatra", on the "Warlord" (third) difficulty-- is more emergent and ludo-narratively rich than any match of "Civ" I've ever played
, and I've been at the series since "IV" was brand new, fourteen years ago. I have "Phillip" of Spain adopt Judaism
, followed by Montezuma and his Catholic
empire, both on my continent waging war against one another. Hilarious, those damned crazy Catholic Aztecs!
After some really exciting early game shuffling, a prolific Montezuma was in pole position via the "Religion" victory condition-- which forced me into allying with those nutty Spanish Jews to do a joint war against the aforementioned cross-bearing jungle guys. I was even able to use the game's phenomenal
city state mechanics to recruit an extra army
for my use! And hence, the fighting began.
And that is also where the problems
Before I started the war with feather outfit-adorned Montezuma, I checked his resources: no ability to make iron or gun powder-based units, and only seven gold
to his name. His army consisted of crappy "Eagle Warrior" units, which were no match for my knights, swordsmen, and crossbowmen. "No problem", I thought: at that point in the game, it takes several turns just to make a single
Not five turns into the battling-- whereupon I rapidly razed one of his cities-- a knight approached. Then another. Then another. Then another
. In just a few turns, he was able to make an entirely new army
of powerful units, filling the screen. With seven gold. How?! So I did a bit of investigation online, and found this
forum thread. Apparently when you turn up the difficulty, the only thing which changes is that the AI cheats
! One comment even explicitly states: "Difficulty level = cheat level".
I bet if I had some magic code to turn off the fog of war, the AI was spawning one or two Montezuma knights per turn, just off screen, maybe even in the middle of a plains or something.
Apparently the AI in this series has always
worked that way to some degree-- but I've never
encountered anything as egregious as this Montezuma war. I remember the game taking flak when it was brand new for the AI being "too easy", and I wonder the developers panicked and patched in "AI can spawn infinite units" code, just to superficially make the game more challenging?
The whole point of a strategy game is to test the player's ability to plan
-- and "Civilization VI" gives you a myriad
of amazing screens and tools via which to do just that. And they're all pointless
, because the rules of the game will pseudo-arbitrarily change as soon as the AI starts to lose-- it's like "Mario Kart 8 blue shell" crap, in a different genre. Frustrating!
I've read that the Switch port is several patch versions behind the PC version-- so maybe they've improved the AI situation more recently, and Nintendo's platform will benefit from that eventually? I hope so, because this handheld adaptation is amazing
: the controller interface is fantastic, the graphics are essentially identical to the PC original's, and even the performance is wonderful! And nothing beat having Ghandi almost randomly and hilariously finger-waving at me after I'd declared war: "You're so