Civilization VI Xbox One review: So addictive it should carry a warning label

As a first-time Civilization player, I had no idea what I was walking in to. Civ VI might be the most addictive game I've ever played.

Civ VI
(Image: © Windows Central)

Source: Windows Central (Image credit: Source: Windows Central)

Windows Central Recommended Award

Civilization is one of those gaming blindspots I've regretted for years and years. Despite always picking up the games in Steam sales, for whatever reason, I just never seemed to get around to it, allowing them to languish in my backlog unattended and neglected.

I lucked out with a review assignment for Civilization VI for Xbox One, effectively forcing me to give it a try. It went a little bit beyond merely giving it a try. I became hopelessly addicted, seeing vast chunks of time disappear into a Civilization-shaped hole.

Civ VI has already won praise for its quality gameplay on PC, having been available for a while, but how good is it on Xbox One? Here's a newcomer's review.

What you'll love about Civilization VI

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Civilization VI is a turn-based strategy game, much like its predecessors, taking place on a board game-like map of hexagonal tiles. Each tile represents unit positions, as well as strategic resources, battling over which forms the basis of play. Civ VI can be played solo against A.I., with heavily customizable gameplay modes, or in multiplayer against others.

I'm still a newcomer to the franchise and find myself truly in awe at the sheer amount of options and playstyles supported by the game. There are several "win" conditions for each game, either via trade, diplomacy, war, and so on, making different types of strategies and playstyles completely viable. Want to become a mercantile superpower and take the world by trade? You can, but you may be called upon to defend your supply lines from time to time.

Civ VI features various prominent figures from history, which form the basis for your empire. Queen Victoria of Britain, for example, gains bonuses to naval power, helping players who want to dominate the waves.

Civ VI might be the most addictive game I've ever played.

You'll gradually build up your empire from stone age warriors to nuclear-equipped modern society, while carefully managing your economy, relationships with other civilizations, and the needs of your population.

Expansion and technological advancement are critically important to making a viable civilization, and the road to getting there is incredibly satisfying. Seeing your towns dynamically evolve from bronze age settlements through to modern-day cities is incredibly fun, and each match gradually drip-feeds new mechanics as you complete more and more research. You'll go from wielding clubs and bows to muskets and catapults, and then eventually build airports, fighter jets, and tanks, as the arms race with your neighbors flares up.

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The fact that it's turn-based makes it incredibly easy to play while multitasking, and the game also works really well with Xbox console streaming (and hopefully Project xCloud in the future). The visuals are as charming as they are entertaining. Watching cities fall, and monuments and roads gradually appear across your empire form really creates a sense of attachment to your nascent empire.

What you might dislike about Civilization VI

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As of writing, I haven't been able to try the game on an Xbox One X, but the performance is adequate on the base Xbox One S, at least. If you're playing in a large map with multiple civilizations, it can get a bit juddery towards the end game, but it's nothing I'd describe as unplayable.

Switching from mouse and keyboard to a gamepad has been a relatively smooth transition for Civ VI, at least when compared to some other similar games out there.

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That said, getting to grips with some of the nitty-gritty controls, resources, and other features can be a little slower than it otherwise might be with a mouse. This is purely because you can't easily mouse-over something unfamiliar to find out what it is or does. It wasn't immediately obvious how to access many things with the controls, despite the game sporting tutorial scenarios.

Speaking of which, Civ VI does have a tutorial, but again, it misses a lot of some of the game's finer points. That's to be expected in a game as complex as this, most likely. If you're new to the franchise, though, it's worth being aware that you might have to do a bit of extracurricular research to really get to grips with the game.

Should you buy Civilization VI?

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Civilization VI will satisfy almost any type of strategy game fan.

I've spent several dozen hours with the game, and I still feel like I've just barely scratched the surface. There are also expansions to explore with tons of new mechanics, content, and civilization playstyles I haven't even touched as of writing, alongside multiplayer modes, custom matches, and challenge scenarios.

If you've been enjoying almost any type of strategy game on Xbox One, such as Stellaris, Surviving Mars, or even more action-oriented games like XCOM, Halo Wars, or Mutant Year Zero, Civilization VI combines the best of several types of strategy gameplay styles at a pace almost anyone can enjoy.

Just beware. This game truly exemplifies the "just five more minutes" gameplay loop. Before you know it, you'll blink, and midnight will turn into 6 AM (as it did with me).

Jez Corden
Co-Managing Editor

Jez Corden is a Managing Editor at Windows Central, focusing primarily on all things Xbox and gaming. Jez is known for breaking exclusive news and analysis as relates to the Microsoft ecosystem while being powered by tea. Follow on Twitter @JezCorden and listen to his XB2 Podcast, all about, you guessed it, Xbox!