Civilization VI Nintendo Switch Edition Review
Nintendo SwitchAlso available on Nintendo Switch
The breadth of titles on the Switch continues to impress - from classic platformers to some surprisingly in-depth strategy with a healthy dose of indie along the way, it's the console for everyone. 2K Games clearly see this potential with their release of the king of all strategy games - Civilization VI - not some cut down 'Civilization: Revolution' subset of the game's core mechanics but the full Civ VI experience tailored to handheld and big-screen gaming in one hit.
Civilization has a strong pedigree - Sid Meier's classic game is over 25 years old and at the core very little has changed. The graphics are better and the strategy more rounded with more concepts, but the central turn-based world domination remains as addictive now as it was when the first game appeared in 1991. Starting with just one settler and maybe a scout or warrior you find yourself at the very dawn of civilization and must set about building a nation to stand the test of time - either through conquest, scientific or cultural supremacy or by just being friendly to your neighbours.
The Switch edition of the game has three tutorial modes - one for newcomers to the Civilization series, one for those who are new to Civilization VI and finally the most basic one aimed at those of us who are familiar with the game but need some pointers on how the game interface has translated to the Switch. The combination of touch screen and controller-based interactivity is well thought out and it doesn't take long for the game to feel like a natural fit to the console - an impressive feat given previous attempts at console based Civ have meant tradeoffs and shortcuts that resulted in something that was both streamlined yet unsatisfactory to play.
One thing we don't get here is the Brave New World expansion - and there's no mention yet of any future DLC, including the recently-announced Gathering Storm, coming to the Switch edition of the game. As anyone who plays Civ knows, the reinvention that comes with the DLC makes for a much more rounded and in-depth game, so the lack of the current DLC at least is a shame and means that PC players of Brave New World will find themselves missing out.
One other minor omission for Switch players is online multiplayer. Local network multiplayer is available however, as has always been the case Civilization really doesn't work too well as a multiplayer game either way so we don't see this as a major downside.
Civilization VI looks gorgeous on the Switch - the top-down view offers a clear perspective on all of your units and those of the enemy. The 'fog-of-war' that obscures tiles that your units cannot physically see takes the form of an olde-worlde map and fits the game well. The interface allows zooming in to the impressively detailed unit models and your growing cities look charming on the Switch screen.
One downside of the fixed resolution of the Switch on a large-screen TV is that things may be a little too chunky. PC players will be used to having control over their resolutions and with 4K monitors becoming the norm many will be used to playing in ultra high definition. That said, in the handheld form factor the 720p layout looks perfect. Another side effect of the docked gameplay is that the added resolution increases the work for the console and therefore makes the game feel a little chuggy - in both scrolling around the map and also in terms of how long non-player turns take. Again, this isn't quite as much of a problem when playing in handheld mode.
Some would argue that Civilization VI isn't the best instalment in the series (for our money the combo of Civilization IV and the Beyond the Sword DLC is the best Civ has ever been) but this is the first time that the full modern Civ experience has been on a device that doesn't feature a mouse and keyboard and it's a triumph both in terms of gameplay and as a technical feat. The fact that it doesn't feel out of place with the Switch controls is a testament to the development and UX teams that put Civilization VI together.
Civilization VI is a must-buy for all Switch strategy gamers.