The Best Strategy 2016

by on December 27, 2016

                Grand
strategies, RTS, RTT, TBS or 4X, this year had them all. Homeworld saw a
planetary iteration. XCOM 2 did a lot of things right despite inheriting the
story and many of the issues of its predecessor. Master of Orion was revived. Battlefleet
Gothic: Armada pulled off the rules of the board game beautifully with a
gameplay that resembles naval combat and a campaign against Abaddon the
Despoiler, but the production value of a small studio. Paradox has taken Grand
Strategy to space with Stellaris. The Warhammer universe met Total War in a
streamlined strategy game with a modest narrative and epic battles which proved
a great opportunity for SEGA to spam pricy DLCs. Cossacks 3 copied the original
game with all its qualities but with additional problems. And at the end of the
year, Shadow Tactics: Blades of the Shogun has resurrected Commandos 2 and
transformed it in a battle between samurais.
                The one
strategy that isn’t on the list above is the one that surprised me the most
coming from a great series that lately has seen content fragmentation with
mandatory mechanics delivered through expansions. I have to admit that my
expectations from Civilization VI weren’t that high, but I was proved wrong by
a game that is an absolute improvement over its predecessor.
                Beautifully
narrated by Sean Bean’s calming voice, Civilization VI oozes production value
from every ounce of its virtual body. The mobile looking graphics from the
screenshots and early videos retain a wanted silliness through an artistic
direction with caricaturized historical characters and amusing unit animations
translating into great visuals when put in motion. But production value was
expected from the Firaxis and 2K combo. What I wasn’t expecting and I was
delighted to see at release are gameplay mechanics and features that were part
of the expansion for Civilization V. Religion is already in the game playing a
big role in a nation’s development with its pantheons system and as a victory
type. Trading has the required complexity from the get go with routes being
established that help nations to flourish. The cities have seen a complete
redesign in the way they expand with the addition of the districts system which
comes with impactful and permanent choices of strategic and economical
importance. The research has doubled in volume with the introduction of a
civics system in parallel to the technological advancements, providing players
with political and military ways of expanding a nation’s power. There is so
much to do in this game and the choices are spread so well that from start to
finish you will never get bored.
The game VI is not devoid of problems with the UI and AI
requiring some serious work. But there are a ton of gameplay improvements
balancing most of the problems of Civilization V without begging for an
expansion.
                Civilization
VI is probably the best base Civilization game to date. With a solid production
value, a unique flair and enough content to keep players hooked for hundreds of
hours without feeling repetitive, the game comes on top of every other strategy
released this and I’m quite curious what Firaxis will do with the expansions
for this one.