Video Game Review – Civilization VI: Red Death Battle Royale Mode

TL;DR – Adding aBattle Royale to a Civilization game seems really counterintuitive, that is until you play it.

Score – 4 out of 5 stars

Civilization VI: Red Death. Image Credit: Firaxis Games.

Review –

In 2019 if there was ever a trend that could be considered the new hotness that every video game company wants a chunk of, well that has to be the Battle Royale mode. For those who may not know, a Battle Royale mode/game is where you have an ever-shrinking map so you need to gear up, get to the safe zone, defeating any enemies you come across, and be the last one standing. This is where you get your chicken dinner, or in this case your escape from a dying planet. But most Battle Royale games like PUBG, Fortnite, and Call of Duty: Black Ops 4: Blackout are first/third-person shooters, surely it can’t work in a strategy game, well I’ve been able to play a couple of rounds so far so let’s see.

My experience with Battle Royale games is not as extensive as some people, however I have played/watched enough of the genre to get a good sense of the common aspects of the game. You have the same phases in a match, when you land you have to roam around quickly to try and get resources, troops from ruined cities, helicopters from raider camps, or even a coveted nuclear weapon. You need to move quickly because everyone else is out there doing the same, so you have to stretch your resources, but not so much that you overburden yourself. Then you might pick off one of the players that were not quick enough while keeping to the ever-shrinking safe zone until there are only one or more players left and you battle it out head-to-head.

Civilization VI: Red Death. Image Credit: Firaxis Games.
There are a lot of little details that help build this world. Image Credit: Firaxis Games.

There are a lot of little tweaks to the game that might be a big change for Civ players. Gone is religion, science, culture, tech trees, air units, sea units, cities, and more. You need to constantly stay mobile to keep ahead of the wall of radiation and other players. There are also some tweaks that set it apart from other Battle Royale games that I have played before. To begin with there are significantly fewer players than you would be used to, with a standard game having only 8. Also you are not commanding one unit through the game but a whole squad.

However, the big change is how you win or lose the game. You start with one civilian unit, you can get more from cities or taking them from other players, but if you ever lose the last civilian unit you are instantly out of the game no matter what. Suddenly unit placement becomes a much bigger issue.

Civilization VI: Red Death. Image Credit: Firaxis Games.
Each of the new civs feel both tonally part of the world, but are also really interesting to play. Image Credit: Firaxis Games.

On a general presentation level, a lot of work has gone into making the details of the world a little more interesting than just your standard map. There is battle debris scattered across the map, leftover legacies of a long-forgotten world. Indeed, all the units and the scenario have a very Mad Max feel to them, which extends into the civilizations. There is a good mix of civs with different bonuses that shake up the game a bit. Do you want to be the Mutants or Boarderlords that hug along the edges, or the Cultists that can see a bit further, or the Wanderers that can power through forests.

They have also added a way to quick join a multiplayer game, but in my tries this morning while it worked, quite often it felt like it kept trying to join the same game that wouldn’t work. As well as this, while it is good that they have the turn timers for this mode, all it takes for the game to really start to drag is one player that does not end their turn when they are finished.

Civilization VI: Red Death. Image Credit: Firaxis Games.
“You Maniacs, You Blew It Up!” Image Credit: Firaxis Games.

While it can be all good in the design the real proof in the pudding is in how it plays and already I have had some really memorable moments. Like in one game where it got down to a head-to-head battle, they had the better units, but I had the better positioning. It was a stalemate with each of us sending out probes to test the defences, only for me to miss that a supply drop had landed so I had to watch as they got a thermonuclear weapon and destroyed me in one shot. I can’t be mad, because if I was one turn quicker, I would have done the exact same thing to them.

Or the time that it was just three players left in an ever-shrinking zone, me and the Boarderlords were fighting it out, with the Cultists having one unit, but their one unit was a rocket artillery. So after the Boarderlords mostly dealt with me I retreated and the Cultists rained down fire on the weakened enemy. I had only one settler left so I was not a threat, or so I seemed. I used my last settler to dash out into the red zone to grab a supply drop that gave me a rocket artillery of my own. It had none of the upgrades of my enemy, but it was a military unit and while they dashed out to finish off the Boarderlords they left their civilian unit behind, right for taking and leading me to my first Spaceship.

Civilization VI: Red Death. Image Credit: Firaxis Games.
My first, but hopefully not my last Spaceship. Image Credit: Firaxis Games.

In the end, do we recommend Civilization VI: Red Death Battle Royale Mode? Well if you own the game (it is available for free to anyone who has the base copy of the game), I would 100% recommend giving it a try. I had a lot of fun with it, and that was playing against randoms, the real test will be later this week when I can schedule a gaming session with some IRL friends and watch the carnage unfold. I will say that I am not sure how long a shelf life this mode has, but hey it is a Battle Royale mode that didn’t have a single micro-transaction or loot box, and in 2019 that is more rare than gold.  

By Brian MacNamara: You can follow Brian on Twitter Here, when he’s not chatting about Movies and TV, he’ll be talking about International Relations, or the Solar System.

Have you played
Civilization VI: Red Death ?, let us know what you thought in the comments below, feel free to share this review on any of the social medias and you can follow us Here. Check out all our past reviews and articles Here, and have a happy day. 

Credits – All images were created by Firaxis Games
Lead Designer – Ed Beach
Lead Engineer – Ken Grey
Producers – Sarah Lynn, Dennis Shirk & Ed Beach
Writing – Pete Murray
Art Director – Brian Busatti
Music – Geoff Knorr, Roland Rizzo & Phill Boucher
Developer – Firaxis Games
Publisher – 2K

Disclosure – I am a moderator on the site Civfanatics of which several staff and players are members of the ‘Frankenstein Testing Group’, Firaxis Games internal playtesting team. I am not part of this team nor do I have any links with Firaxis Games or 2K.

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