Posted by Jay Ricciardi @JayRicciardi
Senior Editor of Now Loading. I like good games, good beer, and long walks up treacherous mountains shrouded in sinister, whispering fog.
Jay Ricciardi

Every few years we get a new entry to the much-loved Sid Meyer's Civilization franchise. While the last two games (Civ V and Civ: Beyond Earth) were met with some skepticism, Civilization VI seems ready to learn from the best parts of those two games.

At E3 2016 we got a chance to sit and get a wider view of what Civilization VI is going to look like and play like. Here are some of the highlights with an emphasis on the new city layout mechanics.

Cities are evolving, introducing districts

Let's lead with one of the biggest changes to Civilization: the new concept of districts, which will expand outward from a city. Instead of just jamming your tiny city full of all the new buildings, tile-specific districts will now house up to three buildings on their own.

What this mostly means is that cities will physically expand as their hex-influence grows. Instead of sitting on one tile, your city will become a multi-tile metropolis. Your cities will now spread across the landscape.

This mechanic reflects other changes to what we do with the land surrounding cities - districts will partially take the place of resource buildings like farms and harbors. Also, districts and buildings will be built instantaneously, consuming a worker, which is a considerable change for the Civilization series.

Technical limitations we know so far about districts

Besides the three-buildings-per-district limitation, we know a few other things so far:

  • There are a total of 12 district types
  • At the start of the game, you have 5-6 districts available, and you unlock more as the game progresses.
  • You must buy a district before constructing buildings within it
  • Districts will be affected by the terrain they are built on and that they are adjacent to
  • Districts will be affected by the other districts they are adjacent to
  • You may build one district per 3 population your city has

Tactical city placement is the biggest reason to get excited about Civ VI

Based on what we've seen so far, placement of cities themselves will become a much more important part of the series than they have been previously. You'll have to think carefully about where a city is founded and what tiles will give you the benefits you need for a specific victory condition goals. This isn't to say placement was never important in the Civ series, but players with a good eye for adjacency bonuses will have a serious leg up.

Additionally, because cities grow slowly and land becomes available over time, you'll have to carefully plan what is important for your civilization at the start of the game and what will be more important in the late-game, when victory conditions become a race against time and resources.

Of course, besides appealing to the min-maxers looking for ways to theorycraft the optimal tile adjacencies (and vying for the best ones), certain game maps will make all the difference. Expect loads of custom maps and tricky resource distributions to take on a renewed urgency; your civilization is going to have to do its best with the resources it's given.