Civ 5 vs 6 Compared: Which is Better?

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Civ 6 may have been out now for over half a decade, but that hasn’t stopped Civilization fans from returning to Civ 5– and many fans debating if Civ 5 or Civ 6 is the best game.

In a glance at just one reason why fans are still playing Civ 5 and looking up overviews and guides, a Reddit post highlighted Civ 5 graphics vs Civ 6 graphics– capturing not only player’s interest in the older art style, but perhaps the longevity of a game that came out more than a decade ago.

The post in question was a snapshot of a channel in Civ 5, and many were taken aback by the style, enough that some thought the channel was constructed using a Civ 5 mod. But the truth is that Civ 5 and Civ 6 are simply different– on face value, first distinguished by cartoonish vs more realistic graphics.

But it goes beyond graphics: players are seemingly torn between Civ 5 vs Civ 6 for a bevy of reasons, from civilizations offered, to world maps, technology, culture, lore, and more.

So is Civ 5 really better, as so many players contend, or is Civ 6 really the superior, but an underrated game?

Consider this your guide to Civ 5 vs Civ 6. I’ll give my honest opinion about which game is better– no matter what you value most.

Main Differences Civ 5 vs Civ 6

  • Civ 5 is more challenging, with penalties such as cultural and scientific, whereas Civ 6 is more unitive and easier to learn.
  • Civ 5 has more realistic graphics, whereas Civ 6 graphics are more stylized and brightly hued.
  • Civ 5 expansions add more depth and systems to the base game, whereas Civ 6 expansions add new civilizations and an environmental system.

How do I decide on the best Civilization game?

Civ 5 vs 6

Civilization is a thriving long-lived series, with the most recent release being 2016’s Civilization 6 and its subsequent DLC add ons. The entire series started in 1991 when the flagship game first launched.

While few still play the original game, this iconic start to the series made room for a litany of Civilization main series games and spin-offs, such as Civilization Online and Civilization EDU.

Today, many players are still returning to the game I started with– Civilization 3– but also debating more recent games, namely Civ 5 vs Civ 6.

The truth is, there is no one best Civilization game entirely– a lot of it comes down to what you value most. But to help you make a clearer decision, I’ve settled on a list of important factors to judge Civ 5 vs Civ 6.

Is Civilization 5 or 6 better?

For many, it’s a pivotal question, even a topic of some contention: is Civilization 5 better and a true classic? Or does the more modern Civilization add new features that trump its predecessor?

I’ll be careful to take into account different gameplay styles and preferences and provide headers for different features, so you can quickly read which features matter most to you and your personal gameplay.

Here’s my overview of Civ 5 vs Civ 6 and the main differences between these two games- so you can decide which game you should start playing in 2021.

Are Civ 5 or Civ 6 Graphics Better?

Graphics are always an area of ​​debate– and arguably the most subjective comparison on this list. Some prefer realistic graphics for a better sense of immersion and to potentially reflect the historical backdrop. That said, stylized graphics can provide a more whimsical feel and make a game feel distinct from previous games. Stylized graphics also tend to age better than realistic graphics.

Civ 5

Civ 5 Graphics

Civ 5 opts for a more realistic look vs stylized or cartoony graphics. Since it was released in 2010, and also because graphics are not the central focus of Civilization games, that isn’t to say they are the most advanced graphics out there.

That said, there’s an undeniable beauty and appeal to Civ 5 graphics, realistic with rich coloration, fine details for terrains and textures, and attention to detail with world leaders and troops. Even though it came out in 2010, it seems to hold up fairly well over a decade later– which is quite an accomplishment.

Civ 6

Civ 6 Graphics

Civ 6 surprised some Civilization fans when it debuted, with a noticeable shift away from the realism that Civ 5 tried to capture. While Civ 6 still has pleasing colors and is by no means what I’d consider an ‘ugly game,’ in some ways it oddly feels out of step with the Civilization series.

While stylized graphics can be appealing, here the look of world leaders as especially cartoon-like detracts from the historical backdrop and prestige of those leaders.

Winner: Civ 5

Again, this certainly is up to personal preference– but for me, the Civ 6 graphics break a sense of immersion a little and don’t align with the gameplay the way Civ 5 graphics do.

Civ 5 vs Civ 6: World Maps and Gameplay Set Up

When it comes to your options before you even start playing, there are some notable differences when it comes to game setup, navigating the menu, and setting the tone for your game – especially if you’ve never played Civilization games before.

Civ 5

For Civ 5, you can opt to start a single or multiplayer game. The game also includes tutorials that can be handy for new players. When you set up your game, you’ll have many of the options also offered in Civ 3.

Select your world leader and corresponding country, as well as map type (continents, Pangea, archipelago); map size (from duel to huge, with the option to randomize); difficulty level (from settler to deity); and something not introduced in Civ 3– game pace.

Game pace determines how long it takes to construct, research, and more. Quick pace makes for a rather chaotic game that requires faster decisions, whereas epic or marathon pace makes for a very long-term strategy game.

Civ 6

Civ 6 does have many of the same features, including selecting your choice of game difficulty and game pace, as well as a multiplayer option. However, it brings new map types, including shuffle, island plates, inland sea, 4-leaf clover, 6 armed snowflakes, different versions of Earth and Mediterranean, seven seas, East Asia, Europe, lakes, mirror, and even more.

The other new feature Civ 6 brings to your setup is gameplay mode, which refers to mostly DLC add ons– as well as one free update– which brings new troops, buildings, and changes to tech trees. Advanced setup features include era, allocated resources, number of city states, natural wonders, victory conditions, and climate options– which I’ll touch on later.

Winner: Civ 6

Civ 5 has some nice features, and it’s more familiar for players who’ve played Civilization games preceding it– but Civ 6 undeniably has more compelling features, such as new world maps, advanced setup options, and more.

Does Civ 5 or Civ 6 have better civilization options?

In terms of world leaders and civilizations, this is a close one. Both Civ 5 and Civ 6 offer great options with each civilization having unique and distinctive features.

Civ 5

Civ 5

Civ 5 offers a total of around 43 world leaders, but this also includes expansion packs.

Your options for civilizations include Morrocan, Greek, Assyrian, Songhai, Hunnic, Roman, German, Celtic, Polish, Russian, Persian, Carthangian, English, Venetian, Indonesian, Indian, Mongolian, Swedish, Ethiopian, Danish, Arabian, Iroquois, Spanish , Polynesian, Portuguese, Austrian, Aztec, French, Babylonian, Japanese, Mayan, Incan, Brazilian, Shoshone, Egyptian, Siamese, Korean, Zulu, Ottoman, Byzantian, American. Dutch, and Chinese.

Civ 6

Civ 6

Civ 6 offers a total of 54 world leaders, including alternate personas offered through the New Frontier Pass.

Civilizations include Macedonian, Nubian, Gallic, Vietnamese, Byzantine, French, Indian, Egyptian, Persian, Phoenician, English, German, Indian, Mongolian, Sumerian, Indonesian, Greek, Babylonian, Norwegian, Japanese, Polish, Khmer, Portuguese, Australian, Swedish, Chinese, Maori, Mayan, Mapuche, Malian, Hungarian, Ethiopian, Aztec, Kongolese, Incan, Brazilian, Russian, Spanish, Cree, Scottish, Arabian, Korean, Zulu, Gran Columbian, Ottoman, Georgian, American, Scythian, Roman , Canadian and Dutch.

Winner: Civ 5

This was a close one, and quantity alone does not mean that the civilizations are better. Both Civ 5 and Civ 6 undoubtedly have unique civilizations with distinct characteristics, but I give an edge to Civ 5.

The reason? Civ 5 offers more distinct differences between civilizations. While on face value Civ 6 offers more options, differences are more meaningful in Civ 5. Bonuses are more pronounced, and there’s more true strategy to what you select.

One example is limitations in Civ 6: in Civ 6, for instance, the worker bonus for Egyptians only applies to nearby rivers. This is one small example, but many limitations mean that any bonuses or advantages are limited in appeal.

Does Civ 5 or Civ 6 have better world features?

When discussing world features, my focus is twofold: both on the terrain types and unique features that change how you interact with the world.

Civ 5

Civ 5 world features

Civ 5 terrain and world features are pretty much the same as previous games, at least for many of the basics. Terrain types include ice, mountains, hills, rivers, and areas of vegetation, such as marshes, plains, deserts, tundra, and forests.

As in previous civilization games, different terrain types increase or slow down movement and can be mined for resources, settled, and traversed differently.

However, one thing that is signature to world features and terrain in Civ 5 is nuclear fallout. Nuclear fallout will only appear in your game following a nuclear strike. Any terrain affected will not be able to be used– though workers can gain a specialized interaction to clean fall out.

Civ 6

Civ 6 world features

Civ 6 includes the same basic types you’ve come to expect, such as tundra, grasslands, mountains, dessert, and others. But it also includes volcanoes, as well as a special impact zone– which is enabled if you play in apocalyptic mode– which functions not unlike the nuclear fallout tiles seen in Civ 5. In addition, a specific scenario adds Nile River terrain spaces .

Civ 6 no longer has hills for terrain but adds natural wonders. Natural wonders cover between one to four tiles and provide special bonuses for players who come across them, including bonuses to gold, culture, science, and more.

All of the terrain is enhanced through the Gathering Storm expansion pack, which adds natural disasters.

Winner: Civ 6

Once again, there is a good deal of overlap between Civ 5 and Civ 6. Civ 6 has new features that Civ 5 doesn’t offer, plus added potential if you combine DLC.

Is Civ 5 or Civ 6 better for core gameplay?

For core gameplay, I’m combining cultural features, technology, diplomacy, and day-to-day functioning and strategy. While that may sound rather broad, the focus here is on what unique characteristics distinguish Civ 5 vs Civ 6– and there are some clear differences.

Civ 5

Civ 5 core gameplay

Civ 5, in a word, is difficult, imposing both more advantages and disadvantages that make your every move strategic. For instance, unhappiness amongst your people increases by 3 for every city you establish, making you work harder to appease citizens. Food, a mainstay of past games, allows you to control growth and shape civilizations to your own liking.

The game is more challenging, with intuitive AI for NPCs– and also harder to learn. The opponents are equipped with Ai driven, unique personalities, making it harder to predict their next moves. Expanding civilizations, with penalties and difficult adversaries, is often slower and complicated.

In a big move from previous games, in Civ 5 you can now engage in technological cooperations with other players rather than directly share or trade advancements. Also of note is the cultural system, which received an upgrade from Civ 4 with the ability to purchase social policies as you gain cultural influence.

Civ 6

Civ 6 core gameplay

Civ 6 is intuitive, making it a more accessible option for players new to the franchise– and honestly, a bit easier as a whole. Gone are the penalties for establishing more cities, and the AI ​​for opponents is tuned down, making their next moves more predictable. You also can expand relatively easily, now relying on housing and amenities for growth instead of food.

Building roads and constructing projects is generally quicker and easier, though you may move more slowly across the world map. While most of Civ 6 seems to guide you, one area it is a bit more flexible is with the addition of two technology trees, lending more choice in what path you explore next.

Perhaps the most notable change is districts. Instead of constructing within the city center, buildings are now erected in campus districts or designated districts for that type of building. Now, cities are a bit more specialized– with some serving as trading or cultural centers. In addition, it overall is a smoother experience in terms of managing turns and decisions.

Winner: Civ 5

This is perhaps the most contentious decision– but it depends a little on your perspective. Those new to the series may find Civ 6 more friendly, intuitive, and updated– but Civ 5 offers more complexity.

You feel as if you’re truly developing a civilization and interacting with others, while Civ 6 at times feels more polished and more blatantly role-playing. Civ 6 is by no means poor in gameplay– but it removes consequences and penalties that made Civ 5 difficult and also immersive.

Does Civ 5 or Civ 6 have better expansions?

When it comes to expansion packs, you by no means need DLC to enjoy Civilization– but these add ons can freshen your gameplay and even add complexity and depth– and this is where the comparisons for Civ 5 vs Civ 6 become quite interesting.

Civ 5

Civ 5 expansions

Civ 5 has two expansion packs: God & Kings, as well as Brave New World. Gods and Kings added religion, espionage, and improved on existing content by expanding technology trees, adding new troops, new world wonders, and an additional nine new civilizations.

Brave New World, meanwhile, largely improved upon the base game content by adding international trade routes, tourism, Congress, new wonders, and more– as well as the beloved Venice civilization.

Civ 6

Civ 6 expansions

Civ 6 included content passes and free updates, but more notably, three main expansion packs: Rise and Fall, Gathering Storm, and New Frontier.

Rise and Fall added updates to the ages your civilization underwent, a loyalty feature for cities, governors, extra bonuses for alliances, nine new leaders, and new world wonders.

Gathering Storm added environmental factors to contend with, including volcanoes, tornadoes, hurricanes, and even global warming and scenarios like the Black Death. To contend with that, new engineering projects and a world congress were also added.

Finally, New Frontier expanded civilizations and leaders, adding eight additional civilizations, nine leaders, and new gameplay modes.

Winner: Tie

This one was too close to call. In some ways, I’d still argue that the Civ 5 expansion offers a bit more depth and complexity– but the environmental elements in Gathering Storm are unique and a standout, if that suits your gameplay.

Frequently Asked Questions

Question: Is CIV6 worth it if I have Civ 5?

Answer: Civ6 is worth giving a try – depending on your gameplay style. It depends on why you like Civ 5. Civ 6 offers some new updated features and certainly is an entirely different experience in a few ways. Buying an expansion like Gathering Storm further distinguishes Civ 5 and Civ 6.

Question: What is the best Civ to play in Civ 5?

Answer: While there is no one best civilization to play in Civ 5, different civilizations have unique advantages (and disadvantages). If you want to win a victory by finances, I recommend Morocco and Venice. Aiming for a cultural victory? Consider Brazil or France. For science, both Korea and Babolyn are great choices. Greece is excellent for diplomacy, while Zuu or Poland works for pure military domination.

Question: What are the best civilizations for science in Civ 6?

Answer: Many civilizations in Civ 6 excel at science, including Australia, Babylon, Scotland, Korea, and the Dutch, among others.

Final Decision: Civ 5 for complexity; Civ 6 for beginners

Overall, looking at the value of Civ 5 vs Civ 6, Civ 5 has more depth and complexity and greater replay value. However, Civ 6, with its unique expansion packs and polished, intuitive interface, has a wide following for a reason, and it’s a great entry point for anyone new to the Civilization franchise.

Buy Civ 5 on Steam Here or Buy Civ 6 Here .

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