When Civilization VI was released on iPad, I was a bit skeptical. Was it going to be a toned-down version of Civilization as we’ve seen in other versions such as Civilization Revolution, or was it going to be the full, fat Civilization VI we’ve all come to love? Surprisingly, it’s more the latter, but with some concessions. This is our Civilization VI iPad review.
Civilization VI on iPad was ported over by Aspyr, a Texas-based company who have worked on porting games such as Call of Duty and Civilization VI to Macs in the past. And it shows – Civ VI on iPad is a phenomenal port, if not somewhat flawed overall. Now, obviously the power of your standard iPad is not going to rival the greatest of PC graphics cards, and no iPad CPU is going to go up against an overclocked Intel i7-7700K in mortal combat, so there was a bit of skepticism on my part as to how the game could handle the immense AI especially late in the game. In a year that had us see Doom come to the Nintendo Switch in a mostly respectable presentation, seeing Civ VI hit the iPad without having the pare back mechanics or cut items to make it run makes me excited to see what else can be done.
I’m happy to report that the entire experience has been mostly without issue. While there are obvious concessions in the way of making sure the performance is rock solid, the experience you get on iPad largely mirrors the PC/Mac experience. All of the features you’d expect to see in a CIV VI game from fully customizable game modes to the “One More Turn” mentality that has defined Civilization over the years are fully present. The largest – and possibly most depressing omission is the lack of an online Multiplayer mode. You do have LAN or “Hot Seat” multiplayer modes, but if you wanted to challenge a friend from across the country, you’re pretty much out of luck.
The UI, which I thought would be a cluttered mess is surprisingly clean and easy to use as well. Tapping and holding on an icon brings up a tooltip, tapping the screen with three fingers at once closes a menu you are in. Units are easy enough to move throughout the world as well, though the game does seem to deselect some units if you try to move them clear across the globe. A minor annoyance, but as someone who constantly plays the British with Imperial and Colonial ambitions, it gets tiresome to have to go back and reselect units just to move them to a new continent when the game decides to deselect them.
Graphically, the game does have some visual drawbacks, especially when it comes to some of the 3D models on screen – with the models themselves seeming to be at a lower resolution than the rest of the presentation. In gameplay it does give off a somewhat fuzzy look, but I didn’t find it distracting in the long-haul. Additionally, you’ll notice going from the PC version to the iPad version that rival Civ leaders are static instead of animated when you interact with them. Finally, I was a little upset when I realized the stellar strategic view – a simplistic overview of the map, units, resources and more – was missing from this version. While most people likely won’t notice the omission, it’s a view I would use a lot, especially late in the game when the map starts to get extremely cluttered.
Later in the game, when the game state is getting incredibly complex and demanding, the iPad port does suffer some framerate dips, but that is to be expected – it happens even on the beastiest of PCs as well. It was never anything that would put me off the “One More Turn” mentality. Battery-life is also something the game keeps you aware of thanks to a giant battery indicator in the right hand corner of the UI. I’ve been able to get 3-4 hours worth of gameplay on a single charge. Additionally, since this is a demanding game, Aspyr actually recommends only playing it on an iPad Pro, the 2017 ipad or the Air 2. There is a free trial version of the game, however, so if you’re interested in it and own one of the older model iPads, I recommend highly testing it out before dropping money on it.
Pricing on this is also interesting – most games on the App Store rarely go over a few dollars, though sometimes we do see the occasional title hit ten to twenty bucks (The Banner Saga for instance). Civilization VI is currently sitting at $60 on the App Store – not a cheap game by any stretch. However, I do feel as though the cost is justified in the end. This is as feature-full a port as we’d likely see on tablet, and even with some omissions it’s, in the end, the same addicting gameplay you see on the PC version. Additionally, thanks to the free trial, you can test out the game’s first 60 turns with the Chinese Empire to really see if it’s something you want to drop the money on first. Conclusion
Civilization VI on iPad is simply a marvelous feat in porting ability by Aspyr. It’s great to see such a feature full port giving me hope that more games like this can find their way to the tablet in the future. Civilization VI is a game that was ambitious even by Civ standards, and the port itself is equally ambitious. Taking “one more turn” has never been more convenient, allowing you to command the Royal Navy, trade with the Japanese, invade New Zealandia and more on the go. While it does have its flaws and omissions, at the end of the day the overall package is enormous for a mobile port, and the developers give you the chance to experience the game before you buy it, making it easy to decide whether Civilization VI is worth it to you in the end.