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Sid Meier’s Civilization: a journey through history and strategy

Sid Meier's Civilization: a journey through history and strategy

Since its creation in 1991, the Sid Meier’s Civilization franchise has redefined the genre of strategy games, captivating players with its historical accuracy, deep gameplay and addictive “one more turn” mechanics. With each new installment, the series has evolved and expanded, pushing the limits of what is possible in a strategy game. In this exhaustive review, we delve into the rich history, the evolution and the long-lasting success of the Civilization franchise, while also celebrating the appeal and success of turn-based strategy games.

Nowadays, the Civilization franchise is one of the most successful and long lasting in the history of video games, with millions of copies sold around the world and with a fan base that spans generations. Since its humble beginnings in the early 1990s to its status as a global phenomenon, Civilization has left an indelible mark in the gaming landscape, inspiring countless players to embark on epic journeys through time and civilization.

The origins of Civilization:

The origins of the Civilization franchise date back to the early 1990s, when the legendary game designer Sid Meier and his colleague, Bruce Shelley, looked to create a game which allowed players to construct and guide a civilization from its beginnings to the modern age. Inspired by board games like Risk and the concept of “god games” that were popular at that time, Meier and Shelley set out to develop a game that would combine strategy, exploration and diplomacy in a dynamic and engaging way.

The result of their efforts was Sid Meier’s Civilization, published in 1991 by MicroProse. The game tasked players with founding a civilization in 4000 BC and guiding it through the centuries to achieve global dominance. The players could explore the world, build cities, research technologies, engage in diplomacy with other civilizations and wage wars against rival factions. The open-ended nature of the game and the emphasis on player choice set it apart from other strategy games of the time, offering an unprecedented level of depth and complexity.

Evolution of the franchise:

The evolution of the Sid Meier’s Civilization franchise is a fascinating journey shaped by innovation, expansion and adaptation to the changing landscape of video games. From its humble beginnings in 1991 to its status as a global phenomenon, the franchise has continuously pushed the boundaries of what is possible in strategy games. Let’s explore the key milestones in the evolution of the Civilization franchise:

Civilization (1991):


The original Sid Meier’s Civilization game, launched in 1991, lay the foundations for the franchise. Developed by Sid Meier and Bruce Shelley, the game introduced players to the concept of guiding a civilization from antiquity to the modern era.

Basic mechanics:

Civilization focused on exploration, the construction of cities, investigation, diplomacy and war. Players could choose from multiple civilizations, each one with unique strengths and capabilities and compete against AI-controlled opponents to gain victory.

Critical acclaim:

Civilization was critically acclaimed, praised for its depth, complexity and addictive gameplay loop. It quickly became one of the most influential strategy games of all time, setting the stage for the future success of the franchise.

Civilization II (1996):

Improved gameplay and graphics:

Civilization II, launched in 1996, built on the foundations laid by his predecessor with improved graphics, improved AI and expanded game mechanics.

Multiples scenarios:

The game introduced multiples scenarios and personalization options, allowing players to adapt their experience to their preferences.

Cultural impact:

Civilization II further cemented the franchise’s status as a cultural phenomenon, attracting a new generation of gamers to the series.

Civilization III (2001):

3D graphics and expanded functions:

Civilization III, launched in 2001, marked a major leap forward in terms of graphics and gameplay. The game introduced 3D graphics and expanded features such as culture, religion and espionage.

Optimized interface:

Civilization III presented an optimized interface and improved AI, making it even more accessible to newcomers while maintaining depth for veteran players.

Expansion packs:

The addition of expansion packs, like Conquests and Play the World, further expanded the game’s content and replayability.

Civilization IV (2005):

Revolutionary game mechanics:

Civilization IV, launched in 2005, introduced revolutionary game mechanics such as the addition of religion, corporations and great people.

Advanced diplomacy:

The game featured advanced diplomacy options, allowing players to negotiate treaties, trade agreements and alliances with other civilizations.

Mod support:

Civilization IV included robust modding support, allowing players to create and share their own custom content, further extending the lifespan of the game.

Civilization V (2010):

Hex grid system:

Civilization V, released in 2010, introduced a hexagonal grid system, revolutionizing the map design and strategic depth of the game.


The game introduced city-states, independent settlements that provided players with additional opportunities for diplomacy and resource acquisition.

Expansion packs and DLC:

Civilization V had several expansion packs and DLC, including Gods & Kings and Brave New World, which further expanded the game’s content and gameplay.

Civilization VI (2016):

District system:

Civilization VI, released in 2016, introduced the district system, allowing players to create specialized cities and customize their game strategies.

Active investigation:

The game featured an active research system, where players could unlock technologies and civic education through a dynamic research tree.

Artistic style:

Civilization VI featured a vibrant and stylized art style, giving the game a unique visual identity while retaining the historical accuracy characteristic of the series.

The success and impact of Civilization:

Sid Meier’s Civilization franchise has enjoyed unprecedented success and critical acclaim, with each installment selling millions of copies worldwide and winning numerous awards and recognitions. Both critics and fanatics alike have praised the series for its addictive gameplay, historical precision and construction of immersive worlds. The franchise has also had a significant impact beyond gaming, inspiring books, board games and even educational programs based on its themes and concepts.

The future of Civilization:

As Sid Meier’s Civilization franchise celebrates its 30th anniversary, fans are anxiously waiting for the next installment in the series. While the details about Civilization VII remain scarce, there is plenty of speculation about possible features and improvements. From improved graphics and AI to expanded multiplayer options and improved modification support, the possibilities for the franchise are endless. Whatever the future holds, one thing is certain: the legacy of Civilization will live on for years to come.

There has been no official announcement for the release of Civilization VII. However, it is natural for fans to speculate and anticipate what the next installment of the series might bring. These are some of the possible areas in which Civilization VII could innovate and evolve:

Advanced AI:

  • Improved AI behavior for a more challenging and realistic gaming experience.
  • Adaptive AI that adjusts to players’ strategies and tactics.
  • Smarter diplomacy and more dynamic interactions between civilizations.

Improved graphics and immersion:

  • State-of-the-art graphics and animation for a more immersive experience.
  • Detailed landscapes and environments which reflect the world’s diversity.
  • Cinematics and narrative elements to bring the story to life.

Expanded game mechanics:

  • Deeper city management with more customization and specialization options.
  • Complex economic systems which simulate supply chains and commercial networks.
  • New victory conditions and objectives to provide varied gameplay experiences.

Social and multiplayer features:

  • Expanded multiplayer modes with support for more players and cooperative play.
  • Social features such as player-created challenges, leaderboards and tournaments.
  • Integrated modification tools to foster community participation and creativity.

Optimized user interface and accessibility:

  • Intuitive user interface design with easy-to-understand tooltips and menus.
  • Accessibility options to accommodate players with different needs and preferences.
  • Tutorials and guides to help new players learn the game mechanics quickly.

Community involvement and support:

  • Regular updates and patches to address player feedback and improve game balance.
  • Open communication with the community via forums, social networks and live streaming.
  • Post-release expansions and DLC to keep the game fresh and exciting over time.

While these are only speculative ideas, they highlight some of the areas in which Civilization VII could innovate and improve upon its predecessors. Regardless of what the future holds, fans of the franchise can expect Sid Meier and the development team to continue to deliver engaging and immersive strategy game experiences.


In conclusion, the Sid Meier’s Civilization franchise is a testament to the power of imagination, innovation and passion in gaming. From its humble beginnings to its status as a global phenomenon, Civilization has captivated players and inspired generations. As we look to the future of the franchise and the broader genre of turn-based strategy games, one thing is clear: the legacy of Civilization will live on for years to come, shaping the way we play and experience games for generations to come.