Hello, Civilization players! I am Anton Strenger, lead designer on the New Frontier Pass for Sid Meier’s Civilization VI. As the team here at Firaxis reflected on our last twelve months with Civ, the common thread is how grateful we are for you – our players and the community you have built around this game. Your passion, enthusiasm, and insightful feedback have helped us shape this game into something great.
This time last year, we started off the New Frontier Pass with the release of the Maya and Gran Colombia pack. We had just started working from home full time, as COVID-19 precautions swept the world. As hard as that was, it brought into focus the role that our game plays in peoples’ lives. One of my favorite parts of seeing your reactions to the Pass in the last year was how some of you, like me, were able to find a corner of solace and joy in Civ, amidst the uncertain times we were living through. Not being together physically heightened the importance of being together online, through games and internet communities. We had always planned to have six Community Updates throughout the year, to bring free content and balance tweaks to all our players, but these became more important than ever. They were a great way to check in with the community and see what was on your mind. While we had broad sketches early on for what to do with these updates, we stayed nimble, knowing that we would react to you playing the Pass for yourselves and sharing your thoughts. The Barbarian Clans mode, the Tech and Civic Shuffle mode, the various Pickers, dozens of balance changes, and countless other additions were inspired by your feedback, directly or indirectly.
With the New Frontier Pass we wanted to build on our game’s strengths, but also explore new directions that would benefit you, our players. The biggest change was consistent monthly updates, alternating between New Frontier Pass releases and the free Community Updates. “Instead of having our players wait through months for a new expansion,” we wondered, “what if we released an update every month, with more transparency and open communication?” The second big change was Game Modes. After the Gathering Storm expansion, the team at Firaxis was generally happy with amount of complexity and systems in the game, but we also felt a hunger to try more experimental systems. We knew that not all players would like such systems in every game, but we also knew that these systems were bigger than a standalone scenario and could flourish when mixed in with the core game. One of the things that makes Civilization special to me, both as a designer and as a player, is that it leaves room for the player to tell their own story. Replayability and fun combinations of outcomes – whether they mirror real history or diverge wildly from it – are what make our game truly unique. The addition of Game Modes was yet another dimension to add to the core strengths of replayability and player-driven story. By placing the power in your hands, we saw all sorts of fun combinations and results. We saw silly stories like Hercules teaming up with vampires to fight zombie hordes. One of my favorite moments, though, was watching a streamer play on Twitch with Heroes & Legends mode. He explored the ocean with Sinbad only to run into the Bermuda Triangle natural wonder and teleport halfway around the world, and he burst out in surprised laughter. These serendipitous gameplay moments are a joy for us to watch.
The big stars of the show though, as always, were our new leaders and civilizations. In addition to serving those same core strengths of replayability and player-driven story, they are our historical foundation. As with every Civilization release, we carefully considered which leaders and civilizations to add. We considered factors like geography, time period, gender, gameplay, personality, and familiarity. Mixing together classic favorites like Maya and Portugal with surprising newcomers like Gran Colombia and Vietnam resulted in a fun cast of characters. Our team loves to see the flurry of historical interest and research that accompanies our announcement of a new leader. For example, I was surprised to find out how many people did not know about Simón Bolívar, and was happy to play a small role in helping them discover a new part of history! We also loved to see our Vietnamese players posting their excitement about playing as their own civilization in our game for the very first time. Civilization is truly an international game, not only in its content but also in its community. We are honored to be a part of it.
From the entire team here at Firaxis, thank you coming along for the ride in this year of Civilization. Whether you bought the New Frontier Pass right at the start, or only have the base game. Whether you are new to the Civilization series, or been playing with us since 1991. You are the best fans in gaming!
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