June 17, 2024

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Civ 5 Vs Civ 6: Which Is Better?

When it comes to the popular strategy game series Civilization, a common debate among fans is the fierce competition of Civ 5 vs Civ 6. Created by legendary game designer Sid Meier, the Civilization series has become a staple in the world of strategy gaming, inspiring a whole generation of similar titles. 

Key Takeaways

  • Civilization 5 has simpler, more accessible gameplay, while Civilization 6 offers deeper, intricate mechanics.
  • Civ 5 features clean, classic graphics with easy-to-read icons, while flipside Civ 6 boasts vibrant, detailed visuals with a cartoony aesthetic.
  • Cities in Civ 5 occupy a single tile with straightforward building management, while Civ 6 adds strategic depth with separate tiles for districts and wonders.
  • Civ 5’s social policy system provides long-term bonuses, while Civ 6 uses a dynamic government system with mix-and-match policy cards.
  • Religion in Civ 5 offers customizable beliefs and bonuses, but plays a more significant role in Civ 6, with religious victories possible.
  • Diplomacy in Civ 5 is less predictable and AI behavior can be erratic, whereas Civ 6 features improved diplomacy and more consistent AI interactions.
  • Civ 5 has two major expansions and an extensive modding community, however, Civ 6 includes multiple expansions, additional leaders, and growing mod support.
  • Civ 5 has an easier learning curve, making it more suitable for newcomers, while Civ 6 has a steeper learning curve due to added complexity.
  • The game pace and overall experience in Civ 5 emphasize steady pacing and strategic planning, on the other hand, Civ 6 is more dynamic with added challenges and opportunities throughout gameplay.

Each game in the series puts players in control of a historical civilization and tasks them with developing their empire through various aspects such as exploration, diplomacy, technology, and military conquest. As players progress through different eras, they face different challenges, and the game’s complexity increases, offering a unique and engaging gameplay experience.

Brief Overview

Civilization V and Civilization VI are the fifth and sixth main entries in the series, released in 2010 and 2016, respectively. Both games have garnered significant attention and praise from gamers and critics alike.

  • Civ 5 has been credited with refining and streamlining many of the series’ core mechanics, making it more accessible to newcomers while still offering a deep strategic experience for veterans.
  • Civ 6 aimed to build upon its predecessor’s success, introducing new gameplay elements and systems that provide players with even more tools to shape their empires.

As a result, both games have enjoyed large, dedicated player bases and have become the subjects of numerous discussions, comparisons, and debates.

Game Development & Release

Civ 5 was developed by Firaxis Games, a renowned studio with a long history of creating high-quality strategy titles. The game was released in the year 2010, for Windows, with OS X and Linux versions following later. It marked the series’ transition to a hexagonal grid system and introduced several new gameplay mechanics that set it apart from its predecessors.

Civ 6 was also developed by Firaxis Games and was released in 2016, for Windows, with macOS and Linux versions following shortly after. It was built upon the foundations laid by Civ 5, introducing new features like districts, a more in-depth government system, and expanded religious gameplay.

Reception By Community

Civ 5 received widespread critical acclaim upon its release, with reviewers praising Civ 5’s strategic depth, streamlined mechanics, and engaging gameplay. It was particularly commended for its new hexagonal grid system, which added a new layer of complexity to the series’ already deep strategic gameplay. Civ 5 went on to become one of the best-selling games in the franchise, selling roughly over 8 million copies by 2018, making it one of the most successful turn-based strategy games of all time.

Civ 6, on the other hand, also enjoyed a positive reception from both critics and fans alike. Reviewers praised it for its bold new mechanics, such as the introduction of the district system and the expansion of government policies. These additions were seen as providing players with even more strategic depth and customization options, making Civ 6 a worthy successor to Civ 5.

Despite facing stiffer competition in the turn-based strategy genre compared to its predecessor, Civ 6 managed to achieve impressive sales numbers, surpassing roughly 5 million copies sold by 2021.

Game Design & Mechanics

Civ 5 and Civ 6 mechanics
Civ 6 vs Civ 5 – mechanics comparison

While exploring the different aspects of Civ 5 vs Civ 6, let us take a look at the game design and mechanics of each game. Under this umbrella comes the discussion on:

  • Graphics & UI
  • Hexagonal Tiles
  • City Building
  • Military & Combat
  • Religion
  • Diplomacy
  • Espionage & Intelligence
  • Wonders & Great People

Graphics & User Interface

menus comparison
Menu and user interface difference

Civ 5 introduced a more streamlined and accessible user interface compared to its predecessors. It featured a clean and minimalistic design, with easy-to-navigate menus and tooltips that made understanding game mechanics more straightforward for both new and experienced players. Civ 5’s graphics were also well-received, with Civ 5 boasting a realistic art style that captured the essence of different historical eras.

Civ 6 took a different approach, opting for a more vibrant and colorful art style that made the game feel more lively and dynamic. The user interface in Civ 6 was further refined, offering even more clarity and ease of use. The game introduced an updated “lens” system, which allowed players to access various layers of information, such as religion or appeal, with just a click of a button.

Hexagonal Tiles

Diff in graphics in civ 5 and civ 6
A peek at tiles civ 5 and civ 6

Civ 5 introduced hexagonal tiles as a significant departure from the square grid system used in previous games. This change added a new dimension to gameplay, as it allowed for more natural and varied map layouts. Hexagonal tiles also affected movement and combat, with units now able to move and attack in six directions instead of four.

Civ 6 built upon the hexagonal tile system by introducing additional strategic elements. For example, certain terrain features, such as rivers and cliffs, now played a more significant role in unit movement and combat. Additionally, Civ 6 expanded the importance of tile placement when founding cities, as adjacency bonuses, became a crucial aspect of city planning and development.

City Building & Districts

The Comparison of City Buildings

In Civ 5, city management revolved around constructing buildings within the city center, while improvements were built on surrounding tiles. City growth was determined by food production, and players had to balance growth with the production of other resources such as gold, science, and culture.

Civ 6 introduced the district system, which fundamentally changed how cities were built and managed. Instead of constructing all buildings in the city center, players now placed districts on specific tiles outside the city center, with each district specializing in a particular aspect of development (e.g., science, production, or culture).

This change added a new layer of strategic depth in Civ 6 in comparison to Civ 5 in city planning, as players had to consider tile placement, adjacency bonuses, and terrain features when designing their cities. This gives Civ 6 an edge over Civ 5.

Military & Combat

Civ 5 and 6 combat comparison
A quick peek at combat in both games

Civ 5 moved away from the unit stacking system of previous games, which allowed multiple military units to occupy the same tile. In Civ 5, only one military unit could occupy a single tile, leading to a more tactical and complex combat system that emphasized unit positioning and strategy over sheer numbers.

Civ 6 further refined the one-unit-per-tile system by introducing the concept of support units. These units, such as siege towers and battering rams, could now be “attached” to other military units, allowing them to share a tile and work together in combat. Civ 6 also introduced the “corps” and “army” systems, which allowed players to combine multiple units of the same type to create stronger, more efficient fighting forces.

You can say that Civ 6’s military was an upgrade and a better version of Civ 5, and Civ 6 definitely wins this argument.

Religion & Culture

Civ 5 vs Civ 6 religion
Religion in both games

In Civ 5, religion played a significant role in shaping a civilization’s development. Players could establish a “pantheon” and eventually find a religion, which allowed them to choose various beliefs and bonuses that aligned with their preferred playstyle. Religion could be spread to other cities, both within one’s own civilization and to rival civilizations, which could provide additional benefits and influence.

Cultural victory in Civ 5 was achieved by generating enough tourism to become influential over other civilizations, which was accomplished by creating Great Works and constructing cultural buildings.

Civ 6 expanded on the religious gameplay mechanics introduced in Civ 5 by allowing religious units to engage in theological combat, making the spread of religion an even more strategic aspect of the game. The cultural victory condition was also updated in Civ 6, with the introduction of the “cultural victory points” system.

Players now accumulate these points by generating tourism and culture, and a cultural victory is achieved when a civilization has more visiting tourists than any other civilization has domestic tourists. This change placed a greater emphasis on the importance of culture and tourism in achieving victory.


Civilization 5 introduced a more comprehensive diplomacy system compared to previous games in the series, allowing players to engage with other civilizations in a variety of ways, such as negotiating trade deals, forming alliances, and declaring war. However, the AI in Civ 5 was sometimes criticized for its unpredictable behavior and opaque decision-making process, which could lead to confusing diplomatic interactions.

Civilization 6 aimed to improve upon the diplomacy system by introducing a more transparent AI decision-making process, as well as adding new diplomatic options and features. In Civ 6, each leader has specific agendas that dictate their behavior, making it easier for players to understand and predict AI actions.

Additionally, the game introduced the concept of “Casus Belli,” allowing players to declare war with justifiable reasons, reducing the diplomatic penalties associated with aggressive actions.

Espionage & Intelligence

Espionage in Civ 5 was primarily focused on gathering intelligence about rival civilizations and stealing technologies. Players could train and assign spies to infiltrate foreign cities, where they could monitor enemy activities, steal technologies, or even rig elections in city-states to gain influence.

Civ 6 expanded upon the espionage system by introducing new spy missions and additional counter-espionage options. In Civ 6, spies can perform a variety of missions, such as:

  • sabotaging enemy production
  • stealing Great Works
  • disrupting enemy space projects
  • assigning spies to protect their own cities and counteract enemy espionage activities

This enhanced espionage system adds another layer of depth and strategy to the game, as players must carefully manage their spy networks to gain an advantage over rival civilizations.

Wonders & Great People

civ 5 and civ 6 wonders
different wonders the game has to offer

In Civilization 5, players could construct various World Wonders, which provided powerful bonuses and unique abilities. Building Natural Wonders used to require a significant investment in production and often come with specific prerequisites, making them a strategic choice for players looking to bolster their empire’s strengths.

Civilization 6 maintained the tradition of World Wonders, introducing new Wonders and updating the mechanics related to their construction. In Civ 6, Wonders now have specific tile-placement requirements, adding another layer of strategic planning to their construction.

Additionally, Civ 6 introduced a new Great People system, with each Great Person having unique abilities and bonuses, allowing players to recruit them to serve their empire in different capacities, such as generating additional resources, providing military advantages, or enhancing cultural output.

Great People in both games

Civ 6 further built upon the foundations laid by Civ 5, refining and expanding various game mechanics to provide an even more immersive and strategic gameplay experience. While both games have their unique strengths and weaknesses, they each offer compelling and engaging experiences for fans of turn-based strategy games.

AI & Difficulty

In Civilization games, including the Civ 5 vs Civ 6 AI comparison, the AI is pivotal in shaping the overall gameplay experience since it governs the actions of competing civilizations, city-states, and barbarians.

AI Behavior In Civ 5

The AI in Civ 5 has been praised for its ability to offer a challenging and engaging experience for players. However, it also faced criticism for some aspects of its behavior, such as its occasional irrational decision-making and a tendency to prioritize military conquest over other victory conditions.

One of the primary concerns raised by players was the AI’s inability to effectively navigate the new hexagonal grid system, which often led to poor unit placement and inefficient combat strategies.

Additionally, AI was known to be relatively passive in its diplomatic efforts, often missing opportunities to forge alliances or exploit rivalries between other civilizations. Despite these shortcomings, Civ 5’s AI provided a solid foundation for the series to build upon.

AI Improvements In Civ 6

With the launch of Civ 6, Firaxis Games endeavored to tackle AI problems observed in Civ 5 and enhance AI conduct in Civ 6. Civ 6 unveiled an AI agenda framework, where each ruler possesses distinct character attributes and goals affecting their choices, rendering the AI-operated civilizations more lively and true-to-life.

This offers an intriguing Civ 5 vs Civ 6 AI comparison. The AI in Civ 6 is more nuanced, forming another layer in the Civ 5 vs Civ 6 AI debate.

  • This new system allows the AI to effectively pursue various victory conditions and adapt its strategies based on the evolving game state.
  • While these improvements have been generally well-received, some challenges remain in the AI behavior in Civ 6.
  • Players have reported that the AI can still struggle with military tactics and unit placement, occasionally leading to suboptimal combat performance.
  • Additionally, the AI’s ability to manage its cities and districts efficiently has been a point of criticism, as it sometimes fails to maximize the benefits of its unique abilities and resources.

Despite these remaining issues, Civ 6’s AI represents a step forward in terms of difficulty and realism compared to its predecessor. Firaxis Games has continued to address AI concerns through patches and updates, demonstrating their commitment to refining the AI experience in the Civilization series.

Expansions and DLCs

Expansions and downloadable content (DLCs) play a crucial role in enriching the Civilization gaming experience, adding new features, mechanics, and content that breathe fresh life into the core gameplay.

Civ 5

Civ 5 expansions
Civ 5 major expansions

Civ 5 received two major expansions, which significantly enhanced the game’s depth and introduced new gameplay mechanics:

  1. Gods & Kings (2012)
    • This expansion introduced religion as a core gameplay mechanic, allowing players to find their own religions and spread them across the world.
    • Additionally, Gods & Kings revamped the combat system, added new technologies, and introduced new civilizations, leaders, and units.
  2. Brave New World (2013)
    • Brave New World focused on enhancing the cultural and diplomatic aspects.
    • It introduced the tourism system, enabling cultural victories by attracting visitors to a civilization’s cultural wonders.
    • The expansion also added the World Congress, which allowed players to participate in global politics and vote on resolutions that could impact all civilizations.
    • Furthermore, it brought new civilizations, leaders, units, and wonders to the game.

Civ 6

CIV 6 expansions
Major expansions in Civ 6

Civilization 6 also received two major expansions, which built upon the base game’s mechanics and added new features:

  1. Rise and Fall (2018)
    • Rise and Fall introduced the concept of Ages, where a civilization’s performance could lead to either a Golden Age or a Dark Age, with various bonuses and challenges.
    • The expansion also added Loyalty, which affected city stability and could result in cities rebelling or being peacefully assimilated. It also brought new civilizations, leaders, units, and wonders.
  2. Gathering Storm (2019)
    1. Gathering Storm focused on environmental and climate aspects, adding natural disasters, renewable energy sources, and the World Climate system.
    2. The expansion also included the World Congress, similar to Civ 5’s Brave New World, and introduced the Diplomatic Victory condition.
    3. Additionally, it added new civilizations, leaders, units, and wonders.


Both Civ 5 and Civ 6 benefited greatly from their respective expansions, which added depth and complexity to the games while addressing some of the base games’ shortcomings. Civ 5’s expansions focused on enhancing it’s religious, cultural, and diplomatic aspects, while Civ 6’s expansions introduced dynamic mechanics like Ages, Loyalty, and environmental concerns.

While both sets of expansions were well-received, some players may have a preference depending on their preferred gameplay style. For instance, players who enjoy the diplomatic and cultural aspects of the franchise might appreciate Civ 5’s Brave New World, while those who prefer a more dynamic world with environmental challenges may prefer Civ 6’s Gathering Storm.

Ultimately, when asking which has better expansion Civ 5 or Civ 6; both offer rich gameplay experiences with their expansions and players can choose the title and expansion combination that best suits their preferences and interests.

Summarized Comparison

Here is a summarized version of the comparison between Civ 5 and Civ 6:

Category Civilization V (Civ 5) Civilization VI (Civ 6)
Game Developer Firaxis Games Firaxis Games
Release Date September 2010 October 2016
Publisher 2K Games 2K Games and Aspyr Media
Feedback By Fanbase Generally positive Mixed to positive reception
Reception By Fanbase Criticized for initial lack of features and AI issues Criticized for AI issues and graphical style but praised for new mechanics
Game Design & Mechanics Hexagonal tiles Hexagonal tiles, districts, Civics tree, and city-states
Graphics & UI Realistic art style More stylized art style, redesigned UI with improved functionality
Hexagonal Tiles Introduced hexagonal tiles for a more strategic gameplay Continued use of hexagonal tiles, adding adjacency bonuses for districts
City Building Cities grow in population, buildings within the city tile Cities grow in population, introduction of districts spreading city growth across multiple tiles
Military & Combat One unit per tile, ranged attacks, stacking limits One unit per tile, ranged attacks, support units can be stacked with military units
Religion Found and spread religion, religious victory condition Religion available from the start, found and spread religion, religious victory condition
Diplomacy Diplomacy with AI leaders, city-states More complex diplomacy, city-states with unique bonuses
Espionage & Intelligence Steal tech, sabotage, influence city-states Enhanced espionage system, steal tech, sabotage, influence city-states, recruit partisans, etc.
Wonders & Great People Wonders provide unique bonuses, great people provide unique abilities and boosts Wonders provide unique bonuses and adjacency effects, great people have unique abilities and boosts
Expansions and DLCs Gods & Kings” (2012), “Brave New World” (2013), multiple smaller DLCs and map packs Rise and Fall” (2018), “Gathering Storm” (2019), “New Frontier Pass” (2020-2021), multiple smaller DLCs and map packs

Personal Experience

As an avid fan of the Civilization series, there are several aspects of both games that we, at eXputer, particularly appreciate the most.

Civ 5

First and foremost, the introduction of the hexagonal grid system in Civ 5 was a game-changer, adding a new level of strategic depth to the game. The hex grid made the movement and positioning of units more engaging and allowed for more interesting tactical decisions in combat.

The World Congress and Diplomacy system in Civ 5, especially with the Brave New World expansion, added an engaging political layer to it. It allowed for more dynamic interaction with other civilizations and provided additional avenues for players to pursue victory through diplomacy and cooperation.

Civ 6

While we hold a deep appreciation for Civ 5, there are several aspects of Civ 6 that players find equally captivating.

  • The introduction of the district system in Civ 6 added a new layer of complexity to city management and planning.
  • Deciding where to place each district and how to maximize their adjacency bonuses offered an engaging puzzle-like experience, making city planning more rewarding and intricate.
  • The addition of the civic tree, along with the tech tree, offers a more robust progression system that rewards players for engaging in various aspects, such as exploration, combat, and cultural development.
  • Finally, the government and policy system in Civ 6 provides a deep level of customization for players, allowing them to fine-tune their civilization’s strengths and weaknesses to suit their playstyle.
  • The ability to switch policies and government types throughout Civ 6 enables players to adapt to changing circumstances and to experiment with different strategies, resulting in a more dynamic and varied gameplay experience.

You can surely say that Civ 5 is more suited for easygoing players, while the latter is for those looking up for a challenge. As fans of the series, players appreciate the strategic depth and innovations brought by both games, and we believe that they each cater to different preferences and playstyles, providing countless hours of entertainment for strategy game enthusiasts.


The choice between Civ 5 and Civ 6 will come down to personal preferences and playstyles. Both games are excellent entries in the Civilization series and offer countless hours of engaging and immersive gameplay. Ultimately, when weighing Civ 5 vs Civ 6 AI, the latter’s more dynamic and intricate AI can be a deciding factor for those seeking a more realistic and challenging experience. 

Whichever game you choose, you are sure to embark on a thrilling adventure through history as you strive to build an empire that stands the test of time and paves the path toward victory. If you are planning to give Civ 5 a shot then do read out our tier list guide for Civ 5. We also have a detailed tier list for Civ 6, if the game has your interest.

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