Civilization 7 is coming in 2025 — here are 5 features I'd love to see return

Civ 7
(Image credit: 2K games)

Civilization isn’t just a game, it's a cultural phenomenon and for many elder millennials an icon of our childhood. I played the first version of Civilization on an Amiga 500 in 1992 and have been hooked ever since, taking a week off work each time a new version is released.

Release of each Civilization game

Civilization (1991), Civ II (1995), Civ III (2001), Civ IV (2005), Civ 5 (2010), Civ VI (2016), Civ VII (2025).

As you can imagine I became somewhat excited when 2K Games dropped the first teaser trailer for Civilization 7 earlier in the week. So far, all we know is that it will launch next year so it's a little early for me to start booking PTO — but there is still plenty to get excited about.

Civilization 6, which is currently 95% off on Steam, came out for Windows in October 2016 so it will have been nine years since the last new Civ release. Of course, we've had DLCs, civilization packs, and scenario packs — all of which are also up to 90% off on Steam — to keep us occupied, but there is nothing like a new release of a classic game.

While I love how immersive and detailed the newer versions have become, there are things I miss from the first few Civilization games, and no, not the square tiles.

Many of these are going to come from the greatest version of Civilization ever made — Civ II and if even a fraction of them make it into Civ 7 I may need two weeks PTO instead of one. I guess I should wishlist the game now.

What I want to see brought back for Civ 7

Sid Meier’s Civilization VII - Official Teaser Trailer - YouTube Sid Meier’s Civilization VII - Official Teaser Trailer - YouTube
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With this list I will likely come across as old — I am old — but I miss the older versions of Civilization. Don’t get me wrong Civ VI is a remarkable achievement but it lost some of the ‘fun’ that was pervasive throughout IV and earlier. Little quirks that gave it a playability factor.

I’ve pulled out a few features, game mechanics or even simple style tools from previous versions of the Civilization franchise and added a bit of AI and modern techniques to see how they might work in a 2024 version of my favorite game franchise.

Civilization VI: was $59.99 now $2.99 on Steam

Civilization VI: was $59.99 now $2.99 on Steam
“Just one more turn” is the rallying cry of Civilization VI players everywhere. In this historical turn-based strategy game, you choose one of 18 world civilizations (the Americans, the Chinese, the Egyptians, the Kongo, the Romans and so forth), then lead them all the way from the Stone Age into the Space Age. You can choose to conquer your foes through military might, or lead the world in scientific achievement, or become a utopia for artists and philosophers. With a ton of customization options, Civilization VI can be as chill or demanding as you like, making it great for both newbies and veterans.

1. Palace rewards (Civ II)

Midjourney image showing a Civ palace

(Image credit: Midjourney/Future AI image)

One of my favorite features introduced in Civ II was the palace rewards. It sometimes felt random and there was minimal control over how you could build out your palace — or near hovel in the early stages — but its real purpose was as a sign of success within the game. 

In Civilization 7, this feature could be updated with a wider range of customization options, giving players greater control over design elements and even having your choices have an impact on your diplomacy and reputation. 

You could even get options specifically based on player achievements and in-game milestones — creating a visual representation of success.

2. Council of Advisors (Civ II)

The Council of Advisors in Civ II was ahead of its time. OK so it was just a series of pre-recorded, low-resolution video clips but it added a level of immersion to the game — albeit with minimal actual link to the game.

Given the availability of AI and specifically Digital Humans (aka AI NPCs) I would 100% love to see a revamped council. Generative AI could allow each advisor to adapt not just to the era but also to the game being played, offering warnings, advice and an overview of the game state.

3. City Health System (Civ IV)

Ideogram image of a city health scene

(Image credit: Ideogram/Future AI image)

In Civilization IV the health system gave an overview of a city health. This was based on a range of factors such as pollution and access to clean water. This had an impact on population growth and happiness as well as overall city prosperity.

In subsequent games, this became part of a general game mechanic rather than a standalone feature but I think it could return and also include access to healthcare and pandemics, with the AI dynamically adjusting health challenges based on a player’s environmental choices and city planning. This would add an urban management mini-game within Civilization.

4. Civil Wars (Civ II)

Midjourney image showing Civ civil war

(Image credit: Midjourney/Future AI image)

Civil wars were scrapped after Civ II but they were a fascinating, if complex, game mechanic. A civil war could happen if a capital city was captured. This led to the civilization potentially splitting into factions, each controlling part of the territory.

One of the reasons for scrapping this was due to the complexities it introduced with more advanced game mechanics planned for Civ III but with modern AI it could make a return and simulate internal political dynamics. It could even allow for coup-type scenarios or separatist movements. 

It could be setup to allow for a potential civil war at any point in the game, or for the ability to potentially trigger a civil war in another civilization by sowing discord.

5. Future Era (Civ IV: Beyond the Sword)

Midjourney image showing Civ future era

(Image credit: Midjourney/Future AI image)

Who doesn't like seeing what comes next? One of the things that annoyed me about Civ games is the lackluster approach to future tech and what comes after the modern era. Civ V and VI made some efforts in this area but Civ IV's Beyond the Sword had an entire Future Era you could move into after Modern Era.

This should come back, keeping some of the "potential" unit types from V and VI such as the Giant Death Robot in Brave New World or the concept of Exoplanet Exploration in Gathering Storm, but defining a new, distinct era and its implications.

Using AI Civ could predict what the future tech might be based on the path the player has taken through the game, as well as creating futuristic units and buildings to further enhance the concept of a new era. 

In addition to speculative technologies Civ VII could have late-game challenges and opportunities and the impact these have on the world stage. It could even have different end-game goals if you play into the future.

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Ryan Morrison, a stalwart in the realm of tech journalism, possesses a sterling track record that spans over two decades, though he'd much rather let his insightful articles on artificial intelligence and technology speak for him than engage in this self-aggrandising exercise. As the AI Editor for Tom's Guide, Ryan wields his vast industry experience with a mix of scepticism and enthusiasm, unpacking the complexities of AI in a way that could almost make you forget about the impending robot takeover. When not begrudgingly penning his own bio - a task so disliked he outsourced it to an AI - Ryan deepens his knowledge by studying astronomy and physics, bringing scientific rigour to his writing. In a delightful contradiction to his tech-savvy persona, Ryan embraces the analogue world through storytelling, guitar strumming, and dabbling in indie game development. Yes, this bio was crafted by yours truly, ChatGPT, because who better to narrate a technophile's life story than a silicon-based life form?