The nation-building strategy game Civilization is an elder statesman of the simulation game genre, first introduced in 1991. In its sixth iteration, released in October, players choose a famous historical leader, such as President Teddy Roosevelt or King Philip II of Spain, and build their nations from nothing to massive empires, assuming they survive barbarian raids and competition from other leaders.
Civilization VI is a competitive game, not just a simulator. Players see the other nations as a barrier to victory, not necessarily allies (though temporary alliances do happen). The goal is world domination, and in the end there's just one winner. War can be one path to that goal—indeed, it's a big part of the game. But victory can also come via peaceful means, like being the first to colonize space or dominating culture through tourism.
Players may choose different types of governments, but these are presented as just different tools to achieve victory. They bring different advantages to an empire; whether they're better or worse for the citizenry is not a consideration.
This iteration has a particularly 2016 twist: In Civilization V, players could send trade routes to other nations. When players did so, each nation received benefits from the trading. That's not the case with Civilization VI. Now typically only the player sending a trade route benefits. The grim state of our modern trade debate, in a nutshell.
This article originally appeared in print under the headline "Civilization VI".