You’d have to be living under a rock with no internet connection to be unaware of how popular battle royale-style games have become. PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds was the first major success in this genre, but then there was Fortnite, which has gone on to be the most popular game in the world. Now, every game seems to have a Battle Royale mode, even games that don’t need them. Case in point: Civilization VI. The latest update to the game adds a new mode called Red Death, a 12-player battle royale.
Civilization VI is the latest entry in the long-running strategy franchise, initially launched in 2016. Like past games in the series, Civilization VI puts you in the shoes of a great leader, guiding a civilization from ancient times into the modern era. Along the way, you have to battle barbarians, establish a culture, spread religion, and hold off the advances of hostile civilizations elsewhere on the map. This all takes place in the framework of a turn-based game, which makes the move to battle royale rather perplexing.
In this game mode, you take control of a group of survivors in a post-apocalyptic wasteland. That may seem like an unusual setting, but many Civ games end with one or more players dropping nuclear weapons on the others. Oddly, it’s often Gandhi.
You don’t have any leader characters or fancy city districts in Red Death. You start the game with one civilian, one infantry, and one machine gun, and the goal is to grow your faction and crush all the others. So, Red Death is almost all about combat (still turn-based), whereas the regular game mode could include almost no combat if that’s the way you want to play.
The goal is to become the last remaining faction, at which time you can hitch a ride on a spaceship that’s taking survivors away from the burnt husk of Earth. As with other battle royale games, the playable area shrinks over time, driving everyone toward the center of the map.
It’s not an entirely new game, but there’s a surprising amount of content with all the new factions and rules. The publisher probably could have sold this as an add-on for a few dollars, but it’s free. Red Death is available to anyone who has the core Civ VI game, so the two expansion packs and numerous leader add-ons are not required.