A benchmark in the 4x genre, the Civilization series has come a long way since its initial appearance in 1991. The games remain top sellers worldwide and always guarantee a solid experience. Regularly supported with DLCs and added content, the games have a reputation for scale that is mind-boggling.
Games like the Civilisation series have features that make the 4x genre what it is; immense depth and strategic choice. Perhaps they mightn’t have invented all the tropes but they certainly popularised many of them. The notion that there is more than one path to victory is still something that many modern games struggle with.
If negative reviews of the Civ VI put you off, try out Civ V until the teething issues and bugs are worked out. In time, it may prove to be one of the best 4x games of all time.
10 Best Games Similar To Civilization
Age of Empires Series
An aging series, Age of Empires remains one of the most popular strategy games of all time. The game trilogy has a huge selection of expansion packs and fan-based content that have kept the games thriving with a huge player base, even now more than twenty years after their initial release.
The games offer large-scale action in some of history’s most recognizable eras. The first game introduces players to the wars of ancient Mesopotamia, Greece, Egypt, and Rome. The second brings us forward to the middle ages and renaissance. Finally, the third game is set in the age of discovery, allowing for war to be waged on three different continents.
Fans of Amplitude Studios first work, Endless Space, should love their second outing. But don’t let this game fool you, it’s not just Endless Space repackaged in a fantasy skin. Endless Legend stands on its own merit and you’ll see why as you strive to conquer the land of Auriga. The gorgeous visuals are combined with a rich and absorbing backstory.
The map is beautiful and this game combines aspects of RTS, RPG, and 4x games, in a manner that is truly spectacular. Battles take into account the abilities, equipment, and terrain, present to solve a clash. Randomise the map or design it to your specifications, the choice is yours.
Galactic Civilizations III
Sequel to two highly successful games, the third entry in the Galactic Civilizations series continues the epic saga after the genocidal Dread Lord onslaught of the second game. It brings forward the narrative some ten years after the previous game’s war, in a universe almost unrecognizable.
The sheer variety of customization options and victory conditions means that you’re guaranteed a new experience with every playthrough. This is a game that is designed to be enjoyed again and again and again. Choose your map size, abundance of planets and resources, the frequency of events, and many more. Create your own history in this ultimate sandbox game.
A series of successful 4x strategy games, the Warlock games are set in a fantasy world where humans, monsters, and the undead fight for world domination. The game is laid out on a hexagonal grid with different tiles providing penalties or bonuses. Fertile fields will boost farm productivity whereas arid tiles will reduce it.
Each faction is led by a Great Mage. Players can choose to create their own or choose from pre-created characters. The game incorporates several RPG mechanics with players able to go on quests for rewards as well as enhance their Mage’s spellcasting ability.
Age of Wonders III
A new entry in the classic fantasy series, Age of Wonders III is a combination of turn-based strategy and RPG. You lead a fantasy race in their quest for domination in the fantasy world of the Blessed Continent. The game offers two campaigns, one each for the Elven Court and the Commonwealth Empire in addition to skirmish mode and one-off scenarios.
The game’s RPG mechanics come from the importance of your faction leader. Leaders can level up with experience points, their skills and traits helping to shape the empire. Leaders are powerful hero units with unique abilities that can change the course of a battle or even a war if used correctly. Similarly, the playable races all offer different strengths and weaknesses.
Rome: Total War
Rome: Total War is an undisputed classic of the strategy genre. It sets players in the Republic era of Rome, right before the Empire occurred. Players can command the mighty Roman legions, the fierce barbarians of Europe, the Greek city-states, and much more.
The strategic game has received praise for its complexity but it’s the tactical battles that the players come to Total War for. The sight of massed ranks of thousands is an unforgettable one, battles are a glorious and bloody affair. Elephants crash into serried ranks of hoplites while siege weapons rain death down.
The series shows no signs of stopping with Creative Assembly expanding and planning to release games set in more and more eras.
Endless Space Series
Part of the larger Endless franchise, the Endless Space games are science fiction based 4X games that almost feel like a futuristic progression of Civilization. Players take charge of a unique alien empire and vie with AI or player opponents to expand across the galaxy.
The four resource economy requires careful balancing to ensure the stability of your empire. The tech tree is comparatively simple, also featuring four strands to focus on, military, science, exploration, and diplomacy.
While the gameplay is standard fare for grand strategy, the real achievement is the worldbuilding in-game, encountering strange alien races, and stumbling across the ruins and artifacts of ancient beings.
The Anno series has games that are classic mixtures of simulation and strategy. From 1404 to 2200, it embraces a wide variety of eras from Venice in its prime to science fiction universes. You build a city, trading with rivals in a game that prizes economic success over military conquest.
The games are beautifully realized with the expansion of your city a joy to behold. For those tired of army builders, this is a welcome change of pace.
Crusader Kings II
Crusader Kings II is one of the most popular and complex 4x games on the market. Unlike the others in the genre, CK II doesn’t have you lead a nation to victory, it tasks you with leading a dynasty through the highs and lows of medieval Europe.
The game has a thriving modding community that has converted it for settings as varied as the Elder Scrolls, Game of Thrones, The Warlord Chronicles, and even science fiction adaptations. One of Paradox Interactive’s crowning achievements, it is one you cannot miss out on.
Europa Universalis Series
Part of Paradox Interactive’s big four of grand strategy games, Europa Universalis covers the age of discovery and colonialism. Players take charge of a nation and vie for supremacy. War, trade, religion, exploration, these are all important if they are to dominate the globe.
The game is noteworthy for its steep learning curve and harsh gameplay. Declaring war on countries without a casus belli can result in severe penalties and players can find their nation torn apart by instability and anarchy. Skillful administration is as important as a strong military.
As well as waging wars at home and abroad, players can explore unknown regions, racing their competitors to be the first to settle the Americas or Africa. The game is perfect for alternate history simulations. Indeed a common activity is for players to choose a minor power and then let the gameplay by itself, so perfect is the simulation.