Sid Meier’s Civilization is a turn-based strategy game series that has been a fan favorite since 1991 since before a lot of people reading this (and the person writing it) were born. From then until now, there have been six official games, with the most recent being released on different platforms from 2016 to 2020. That kind of longevity is something that game developers dream of.
That being said, if you’re looking for a switch up from Civilization VI after the expansion packs, or whichever game in the series that you’re playing at the moment, but want something in a similar vein, we’ve got you hooked up here. Here’s a list of 12 games like Civilization.
Some of them are in here because they’re directly inspired by Civilization, some of them are in here because they live in the same genre, and one game on this list is even made by the same developer. Either way, there’s sure to be something on here for you.
It says a lot that the Age of Wonders series has been around for a little bit over two decades now and Civilization still predates it by eight years. Age of Wonders has always taken the 4X genre to new settings. The first few games were set in a high fantasy fictional setting but Planetfall takes things even further left, taking on the sci-fi and space setting. If you were a fan of Civilization’s building mechanics, things are similar here. A key difference is that battles take place more often.
Developed by Amplitude Studios and published by Iceberg Interactive, Endless Legend is a game where the goal is to dominate Auriga with one of its many factions. You can either do this through war or diplomacy. The combat system here requires you to plan the strategy for a battle before it takes place, then you watch it play it without being able to change anything. That could be a great thing or a horrible thing depending on your own preference. If you end up playing Endless Legend and loving it, they also have a pair of space games in their arsenal along with Endless Dungeon which is expected to release later this year.
Europa Universalis IV stands out on this list because as opposed to being just a strategy game, it’s a grand strategy game. What this means is that it focuses on a military strategy where an empire or nation’s resources are used, essentially strategy on a much larger scale. This game was released in 2013 and the nation you control in it is from the Late Middle Ages through the early modern period. On top of battle, trade, colonization, and diplomacy are all in your hands. If you loved Civilization and want more of a challenge next, this one is perfect for you. Europa Universalis V has never been formally announced but is believed to be in Paradox’s plans.
One of the oldest games on this list, Freeciv was first made available way back in 1996. Despite this, its stable release came just over a year ago in January of 2020. When you mention Freeciv, its development has to be talked about, especially here because Civilization is actually a massive part of it. In ’95, three students named Peter, Claus, and Allan were part of Aarhus University’s computer science department. They were big fans of Civilization and XPilot wanted to see if they could fuse the two. They took Civilization’s rules, combined them with XPilot’s server architecture, and found themselves with Freeciv. Over the years, it got developed to be available on multiple operating systems and subsequent releases led us to this point. For that reason alone, it feels imperative that fans of Civilization try this one out.
This game is a sequel to Rome: Total War and is set 300 years after it. This means that some things like the gameplay and feel of the storytelling will feel similar, but actual factions and provinces in the game are different. A key addition in this game is the religions, namely paganism, Christianity, and Zoroastrianism. You can spread religions in certain provinces by constructing templates in those areas and conflict can arise, which you can deal with a couple of different ways. You can either become a hero or a villain through your decisions. The choice is yours.
The man behind Civilization, Sid Meier, also has some other games to his name. He is heralded as one of the greats when it comes to making strategy games and so anything he makes in the genre must be mentioned. Alpha Centauri is one of those. Fundamentally, it shares a lot of similarities to Civilization: the layout and the graphics. But it’s far from a carbon copy and does a good enough job of setting itself apart from its spiritual predecessor.
This game takes place in the future where a new technology has changed the world and helped bring around a global cold war, as the name suggests. It’s your job to prove that your nation is superior to others. But of course, a cold war means that no battling actually takes place. So how does this work in the format of a game? Well, the idea is that you lead a team of undercover agents to try to steal intel from other nations so that you can remain one step ahead at all times. While this might sound like a strange diversion from the usual combat system that takes places in the 4X genre, it makes a refreshing change and presents a new challenge that gamers are sure to appreciate.
Stellaris was developed and published by Paradox Interactive, the same people who published Europa Universalis IV, which appeared earlier on this list. So, if you liked the sound of that, this one is worth a look too. Paradox is actually a main competitor to Firaxis, the publisher of Civilization VI. Stellaris is not just a turn-based strategy game, but a real-time grand strategy game. That feels like an incredible and eclectic combination of some of the games that we’ve already had on this list. Your goal here is to build an empire in space by colonizing planets and making different alien civilizations integrate. If you’re a fan, there’s plenty of downloadable content to enjoy too.
If your favorite thing about the Civilization series and strategy games, in general, is the combat, then as its name suggests, Total War: THREE KINGDOMS may be the perfect fit for you. Developed by Creative Assembly and published by Sega, this game is one of many in a long series. Twelve main series games came before it and since its release in 2019, two main series games have followed. The game is immersive and puts you right in the heart of the action. There are two modes to enjoy the game through, the first being romance. This gives generals near-superhuman strength. The other mode, Records, is a little more historically authentic.
Warcraft III followed Warcraft: Orcs & Humans and Warcraft II: Tides of Darkness, but is the first three-dimensional game in the series. Here, you’ll collect resources, build bases, and battle enemies, just like a lot of RTS games. You can play against the computer, but there’s also a multiplayer option. The latter of those got a great reception and was ahead of its time when the game was released back in 2002.
Relics of War is the 40K universe once again diving into 4X. It’s good for people who want a dose of the Civilization series with a few changes, but it’s especially great for anyone that’s looking to get into 4X games for the first time. That’s because many of the mechanics in it make themselves more accessible for a wider audience. So as a Civilization player, nothing will be so new to you here but there are still reasons to enjoy it. The game’s combat system is great and immersive. Attacks come suddenly and require you to improvise to defend properly against them.
Warlock: Master of the Arcane is developed by 1C: Ino-co Plus and published by Paradox Interactive, the latter of which have already appeared a couple of times on this list. They also published Europa Universalis IV and Stellaris. This game is most similar to the fifth game in the Civilization series. When you start off with the game, you select one of the Great Mages, all of which have their own backstory and pros and cons. All Mages are customizable. Throughout the game, threats come in the form of wildlife as well as players. Ways to win include defeating all other players, seizing and maintaining 50% of all holy sites, diplomatic victory, and killing a God’s avatar.