Although Firaxis already shared information about Egypt this week (which we experienced second-hand in our demo), 2K Japan has since released details about how the land of the rising sun will handle itself in Civilization VI. Taking the reins from Oda Nobunaga in Civ V, Hōjō Tokimune will lead the nation of Japan in VI. An iron-fisted ruler from the 13th century, Tokimune is best known for successfully leading Japan against the Mongol invasion and spreading Zen Buddhism among the Japanese nobility and warrior class.
Japan’s special ability in Civilization VI is called Meiji Restoration, which encourages denser cities by providing adjacency bonuses for districts built next to each other. The actual Meiji Restoration was a late 19th century consolidation of imperial power under Emperor Meiji, which allowed the pre-industrial, feudal kingdom to emerge in the 20th century as a powerful and modern nation-state. The in-game ability reflects the urbanization that always follows a transition from an agricultural to an industrial society. It’s also the first ability we’ve seen thus far that utilizes the new unstacked city-building, and it seems both potent and flexible.
Like the other civilizations announced so far, Tokimune also has a special ability — Divine Wind. Reflecting both Japan’s strong martial tradition and its archipelago composition, land units receive a bonus while fighting next to the coast and by naval units while in shallow waters. Although Firaxis has not announced anything to this effect yet, there is an apparent distinction between a general special ability for the civ and one that more specifically relates to the leader. It suggests that additional leaders that tweak how a given civ plays could be released in future expansions, as was the case in Civ IV.
Samurai of course make a return as Japan’s unique unit, unlocked with the Military Tactics technology. Maintaining the Bushido ability that applied to all of Japan’s units in Civ V, samurai in VI keep up their full fighting strength as their health diminishes, which makes them incredibly dangerous on the battlefield. The electronics factory is Japan’s unique building, replacing regular factories, adding greater production and a culture boost that applies to nearby cities in addition to its own.
While Japan was more purely militaristic in previous entries, here its abilities are a bit more flexible. Samurai and Divine Wind still make it a formidable fighting force, particularly in the mid-game, but Meiji Restoration and the electronics factory are more broadly useful, and can help accelerate any kind of strategy.
Civilization VI comes out for PC on October 21. We’ve loved our limited time with it so far and look forward to sharing more impressions in the coming months.