The best 4X games like Civilization 6 know how to hook us in. Since its release, people have been pouring countless hours into ruling their populations, expanding empires, and crushing their enemies. Top that off with improvements to old systems, new research boosts, customisable governments, etc. and you have a new 4X classic on your hands (even if a few are still nostalgic for Civ V).
Itching for more games like Civilization 6? Well, you’ll be happy to know there are tons of similar games available that add their own twist to the traditional Fraxis 4X formula. Here are 10 of them!
Selection Criteria of Our List:
- All games like Civilization must be ‘4X’. This means you’ll get to ‘eXplore, eXpand, eXploit, and eXterminate’. You don’t have to engage with all the Xs if you don’t want to. Multiple win conditions are also a must (e.g. via diplomacy, military conquest, etc.).
- The best 4X games on this list allow you to pick which faction you want to be, each unique in their own right. So, for example, some factions might have distinct abilities, troops, and so on.
- Optional: Good mod and / or expansion support is a bonus. Both official and community content are acceptable. Early Access games are exceptions to this requirement.
- This list of games like Civilization is non-exhaustive. Selections are also in no particular order.
NOTE: There are subtle differences between Grand Strategy and 4X Strategy games – even if not everyone can agree on what these differences are. In any case, you may notice we haven’t included games like Hearts of Iron or Europa Universalis here. Not to worry. These will appear in our upcoming Best Grand Strategy Games list, to be released soon.
You may also want to check out our other lists: 10 Turn-Based Strategy Games Like XCOM, 10 Classic Real-Time Strategy Games Like Age of Empires, 10 City-Building Games Like SimCity.
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1. Age of Wonders III
Here’s one of the best 4X games like Civilization 6 that you’ll love. Set in a fantasy world, Age of Wonders III has everything you’d expect from the strategy subgenre. First, you get to choose one out of a few RPG-inspired leader classes (e.g. Rogue, Sorcerer, Warlord, etc.). Each has its own unique upgrades and skills. You’ll then build new settlements that will slowly evolve into powerful empires. There’s also a special toolkit for you to create sprawling, well-detailed sandbox environments to explore and hunt for resources.
In addition, Age of Wonders III’s battle system is a bit more hands-on than most Civ-like games. Upon initiating combat, you’ll zoom into an up-close tactical view. You can then issue specific commands to units, moving them to exact locations on the battlefield. This is especially useful when you want more precise control to beat odds that might not be in your favor.
Age of Wonders III also has a surprisingly good story-driven campaign. You’ll get to forge alliances with interesting characters or, alternatively, declare war against those who oppose you. The game also has an official expansion pack that offers you new unit types, maps, storylines, and tons more content. User-created mods are available too.
In short, Age of Wonders III brims with addictiveness. You’ll find yourself sinking hundreds of hours into building your dream fantasy empire.
2. Warlock: Master of the Arcane
Unlike Civilization, Warlock is less about recreating human history. Instead, you’ll be living out your favorite fantasy tropes as you try to grow the ultimate magical civilization. You start by picking one of a few powerful mages, each with different skills and abilities. You’ll then have several ways to help them quench their thirst for power. For instance, you could gather a huge army to ravage your enemies’ lands. Alternatively, you may opt for diplomacy, casting your spells to unite rival factions together.
Similar to most 4X games like Civilization, Warlock already has a good number of expansion packs available. These add a ton of content, including new mage classes, storylines, units, much more. The modding community is also very much alive, although official patches have not been recently released.
Overall, Warlock: Master of the Arcane is worth a look if you want to sink your teeth into more best 4X games like Civilization 6. Note that the game does have a sequel, though this has received much lower review scores compared to the original.
3. Endless Legend
Endless Legend is like Warlock in its fantasy setting but shares more in common with Civilization 6 in terms of gameplay. You get to pick from a range of different factions (e.g. Wild Walkers, Broken Lords, etc.). Units are moved across a familiar hex-based grid that are also used as spaces for you to build cities. Like most games like Civilization, you’ll be juggling between many in-depth systems, trying to win campaigns with various conditions (e.g. ‘kill everyone’, science, economy, diplomacy, etc.).
Above all else, Endless Legend will impress you with its gorgeous graphics that trump even the very best 4X games. Maps and buildings are all beautifully designed. Seasonal effects also add a whole new level of aesthetic polish. In addition, you’re able to seamlessly zoom out from battles to manage other aspects of your empire. The overall look will actually remind you of the opening credits of Game of Thrones with its stylish ‘diorama’ perspective.
The game is also very well-supported. Several expansion packs introduce a host of new units, weather systems, and quests to undertake during your countless playthroughs. Overall, Endless Legend is without a doubt one of the best 4X games like Civilization 6 ever released. A must-play!
4. Oriental Empires
Oriental Empires is close to being a ‘grand strategy’ title. Nonetheless, it still falls into the ‘4X’ category (according to the developers themselves). Think Civilization 6 plus Total War and you’ll get the picture. As you’ve probably guessed, the game is set in Ancient China but isn’t beholden to historical accuracy (though the option is available). You’ll get to select map styles, pick a distinct clan, and do tons of 4X-ing. However, what sets Oriental Empires apart from other games like Civilization 6 is its robust Total War-esque battle system. You’re given control over literally hundreds, if not thousands of soldiers via a ‘boots on the ground’ perspective that greatly enhances immersion.
Like the best 4X games, Oriental Expires lets you develop flourishing settlements and make research decisions in areas of tech, military, and more. Enemies can also be coerced through diplomacy or, if you like, with the might of your army. Unlike Civ, Oriental Empires limits its timeframe to between 1500 BC to 1500 AD. However, the game’s attention to Chinese cultural detail is truly stunning!
Oriental Expires is still in Early Access on Steam as of the time of this writing. Regardless, it has already received tons of positive reviews. DLCs have of course not yet been released, although developers have been consistently implementing fresh content. All in all, this promises to be one of the best 4X games like Civilization 6 to keep your eye on.
5. Civilization Revolution & Civilization: Beyond Earth
Okay, this might seem like a bit of a cop out – but we honestly felt these two Civ spin-offs were distinct enough to warrant special mentions. First, looking at Civ Revolution, it’s amazing how Fraxis managed to dilute the core Civ gameplay enough to be compatible with consoles. Yet, the game still retains many of the trademark systems that make the best 4X games like Civilization (the main ones) as great as they are.
Of course, there are key differences between Civ Revolution and standard Civilization games. For example, campaigns in Civ Rev move at a much quicker pace. This makes the game far less suited to hardcore strategists, although casual gamers will find this appealing. Nonetheless, you’ll still be doing a lot of the usual 4X stuff (e.g. exploring maps, destroying enemies, etc.). Other fun activities include discovering Natural Wonders and engaging in diplomatic relations with other factions. Civ Rev also comes with a ton of downloadable content you’ll want to check out.
Civilization: Beyond Earth is another solid spin-off. Earth is doomed and you’ve been sent spaceward to colonize a brand new planet. You first pick a side and the space-pod you want to land with. Planets are then randomly generated, most filled with lifeforms both friendly and hostile. Rival colonists will also land on your turf and you’re free to deal with them via diplomacy or military force. Don’t be surprised if a few enemies get vicious like Gandhi with nukes (Civ fans will know what we mean!). Overall, Civ: Beyond Earth ‒ while not the most impressive release in the series ‒ still holds its own as an epic 4X game in its own right.
Read more honest reviews of Civ Revolution and Civ: Beyond Earth.
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