People around the world have been throwing virtual board game nights to keep in touch with friends and ward off the boredom that comes with social distancing. But if you’re looking for something outside of Monopoly and Settlers of Catan, fire up your PC and hit the Epic Games Store for a free copy of one of the most iconic turn-based strategy games of all time.
Sid Meier’s Civilization VI is free for PC on the Epic Game Store until May 28 at 11 a.m. Eastern. Anyone with an existing account (which is also free) can download the game and keep a digital copy of the board-game inspired title even after this offer expires. Don’t wait too long though, just like Sony’s PlayStation Plus subscription service, if you don’t redeem Civ VI before May 28 it’ll cost you $60.
Civ VI was released in October 2016 and became the series’ fastest-selling installment with more than 5.5 million copies sold as of August 2019. The franchise has been around since 1991 and fuses concepts from the classic board game Risk with aspects from Empire, the original war game from the ‘70s. However, Civ VI gives gamers the ability to rule their virtual kingdoms like no other strategy game.
Players select one of 23 base civilizations they want to play at the start of each match, and that list can be doubled to 45 civilizations with the purchase of the Gathering Storm expansion pack. Once they’ve picked their empire, players are thrown into a randomized map to compete against other players and computer-controlled opponents.
Each civilization has its own unique special perks, which players can leverage to help them achieve one of many victory conditions. For example, the American empire led by Teddy Roosevelt gains a combat strength bonus when it’s fighting on its home continent.
Using these bonuses to their advantage, players will work towards exploring, expanding, and exploiting their enemies with the goal of exterminating everyone else on the board. To achieve this, they’ll need to gather resources to turn their small tribe into a civilization with sprawling cities and a powerful army, but combat and brute force aren’t the only paths towards global domination.
Players will also need to balance their growth by investing resources into technology, culture, and governance of their population. They’ll need to ensure their cities are well fed to keep their empire from collapsing in on itself while striking diplomatic relationships with other opponents to access resources they may not have readily available.
The result is a game that can spark squabbles among friends just as heated as Monopoly disputes. But instead of rage quitting because you got unlucky, you’ll be challenging your buds to another round so you can try out a different civilization and a more cunning strategy.
Sid Meier’s Civilization VI is free for PC on the Epic Game Store until May 28 at 11 a.m. Eastern