Civilization VI civilizations and leaders revealed

July 13, 2016 by Samuel Wicks

Eagle-eyed fans have pieced together information on all the factions we can expect in the next Civilization game.

On July 12th, the official Civilization VI YouTube channel posted a video about their development process. Not even 24 hours later, thanks to a single shot in the video, keen eyes and minds on the Civ Fanatics forum had unveiled almost all of the civilizations and leaders in Firaxis’s upcoming game, including the first four DLC releases.

How did this happen?

In the background of an otherwise innocuous shot, user wales260 noticed the portraits of 22 civilization leaders (18 in the core game; the remaining four likely to be the unannounced but promised DLC), based on historical images. The community quickly got to work, and in short order identified the likely inspiration for 17 of the images.

Some of these were already announced, such as President Teddy Roosevelt, while some listed below were high on the list of expectations. Other leaders are curveball choices, and some civilization choices even more out of left field. Here’s what we know so far:

Saladin (Cristofano dell'Altissimo, 1568) Saladin (Cristofano dell'Altissimo, 1568)

Arabia - Saladin

Arabia are always a high contender for a new Civilization spot, and Saladin is always a high contender for their leader. Although Saladin was never actually ruler of Arabia, he’s still one of the most famous historical figures from the area, and fits with Civilization VI’s focus on “big personalities”

Aztecs - Montezuma

Formally "Moctezuma II," Montezuma was ruler of the Aztecs when they first made contact with the Spanish, as well as ruler of the Aztec Empire at its greatest extent. If the Aztecs are in a Civ game (and they often are) Montezuma will be their leader.

Brazil - Pedro II

Pedro II was ruler of Brazil in a much older form in Civilization V’s second major expansion. For Civilization VI he’s managed to get in on the ground floor, or as one of the first DLCs, and based on the portrait of him that the team are using as inspiration, he’s going to look a lot less like Santa Claus this time around.

Catherine de Medici Catherine de Medici (Piat Sauvage, circa 1585)

France - Catherine de Medici

France is almost guaranteed for any Civilization game, but Catherine de Medici wouldn’t likely be most people’s first thought for its leader. Although she was never technically ruler of France, she was Queen by marriage to Henry III, and following his death she was regent for three of her sons. She brings something interesting to the table for France in her ruthless personality and religious motivations, and helps add to the small roster of female leaders in the game.

Barbarossa Barbarossa (Konstantin Vasilyev, 1976)

Germany - Frederick I "Barbarossa"

"Barbarossa" is Frederick I’s Italian nickname, literally translating to "Redbeard," which already sets the stage for an awesome ruler. In German he was "Rotbart" which means the same, but sounds far less flattering to English ears. Frederick was one of the greatest rulers of the Holy Roman Empire in the High Middle Ages; a charismatic leader with a great mind both politically and militarily.

Greece - Pericles

Unlike Alexander -- the other popular choice for Greek leader in Civilization titles -- Pericles is actually Greek. He was one of the most notable statesmen of Athens during its most influential period in history, renowned as both a politician and a general. His greatest accomplishments are certainly cultural, through the promotion of arts and literature, so we can expect to see Greece as a Classical-era cultural powerhouse.

India - Gandhi

Whatever you have to say about Gandhi, you’d best be careful. His words are backed by nuclear weapons. India is highly expected from a Civilization title, and Gandhi is highly expected as leader. Nothing surprising here. (But will he still be a nuke-happy jerk this time? --ed)

Afonso Afonso (Carl Owens, date unknown)

Kongo - Afonso

Civilization games generally manage to fit in a West African civilization, so the fact that Kongo is on the list isn’t utterly jawdropping, but it’s always nice to see some diversity. Afonso’s reign is largely marked by his relationship with Portugal -- he converted to Catholicism, and the country with him, and welcomed Portuguese scientific advancements while still trying to resist total submission to Portuguese interests.

Poland - St. Jadwiga (Hedwig)

Poland was long requested by Civilization fans before finally being added to Civ V in its second major expansion under King Casimir the Great. Their popularity sees them return in Civ VI, but with a new leader. Jadwiga is one of Poland’s greatest leaders, enabling the growth of Poland through strategic political alliances and marriage to Wladislaw of Lithuania. She’s also regarded as particularly holy, and was eventually canonized in 1997.

Trajan Trajan (sculptor unknown, 108-117)

Rome - Trajan

Rome is almost guaranteed for Civilization, but is another civ with a slightly unexpected leader. Rather than the more famous Julius or Augustus Caesar, Trajan takes the reins for Civilization VI. Although he may have less brand recognition, he historically led Rome during its greatest period of military expansion, while also increasing prosperity for Rome in general. Overall, it looks like a new face might not mean a new attitude for the Roman civilization, however, since military expansion backed by economic power are common Roman attributes in the Civilization series.

Russia - Peter the Great

Peter is definitely in the top two picks for Russian leader in Civilization, vying with Catherine for his spot. Given that Firaxis seems to be trying out slightly offbeat leaders for Civilization VI, Peter’s inclusion isn’t too surprising. His most famous accomplishments are the expansion and modernization of Russia, bringing it in line with other major European powers of the time.

Scythians - Tomyris

This is definitely the most unexpected civ of the bunch. "Scythians" is a name given to a lot of different nomadic tribes occupying parts of Central Asia throughout history, so it’s hard to pin down exactly what a Scythian is. In Tomyris's case, it was the tribes who, under her leadership, were able to repel invasions from the famous Persian leader Cyrus the Great. As a civilization, the Scythians are likely to be similar to Civ V’s Huns or Mongols, while their leader could be either an early military power, or just an aggressive diplomat defending her rightful territory.

Spain - Isabella and Philip II

It appears that Civ VI might see two Spanish leaders, likely one of them being a DLC option and the other in the core game. Which is which, we don’t yet know. If true, this confirms the theory that Civilization V will make multiple leaders for each civilization a possibility, much like in Civ IV, with certain attributes being part of the civilization, and others being leader special powers. This opens up a ton of design space for game designers and modders, and it’ll definitely be interesting to see how this plays out.

Gilgamesh Gilgamesh (reconstruction by Fouilles P.E. Botta circa 1844)

Sumeria - Gilgamesh

Gilgamesh was present in both Civilization III and IV, but took a break in V. The Sumerians were one of many famous Ancient civilizations who settled in the Fertile Crescent of Mesopotamia, and are arguably the first civilization. Many Ancient Era fans will surely be glad to see him back, though he may only come in as a DLC civilization, similar to Babylon in Civilization V, given his popularity and historical fame.

Although this is all backed up by reliable information, it’s still all conjecture. Some of this information may be incorrect, and of course it might all be a big hoax by Firaxis, who are normally very careful about what they let slip into promotional content. However, if true, it’s definitely exciting to see some of the choices they’ve made, and it makes me even more eager to see what Civilization VI’s release in October will bring us.