Civilization 6: Discussing World Leaders With Designer Anton Strenger

We recently sat down with Senior Gameplay Designer Anton Strenger to chat about Teddy Roosevelt, Beyond Earth's influence, and how they go about picking new leaders for Civilization 6. 


Civilization 6 promises a number of changes in its design, including a “city stacking” ability allowing players to roll out some of their resources as separate districts and all-new branches of research. But one of its most intriguing new features is the emphasis placed on its personalities.  

Leaders are not a new addition to Civilization, but the angle from which Civilization 6 approaches them is unique to this new installment. This time, a leader’s personality traits will heavily influence their bonuses, preferences, and “hidden agendas.” It’s a system not unlike the one found in the Rising Tide expansion for Civilization: Beyond Earth, Senior Gameplay Designer Anton Strenger tells me.

“I don’t know if it was ever intentional, but I think some of the interesting diplomacy things that we tried in Rising Tide [share similarities with Civilization 6],” he said.

In Civ 6, every leader’s personality is lifted from a prominent figure in history. 6 will include a number of new and returning leaders, including Pedro II of Brazil, Montezuma of the Aztecs, Catherine De’ Medici of France, and Teddy Roosevelt of America, to name a few.

Strenger tells me the process for selecting each of these leaders is a “huge, involved thing.”

“There are many different axes to evaluate,” he says. “We kind of cast the net very wide. One of the axes is [whether or not they have] been in a Civilization game before. Sometimes if they have, it’s a good thing, sometimes we want to look for new leaders and civilizations that haven’t been in the franchise before. So, we try to get a good mix of both.”

It’s not just whether or not the leaders are new to the series, however. According to Strenger, it’s also important to the team that the selected leaders also represent the world in some significant way.

“Another thing we go for is geographical and racial diversity,” he says, adding that there are so many great and diverse leaders from history to choose from. “We want to represent different parts of the world and different empires and different time periods.”

Each leader has a handful of bonuses, boosts, and interests in Civilization 6 that will heavily influence the way a player relates to other AI or human competitors across the world. Catherine De’ Medici’s connections to people in other kingdoms and civilizations will allow the player to glean information about the inner workings of their competitors, whether it’s one leader building a wonder or founding a new city. Pedro II has a fascination with Great People and will become antagonistic toward those who attempt to gain some of their own. Teddy Roosevelt operates with “big stick diplomacy” and does not like it when people become brazen toward other nations.

All of these traits play into the secret hidden agendas of each leader, or the things they wish to accomplish but will never fully divulge publicly.

When choosing these leaders and the traits that would define them, Strenger tells me the team went for those with larger-than-life personalities, if for no other reason than it’d be easier for them to build their personalities in the game.

Strenger discusses Teddy Roosevelt, telling me a story about how the president was once shot during a speech, but continued speaking until he was done in an effort to display his fortitude. Those are the kind of larger-than-life personalities they wanted to include.

“When we were looking for leaders, we also looked at people with really interesting personalities,” Strenger says.

Every leader’s personality has been exaggerated to a delightful degree, expressed in everything from the character’s clothing to their very body gestures. Roosevelt stands with a puffed-out chest, Cleopatra is lithe and wise, Pedro II is stoic, if not a tad nervous. This attention to detail sells the highly-individualized nature of each character, making them larger than life and more noticeable amidst a sea of charismatic and passionate leaders who would have wished to succeed as much as the player. Here’s hoping it all works out nicely when Civilization 6 releases on October 21, 2016. 

To learn more, read our full Civilization 6 preview

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