Civilization 6’s Battle Royale Mode Is An April Fools Joke Come To Life

The new game mode, called "Red Death," is now very real and very much started as a joke gameplay mode.

Do you always drag out your Civilization 6 game, dragging turn after turn for a slow crawl towards world domination? Can’t in this newest mode. Now, Civ 6 introduced a new battle royale style multiplayer game mode called “Red Death.” This wild new mode is available in the September update for the game.

Just like any good battle royale mode, you’re forced to fight for survival and become the last one standing. The boundaries or danger zones in this game are the “Red Death,” which you’re forced to run away from. This no-go zone does increasingly more damage as the game progresses. And, of course, the last player with a civilian standing is the winner.

But isn’t Civ 6 sort of already a battle royale game mode, if you play it like a domineering, fascist warlord? Well, sure, but this takes the “last civilization standing” concept to a whole new extreme. And in fact, this gameplay mode introduces so many new concepts that it’s practically a new game of its own.

For one, there are eight unique “Factions” you can join. Much like nations and rulers in the base game, each provides unique perks.  The “Doomsday Preppers” have a 100% experience bonus; “Cultists” have 3 extra tiles of sight. A “Horribly Scared Mutant” takes less damage from being in the Red Death and can move faster within it. And, in a relatable move, the Very Goth Borderlands unit increases strength when close enough to the border. As the video explains, “You know how some people experience a moment of perfect existential freedom when staring into the yawning abyss of destruction caused by spite and indifference?” Mood.

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There are also new enemies to confront. The equivalent of Barbarians, dubbed “Raiders,” are pretty much there to beat on you.

In a discussion about the new gameplay mode, someone made a joke about it seeming like an April Fools Joke. But things got real when Kevin Schultz, marketing manager for Fird updates, too.axis, said that’s how it began.

“Funny you say that,” he replied to a fan’s comment. “This did start off as an internal April Fools joke before everyone on the team collectively went ‘huh… this is really fun.’ Our devs explained the story on our livestream today if you want the longer version.” And there is, in fact, a clip in that day’s live stream to explain it. Bradley Olson, an engineering lead, slipped the joke of a battle royale into a build a few days before April Fools. It went unnoticed until he pointed it out, and at that point, everyone tried the game mode. And apparently, it was good!

So that’s where we are now. Apparently it looks far different than it initially did in the joke builds, but that’s how plenty of gameplay concepts often turn out. But it looks interesting if you’re into the relatively-slow turn-based system that Civ 6 presents.

And the theming isn’t too far off from the current state of affairs, either. After all, it’s always fun to stare our existential crisis of climate change, global war and political scuffling directly in the face, tongue-in-cheek. Not that Civ 6 often doesn’t end up that way for many of us, anyway.

Civilization 6 is available for $60 on most PC platforms, plus the Nintendo Switch. Red Death is available for free on all of Civ 6’s platforms, and the update includes a ton of other bug fixes an

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Victoria Rose

Victoria is a Brooklyn-based, chaotic good former dungeon master who writes the news in the morning for Fanbyte. She's a self-proclaimed esports pundit, and used to do Dota 2 news and reporting as a full-time part-time gig. She's also four red pandas stacked in a hoodie, and will never, ever drop this joke.

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