Previewing Civilization VI: Rise and Fall
Civilization VI‘s first new big expansion expansion, Rise and Fall, releases on February 8th. However, thanks to the awesome guys at 2k, we got to play with the Early Access build of Civilization VI’s expansion. And here’s my thoughts on Rise and Fall.
Civilization VI takes much of the same approach as previous Civ games. At the start of a new series, a significant portion of old content is removed. Some of the content may be gone forever, but other times they are reintroduced in later expansions, after what is usually a massive change or overhaul. To me, this makes sense for a few reasons. First, it makes sense to ensure that the main mechanics of a games are tuned as optimally as possible before working at what may be considered less integral game systems. Secondly, it provides a reasonable jumping on point for interested gamers new to the system, introducing additional systems only after people have gotten used to the core gameplay.
To set the context, Civ V’s first expansion Gods and Kings gave us religion. while Brave New World changed the civic system, gave us policies and overhauled the cultural victory with the implementation of tourism. Civilization VI overhauled much of what we knew, and I am a big fan of how they implemented Eureka and Inspiration moments, social policy cards, and the district system, so I understand why Ed Beech and the Civ VI developers might have decided to leave some things by the the wayside at the start of Civilization VI’s game development cycle. I consider Civ V post Brave New World as one of the best Civ’s to date, which means that Rise and Fall has huge shoes to fill.
Dark Age or Heroic Age?
Now, because it was the early access preview build, I only had the first 150 turns to play with. That’s why is why I figured I should go with one of the new civilizations that seem to benefit mainly in the early ages.
Poundmaker of the Cree it was. His Okihtcitaw are super awesome scouts (I never even touched warriors), and I was hoping his additional benefits with alliances would help me greater appreciate some of the big change in rise and fall; namely the different ages, as well as tweaked alliance mechanics. Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to see what the new alliances were like. The AIs that spawned new me were Washington and Harald, and America and Vikings aren’t particularly good at being peaceful neighbours. I did however end up palling around with the Netherlands, another one of the new Civilizations, but we never really got to late enough in the game where I could see the impact of the new alliances. I did get a bit of extra gold though.
I did however like how the new Golden Ages were implemented. In Civilizations past, golden ages tended to happen after a certain happiness quota was met, or if you used great people to trigger one. Now, Golden Ages are a lot more discerning. As a civilization, you’d actually need to accomplish specific things to get the era points in order to trigger a Golden Age, with its related buffs. Fail to accrue enough points, however, and you’d sink into a Dark Age. Not only do your cities get penalties, but you end up losing loyalty. Dark Ages aren’t the end of the world though, as you get provided with double-edged policies, big buffs that come with some sort of draw back.
When I was playing, I thought I was doing pretty well, but I wasn’t even able to trigger one Golden Age. This means that Dark Ages are a very likely possibility in a play through, especially if you get stuck with a bad game, or are on the losing end of a war.
A Few Good Men
Speaking of loyalty, it’s one of the huge changes in Rise and Fall. Start a city too far away from your other cities, or sink into a Dark Age, or have super awesome enemy cities next to you, and your own cities start losing loyalty. Reach a low enough threshold and they revolt, turning into free city states, or even defecting to your enemies. This is a pretty welcome move, as I tend to prefer playing non-aggressively, so it’s nice to have a non-religious, non-military method in which to interact with your opponents.
One of the ways you can buff loyalty is with another of Rise and Fall’s new mechanics; governors. Much like great generals that you attach to your cities, governors provide additional buffs to the city they’re in, together with increasing the loyalty of that city. Different governors provide different thematic boosts, and as a builder I naturally gravitated towards the Surveyor and Educator. As you progress through the game, you get more governor titles, which you can spend to promote your existing governor, or recruit new ones. However, you can only install one governor per city, so the number of governors you’d want to get would definitely be affected by your gameplay.
Can Your Civilization Stand the Test of Time?
I have to admit, I feel like I haven’t had the time to truly test out the systems yet. I barely scratched the surface of alliances, I never got into emergencies, and I haven’t had the chance to see if the AI is improved over the original game (which was, admittedly, pretty rubbish). However, what I’ve seen I like pretty much. The golden age and timeline system gives you a new system to track and goals to accomplish, while serving as a pretty good record of what you’ve accomplished so far. And I like that governors can serve to further personalize your civilization and playthrough.
The most important thing that constitutes a Civilization expansion though is ‘one more turn’ syndrome, and I am happy to say that Rise and Fall has it in spades. I sank my weekend into it and am wishing I had more than 150 turns with the game.
Now if you’ll excuse me, there’s a game I need to return to…