2017 has been such a great year for mobile gaming that I can’t even remember the last time I fired up Civilization VI, which was my top game of 2016. I know it’s been within the last few months, but there’s always been something else to pull me away from all that civ-building goodness [mostly the civ-building goodness of Through the Ages, I’m sure -ed.]. Looks like Civilization VI will be getting a bunch of my attention in February as Firaxis just announced that a full expansion, Rise and Fall, is coming on February 8.
One of the biggest selling points for me in regards to Civ VI was how it seemed like no system was left out so it could be sold to us later in an expansion. Religion came to both Civ IV and Civ V via expansion, but was included in Civ VI from the get-go. Archeology and Tourism were late additions to Civ V, but Civ VI had you building Lara Crofts and raiding tombs at release. What could they possibly add to make a full expansion worth the price of admission?
Turns out the answer to that is Loyalty and dark and golden ages. Sure, we’ve had golden ages in Civ VI, but Rise and Fall promises even shinier golden ages. The new “Great Ages” system will allow civilizations to ebb and flow similar to how real-world civilizations have progressed since the discovery of agriculture. There was a rather famous mod for Civilization IV named “Rhye’s and Fall” after its creator that sounds similar to what Firaxis is proposing, although that mod was created to mimic real-world civilizations and their history. Not sure if this expansion has any connection to that old mod, but the name kind of hints at it, doesn’t it? Sorry, got a little distracted there.
Golden and Dark Ages are among the new events that can shift the course of your game’s history. They are significant, but temporary, changes to a civilization that last for an Era. They will open up new opportunities for players to change their strategies, and change the state of the game between the player and their rivals. Having a Golden Age affords huge bonuses to Loyalty and other game systems, but makes earning future Golden Ages slightly more difficult.
Having a Dark Age hurts Loyalty in your cities and makes you vulnerable, but gives you an opportunity to earn a future Golden Age more easily. It also allows the use of special Dark Age policies and opens the door for an even more powerful Heroic Age. Think of it this way: While a Golden Age provides one Dedication bonus (a powerful Golden Age effect), being in a Heroic Age lets the player earn three Dedication bonuses (making it sort of a “triple” Golden Age).
The other system we know is coming involves city loyalty which means the city’s
plebs inhabitants will have loyalty to different game mechanisms, meaning that they will be a much more fickle bunch. This can affect city yields, happiness, and ups the chances for revolt. Hooray!
The stakes of the new Loyalty system are huge because, at the extremes, it can flip control of entire cities to different players without military force. Low Loyalty in a city puts it at risk of rebelling and becoming a Free City. That, in turn, makes it a juicy target for other players looking to expand their own empire. Keeping your cities loyal not only keeps it on your side, but also emanates its Loyalty as a kind of “peer pressure” to other cities nearby. You could even sway cities from other civilizations to join you.
In previous Civilization games, there were ways to “Culture Flip” another player’s city without military intervention. We felt it was time to reexamine this non-militaristic way to change borders, and expand territory.
Loyalty also changes the landscape and strategy around the map as the game continues. What could have been an unchanging border between two civilizations in the base game becomes a contentious battleground of loyalties in the expansion, especially when Golden Ages or Dark Ages are involved.
Golden Ages and Dark Ages are a kind of loyalty bomb. In the best-case scenarios, triggering a Golden Age makes all of your citizens a little bit more loyal. Also, other cities nearby see the appeal of that civilization and may waver in their Loyalty to their current owner. The quickest and most direct way to boost Loyalty, though, is to send a Governor to the city.
This brings us to the new governor system, which are units you can upgrade and level up and which will cause cities to grow in certain directions. This isn’t the AI governor of Civs-past, though. This is an active unit that you’ll need to control and make those city decisions for.
During a game, players can earn up to seven Governors. Each Governor has a different skill tree of promotions. We bent a lot of existing game rules to give them the power to make a difference in your cities.
Here’s how it works: You earn points (Governor Titles) through gameplay. Then you must choose whether to spend those points on appointing a new Governor or promoting an existing one. How you choose to manage your Governors will impact your overall strategy. Go wide by covering more cities, or go tall by promoting only a few powerful governors.
They’ve also added Historical Moments which sound kind of like Natural Wonders, but ones that you can create by doing cool stuff in your games.
So as players progress in Civilization: Rise and Fall, they earn Historic Moments. These are mini-achievements for doing cool things in the world (and there are over 100 of them in the game right now). They include things like circumnavigating the world, training your unique unit, founding a religion, and building districts with high adjacency bonuses. Many grant an even bigger bonus if you’re the “world’s first” civilization to make the achievement. These Historic Moments, taken together, form a story for your game with unique details tailored to your empire.
Apart from the new systems, the expansion also offers the expected new civs (8 of them), new leaders (9 of them), new districts (no idea, but they’re my favorite part of Civ VI), units, buildings, and wonders. The usual stuff. Check out the trailer below and then join me waiting impatiently for February 8 to roll around.
- Civilization VI for PC/Mac/Linux via Steam, $30 (on sale)
- Civilization VI for PC/Mac/Linux via Amazon, $30 (on sale)