PC (out now), Mac/Linux (coming soon), iPad (maybe someday?) •
If I seem a little out of it today, it’s because I was up late trying out the new expansion for one of my favorite titles, Civilization VI. The new expansion, Rise and Fall, released last night in my time zone and when I loaded it up to merely see the differences, I fell victim to the dreaded “one more turn” syndrome and unwisely stayed up past 2am. To be fair, this happens pretty much any time I load up Civ VI after 5pm.
Rise and Fall does what you’d expect a major new expansion for a Civilization title to do, it introduces all sort of new mechanisms that will alter your existing strategies. In the past we’d get expansions that introduced concepts such as religion or espionage. Civ VI shipped with all those systems in place, so instead we the expansion introduces concepts we’ve never seen in a Civ game before: loyalty, history, and governors.
There have been governors in Civ since way back when, but that usually referred to an AI that would take over city production, allowing you freedom to ignore some of your empire and focus on critical details. Rise and Fall gives you actual governors, people who you can recruit and level up, each bringing with them a bevy of new abilities that they transfer to the city they occupy. For example, last night I lured a governor with a craftsman specialty, making all builders created in that city more productive. That was just their starting power. As they leveled up, they could make it easier to build districts or buildings in my city center, or several other abilities all focused on helping production. Another of my cities attracted a land baron who immediately made it cheaper to purchase new tiles. I haven’t even looked to see what her higher level abilities are yet. Did I mention it was very late?
Having a governor installed in a city helps to bolster your peoples’ loyalty as well, which is another new system. You can win your plebs’ loyalty by keeping cities close together and fattening them up with amenities. If a city’s loyalty begins to waver, it can leave your empire and become a free city which can be gobbled up by your opponents.
The last major update involves history, and it’s the wackiest of the new systems. Now, certain actions will earn you “era points”, which are displayed via a colored circle that grows around the action button in the lower right of the screen. These can be any actions, such as meeting a new civ or defeating a barbarian tribe. It can even be researching certain technologies before other civilizations. What you’re trying to do is get enough points so that you don’t fall into a Dark Age in the next era. If you don’t earn the minimum Era points, you’ll enter a Dark Age. If you get enough to avoid a Dark Age, but not enough to really knock anyone’s socks off, you’ll just have a regular old time when the next era comes around. But, if you manage to clear a threshold that, honestly, seems impossible to me after a couple hours of play (meaning I’m obviously an expert), you’re next era will be a Golden Age. All of these will affect how your subjects loyalty grows (or shrinks) over the next era as well as offering different abilities or political cards in the government screen. For example, I entered a Dark Age when the Classical Era began and had new political cards to play that gave me some great bonuses, but also had some major drawbacks. I’m guessing Golden Age cards are all lovely.
The really cool part of the history feature is the timeline. Your civilization’s history is etched forever onto a scroll that you can peruse, showing the dates and images of your accomplishments. I’m not sure it has much gameplay value, but as another way of immersing you in the Civilization mindset, it’s perfect.
There are other additions in the expansion as well including the obligatory new civs, wonders, natural wonders, units, etc. Alliances were also overhauled, making them a bit more useful. In vanilla Civ VI, alliances basically meant you wouldn’t attack each other. Now, they can also carry with them other benefits by choosing the type of alliance you’re offering: Research, Military, Economic, Cultural, or Religious. There are also Emergency Situations that arise when a leader does something that many other civs don’t like. Oh, something like dropping a nuke. It’s basically them getting together to complete an objective that will teach the offender a lesson. If successful, all civs in on the Emergency get a reward.
I’m sure there’s more buried in there as well, and some won’t rear its head until I get deep into games. As of now, I’ve only scratched the surface with 2-3 hours of play under my belt. I plan to remedy that right now.
Rise and Fall is available right now for Windows, and will be coming to the Mac version of Civ VI sometime down the road. Will it ever make it to the iPad version? The jury’s still out on that one. That said, the iPad version price just dropped 50% to only (yes, I said only) $30. That’s a steal even if it doesn’t have the expansion.