How valuable is “The Red Badge of Courage”? What about “Blue Suede Shoes” or the “Mona Lisa”? “Civilization V: Brand New World” lets players explore their cultural side by increasing the benefits and work into building a civilization that defeats players with ideals rather than bullets and arrows.
While cultural victory has been an option, the new gameplay puts an emphasis on a new resource – tourism – to expand your influence over others. Accumulate more tourism and you win, but it will take a bit of work.
Think of tourism as your offense and your culture as your defense. Tourism influences how other civilizations see you and want to come to your cities. Great works of art, writing and music can be created and housed in special buildings to increase your draw from others.
Great Artists, Writers, and Musicians create great works known throughout history. Each one, when appropriately displayed, raises your tourism level and inches you closer to victory. New conditions and social policies help create these prized units faster – almost too fast.
Several times during my preview play, these units would appear and be ready to help me win. But without the right building to show off their work (i.e. – a museum for art, an opera house for music, or an amphitheater for writing), they merely sat and waited for their “show,” or were expended toward more culture or a Golden Age.
If you are thinking, “Hey, I could already get a Cultural Victory by completing five social policies,” you would be right, but that victory condition no longer exists. Instead of waiting to fill up the social trees in each policy, players can mix and match from all the social policies to better fit their style of play. Also, it appears the restrictions about which policies you could pursue has been dropped – creating the ability to tap into Piety as well as Rationalism.
A new policy, Aesthetics, has been created to boost tourism and culture creation. Some old ones – Freedom, Order, Autocracy – have been grouped together into Ideology. This new area is only triggered by the hitting a certain era or the creation of factories and grants bonuses depending on which ideology your civilization chooses to follow.
There has also been a change to trade with the use of caravans and cargo ship to physically travel to and fro between cities. You can choose (from your limited number of routes) which cities would be most profitable to trade while exposing your trade units to attacks from unfriendly foes. Do you go for the most gold or do you take the safe route?
You can also impact world conditions through resolutions in the World Congress. Each country earns delegates through size, standing and relationships with city-states. The resolutions also can influence your relationships with other civilizations if you propose something that benefits or harms them.
There are also collaborative international projects, like the World’s Fair, where countries can contribute resources to the mutual benefit of all. Once the project is completed, rewards are doled out based on the amount of contribution each county contributed.
Once I thought I understood the nuances of the new cultural victory, it seemed to be an easy path to win. Build the right buildings, create Great units, fill up the buildings, watch the tourists flock in. But nothing is easy in “Civilization V.”
Victory can still be achieved through domination (destroy everyone else), science (launch an Apollo spacecraft), and diplomacy (become the world leader). So not only did I have to do all those things to win culturally, I also had to spend time building up a defensive army, create buildings to boost science, and interact with city-states and other civilizations to keep my opponents at bay.
A religious victory is no longer an option. Religion has become what old culture used to feel like – passive and provides certain bonuses. But you can’t win by overwhelming another civilization with your dogma.
I discovered that cities don’t seem to fall as easily as they used to in the past. Rushing two or three units to an opposing city isn’t as effective, and will force players to plan ahead – thinking more tactically. It can be done, but it feels like it takes more resources than previously.
The adjustments to the cultural victory helped me with what I’ve described as “peacetime boredom.” Late in the game when everyone has built up enough strength to fend off attacks, the action seemed destined for a points victory or a rush to build the Apollo program. With tourism, I felt more active and involved in creating units that would have a direct impact on my success.
Just like creating a new tank to balance out someone else’s bomber, creating tourism lets me flex my cultural strength in an active way rather than the passive path it used to take. I felt more involved in the end game if I decided not to crush all other countries under my heel or commit everything to building my spacecraft.
It opens up options. It creates an interesting way to win without feeling overpowered or tacked on. Like other victory conditions, it takes planning in your building construction, your social policies and your unit creation. The trick, as always, is getting to your end goal before someone taking a different path reaches theirs.
I also have to mention the new expansion comes with a scenario – the American Civil War. It is short – 100 turns – and is all about domination. The end goals are defeat the opposing army and take their capital.
Being a fan of “Sid Meier’s Gettysburg” and Civil War history, I was excited about this scenario when it was announced. Playing it, however, left me feeling empty. As the Union, I marshaled my forces from surrounding cities and plowed my way to Richmond (ala Sherman’s march through the South).
Confederate cities and troops were no match for my massive army, constantly being resupplied with fresh troops from cities in the North. There were some minor skirmishes to the west, but playing those as a zero-sum game allowed me to keep the bulk of my forces focused on the Confederate capital.
While it did take several turns to take Richmond, the scenario felt incomplete somehow. Strategy doesn’t really play into it very much when there is only one goal – capital domination.
A second scenario, Scramble for Africa, is also planned, but was not available during this preview.
“Civilization V: Brave New World” expansion will be available on July 9 in North America and July 12 for the rest of the world. The ESRB rating for this expansion is pending. This preview was done playing an advanced preview only copy of the game on a Windows PC and using a Steam download.
Religion and espionage have long been influential in the development of nations since man first started gathering together. “Civilization V: Gods & Kings” reintroduces those two elements to their successful turn-based strategy franchise in their new expansion pack.
Spies and religion have returned, and raised the level of strategic, long-term planning for players. Both elements impact the game, but at different times in history – faith and religion early in the game and spies later on.
Losing (And Regaining) My Religion
Religion was included in “Civilization IV,” still one of the most popular games in the franchise, but was left out when “Civ V” was released. Faith is a resource that is grown much like gold or science. Players can gather faith by building shrines, temples or mosques. Accumulate enough faith and you can start your own pantheon.
The pantheon will be the basis for creating a religion later and gives players bonuses mainly based on your surrounding terrain. Choose wisely, because you may need to clear-cut some of that terrain later in the game and lose some of your pantheon benefits.
Gain enough faith and you will get a Great Prophet, who will help you found a new religion. This opens up more benefits through founder and follower beliefs. You can also customize your religion with its own name and icon.
The beliefs offer additional resources when your religion expands, or benefits to cities who follow your faith. There are also benefits if you decide to go to war or maintain peace on the homefront.
Spreading your religion happens naturally within friendly cities. Players can also “force” religious change through the use of missionaries (to spread the good word) or inquisitors (to eliminate other religions in cities).
Religion also helps dealings with city-states, and can make other civilizations that follow your religion look at you more favorably. There is also a social policy branch called Piety offering faith bonuses.
You’ll want to develop your religion early to take advantage of its benefits. As the game moved toward the later eras, the value began to wane as new science advancements make some beliefs useless. Also, not every country gets to found a religion so don’t be late and get left out.
Secret Agent Man
Spies were also conspicuously missing when “Civilization V” was released, but have been re-imagined and included in the expansion pack.
Instead of an actual unit on the map, spies are stealth units that you can place using a menu in cities and city-states to see what’s going on. Players recruit their first spy when any civilization hits the Renaissance era. Actually, all civilizations get a spy at that time, so be prepared for sneaky stuff from that point on.
New spies are recruited as each player crosses over into a new era. One new spy also becomes available with the construction of the National Intelligence Agency wonder.
Utilized well, spies are great for evening up the technology race. Place them in a foreign city and they can steal new tech for your nation. While in that city, they can also listen to intrigue and find out what the other country is planning.
Are they plotting an attack on a neighboring country? You can rat them out and gain favor with their opposition. Spies will also let you know if you may be the target of a troop build-up near the borders.
Be sure to keep a spy or two in your own cities to thwart opposing espionage. Moving spies around also lets you keep an eye on all your opposition and also find out who might be ready for an invasion of your forces.
Your spies can also influence city-states by rigging their elections, winning your favor (and resources) while reducing the influence of other religions.
Is It Enough?
There are nine new leaders and nine new civilizations to conquer in ”Gods & Kings.” Each has their own special units and abilities that will need to be accounted for and exploited whenever possible.
The reintroduction of religion and spies will help fill the gaps many fans of the franchise felt existed in “Civilization V.” The use of religion early and spies later in the game adds another level of thought and planning that long-time players will enjoy.
Will the additions bring back those players who lost faith in the franchise after the fifth title’s release? Maybe, but, as some have said on forum pages, faith and espionage should have been there all along.
“Civilization V: Gods & Kings” is an expansion pack for “Civilization V.” It will be released on June 19 for Windows PC and Mac OS X. It is rated E 10+ for everyone 10 years of age and older due to drug reference, mild language, suggestive themes, and violence. This review was done with a provided digital download through Steam.
Creating your own religion could result in weird looks, unusual friends and sometimes, visits from law enforcement officials. Creating your own religion in the soon-to-be released expansion for “Civilization V” results in bonuses and benefits on your way to world domination.
The new “Civilization V: Gods and Kings” expansion pack offers players two “new” elements to the very popular and successful real-time strategy game – faith and spies. Both are not new to the franchise, but each has been redone to make it more interesting and rewarding to use them.
Faith is a new resource, like gold or science. Civilizations can accumulate faith by building shrines, temples and mosques. Acquire enough faith and your fledging country can discover its first pantheon. Pantheons reward players with bonuses based on terrain, aggressiveness or other abilities, and players get to select the belief their pantheon will represent.
Get more followers to your cause and eventually you can form a religion, complete with your own unique name and icon (I called mine “The Force”). You will also get additional bonuses to your civilization as a whole, and specific additions to city abilities. Later, you can enhance your religion and gain more benefits.
There are a limited number of religions that can be created and not every country will get to create their own. This puts a premium on developing faith early in the game so you can acquire the bonuses best suited to your playing style.
Faith can also be used to purchase specific units and buildings, such as temples and mosques. Terrain within your civilization can also play an important role in gaining more faith resource. Bonuses can be to overall growth, additional healing, increased attack and defense in certain circumstances.
Religion was introduced in “Civilization IV,” but this expansion to “Civ V” tones down the overall drive for religion while boosting its abilities to offer benefits to the entire civilization. For instance, there was no condition for a religious victory in the preview build of the game. Religion passively crosses borders and spreads to neighboring civilizations, but active missionary work can only occur in friendly cities and city-states.
The developers at Firaxis really tried to make religion something unique for each player and playing style. There are plenty of choices for beliefs and some new leaders offer additional faith benefits.
The preview build of “Civ V” ended in the year 1290 (189 turns) so it will be interesting to find out how religion plays out in the later stages of the game with more technology based units and goals.
The second “new” unit is the Spy, but unlike its predecessor in other versions in the franchise, it isn’t a specific unit to move around on the battlefield.
The “Gods and Kings” expansion pack comes with a steampunk scenario called “Empires of the Smokey Skies” and offered a good opportunity to use the spies. The scenario starts out in the Steam Age and offers new abilities and units, like the Land Leviathan and the Sky Fortress.
The civilization leaders are decked out in top hats, wielding goggles and other trinkets you’d expect in a steampunk adventure. The goals of the scenario are also different from the traditional game. Be the leader in five different categories and you win.
Spies play a big role here and help players keep up with and keep an eye on their rivals. Each spy is recruited and used in a dropdown menu. The unit is given an assignment in a city and allowed to steal technology, find out information or kill enemy spies. They also will slant local voting in your favor to garner a better reputation with independent city-states.
In past iterations, spies in “Civlization” would have to sneak their way to an enemy city, do one mission and hopefully escape with their lives. In “Gods and Kings,” spies stick around in the cities they are assigned for as long as they want (provided they aren’t discovered).
This allows players to concentrate on other aspects of the game while still getting intelligence reports on their neighbors. Spies can be reassigned, but do you take the chance on that information black hole?
The scenario was short, but offered the best chance to see the spies in action. I only recruited one spy in normal game play in turn 187 and that happened spontaneously. Will there be something in the later stages that helps me recruit more agents or train them better?
“Civilization V: Gods and Kings” will offer more units, building, Wonders of the World, and new civilizations to try out. Revamping the religious and spy elements will make the game even more thoughtful (if that’s possible) and challenging for new and experienced players.
“One more turn” just got a whole lot harder to avoid.
Sid Meier, creator of the “Civilization” franchise of strategy games, completed his 20th year with the franchise after the launch of the first “Civilization” game in 1991. Meier has been involved in gaming since 1984 with the release of “Spitfire Ace” from MicroProse Software, Inc.
Meier is considered to be one of the great game designers and is currently the director of creative development for Firaxis Games. He sat down to reflect over the two decades of “just one more turn” and ponder what the future of gaming holds for him and the industry.
Congratulations on 20 years of “Civilization.” When you were first coming up with the idea, did you imagine that it would “stand the test of time”?
I wanted to make a game that was fun to play. Where it is today, I wouldn’t have dreamed. We made the first “Civilization” game because it was a game that we wanted to play and hoped that if we liked it, others would too. Lucky for us, people latched on to the game and our fan community has made the game what it is now.
Where do you get your inspirations for gaming?
The themes for all of my games are inspired by things I’ve been interested in my whole life. History, pirates, railroads, airplanes, golf, etc. are all things that I enjoy, so I wanted to make games based on these subjects.
For “Civilization” games, we get a lot of our inspiration from our fans and the talented folks who work on the games. While I have my own ideas to contribute, by bringing in designers with a fresh perspective, we’re able to continue growing and developing “Civilization” to create a new gameplay experience with each iteration of the game.
I’ve also been inspired by other developers and games such as Will Wright’s “SimCity,” the first “God Game” which really set the stage for the first “Civilization.” Also, Bruce Shelley, one of my design partners during Microprose’s early days, created one of the best RTS games ever made, the “Age of Empires” series. I’m also a big fan of Dani Bunten who created the first open ended adventure game, “The Seven Cities of Gold.”
What is the greatest innovation or idea that has been introduced from over the last 20 years in the “Civilization” franchise?
Each “Civ” game is unique because the designer brings their own unique ideas to the game. The biggest changes lately were the hexagonal world tiles, the one-unit-per-tile combat system, and the beautiful graphics in “Civ V.” We’d thought about hex tiles all the way back in the original “Civ,” but never tried it until “Civ V.” The one-unit-per-tile system makes combat much more tactical and fun to play. And the graphics take the gameplay experience to a wonderful new place.
Maybe the biggest change to the Civilization series as a whole is that we’ve managed to bring it to a variety of new audiences through our console, mobile and Facebook versions of the game.
What were some of the best times and hardest times in gaming for you in the last 20 years?
It’s difficult to think of hard times when I get to go into work every day and make games. I have the greatest job in the world and feel very fortunate to have been doing this for so long. The thrill of designing a new game never seems to grow old for me.
How has gaming and video games changed in the past two decades?
Technology is always changing and giving us new tools to work with. PC and console game designers have been taking advantage of this by creating dramatically better graphics and deeper gameplay experiences. New technology has also allowed developers to deliver games on a wide array of devices, so people from all walks of life have access to games everywhere from phones to tablets to the internet. It’s a great time to be a gamer.
Is the social gaming and mobile gaming trend a product of advancing technology leading an audience or a change in the gamer’s philosophy about gaming?
It’s a little bit of the chicken and the egg debate, but I do think advancing technology has allowed us to explore new platforms and areas of games that we didn’t previously have at our disposal. Social and mobile games deliver a different kind of experience than the traditional PC and console games, which seem to appeal to a broader audience than the usual gamer. The growth of gaming on so many different platforms, and the diversity of the audience is great news for the gaming industry as a whole.
Has gaming become more important to our culture in terms of entertainment?
Games have become the entertainment of choice for people all over the world. I’ve always said that games will someday take over the world and that seems to be happening. There are so many different gaming platforms and a constant stream of new games for players to enjoy in any way they choose.
It’s exciting to see the rise of games in popular culture in the past few years. Now it seems that everyone plays games on their phones and social networks. Games and game franchises have become an integral part of mainstream entertainment, and the industry is only 30 years old. It’s just the beginning of the greatness still to come.