Sid Meier’s Civilization VI has been a divisive title among gamers since its release in October of 2016. While publication after publication gave Civ VI a multitude of awards on its release, the players have shown a different opinion. With mixed reviews on steam, the main complaints around Civ VI were the insane amount of bugs at launch, a rough multiplayer server that made the game unplayable for some, crashes, hardware incompatibility, features missing from Civ V, and (of course) its incredibly exploitable AI system.
So, did the newest expansion of Sid Meier’s Civilization VI: Rise and Fall help to fix any of these issues and general concerns? Well… Sort of.
Platform Reviewed: PC
Platforms Available: PC
Publisher: 2K Games
Developer: Firaxis Games
Release Date: February 7, 2018
Price: USD $29.99
This review is based on a review code provided by 2K Games.
Sid Meier’s Civilization VI: Rise and Fall is the first expansion for the game, and it’s brought on a lot of features for people to be excited about. With nine new leaders (8 different civilizations), seven new natural wonders added to the world, new man-made wonders, a city loyalty system, governors, dark ages, and more; There’s a lot for players old and new to get excited about.
The leaders for the franchise have (mostly) always had a ton of character and history built into them, along with their own individual pros and cons, so it’s easy to believe that the new civilizations added are just as incredible. Some might dislike the cartoon-like art style, but altogether there’s a lot of thought and time put into the characters, and I have no real complaints in that regard. The leaders have been both kind to me and utterly cruel (you can screw off, Wilhelmina), just the way it should be.
What happened with the AI, though? Did they ever fix it? Kind of. The diplomacy has been improved, and it at least feels like there’s more opportunity to fix your relationship with an NPC that’s showing signs of wanting to nuke you back into the dark ages. However, it’s still not perfect. That being said, I’ve yet to find an AI in any game that is.
Can you still exploit the AI? Yes. Will the AI still decide to go to war with you for no reason while suffering seemingly no negative repercussions from surrounding civilizations? Yes.
These issues HAVE been minimized, however, and the other features of the expansion help to offset these problems in their own ways.
There has been some balancing in the overall game through the addition of loyalty, governors, and some plain and simple number nerfing to things like trade routes.
Loyalty is a new system used to determine how patriotic a city is at any given time. Loyalty can be improved by appointing a governor, having appropriate housing and amenities, and other factors which add a fun new element to the game.
Emergencies are another new feature that was added to Rise and Fall. Something that the game needed was a way to keep it from stalling out, and emergencies do just that. They give you incentives to help allied civilizations or go after offending nations that are being dicks to the rest of the world. Whichever nation (or group of nations) is victorious in an emergency will be rewarded in a variety of different ways.
While everything I’ve discussed up to this point has been huge in impacting the general gameplay, there’s a feature of this expansion that I’m absolutely in love with that has flown under the radar pretty heavily.
Eras, and ages, and timelines, oh my!
Throughout the game, you exist either in a dark age, heroic age, or golden age. Different ages give your civilization different bonuses (fewer for dark ages and more as you perform better.) You can measure how well your civilization is performing in any given era with your era score, and transferring from one era to the next will place your civilization in one of the three ages depending on your improvements.
But, how do I improve my era score?! Through your civilization’s historic moments! Improve your research! Find a natural wonder! Build a wonder! This simple addition to the game has added so much more immersion and excitement when your civilization accomplishes something.
Oh, and on top of all that. Your historic moments are now logged in a timeline that displays all the wonderful steps your civilization has taken to become a mighty empire. Which, in my opinion, is one of the coolest things they added. Being able to read through my civilization’s accomplishments and history gives it so much more depth than it had previous to the expansion.
So, after about 300 hours of Sid Meier’s Civilization VI, 50 of which being on the new and improved Rise and Fall expansion, how does it fair as a member of the Civilization franchise?
Put quite simply, it’s a perfectly acceptable expansion. There’s plenty to improve on, but the vast majority of bugs seem to have been smoothed out. I haven’t had to wait for a friend that’s trying to log back in from a desync, I’ve been able to pop into a game every time I’ve tried, and I experienced a lot less frustration with the in-game HUD and unit controls.
Rise and Fall did a lot to clean up what was already a great game that was suffering from some pretty vicious issues in the early days, while simultaneously adding a bunch of new content and gameplay that almost makes it feel like a fresh game.
Reviewer Update: After some more hours put into this game, there have been cases of crashes on larger maps and it doesn’t seem to be affected by your machine’s performance, but some other arbitrary reason that we haven’t been able to determine yet. My opinions haven’t changed and the game is still phenomenal, but if you’re experiencing crashes, maybe try smaller maps.