With Civilization VI‘s first expansion, Rise and Fall, coming in hot in just about a week’s time (February 8), I decided to dive back into the world of empire building and cultural domination. Thanks to the wonderful folks at 2K, I had the chance to sample the latest expansion, albeit in a shortened game of 150 turns.
Six of the new leaders were made available, namely Seondeok (Korea), Wilhelmina (Netherlands), Genghis Khan (Mongolia), Chandragupta (India), Poundmaker (The Cree), and Tamar (Georgia). And as any veterans of Civilization would know, they each confer different bonuses, but that has always been the case.
The new additions in the expansion have most definitely shaken up the usual formula, and has made me excited for the full-blown experience.
First off, as you found your first city, Rise and Fall begins charting the course of your people. From obliterating your first barbarian village to discovering a natural landmark, each Historic Moment contributes to a slick timeline showing off all your achievements.
These milestones also constitute the Era Score, which plays a more tangible role in the expansion’s new Age mechanics. As civilizations move into the next historical era, your Era Score could either land you in a Dark or Golden Age. Leaders can also pick a dedication – a strategic direction for your people – that awards additional Era Score if you play it right.
Almost every decision made can reward Era Score, but of course, in true Civilization fashion, it can go horribly wrong if you are not careful. My focus on military conquest early in the game with Genghis Khan did little for my Era Score, and a Dark Age soon followed.
A Dark Age can result in lowered Loyalty (a new addition), more hurdles to research and development, but if you can successfully navigate from a Dark Age into a Golden Age, your civilization will enter the Heroic Age.
This is markedly different from Golden Ages in the previous entry, and could usher in new strategies to pursue from an early stage.
Do you want to go all out at the start, with a succession of Golden Ages (they get harder to attain), and take a potential hit into the Dark Age but emerge better off in the next era with a Heroic Age?
The possibilities are there for players to exploit, and it affects all the facets of your entire playthrough.
As mentioned, Loyalty is a new mechanic that is influenced by a multitude of factors like the Ages, city placement, proximity, Governors and more. Should any city ever go below the threshold, they could revolt and declare their independence.
They then become a free agent, ripe for the picking for any neighbouring civilizations. It is definitely something to keep an eye on, especially when you are neighbours with other civilizations, it could all turn sideways eventually.
Rise and Fall also introduces Governors, seven individuals with their own unique tree of upgrades that will aid the way you play. Whichever path to victory you choose, these powerful allies can help in a variety of ways with their versatility. Need a boost in Loyalty or a faster route to military dominance? Choose your preferred right-hand man/woman and upgrade them, or spread the love and enjoy a bountiful of benefits like buying districts with the power of money.
At this early stage, your chosen civilization certainly gels more with certain Governors than others in terms of benefits and rewards, and I hope we do not get a case of the all-too-familiar road to victory in every single game.
The expansion has also changed up how alliances work. No longer restricted to just militaristic agreements, Enhanced Alliances bring about specialized alliances that can be upgraded over time. Be it Research, Cultural, Military, Religious, or Economic Alliances, the longer you are in one, the more Alliances Points you earn. These can then be spent to enhance said alliance, bringing powerful benefits to your civilization.
However, the short turn limit did not give me a chance to sample the new Emergencies component. These are game moments that occur after critical events happen in the game, such as a Nuclear Strike. Your civilization, along with others, will have to band together and face a common threat whenever an Emergency is declared, unless you are the perpetrator.
Members of the Emergency or even the Target stand to gain rewards for resolving it, and players will have to balance their commitments accordingly if they want to come out on top.
My brief time in Rise and Fall has reignited my love for Civilization VI. The new additions have certainly up the ante in terms of addictiveness, pushing me to always go just one more turn. The awesome designers behind the game have once again brought to fruition a bunch of interacting systems that work perfectly together, I simply cannot go back to vanilla Civilization VI after this.
It is not the final product yet, but Firaxis Games is definitely on the cusp of something great with Rise and Fall, and I can’t wait to invest hundreds of hours to see my legacy crumble under the might of nuclear India once more.