Released in October of last year, Civilization VI is the latest in the grand legacy of Sid Meier’s Civilization, one of the greatest and longest-running simulation series of all time. Each major installment of the board game-style quest for world domination since Civilization II has received at least two expansion packs, filled with new civilizations to play as, gameplay tweaks, and features that can radically change the course of a typical game. As such, it was only a matter of time before Civilization VI got its due.
Coming February 8, 2018, Civilization VI: Rise and Fall will look to shake up the formula, both within the framework of the individual game and the series as a whole. Based on an exploration of the weight of historical moments, the loyalty of an empire’s people, and the dramatic shifts between a civilization’s brightest and darkest ages, Rise and Fall has some heady themes and interesting gameplay ideas to back them up.
The first major new mechanic is the Golden and Dark Age system. In previous Civilization games, “eras” progress for each player based on their scientific research (i.e. from “Ancient” to “Classical” to “Rennaissance”). The developers have altered this formula, with the mechanics now “tied to the idea of the ‘game era,’ which is determined by individual player advancement and a few other behind-the-scenes adjustments.” Additionally, performance in a previous era can trigger either a Golden Age or a Dark Age. Golden Ages provide immediate benefits for players, and while Dark Ages are predictably negative, navigating out of one and into a Golden Age triggers a “Heroic” Age, which triples the benefits one would receive from a regular Golden Age.
Another wide-ranging change is the implementation of “loyalty.” Treating your cities and people well will inspire loyalty, which keeps them happy and productive while also emanating a sort of “pressure,” like religion does in the base game. Nearby cities with low loyalty to their own leader can now be in danger of becoming “Free Cities,” and having cities with strong loyalty nearby can allow a player to absorb that city without military intervention—one of the few methods of achieving this in series history. The loyalty mechanic is also tied to the Golden and Dark Ages, which serve as “a kind of ‘loyalty bomb,'” according to the developers.
There is a host of more minor changes and features as well. Governors, a new unit, can be recruited and used to keep a city loyal, while also conferring a wide variety of bonuses that can aid a city’s specialization. Alliances between civilizations are more specialized as well now, with five different flavors: Research, Military, Economic, Cultural, or Religious. Each can be leveled up to trigger a stacking set of bonuses, shared between alliance members. “Emergency Situations” can now occur in late-stage civilizations under circumstances like losing a holy city or capital, or coming under a nuclear attack, keeping the late game from stagnation. And finally, completing certain criteria before other civilizations can earn a player a “Historical Moment,” which adds to their overall score and can help trigger a Golden Age.
Civilization VI has some immense changes on the way—and that’s before we’ve even mentioned the “nine new leaders and eight new civilizations” to be unveiled as the February release date draws near. Civilization has been one of gaming’s greatest and most cherished time sinks, and it looks like Civlization VI: Rise and Fall is determined to preserve that history.