Civilization VI: Rise And Fall expansion out Feb 8th

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Civilization VI is getting its first expansion on February 8th 2018 and it sounds like it might be shake things up significantly. Going by the name Rise and Fall, it applies changes across the whole span of history and rather than introducing one big new system, it seems to focus on the actual rhythm and flow of the game.

There are new rules for Great Ages, city loyalty, governors, emergencies, and loads of additions in the form of civs, leaders, buildings, wonders and government policies, but it’s the overall sense that Firaxis are adding a sprinkling of grand strategy to the series that has me most excited.

There comes a certain point in every playthrough of any Civ game where I consider quitting. Either I’m on well on my way to victory, with enough momentum to carry me over the line after a few more centuries of clicking End Turn, or I’ve lagged behind and found myself locked into a losing trajectory. There’s rarely any ebb and flow after a certain point; every player is moving toward a predictable end-point and Civ becomes less of a strategy game and more of a waiting game.

Rise and Fall’s new systems – and, heck, it’s title – suggest Firaxis want to address that. Great Ages are a good example:

“As your civilization ebbs and flows, and you reach milestone Historic Moments, you will experience Dark Ages or Golden Ages, each providing specific challenges or bonuses based on your actions in-game. Rise triumphantly from a Dark Age, and your next Golden Age will be even stronger – a Heroic Age.”

It’s entirely possible that this just means you might get buffs rather than boosts at certain points in your development, but the mention of specific “challenges” gives me hope that things will be a little more playful than that. One thing that I thought worked really well in Civ VI was the way actions on the map, and between nations, affected the research tree. If Golden Ages and Dark Ages can have a similar impact, they might do more than apply extra acceleration or friction to your progress. Ideally, they’ll lead to interesting decisions rather than simply being A Good Thing or A Bad Thing that happens every now and again.

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Loyalty is the other eye-catching feature.

“Cities now have individual Loyalty to your leadership – let it fall too low, and face the consequences of low yields, revolts, and the potential to lose your city to another civilization, or its own independence. But one civilization’s loss can be your gain as you inspire Loyalty among cities throughout the map and further expand your borders.”

Again, this could lead to some great fluctuations in the map and the status of nations. Civ has never been particularly great at modelling things like the collapse of empires or consolidation of power after a civil war or other period of strife. Loyalty, particularly combined with the Ages, could be a meaningful step in that direction.

This is mostly speculation for now, but you can make your own educated guesses by reading the full feature list RIGHT NOW:

“GREAT AGES: As your civilization ebbs and flows, and you reach milestone Historic Moments, you will experience Dark Ages or Golden Ages, each providing specific challenges or bonuses based on your actions in-game. Rise triumphantly from a Dark Age, and your next Golden Age will be even stronger – a Heroic Age.
LOYALTY: Cities now have individual Loyalty to your leadership – let it fall too low, and face the consequences of low yields, revolts, and the potential to lose your city to another civilization, or its own independence. But one civilization’s loss can be your gain as you inspire Loyalty among cities throughout the map and further expand your borders.
GOVERNORS: Recruit, appoint, and upgrade powerful characters with unique specialization bonuses and promotion trees to customize your cities, and reinforce Loyalty.
ENHANCED ALLIANCES: An enhanced alliances system allows players to form different types of alliances and build bonuses over time.
EMERGENCIES: When a civilization grows too powerful, other civilizations can join a pact against the threatening civilization and earn rewards, or penalties, when the Emergency ends.
TIMELINE: Review your civilization’s history at any time with the new Timeline feature, a visual journey through the Historic Moments that you encountered on your path to victory.
NEW LEADERS AND CIVS: Nine leaders and eight new civilizations are introduced. Each brings unique bonuses and gameplay, as well as a total of eight unique units, two unique buildings, four unique improvements, and two unique districts.
NEW GLOBAL CONTENT: Eight new world wonders, seven natural wonders, four new units, two new tile improvements, two new districts, fourteen new buildings, and three new resources have been added.
IMPROVED GAMEPLAY SYSTEMS: The Government system has been enhanced with new Policies and additional improvements have been made to existing systems.”

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I loved Civ VI at release but I’ve drifted away from it in recent months. That’s partly because I’ve been expecting an expansion and wanted to wait and see how worthwhile it looked before starting another big multiplayer game. This looks very worthwhile to me, but it’s all reliant on the execution. We’ll find out how it is on Feburary 8th and in the meantime, there’s loads more detail at the official announcement page.

40 Comments

  1. Tiax says:

    I loved Civ 4 and 5, but I couldn’t get myself to buy Civ 6 due to how awful the diplomacy seems to be. Was this improved recently? It doesn’t look like this expansion will do much regarding this aspect.

    • mrentropy5 says:

      I don’t think diplomacy has been touched. A few days ago I started a game with 4 AI players. We all started out on the same landmass so met up fairly early. I had smiley faces all around with them. Then, for no reason that I could figure out (or was given) England started a war with me. I wiped them out (sorry) fairly quickly and from then on I was a war monger and denounced every other turn for the rest of the game. No matter how free I was with trade agreements and gifts.

      • Zorgulon says:

        Diplomacy has been tweaked a number of times. It is possible to play the game with good diplomacy in mind. The rewards really aren’t worth it, but it is possible.

        Random wars of aggression or expansion are still there (of course they are, the game would be very boring indeed if no-one started a war without a diplomatic faux pas in the run up).

        Where you went wrong was in wiping Victoria out. Win the war in the field, pillage all their improvements, maybe take one city. Then your warmonger penalty is reasonably small, and will erode over time. Also remember to make declarations of friendship, alliances, joint wars and (if you can and are so inclined) obey their agendas.

      • Dogahn says:

        Best diplomatic game I had, one nation thought I was a warmonger and I was pretty close with all the rest. It resulted because a neighbor took the closest city-state I was friends with. Narratively this could not stand, so I took the city-state from them. They branded me a warmonger the rest of the game. Everyone else was totally cool with it and we spent the rest of the game in a super friends alliance.

  2. mrentropy5 says:

    Maybe I’m playing it wrong or something, but my biggest issue with Civ VI (and, I suppose, all previous ones) is that everything goes by too quickly, even on Marathon.

    The last game I played, for example, by the time I built my first air field, I had bypassed the bi-plane era altogether and was working with jets. There was never time to build one.

    I don’t know if that makes sense to anyone else.

    • Sandepande says:

      It does. I recall that building something like your first musketperson is barely finished before there are tanks (or at the very least riflemen) scampering about.

      My recollection might be off, but there certainly is something wrong with the pacing.

      • mejobloggs says:

        I think in Civ 5 early game was more accelarated than late game too?

        That always made me sad, because my favorite times were mucking around with trebuchets and what not. That’s my favourite time of the game. I think things get a bit silly once the advanced modern age comes in with stealth fighters and hugely long-range rocket launchers and everything

    • Lacero says:

      I totally agree.

      I also disliked how long it took to develop a city. Building districts seemed to make every district more expensive, until you basically couldn’t build anything new.
      The fun of the game is in expansion and growth, but stealing others built up cities is much cheaper than growing…

    • tasteful says:

      yeah this is it for me as well, the pacing is strange as heck
      the diplomacy stuff is a bit weird but it doesn’t bug me too much, and as a paradox player the warmonger stuff doesn’t bother me at all (you’re playing a game, warmonger penalty is part of the rules of the game, plan around it!)

      • tasteful says:

        what i miss most about the pacing is exploration. in civ 4 and especially civ 5, i’d build up so many mental associations with every contour of my starting continent – almost every tile represented some aspiration, some achieved and some bitterly withheld by that other civ – and after awhile the rest of the world opens up and it conditions you to view all the other continents you’re discovering as having every bit as much history ingrained into their fabric as yours, and you can only parse what you can.

        it’s a really addictive beautiful moment for me that rings concordant with my experience in a suddenly much more connected and communicative planet. in civ vi i don’t feel that there’s time to develop that emotional connection to your own landscape, so the entire map feels more or less the same. which i hope changes soon (and the expansion plans are kind of promising to me in this regard) because the importance of geography in civ vi is so well-handled! i love love love the city building elements in this. i just want it to have the right pace to feel truly mythic.

  3. Xocrates says:

    Hopefully it will change how predictable Civ VI was. The game did a lot of interesting things, but the various bonuses were so strong that you usually needed to have a plan in the first few turns (or even before, depending on your civ) and as someone who enjoys playing civ by just going with the flow and adapt as stuff happens I found the game fairly boring – compounded by the fact that most stuff took a looong time to build.

    Hopefully, having the flow of the game change with the golden/dark ages can help on that regard.

  4. Phantom_Renegade says:

    The only thing I care about is diplomacy. Unless the AI stops calling me a warmonger for ending a war someone else started, I’m kinda done with Civ.

    • Sic says:

      It’s a major issue with this iteration. They keep adding things without fixing the fundamentals. There are SO MANY bugs and issues still in the game, and with patches few and far between, it never seem to entirely find its footing.

      What it really needs is six months of proper testing and polish. Not an expansion.

      Absolutely idiotic things like Catherine de’ Medici complaining about the lack of espionage of other civilisations in 4000 BC. Or Gorgo complaining about other civilisations being weak and not militaristic enough, after said civ has annihilated another civ, because the game apparently doesn’t understand the difference between making peace and destroying a civilisation.

      These issues and hundreds more are the things that make the game annoying to play. The AI seems to either be insatiably aggressive, or docile to the point of exploitable. Nothing in between. The districts that were supposed to force players into making choices based on geography are simply not balanced. Commercial and industrial are ALWAYS the best. Religion is all but useless as a win condition. etc. etc.

      Like I said, they need to sit down and take a long hard look at what they have. Tweak it properly. Fix the bugs.

      The best case scenario would also include having the time to fix all the annoying stuff reminding people how rushed it was as well, like all the spelling errors and the absolutely horrid tech/civic/wonder quotes.

      I’m just not seeing it, though. Unless the expansion team has gobbled up all the people who could fix the basics, and actually spent some time on that whilst developing the expansion, I doubt CIV6 will be very interesting until all expansions are out the door, and Firaxis can start quality control proper.

      • Nevard says:

        The Catherine thing is actually just people misunderstanding her motive I think, she gets snarky with you if you don’t have much diplomatic access with other factions, doesn’t have to be from spies.
        Of course… why she would care is still not very clear.

    • Lord of Beer says:

      Agreed. Even in a defensive war, if you take cities or god forbid raze any, the warmonger penalty will close off diplomacy for you against every other AI player for basically the rest of the game if you do it in the later eras. Its completely broken and ridiculous that they havn’t fixed it yet.

  5. grimdanfango says:

    Hmm, I think at this point the thing Civ needs more than anything is for them to take a bigger risk with the fundamentals and start ripping bits *out*, rather than still trying to find new ways to expand and tweak what’s there. There’s a compelling core in there somewhere, but it’s long since moved past the point where they can even code an AI that can actually take best advantage of all the systems-piled-on-systems-piled-on-systems that it’s become over the years.

    I’d love to see a more back-to-basics Civ combined with some more modern design ideas to balance it… something with a much simpler set of rules, but lots of emergent possibilites. Something where you’re not just ticking things off the diverse and varying but ultimately meaningless to-do list until you eventually win.

    • Zorgulon says:

      I think what Civ really needs is a competitor that’s not Firaxis and not weighed down by the baggage and expectation of six iterations.

      Either as you say, a scaled back complexity, or a more focussed time window. Just a complete newcomer to the historical 4X genre in general.

      • MaxMcG says:

        That would be Endless Legend.

      • Leafy Twigs says:

        On iOS / Android, there’s a great game with an awkward name: Battle of Polytopia. It’s Civ stripped down to its barest elements. Simple tech tree. Building is based on money, and units / buildings are built instantly. Each nation starts off with a specific basic tech already researched, or with other advantages. No real diplomacy, but the AI pays attention to how you treat it. If you never attack it, or only rarely attack it, then there will be peace, unless the AI is much stronger than you.

        Can be played in two ways: 30 turn limit in which the goal is to get the highest score of all the players. Or an unlimited turn mode where victory is determined by conquest. Most games can be decided within 15-30 minutes, but sometimes wars become tough-ish puzzles which take an hour to resolve. At this point, it’s my favorite version of Civ.

      • Hyena Grin says:

        There’s been plenty of Civ-likes. It’s not like there’s no competitors. It just seems like their success tends to rely on them being as unlike Civ as possible, because anything too similar to Civ is perceived as a clone.

        Civ is practically an institution in games, like an overbearing grandparent everyone respects while acknowledging their flaws. You don’t replace it, you wait for it to die so you can get out of its shadow (grim metaphor, sorry).

    • Kohlrabi says:

      My real big gripe is the tech tree. You basically come around to develop all techs through the course of the game. Also there is not enough branching, not enough interesting decisions to make. Master of Orion 2 had a nice approach with offering you one out of 2-4 techs to choose from each tier. You would have to get the others by diplomacy or espionage.

      Another idea would be to add much more randomness to the research. Sure, you cannot design a turn-one “strategy” then, which will take you through the game. But you would have to think how to get hold of the tech you direly need from your neighbours. Might offer more interesting gameplay choices as well.

      The idea of boosts were a nice touch, but since the conditions are always the same in each playthrough, you can optimize your build order and techs to get as many bonusses as possible, which will lead to less varied strategies.

      Instead of revising the research system they added another research system, the culture track, which works exactly the same way.

  6. Zorgulon says:

    If they pull this off, it’s a very exciting prospect indeed that could alleviate the Civ series’ general issue with the game becoming by-the-numbers at a certain point, with very little capable of disrupting you once you got off to a good start.

    It sounds like they want a far more dynamic game with more vying for power in subsequent eras.

  7. Premium User Badge

    Drib says:

    Never got much into Civ 6 personally. I played 4 to death, and 5 quite a bit, but six never sat well with me.

    Maybe a few expansions will liven it up enough to give it another go.

  8. Smurph says:

    Sounds like they are taking some cues from Paradox games. Individual region loyalty numbers and strong nations causing emergency defense pacts/coalitions is classic Paradox stuff. I also like the idea of cities splitting off to form their own nations, but I have a hard time seeing how that isn’t just a game-ender for the civ it happens to.

    • Vandelay says:

      The loyalty bits sound like they are creating an alternative to the cultural flip that existed in previous Civs (sure it was in 5 and I think introduced in one of 4’s expansions). It was definitely missing that in 6, so I’m glad to see they are offering some alternatives to taking over cities besides bombing the shit out of it.

      I enjoyed 6 when it came out and played it quite solidly for a few weeks. I’ve not played it since, but I certainly felt they had a really good base game that would only improve with expansions (as Civ games have for ages). Looking forward to this.

      • Dogahn says:

        I loved cultural acquisition, others despised it. Removing it from culture and creating a loyalty element that coincides with periodic moments of strength and weakness seems like a great revision.

  9. MaxMcG says:

    I just hope they get rid of or at least seriously reduce the production inflation cost thing. Having a late game city taking 20 turns to build a basic unit or building just annoys the hell out me.

    I’m sure its all about “balance” or something but where’s the fun in balance? I want to be powerful dammit. I remember my ridiculously overpowered uber death-fleets in MOO2…

    • Sic says:

      Yeah, production is worth way too much at the moment. So much, in fact, that all your cities should have an industrial district.

      They need to make it so that there is an actual choice between which districts one should build when starting out a city. There needs to be some sort of balance.

      Right now it’s industrial district + commercial district in every city, because those two are the objectively best districts. Every city will become big enough to support at least three districts, so there is no reason not to skimp on those two, being that you can always build a third (and normally a fourth) catered to what you’re doing in terms of win conditions.

      An easy fix would be to massively increase district adjacency bonuses for the other districts. And/or to give them buildings that were generally strong, not just catered to a certain win condition.

  10. tidus89 says:

    Fix diplomacy and AI!

  11. cardigait says:

    I love Civ VI, but i really hope they mitigate priests fertility.
    Heck, they spawn as zergs!

  12. AngoraFish says:

    I just want a 3X game without the fourth X, eXterminate. The first three Xs are the fun part, while sadly the fourth X is the last 90% of the game. Slogging around a map committing genocide for reasons is just sooooo tedious.

    • Dogahn says:

      VI’s goal seems to be procedural narrative. The language used in describing it’s features and in what the new expansion will bring is all slanted toward creating a better player story. However it may evolve.

      • AngoraFish says:

        That’s been the line for pretty much every 4X, ever. *cough* Stellaris *cough*. The problem is that ’emergent narrative’ inevitably involves other civilizations killing you or you killing them. It’s like pretending that Street Fighter is all about the emergent narratives of a down on their luck fighter overcoming adversity and winning. Well, I’ll believe it when I see it.

  13. Chris says:

    I am willing to bet that playing with the expansion will still be like having carnal knowledge of a dead sheep. This is Firaxis polishing a turd. I’m not buying this cash cow.

  14. doodler says:

    My friends and I have learned our lesson regarding Civ games after the last 2. The best time to buy a CIV game is after its sequel comes out, they are all incomplete garbage until the expansions drop.

  15. Lord of Beer says:

    Good summary of all the problems with the game:

    link to reddit.com

  16. TheOx129 says:

    I’m going to agree with some others here in that there are some cool ideas in the expansion, but I’m not sure of the wisdom of adding new mechanics on top of others that remain broken, semi-functional, and/or just plain unfun. The idea of Dark Ages in particular is interesting to me, as I seem to remember they were a planned feature in Civ4 that were scrapped in development when playtesters expressed pretty overwhelmingly negative opinions on them. I’m curious as to what made them revisit it and how they’re going to make them fun and engaging.

    Also, did anyone else notice that Ed Beach isn’t the lead designer on the new expansion? Seems like Civ is continuing its proud tradition of burning out game designers.

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