With the rise of downloadable content in recent years, true “expansions”, as we have known them in the past, have become far more rare than they used to be in video games – not that they were ever terribly common to begin with. It used to be that certain types of games would be released, well received, and then expect additional content to be added some time later in the form of an expansion – a large package of new features, expanded single-player content, and occasionally even some graphical tweaks.In recent years, however, DLC has become the expected norm – small content updates, usually for a small fee, that add perhaps a few extra hours worth of content, if that.
Civilization V has not evaded this fate.
It should be noted, however, that expansion packs do come, and this week saw the release of an honest to goodness expansion pack for Civ V, entitled Gods & Kings. I have now had the chance to play a few games with the new content, and can provide some insight into whether the game is worth it or not.
I have greatly enjoyed playing Civ V since shortly after its initial release. The expansion, however, has made the game, in my opinion, a lot more interesting. Naturally, since Civ V doesn't have a true “story” mode to it, there is no additional story added. There are, however, a whole bunch of new and interesting features that make the game, both single-player and muliplayer, a lot more fun.
There are, of course, several new civilizations to choose from, each with their own leader traits, unique units and buildings, including several old favorites from previous editions of Civ like Boudicca of the Celts and newer ones like Gustavus Adolphus of Sweden. There are also new wonders to be built and new units to build, some of which fill some gaps that I had previously felt were oddly empty before the expansion, such as the new Composite Bowman, an intermediary unit to fill the large technology gap between the Archer and the Crossbowman. There are even some new luxury resources, like citrus and crabs (go ahead, laugh. You know goddamn well I did!), though I'm not entirely certain why these were added as they don't seem to add much to the game.
Some unit functions have been improved for combat, as well. Naval combat has gone through a complete overhaul, introducing “melee ships”, ships that need to engage directly against enemy ships the same way a melee land unit would, though obviously not graphically identical. This fixes the issue of having a hard time invading coastal cities on a continent you haven't yet settled, as you can now take over enemy cities with your navy alone. There are also more ranged units in the late-game, like the gatling gun and the machine gun, that are extremely useful against enemy infantry but have only a one-tile range, meaning they can be very vulnerable if not used to flank against melee infantry.
The AI has also seen a huge overhaul. Much of the enemy AI has been revamped to develop more diverse militaries, making it so that you will have to adapt to confront the enemy's differing military units. I was actually caught off-guard on an easier difficulty when Washington nearly creamed me. I finally gave up on that game because I felt so humiliated by the AI.
One feature that was greatly altered was the City-States featured in the game. No longer do City-States offer one quest that does not change until it is either completed or no longer possible. Instead, City-States will offer multiple quests at a time, any or all of which can be completed to gain influence with them. This means no longer do you get stuck with 5 City-States all asking you to eliminate each other and just deciding to pay them all off instead. It does, however, create some confusion, as you now have so many available quests that it can be hard to remember which ones you were trying to complete in the first place.
The feature of the game that really shines, though, is the added feature of religion. This was something that was in Civ IV and seemed sorely lacking in Civ V. Now, religion is back in the game and plays much better than ever. Religions are founded by gathering Faith, a new resource that functions similarly to gold, but is only generated by particular buildings or traits and can only be spent on specific things. Once enough Faith has been earned to earn a Great Prophet, you can expend the Great Prophet to found a religion. When you found a religion, you can pick “beliefs” for that religion, which are bonuses provided by that religion. These beliefs fit a lot of different strategies; there are some that would aid your military, some that would benefit you culturally, and so on. Some work better when you spread them outside your borders and are more suited to a small empire with a wide ranging religion. No two religions can have the same beliefs, so it's a first come, first served deal, meaning that the sooner you found your religion, the better choices you'll have available. I found myself having a lot of fun exploring new strategies and ideas with the religion mechanics and finding ways I could benefit from particular beliefs.
There are also some new scenarios available with the expansion, though I haven't yet had a chance to try them. I don't generally play scenarios; I'm usually more interested in just the regular game. There is apparently a steampunk-themed scenario, which sounds really interesting.
Anyway, I feel like I definitely got my money's worth out of the new features, and am still enjoying it. Hopefully, this will help you decide whether these new features are worth the price tag.
Advanced Recon: Civilization V: Gods & Kings
Blog entry posted by Breefolk, Jun 24, 2012.