Civilization V: Brave New World Reviewed

17 Aug
It's a... well you get the idea.

It’s a… well you get the idea.

Hello. My name is Tom, and I’m a Civ addict.

*Hello, Tom*

I’ve been a civiliation addict since the first game came out some 20 years ago (God, I feel old). Those early, epic sessions where I’d start with the idea of only playing for an hour, only to realize too late that the sun had gone down – and then come back up. It’s the game series that taught me “one more turn” is the most evil phrase in existence.

So when a new Civilization game comes out, I pounce on it. When an expansion comes out, I’ll be there. It was only natural I’d grab the latest DLC for Civ V – Brave New World. I’ve actualy had this since it was released, but alas I don’t have the free time I used to (did I mention how old I feel?), and as you can probably tell I don’t do these reviews for a living. Hence the delayed review. How does this DLC fare?

Brave New World is the latest (and last?) DLC expansion for the latest iteration of the Civilization franchize – Civ V. I might be one of the few that actually liked some of the changes in Civ V (love that you can’t have stacks of doom anymore), and the new expansion tweaks an already great game by overhauling the culture and diplomacy aspects of the game. This follows on the heels of Gods and Kings, which emphasized religion and espionage.

Two of the biggest changes are the additions of tourism and the world congress. As your civ generates more tourism, it slowly gains infuence over other civs – though they in turn are trying to do the same thing to you. Culture stays in the game, and in addition to acquiring territory and gaining social policies (which later lead to a new, ideology tree), it acts as a defense against opposing tourism.

After all civs have been discovered, a world congress convenes – complicating diplomacy as the leading civs can start to dictate global policies. Anything from world fairs to trade embargoes to establishing a world religion – policies that are enacted have far-reaching effects and can anger even friendly civs if you aren’t careful with your votes.

Also new to the game are great works. Now, when a great artist or writer or musician spawns, they have the option of generating a great work, which then goes into an available slot in your civ (many cultural buildings and wonders now have slots to hold such works). These help increase tourism, and are vital to a tourism victory.

Archeolological digs have also been introduced – which presents one of the more fun additions to the game. Past battles against enemy units or barbarians become archeological digs once you research the technology. At that point you can send out an army of Indiana Jones clones to dig them up, and either create a historical landmark or bring an item back with you.

In addition to all this, there are the requisite new civs, units and wonders. Particularly interesting is Venice, which is limited in the game to one city but can “buy out” city-states.

The new culture mechanics are well done and have refreshingly fleshed out an up-to-now underutilized part of the game. Unearthing ancient artifacts from early battles in the game adds a sense of immersion, with the only tweak I’d have added being a new unit – the Belloq – that can go in and steal an artifact from the digging archeologists. And the world congress adds a refreshing depth to diplomacy, forcing you to pander for votes and take care when deciding your proposals.

That said, if you didn’t like Civ V when it came out (and many old-school players didn’t), this expansion will unlikely change your mind. Most of the changes are designed to imact the late-mid and later game turns, and tasks like managing artifacts in your various museums adds even more time to an already ponderous late game pace. And while I like the changes to the culture mechanic, there’s nothing in this game that compares to the satisfying feeling of taking a great prophet or two into an enemy empire and papal-bombing their holy city.

In the end, how you view this expansion really depends on how you view the base game. If you weren’t a fan already, this won’t sway you. If, however, this game provoked some “one more turn” flashbacks – as it did with me – you’ll find this a worthy addition to your civ library. At least, until Civ VI comes out…

8 Cloned Fedoras out of 10

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