Previews// Civilization V: Brave New World

Posted 12 Apr 2013 13:49 by
Anyone who?s played Sid Meier?s Civilization V will know that it?s the real-time strategy equivalent to crack cocaine. If you?ve ever had crack cocaine. I haven?t. I just assumed... anyway, so Civ V is addictive, right? And Firaxis has pretty much nailed down the experience of creating an empire and leading it to victory.

But one area which has needed improvement is the late game action. Once a player reaches the midway section of their journey to world conquest, a lot of the discoveries have already been made and you?re really just going through the motions in an attempt to hurry through the building of atomic bombs and giant death robots.

Enter this latest expansion pack, titled Brave New World. It includes a lot of new features that aim to bring that early-game experience into the final moments of a match. I?m not sure if it will make the action as exciting, to be honest with you, but it will certainly spice things up and provide a lot of interesting scenarios.

The first new feature focuses on international trade. As soon as you have enough science to learn the Animal Husbandry tech, you can use horses to build a Caravan unit. These are automated units that can be directed towards city states or other empires to trade goods and other valuables. Building a Granary will allow trade of food, for instance, while having a Workshop in your empire means you can offer various products.

As you grow your kingdom to the vast reaches of the sea, you will be able to build a Cargo Ship too, which works in a similar way to a Caravan (you simply tell it which destination to go and trade, and the computer does the rest) only it can carry a lot more items, meaning more wonga. You?re able to see, before you hit a city, how much each party will benefit in terms of gold, production, science and culture.

Culture is now much more important with the Brave New World expansion. You don?t have to worry about completing five Policy trees to obtain a cultural victory - in fact, the Utopia Project option is gone from that menu, with policies simply serving as a means to benefit you as you grow your empire. How culture really helps in earning you a peaceful victory is with a new currency known as ?tourism?.

With tourism, you can win over city states and other empires by spreading your influence across the land. You generate tourism by having Great People, building Wonders and creating Great Works. Winning over other cities is effectively a cultural arms race - your tourism level is constantly compared against your rivals? lifetime culture progress throughout the game. Beat that, and you?ve practically conquered them.

Great Works are new commodities, and can be made by Great People. So now, along with the ability to construct a landmark in your empire or start a Golden Age for your people, you now have the option for a Great Artist to make a painting which will raise the city?s tourism value. A new unit, the Great Musician, can use these Great Works both offensively and defensively - you can either let him create a new orchestral work in your empire, or send him off to another city to perform on a ?Tour? which will convert a number of citizens to your culture cause and bring more tourism your way.

You can also theme your cities by moving Great Works and People around. If you wanted to focus an area purely on artwork, you can do so by building galleries and assigning the relevant Great Works there for bonuses. Invasions by other players can put your culture at risk, however, so to stop others from taking your culture progress for themselves, you need to strategically place and move Great Works around your empire.

There are also diplomatic benefits to discovering all the major players in the game. Meet all the empires and create a printing press to establish the World Congress. This can provide late-game twists on established game rules. Every 30 turns or so, every nation proposes and votes on two policies that can change the way the world is governed. These policies can either benefit everyone (World Fairs, International Games), can benefit one particular city or region (arts funding), or can put others at a disadvantage (blocking trade between cities or banning a particular produce). The more delegates you have in your empire, the bigger swing you have when pushing your own policies through.

Archaeology has a bigger impact in the game too. This, quite brilliantly, comes in the form of building your own Time Team-style units to go digging for treasure in the late stages of the game. These treasures are actually relics from past events that transpired throughout your game in earlier eras. Successfully digging up a item will present you with two choices - create a Great Work for a cultural victory, or build a landmark to protect the dig site from outside influence and drive tourism. It?s worth noting that you can send your Archaeologists to dig sites in other cities too - although your neighbours might not take too kindly to that.

And you?ll be keeping good company in Civ V: Brave New World. Well, all except for one. Among the nine new civs included are Poland (which allows you to build a powerful horseback military unit called the Winged Hussar), Portugal (offering special Nau trade ships and the Vaetoria, a fortified trade building) and the Zulus. The latter is a fan favourite, whose whole purpose is to be a right pain in the arse. They?re constantly aggressive, and as a result are loads of fun.

Brave New World ticks a lot of late-game boxes here for even the most experienced Civ V player. We can?t wait to get our hands on the finished product this June.

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