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Sid Meier's Civilization VI

Platform(s): Nintendo Switch, PC, PlayStation 4, Xbox One
Genre: Strategy
Publisher: 2K Games
Developer: Firaxis Games
Release Date: Oct. 21, 2016


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PC Review - 'Sid Meier's Civilization VI' Rise and Fall Expansion

by Chris "Atom" DeAngelus on April 25, 2018 @ 1:30 a.m. PDT

Sid Meier's Civilization VI is a turn-based strategy that offers players new ways to interact with their world, expand their empire across the map, advance their culture, and compete against history’s greatest leaders to build a civilization to stand the test of time.

Buy Sid Meier's Civilization VI

Civilization games are made or broken by their expansion packs. It's common to hear fans of the franchise claim that a specific game only became good after a specific expansion, or that a certain expansion ruined the game. That's why Civilization VI's first expansion was awaited with bated breath. Would it lift the game into a golden era or plunge it into darkness? Unfortunately Rise and Fall does neither. It's about as safe and simple of an expansion that you can hope for, which is perhaps both a relief and a disappointment.

As in any good Civilization expansion, you can expect a smattering of new basic features. This includes nine new leaders, including famous faces like Genghis Kahn, as well as a number of new buildings, units, wonders and the like. The most significant addition is governors, which are sort of like mini-leaders. They can be assigned to a specific city to give it bonuses and focus that city in a specific direction. However, the governors can also be taken out of action, so they're a risky target if you assign them to a poorly defended city.

The biggest addition to Rise and Fall is Ages, which are governed by your Era score. to Increase your Era score by completing era-appropriate tasks, such as finding a tribal village. As you progress, you'll conquer civilizations, discover wonders, invent new technologies, or other historic moments to improve your nation. By and large, your Era score revolves around things you're already doing, but it adds extra pressure to focus on attaining historic moments instead of playing it safe.

When a specific era of the world ends, your Era score is calculated, and you can end up in one of three eras. If you have a medium Era score, you'll enter the default Normal era, which results in no effects or bonuses. If you're above a certain threshold, you'll enter a Golden Age, where your citizens are more loyal and you get bonuses based on Dedications, which tailor how your civilization develops.

On the other hand, falling below the threshold unlocks a Dark Age, which means your citizens are less loyal and you don't gain any bonuses. It isn't all bad news, though. You gain access to policy cards that are exclusive to the Dark Age, and they have significant advantages and disadvantages. For example, you can start an inquisition, which boosts the power of your religious units but reduces science production, or you can create an elite military force who are powerful but expensive to maintain.

It sounds like you should be avoiding the Dark Ages, but they're a period of weakness, not necessarily failure. Similar to how you can guide a Golden Age with proper civilization micromanagement, you can also guide a Dark Age. If you're clever, you can go from a Dark Age right into a Golden Age, which creates a so-called Heroic Age and provides a massive boost via enhanced Dedication bonuses. It can be beneficial to soldier through a Dark Age if you know the Heroic Age is going to pay off.

The Rise and Fall mechanic is an interesting layer to add to the Civilization VI gameplay, but at the same time, it feels weak. It doesn't change how you play the game; at best, it narrows your choices slightly so you can focus on the same strategy you'd have picked anyway. There wasn't a point where the ages changed how I approached a situation. If I wanted to focus on a religious bonus, then I kept focusing on it. If I wanted to be military, well, I was still military.

All of these new features play into the Loyalty mechanic, which is both interesting and annoying. Citizens' loyalty depends on your success how kind you are to them. This mechanic feels like an attempt to add balance to military units. Previously, the ability to curb-stomp foes made it too easy to achieve military victories. Military buildup and garrisons have a lot of power but make citizens less loyal, which can lead to rebellion. It's a weird mechanic that serves its purpose, but it rarely feels fun and leads to defensive and static play because it's too easy to lose a developing city, especially early on.

The biggest problem with Civilization VI: Rise and Fall is that it's not a really big expansion. The new features are nice, but they don't fundamentally change the game. The new bonuses and civilizations are fun, and overall, they don't detract from the experience. At the same time, it's hard to call it essential. In addition, there are a handful of new features, particularly Loyalty, which detract from the game without adding much to it. There's no real reason to go for Rise and Fall unless you're a huge Civ VI nut who needs more content. The line between expansion and DLC is thin, and Rise and Fall lands right on the line. It's worth buying if you want more Civilization, but casual players may want to wait for a price drop or a meatier expansion.

Score: 7.0/10

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