on July 10, 2013
Brave New World introduces 9 new civilizations, new scenarios, new units/buildings, and a few new mechanics to the game world.
The biggest changes are revolving around the new Trade Route system, new cultural victory, introduction of ideology, and World Congress.
When you start a new game you can create a trade route using a unit called a Caravan. The number of trade routes you can create increases as you progress your civilization through the game. You can also gain additional trade routes through the construction of specific wonders. Trade Routes may be sent from one of your cities to another or from one of your cities to another civilization or city-state. When choosing where to send the Trade Route you will be shown the benefits of each option for your civilization as well as the other civilization/city-state (if applicable). For instance: You receive +1 Science, +2 Gold, while they receive +1 Science, +1 Gold, or something similar. You can also pressure other civilizations to convert to your religion through these trade routes.
New Cultural Victory:
The new culture system is much more dynamic than it was previously; evolving from a number you gained every turn amplified by buildings/wonders to a system that is much more interactive. Buildings like museums now have slots for different kinds of great works that are created by the three types of special cultural units, the 'Great Artist', 'Great Writer', and 'Great Musician'. The Great works created by the Artists, Writers, and Musician all boost your civilization's tourism output. Tourism is a new resource helps you gain sway over the other civilizations by making them envious of your great works of art, writing, or music. You can also swap the great works you have with another civilization if you find yourself with an abundance of one type but lacking another. Another new aspect of culture is the introduction of Archaeologists, who can find artifacts from ancient battles that occurred earlier in your game to boost your culture/tourism.
Once you reach the modern era (or construct 3 factories, whichever comes first) you can choose an ideology (Freedom/Order/Autocracy) which helps guide your civilization for the later parts of the game. Whichever you choose will either bring you closer with other civilizations with the same choice, or may drive you away from civilizations that chose a different ideology.
The World Congress (and later the United Nations) is possibly my favorite new aspect of the expansion. Throughout the later part of the game you vote along with your fellow civilizations on many different things. You can tax large standing armies if one civilization is bullying the others, you can choose who is going to hold the world games, you can limit particular resources, vote on nuclear weapon usage, and MANY other things. It makes you interact with civilizations that you usually would not contact often and adds another layer of strategy and makes the end of the game much more interesting.
If you enjoyed Civilization V, I would say this is a great buy. It adds more layers to the game and makes the later stages of the game much more interesting and fun to play. I really enjoy the game I played through, and will update this review as needed.
*PS* - This game includes the religion and espionage mechanics that were in the Gods & Kings expansion, so you DO NOT need to buy that expansion to get this one! If you did choose to skip the Gods & Kings expansion, however, you will be without the civilizations/wonders/scenarios that are introduced in that expansion. So while you can play this expansion only previously owning the original Civilization V, you will not receive all of the content within Gods & Kings.
EDIT - 7/10/2013 - Expanded on the PS note to include additional information regarding the Gods & Kings expansion.
*Thanks to Mike for the feedback on the PS note.
on July 14, 2013
In my review of the previous Civilization V expansion - Sid Meier's Civilization V: Gods and Kings - I concluded by stating that Gods & Kings makes Civilization V the best Civilization game yet. Well, as it turns out, Civilization V could get even better, and it just did with the new Brave New World expansion.
Let me first say that the $29.96 price of this expansion is a steal, because this expansion comes pretty darn close to making this game Civilization VI. There is so much new content here that it is difficult to know where to start with this review.
Let's first begin by discussing the new Trade mechanic. Originally trade in Civilization V was fairly rudimentary- you exchange one luxury resource for another luxury resource with another civilization. The Brave New World expansion preserves this aspect, but also opens up a whole new avenue of trading with other civilizations/nations and City States. This is accomplished through the use of two new units: caravans and cargo ships. With these new units, you can set up trade routes with other civilizations and city states as a source of gold for your nation. However, there is a great deal of complexity built into this new trading mechanic, because when you trade with another nation not only is gold exchanged but also possibly science and/or religious influence. In other words, while trading with a particular rival nation might net you a bunch of gold, is it worth the extra science the other nation gets from the deal (if you are ahead of them technologically) and the opposing religious influence brought against you? This can lead to some tough, but delightfully entertaining, decisions. Also, you are free (and other nations are free) to pillage a trade route, but that can lead to negative diplomatic repercussions with the nation you pillage.
The next new gameplay system is the Tourism mechanic. Culture still functions the same way as it always has in Civilization V- you build up Culture with various buildings (amphitheaters, opera houses, etc.) in your cities until you build enough Culture to "level up" your civilization with new enhancements. However, the way of achieving a "cultural victory" has changed. Now, when you generate a Great Artist, Great Musician, or Great Writer, you can cash them in for a one-time benefit (big culture boost, start a Golden Age, etc.), or you can use them to create a "Great Work" in one of your cities (provided that you have constructed a building in one of your cities that can hold it), and that generates tourism. Tourism can then spread your culture to other nations. If you are able to build up enough tourism that overwhelms your rival nations, you win the game via a Cultural Victory.
The new Tourism gameplay system makes building cultural buildings and cultural Wonders of the World more enjoyable and more important than it was previously. Added to this is the new Archaeologist unit- essentially an Indiana Jones-eque unit that you can send to "Antiquity Sites" on the map (for example, where a previous battle in your game took place) to extract artifacts that will generate culture and tourism.
Finally, the last major gameplay enhancement is the new World Congress (and its successor later in the game - the United Nations). This is where you have the opportunity to propose various resolutions - imposing an embargo on a bully nation, banning the use of a particular luxury, launching an international project (where if you contribute the most production, you get a major bonus), etc. Civilization V's diplomacy system has been enhanced as it has gone through various patches and the Gods & Kings expansion, but it has now reached its apex in the Brave New World expansion because now you can bargain with your rival nations for their votes at the World Congress/U.N.
Also, the espionage mechanic introduced in the Gods & Kings expansion is further enhanced in Brave New World because now when you send an agent to a rival nation, you are given a choice - do you want your agent to be a spy or a diplomat? A spy can be used to gather intrigue on the rival nation and attempt to steal technologies. On the other hand, a diplomat can be used to influence the rival nation's vote at the World Congress / U.N. This interplay between diplomacy, espionage, and the World Congress/U.N. opens up a whole new level of complexity that Civilization V lacked before, and it is immensely rewarding and entertaining.
On top of all of the above-mentioned enhancements, we also get the usual new units/buildings/improvements that you would expect from an expansion pack. Also, there are also new additions to the Social Policy Tree called Ideologies that are unlocked after you build 3 factories or enter the Modern Age - Autocracy, Freedom, and Order. The ideologies grant your civilization further enhancements/perks tailored to the particular ideology you choose. Want to build a nation similar to the United States (Freedom), or try your hand at a Soviet style nation (Order)? You now have your chance.
If you combine this expansion with the original Civilization V game and the Gods & Kings expansion, you truly have the complete Civilization experience. The possibilities are now almost truly endless - want to start a major religion, conduct war/peace with nations and city states, engage in trade with other nations, conduct espionage and diplomacy, wheel and deal with your rivals at the World Congress / United Nations, create classic works of art/music/writing to create an empire of tourism and make you the envy of the world, etc.? I could go on, but you get the idea of the amount of complexity at your command now.
The only thing negative I can say about this expansion is that, if you are not careful, you will find yourself losing copious amounts of sleep (as I have, unfortunately) playing it. That, more than anything, is the best compliment you can give to a Civilization game. If you have any interest in human history and/or computer games, you owe it to yourself to get this marvelous game.
on July 11, 2013
I was with most people when Civ V was first released--it felt like a step backward after Civ IV. I still enjoyed it, but the game was very simplified compared to Civ IV. Gods and Kings certainly improved the game some with the addition of religion and espionage again, but it still felt a little empty at times to me. Now having played Brave New World, I can confidently say that Civ 5 has surpassed Civ IV as my favorite Civilization game.
My preferred play style as always been cultural/diplomatic victories, so obviously this expansion is geared more toward the player I am (as opposed to warlord players). Previously, cultural victories largely just revolved around making three cities, lots of wonders, and being the first to unlock all your social policies. Now, it is much more complex and challenging and requires strategy (not just building The Oracle before one of the AIs does). It also doesn't punish you as much for building more than three cities (since Social Policies are basically just a perk, and not required to win).
It seems they've really improved the AI as well. I normally play on King as my default difficulty, but I was really struggling against the AI on that difficulty. Likewise, Barbarians are much more aggressive now. They upgrade their units much quicker and even attack your cities now. In the past, I've largely been able to survive with one or two warriors pretty much up until the Medieval Age (assuming I wasn't directly next to Genghis Khan or Montezuma or something) because Barbiarans largely just kept throwing warriors or archers at you, which were easy to kill. It appears now though that there are lots of Barbarian-specific units that will constantly rampage your city. The improved AI of the barbarians definitely adds a new challenge to the early game.
Overall, this expansion is really great. It's brought Civ V up to the caliber that the previous Civilization games had established. It's a shame we had to wait for two expansion to get the game to that point, but I really think the developers have done a great job improving this game.
on July 15, 2013
This review is based on the 7-ish hours I put in to the expansion so far. I played one game to a culture victory as the Polish, so my opinions reflect that game, and I haven't experienced this from another civilization's standpoint.
I put in probably 500 hours into Civilization IV in my high school days and another couple hundred after the BTS expansion and the Fall From Heaven II mod came out. Managing an empire was a lot of work, too much in fact, as the expansions added a lot of new gameplay, an almost overwhelming amount. When Civilization V came out, I was one of the few that loved it. I loved the new UI, the hex grid, and most of all, the combat system and finite resources. It all just made sense. But it was a bit buggy and simplified, even compared to vanilla CivIV. Gods and Kings added religion and espionage. I loved the religion part, but I never cared for espionage, since I felt it penalized the more technologically advanced countries.
This expansion couldn't be any better (okay, it would be better if it had the kinds of mods CivIV had). Before playing the game, I was expecting to have a ton of new features thrown in my face which would get me confused, but instead, I was eased into it throughout the game. The first new feature they give you are trade routes. You have a certain number available at any one time, and you can build caravan units up to the limit. Then you set a destination, and they give bonuses to the home and the destination until it returns, then you send them out again. You earn money and spread your religion along the routes, or you can set a route to your own cities to provide extra food.
Then you get tourism, a tool to a culture victory. The old culture victory was bland. Just stay small, stay out of war, and horde a bunch of wonders. Now, you get more great people who create great works. Great works provide tourism points. But you need certain buildings to put these works. For example, a museum can hold one great work of art, an opera house can hold one great composition, and I library can hold one great writing. To win the culture victory, you need to have a tourism level that surpasses everyone's culture level. It requires a lot more planning and thinking, and if you play right and pick the right religious beliefs, social policies, and technologies, you can get multipliers to tourism to boost it to incredibly high levels.
As you get into the later game, as religion wears off, and your high-ranking spies are keeping your own cities safe, you get access to the world congress, much like the CivIV version, but much improved. Instead of one country, one vote, you get delegates, which, in the later game, are controlled by you number of city-state allies. I ignored the city states through most of the game and I proposed to make my religion the world religion. It failed and I was voted off the congress. My replacement then proposed banning salt. I controlled all the world's salt and traded it often. Since the majority of other countries didn't like me, I new it would pass, so I went around to the city states and bought delegates from them. When voting came around, I threw all my delegates at that single proposition, ignoring the other one. I got my way, used my delegates to elect myself again, and then proceeded to pass the one religion law. I then one a culture victory.
The new expansion adds so much more depth to the middle late game without being overwhelming. It really gets you to think, and I am happy that I pre-ordered. If you own gods and kings, this is a must. And if you only have vanilla CivV, and enjoy it at all, this will add a whole lot to it.
I played a few more games, and my opinion of the game is that it is even better than what I initially thought. I left out the new ideology system from my original review, simply because I wasn't far enough into the game to really get an idea of how they work. I played 3 more games, each to a domination victory, a diplomatic victory, and a science victory (and of course, the culture victory as I described above), and since I got far into the late game, I got to see ideologies in effect, and how the world congress becomes the United Nations.
Ideologies were advertised as a separate kind of social policy tree that have diplomatic effects. But it is much more than that. Each civilization gives off pressure with the use of open borders, trade routes, and tourism. The more pressure you receive, the more your citizens want that ideology. There are 4 different public opinions: content, dissidents, civil resistance, and revolutionary wave. The lower the public opinion, the more unhappiness you get. And now, unhappiness leads to different outcomes. At 1-9 unhappiness, your cities and soldiers are less efficient. At 10-19 unhappiness, your citizens will arm themselves and appear as barbarians to attempt to overthrow your rule, and at 20-29 unhappiness, your citizens will start to revolt, and find the nearest civilization with their preferred ideology, and flip to that civilization (yes, city flipping is finally back!!) And at 30+ unhappiness, your citizens will start a revolution and switch ideologies for you. In my game, I came close to that happening. I chose the order ideology, and everything was fine until Brazil, whose culture was influential over mine, chose freedom. My civilization immediately went into civil resistance. I used most of my gold buying buildings to keep them happy, but it didn't accomplish a whole lot. More and more civilizations chose freedom, and the pressure kept building until I hit revolutionary wave. My approval rating dropped from an already low 27% to an astonishing 0%. I was only 3 turns away from starting to lose my cities to my neighbors. But others chose order, and the pressure lightened, and I put down the revolts with my military. I closed off relations with Brazil until their influence dropped, and over a long period of time, I grew at the World Congress until I passed my UN proposal to make order the world ideology. The tables turned and the pressure from the UN put Brazil into civil resistance. And you can, yourself change ideologies at the cost of a couple turns of anarchy (cities produce nothing) and losing 2 items off the ideology tree.
The other thing I forgot to mention was changes to diplomacy. Now, spies can enter other civilizations, not as spies, but as diplomats. Diplomats enable you to make deals with a civilization on World Congress votes. You can ask them to vote a certain way in exchange for anything you can bring to the table. Also your number of delegates, as I said before, are based on your city state allies. But as you progress through the eras, they become more important and give you more delegates. Also enacting a world religion or world ideology will give 2 delegates for each separate proposal to each civilization which follows that ideology or religion. And after researching globalization, you earn 1 delegate for each diplomat. Once the vote for world leader comes around, if no world leader is chosen, the 2 civilizations with the highest number of votes each receive one extra delegate. So at the beginning of the world congress, you may have 3 or 4 delegates if your lucky, but if you play right, negotiate, bribe city states, you'll end up in excess of 20 and win the diplomatic victory. I had to stage 3 very risky coups in order to win. I made enemies with my UN proposals to get me more delegates, and it took 3 sessions of world leader voting before I was finally chosen.
I felt before that this expansion was on a par with Civilization 4 Beyond the Sword, but now that I put more time into it, I can say this is the best expansion pack ever. Before, I would play a game, and save it, hoping to come back. But I would end up starting fresh since I new the game would get boring. Now I can't wait to play the late game. It goes from fighting with iron, spreading religion, and snooping on other players, to playing dirty politics, manipulating the UN, and spreading your government.
Also the new xcom squad unit is my new favorite unit. I have never played xcom, but this unit is a lot of fun.
on July 12, 2013
When I first got Civ V, I loved it. Starting with Revolution back in 2008, I saw that it expanded upon the bite size console version, and I absolutely LOVED the hex grid. In fact, the hex grid is so good, it's hard for me to try IV due to the fact that you can stack units and the tiles are squares. However, once the initial luster wore off, I was deeply disappointed by how flat it was. The AI was completely bonkers (Montezuma, that is all), and you feasibly couldn't play the game on a difficulty above prince, and you could only play prince half the time and win due to the AI being so darn aggressive. The AI also got significant bonuses that you didn't (How does the enemy have twice as many specialized cities as me, but also have 82 happiness, a massive army, and a flourishing economy?), yet despite being so powerful, they had the tactical strategy of a vegetable. While Gods and Kings added cool new stuff to the game, it didn't fix the core mechanics. Montezuma would no longer be the bane of your existence, but the AI still got massive bonuses because they were alive by programming, not procreation, in addition, I also thought that the civilizations that were focused on religion (The Celts, Ethiopia, Byzantium) got way too big of bonuses.
However, this is no longer the case. It took some getting used to, but neutering the gold yields on all tiles except ones with luxury resources caused the monkey wrench to be thrown into the enemy war machine. I actually was rewarded for expanding my empire and focusing on diplomatic relations with city states, rather than being punished by an army of keshiks or jaguar warriors razing my cities to the ground. While I feel that this does kind of make a domination victory more difficult, I don't have to worry about the AI getting a pre-programmed bonus anymore, because when looking at the demographics of the other civs, the values actually make sense. No longer am I scratching my head wondering why Babylon has 20 happiness at the beginning of the game, despite having three cities founded with a healthy population, little luxury resources, and a massive army. That's simply not the case. This would be a problem for people who want a significant challenge in the game, but as for me, I'd rather not have the computer get hefty bonuses over me at the start of the game, regardless of which difficulty I play on. It's much more balanced, and a welcome addition.
Another thing I praise is how much smarter they made the AI. I'm not going to get chastised anymore by other civilizations because Montezuma was being a jerk with how rapidly he was expanding into lands that are clearly in my vicinity, and I decided to declare war on him to teach him some manners (and take Tenochtitlan). However, the AI aren't going to just randomly move units around anymore. They actually strategically set up bombardment points for support units, and won't have their melee troops just sit in a corner to be bombarded by my support troops. They'll actually get out of dodge.
In conclusion, while not a perfect game, nor a perfect Civilization game, all the stink from Vanilla Civ V has been covered with a delicious, chocolaty DLC coating of wonderful AI patches, and gameplay tweaks. The cultural victory is much more engaging, diplomacy isn't about bending to the will of everyone, or get nuked by Gandhi, and the new Civilizations are cool (ZULU'S BACK!) and offer great bonuses, but don't feel completely pigeonholed into the game (Portugal and Brazil maybe, France didn't need to be changed, but all the other civilizations offer a relatively unique and balanced experience.) So, if you're looking to make your Civ V game playable, get this game. Gods and Kings not required, as their mechanics are in the game, but you're also not getting the 9 civilizations that came with the previous expansion, and some of them are definitely worth getting (Sweden/Mayans).
When Civ V was first released, I was deeply unimpressed. I hated (and still dislike and find pointless), the hex grid. I hated the non-stackable units. I hated the lack of religion and espionage. Really, there was almost nothing that I DID like about it, and it wasn't long before I wrote it off as totally broken and started playing Civ IV again.
Time passed, and the first expansion was released. That changed the game significantly, and suddenly made it actually playable. That trend towards being a good game continues with this expansion which, I am pleased to say, has finally "fixed" the game to the point where I no longer consider it broken and instead consider it to be very good. Good enough that I might finally leave Civ IV behind.
This expansion adds, as you'd expect, plenty of new Civs. You get the return of the Zulus, whose omission came as a Shaka to everyone (I'm sorry...I'm so, so sorry...). You also get completely new Civs, like Brazil, Poland, Inodnesia and Morocco. You even get Venice, which you play as only one city. That makes for an interesting experience.
The expansion also adds trade routes. Now you can build caravans and cargo ships, and actually engage in basic commerce with your neighbors. The mechanics are a little more choppy than I'd like, and I hate having to constantly select new routes, but it's still nice to have them.
You also get a few new religions, and Christianity has become nice and factionalized, though I'm confused as to why we only have one sect of Islam to pick from. There's also some new techs, like archaeology, and new units, like the archaeologist.
Probably the biggest change in the game mechanics is the World Council. It's a group similar to the UN that's automatically unlocked by the first Civ to make contact with every other Civ in the game. That first Civ also gets to control it, at least initially. The way it works is that you propose an idea, and then about 90 turns later (this interval decreases as game time goes on), everyone votes. You can even use diplomacy to persuade your neighbors to vote the way you want them to.
For example, while playing Brazil, I unlocked and controlled the council. I suggested a World's Fair. I then persuaded my ally, Austria, to vote in favor of the idea. They did, and eventually the idea was accepted. Everyone began developing their Civs for the fair. The civilization who completed it, me, then gets 100% extra culture for 20 turns. Not too shabby, and well worth it.
So diplomacy is a major aspect of the game now. You also get tourists, which help to spread your culture far and wide. Then there's the various ideologies that you can unlock. I haven't done that yet, so I can't comment on them, but I am looking very forward to it.
To sum up. This is a great expansion. If you like the base game even slightly, you owe it to yourself to try the expansion. It's very, very good. Now if you'll excuse me, I need to go invade Rome.
on November 27, 2013
Each new expansion to Civ 5 just makes the game better and better. I love the new changes to the policy and end game ideology trees. The new world congress / UN is awesome fun. I like the new culture victory changes, but I'm not 100% sold on them. So I hope they'll tweak them in the next expansion. Also, the new scenarios (specifically the civil war & Africa expansion) are fantastic. If you have Civ 5, you're cheating yourself out of great fun if you don't get this expansion.
on January 13, 2014
Civ V is a great game, but it shipped a bit incomplete. This expansion makes it whole. Gods and Kings added religion and espionage, and now BNW adds tourism (which functions similar to the way religion and corporation worked in Civ IV) and Archaeology, a whole new mechanic that allows players to gain culture, art, and tourism by digging through the locations where important things happened in the early eras of the game.
Cultural victories are finally a viable (and engaging) pursuit with BNW, though I still vastly prefer to play against humans, as the AI is not much improved.
on May 26, 2014
Well, it sure took them long enough. The original Civ V was glitch, buggy, and the fold-out paper tech tree was obsolete after the first patch or two. On top of that, the on-line multiplayer was agonizingly slow -- when it worked at all. Gods & Kings repaired the mess and added a number of nice features, but it still seemed a bit lacking. Finally, with Brave New World, we get a full-featured game of Civilization worthy of its esteemed ancestors. Civilization IV, R.I.P.
The most significant changes involve the middle- to end-game, where Tourism (an offshoot of Culture) becomes a major victory consideration, as does the more beefed-up (some might say TOO beefed-up) World Congress/United Nations. Eventually you can supplement your Social Policy selections with an Ideology (Autocracy, Order, Freedom) to help you achieve your goals. A.I. will respond accordingly (befriending you if the Ideology is shared, or vice-versa). The Archaeology tech enables you to build archaeologists, who you can send anywhere in the world to dig up artifacts and either create landmarks or put the unearthed treasures in your culture buildings. Raiders of the Lost Ark, anyone? Meanwhile, maintaining good relations with A.I. civs is more critical than ever, because global votes can be crippling (trade embargoes, banned luxury resources, global ideologies, etc.).
All of which combines to give an aspiring "Ruler of the (not just free) World" plenty to think, plot, and scheme about.
Side note: I have no idea why the digital download is still full price while the box DVD is barely half that, but if you've waited this long, you can afford to wait a few days, save money, and order the box.
on November 11, 2013
A much needed expansion to the late game, and bless my heart, the game is actually playable now. I've no idea if multiplayer is still the disaster it used to be, but enough has been added that the game is genuinely engaging at times. A minor gripe is that the concept of DLC for a game like this strains credulity. also, while i genuinely appreciate the narration William Morgan Sheppard provides, he lamentably cannot hold a candle to Leonard Nemoy's narration from civ 4.