Sid Meier's Civilization VI: Rise and Fall (PC) Review

By Chris Leebody 26.02.2018

Review for Sid Meier

Like the changing of the seasons, a Civilization expansion pass is nothing new. Firaxis Games has established a pattern that many have followed - introducing Rise and Fall and with it bringing some new additions and tweaks to the rule-set. Of course, Civilization VI was already an excellent experience, as Cubed3 can attest to. However, as the name implies, this new expansion is all about refining the turn-to-turn pattern of gameplay and trying to emulate the historical precedent of civilisations that have had periods of golden prosperity and then, conversely, find themselves on the brink of oblivion. The promise is a more structured goal system that encourages closer attention to detail and also rewards the achievement of developing a famous (or infamous) civilisation for the ages. Alongside this, of course, are the usual array of new leaders and civilisations, with a smattering of additional units and wonders to build. It is available now for £24.99 and requires the base game to play.

The most notable and game changing feature of Rise and Fall is undoubtedly the separation of ages into set time periods and then granting beneficial or negative bonuses based on how that age was managed. What this means is that the civilisation seems to have a more natural progression as various objectives are carried out throughout. Discover a great natural monument before any other civilisation and this grants a value. Same when it comes to establishing diplomatic relations with a tribe or founding the first religion.

Add up all these values and when the clock counter turns into the new age, for example, from the modern to the industrial, each civilisation is assigned the time as its "Dark Age" or "Normal Age" or "Golden Age." The positive of a golden age, for example, may grant prosperous gold bonuses to trade; conversely a dark age impacts on the loyalty of all cities and leads to the potential of more rebellion.

Screenshot for Sid Meier's Civilization VI: Rise and Fall on PC

Overall, this system is actually very well designed and conceived. As it says on the tin, it gives civilisations more grounding in reality and sets up more challenging scenarios, even within different points of a game. One age can be easy and suddenly the next challenging as a rival suddenly becomes the dominant force and encourages the player to go the extra mile to catch up. What is pleasing is that it is not as binary as it seems. The obvious question is just "make sure you are always in a golden age." However, firstly this is not as easy as it seems and, secondly, despite the appearance, Firaxis has encouraged the use of strategically accepting dark ages, as if performance in a dark age is exceptional it will lead to a "Heroic Age," which is even more beneficial than a golden one.

More fundamental, however, is that unlike in previous Civilization titles, when it was too easy for less skilled leaders to always stay on an even level with everyone else in the field, this new system forces everyone into each age and ensures that generally no one can fall too far behind and be stuck with cavalry against tanks. It is possible that some may have a criticism over the benefits of a golden age being too great and this has been articulated among the community. However, generally the experience Cubed3 has is that the whole system works well. It is also visually pleasing that each achievement is not simply a statistic on some menu but rather a kind of tapestry displays a visual portrait of a civilisation's achievements and history.

Screenshot for Sid Meier's Civilization VI: Rise and Fall on PC

As mentioned above, briefly, the negatives from a dark age mainly come in the form of penalties to loyalty, a new system added to each individual city. A city with a falling loyalty to the leadership has the potential to lead to rebellion. A dark age can suddenly lead to a fascinating sub-game of internal civil war and a battle to re-establish order. If a city rebels, it will become a free city, which is also subject to its own (and other civilisation) loyalty influence, which means that it can either be crushed by military power alone, or the strategic influence placed upon it by neighbours.

The idea of loyalty values in cities not original in the grand strategy genre, however, it is always pleasing when it is implemented in a way that balances the challenge of having different conflicts and civilisations and also stopping any player getting into the rut of winning, whilst, at the same time, not becoming annoying and a whack-a-mole competition. Thankfully, Civilization VI balances this successfully.

One of the additional new features in the expansion for controlling loyalty and also developing cities is the new governor units that can be recruited, developed, and assigned into cities. Gaining governor titles gives the option of either recruiting a new one or promoting an existing one with extra bonuses. They each have their own specialisation and it gives all sorts of exciting strategic choices when it comes to shaping the particular civilisation one wants to build. In fact, it goes down to the deeper level of further emphasising each city as its own separate mini entity. The base game did this excellently with districts, and so on, and Rise and Fall pushes the boat further.

Screenshot for Sid Meier's Civilization VI: Rise and Fall on PC

Victor, for example, is a military-focused governor who will give all sorts of benefits when it comes to city defence; whereas Liang is purely about promoting commercial and production growth. There are a multitude of different options. Some of the more 'cosmetic' changes with the expansion include nine new leaders and, of course, with them new bonus abilities and some new individual units. In addition are eight new world wonders and fourteen new buildings - mostly new wonders to construct.

The only new addition that doesn't work so well here is the 'global emergency.' It is a shame because on paper the idea is an excellent one - if something happens, say a great city is taken by a hostile ruler or a faction launches an unprovoked nuclear strike, the system is intended to encourage all the other leaders to band together in a coalition to take them down.

It would have been great to see a genuine banding together as armies marched together across the map in the name of common good. Sadly, the AI is not quite there yet when it comes to co-ordination and, more often than not, the great crusades end up being minor border skirmishes as rogue units are despatched by the belligerent with ease.

Screenshot for Sid Meier's Civilization VI: Rise and Fall on PC

Cubed3 Rating

9/10
Rated 9 out of 10

Exceptional - Gold Award

Rated 9 out of 10

Quite simply, Rise and Fall is a must-buy expansion for any Civilization VI owner. The fundamental core of the experience has, of course, not been radically changed - however it didn't need to. Rather, what has been added is a refinement that encourages strategic development and thinking and gives a constant treadmill of challenges to overcome in order to create the greatest civilisation. The loyalty mechanic accompanies this all nicely by again increasing the difficulty curve by just the right amount to avoid annoyance. The disappointment about the global emergencies does not detract from the experience enough to consider Rise and Fall anything other than a triumph.

Developer

Firaxis

Publisher

2K

Genre

Strategy

Players

1

C3 Score

Rated $score out of 10  9/10

Reader Score

Rated $score out of 10  0 (0 Votes)

European release date Out now   North America release date Out now   Japan release date Out now   Australian release date Out now   

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