Title: Sid Meier’s Civilization VI: Rise and Fall
Where To Buy: Steam
Although Sid Meier’s Civilization series is generally king of the mountain in the 4X strategy genre, the most recent entries share a commonality: it is not usually until a few expansions in that the game truly finds its stride and achieves greatness. Civilization VI did its best to buck that trend, as the base game released with tons of fresh ideas and plenty of content. That makes the Rise and Fall expansion not entirely essential (like, say, Gods & Kings was for Civilization V), but it packs a lot of content and tons of improvement on the base game that should make it an instant purchase for anyone who still says “Just one more turn…” at 2 AM.
One of the big draws of a Civilization expansion is in the new factions to play: new leaders, unique units, and improvements enter the fold and can dramatically shift how you approach a campaign. Civilization VI: Rise and Fall introduces nine new leaders, eight of which are for brand new civilizations to lead. Chandragupta is the only new leader to an existing faction, giving players an alternative to the nuke-happy Gandhi if they choose India. Each of these new leaders packs unique content, and several of them bring entirely new ideas into the fold. The Dutch, the Cree, the Scots, and the Zulu are just some of the new leaders, and tailoring their strengths to your own playstyle would make the price of the expansion worth the cost on its own.
Other new features to Civilization VI: Rise and Fall include city loyalty, the governor system, global eras (including golden and dark ages), global emergencies, and a personal timeline. In addition to brand new features, Rise and Fall also offers revamping of systems that were fairly bare in the base game, like alliances and government progression. Each of these new systems adds wrinkles into the strategy of Civilization VI, and offers players new ways to conquer the world.
City loyalty allows cities to be influenced by the culture, proximity, and religion of nearby groups. This can cause riots to break out in cities that are far away from the capital, and can even lead to cities defecting and joining other factions. As a fairly passive Civilization VI player, I am a huge fan of this system; giving me a means to conquer cities without bloodshed is a valuable tool when all I want to do is build wonders.
Governors are also a dramatic upgrade to the way you can approach Civilization VI. There are several to choose from, and each provides passive bonuses to the city they are in. You only get a set number of Governor Upgrades per campaign, and they can either be used to improve existing governors or add one to another city. They are extremely useful, and it can be a fairly agonizing decision if you should concentrate on upgrading one or two to their maximum ability, or spreading out smaller bonuses over more cities. Ultimately, Civilization VI lives on those small, incremental decisions, and giving yourself tiny bonuses is often the difference between success or failure in multiplayer games or at higher difficulties.
The other new systems in Rise and Fall also add to the game in their own unique way. Golden ages and dark ages offer great ways to sabotage enemies or get back on track if you have fallen behind by giving you specific targets to meet every set number of turns. They offer a bit of spice to the early game that can otherwise get repetitive in games of Civilization VI. The global emergencies and personal timelines do not add a ton to the game, but they do make things more interesting and make the world feel more alive, rather than just a bunch of numbers and spreadsheets hidden behind pretty pictures. And the improvements to alliances were desperately needed: they actually give you an opportunity to tailor your deals to be mutually beneficial, rather than just “ally with Catherine di Medici because she isn’t winning the game right now.”
The only downfall to an expansion like Rise and Fall is that there is not enough brand new content to make it a slam dunk pickup if you already were not a fan of the game. Rise and Fall is just improvements and more. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, as Civilization VI was probably not a disappointing game to many people who picked it up. If Civilization VI‘s brand of world-conquering did not already tickle your fancy, however, Rise and Fall probably will not bring you into the fold.
Verdict: It probably won’t bring haters into the game, but Rise and Fall is a great expansion for Civilization VI that patches up many of the base game’s weaknesses and amplifies its strengths. Absolutely pick it up if you want to squeeze some more games out of this already excellent 4X game.
- New features add layers of strategy
- Plenty of additional content and quality of life upgrades
- Won't convert naysayers