Civilization V: A Brave New world review

With 'Civilization V: Brave New World,' Firaxis Games brings in an effective array of new and revised features that balance perfectly with the existing game.
With 'Civilization V: Brave New World,' Firaxis Games brings in an effective array of new and revised features that balance perfectly with the existing game.
With 'Civilization V: Brave New World,' Firaxis Games brings in an effective array of new and revised features that balance perfectly with the existing game.


  • Tourism gives a much-needed boost to culture-focused players
  • World Congress introduces new diplomatic options at a much earlier point
  • Overall, a strong focus on improving the mid- and late-game for non-military players


  • Same old AI issues make for constantly conniving world leaders
  • No more Civilization until Firaxis makes with Civ VI

Firaxis Games has an amazing little racket going with its Civilization series. The studio releases what is essentially an unfinished game and then proceeds to fine-tune and update said game over a period of years with multiple expansion packs that are sold at a premium. It would be downright evil if the core content were anything less than excellent.

Make no mistake, this is a compliment: Civilization V was a very strong game when it came out in 2010. Firaxis improved the hell out of it in 2012’s Gods & Kings expansion, with tweaks to diplomacy and the introduction of a system for religion. That three-year-old game has improved yet again with Brave New World, an expansion that focuses on giving non-violent players a wider array of options with trade and culture.

The trade adjustments lean toward acknowledging the profound impact that global markets can have on individual societies in the real world. Remember when McDonald’s opened its first restaurant in Russia (then the U.S.S.R.) in 1990? Or, looking further back, the British Invasion? Trade isn’t just an exchange of goods and currency; it’s also an exchange of ideas.

Civilization 5 review 7

In gameplay terms, it’s simple enough in the early days: construct a caravan or cargo ship and set up a trade route with another city, either one of your own or one belonging to another civ or city-state. As time marches on and elements like religion and tourism – a new feature for Brave New World – come into play, the additional influences starts to bleed into trade routes as well. A healthy trade network is vitally important for expanding your influence across the globe.

This is where the tweaked culture systems come into play. Every civ still has a culture rating determined by buildings, Wonders, and social policies, but set apart from that rating is an entirely new system: Tourism. Many culture buildings now come with slots for housing different types of Great Works, from one of the three new “Great Person” categories: Artist, Musician, and Writer. Creating one of these consumes the Great Person in question and fills a slot with some creation or another that attracts foreign visitors to your land.

Tourism becomes the swinging sword of the non-violent Civ player, and it immeasurably improves the complexity of the mid- and late-game when the aim is to avoid military conflict. You’re not just erecting a series of culture buildings and clicking “Next Turn” anymore. Now you’ve got to monitor your Great People and make sure they’re delivering new Great Works while also weighing the value of different trade routes. The most lucrative route from a gold perspective isn’t always the best choice if you intend to also leverage a better standing for yourself on the world stage.

Civilization 5 review 1

The heftier mid-game also gets a boost from the World Congress, a sort of pre-U.N. organization that sees the civs of the world gathering and voting on various resolutions designed to have a far-reaching impact. The number of delegates voting on behalf of each civ is determined by size and influence. Once a resolution is put up for vote – anything from staging a World’s Fair/Olympic Games to establishing a standing military tax to smacking a feisty civ down with a trade embargo – a number of turns go by before the vote actually happens.

During these pre-vote periods, a series of new options appear on standard diplomacy screens that allow players to work behind the scenes on putting together a voting bloc. It is entirely possible to walk into a World Congress voting session with just two delegates repping your civ and still have a vote go your way using nefarious, behind-closed-doors negotiation tactics. This brings a new level of strategy to your non-military interactions with competing civs, especially when espionage and religion start to factor into your play.

Then there are Ideologies. This new late-game feature comes into play for civs as soon as they enter the Industrial Era, at which point you are asked to choose between Freedom, Order, or Autocracy. These function much like the game’s Social Policies, save for the fact that you can only choose one and you’re stuck with it once you do. Over time, you can flesh out the advantages you receive from your chosen ideology by selecting additional tenets from each three-tiered tree.

Civilization 5 review 5

The new systems and mechanics are of course joined by an expected assortment of new Wonders, buildings, units, social policies, and civs, plus two scenarios (American Civil War and Scramble for Africa). More content is always welcome, but there are some genuinely fresh concepts at play here, particularly with the new civs. The Venetians, for example, can’t “build” settlers or annex cities, but receive double the normal number of trade routes. The Indonesians, on the other hand, receive bonus luxury resources and cities that can’t be razed when settling on distant continents.

If there’s any shortcoming in Brave New World, it’s entirely rooted in problems that have been around since Civ V first launched. The AI responsible for managing competing civs is just plain bad. At the easiest difficulty levels, they’re all just total pushovers that you can walk all over with little concern over retaliation. Higher difficulties bring more aggressive leaders, but never in any way that seems human. They’re all out to backstab you, and their idea of “fair trade” generally involves screwing you over in one way or another.

This isn’t a game-breaking issue, but it’s frustrating. Rather than playing and building your civilization as you might, you’re constantly having to account for programming quirks that effectively break the spell of being in your own little alt-history version of Earth. That said, Brave New World amounts to an excellent expansion of the core ideas introduced in Civ V and Gods & Kings, and it is an absolutely essential add-on for any fan.

This game was reviewed on a Windows 7-equipped Alienware X51 gaming PC using a Steam code provided by the publisher, 2K Games.


Switch up your Reddit routine with these interesting, inspiring, and zany subs

So you've just joined the wonderful world of Reddit and want to explore it. With so many subreddits, however, navigating the "front page of the internet" can be daunting. Here are some of the best subreddits to get you started.

Here are all the awesome games you can play without a fancy graphics card

Just because you don't have a dedicated graphics card, it doesn't mean you can't enjoy some of the best games out there right now. This is our list of the best games you can play on Intel integrated graphics.

Here's what you need to know about 'World of Warcraft: Battle for Azeroth'

World of Warcraft: Battle for Azeroth is the latest expansion for the now 14-year-old MMORPG. It goes back to the roots of the Alliance vs. Horde conflict. Here's what you need to know.

Here's everything you need to know to trade in 'Pokémon Go'

After literally years of waiting, Pokémon Go finally gives trainers the option to trade Pokémon with others. It's not easy, though, and the cost is quite high if you try trading with strangers.

Play your games whenever you want with a MicroSD card for your Nintendo Switch

The Nintendo Switch uses cartridge-based games, but its internal storage may fill up quicker than you would think. Here's what you should consider when picking out a MicroSD card to expand your Switch's storage capacity.

Get your pilot skills up to snuff for this week's 'Fortnite' challenge guide

The Fortnite season 7, week 7 challenges are now available. The major challenge this week requires you to visit all the Fortnite expedition outposts in the game and we walk you through how to get to each.

‘Mortal Kombat 11’ is even gorier and crazier than we expected

NetherRealm Studios unveiled Mortal Kombat 11 on January 17 and the game looks to be just as gory and over the top as fans have come to expect. Former MMA fighter Ronda Rousey will appear as Sonya Blade.

Get extra life with our tips and tricks for 'New Super Mario Bros. U Deluxe'

New Super Mario Bros. U Deluxe is a much more difficult game than you'd believe based on its adorable art style and 2D perspective. Here's how you can master the game's toughest challenges.

Find all of the secret exits and world skips in 'New Super Mario Bros. U Deluxe'

New Super Mario Bros. U Deluxe has two distinct Mario experiences in one package. In this guide, we'll show you how to find all of the secret exits in New Super Mario Bros. U, that lead to hidden levels and let you skip worlds.

Find all of the secret exits and world skips in 'New Super Luigi U Deluxe'

Just like all other 2D Mario games, New Super Mario Bros. Deluxe includes secret exits and world skips. In this guide, we'll show you how to get to all 12 secret exits in New Super Luigi U.

For Netflix, ‘Fortnite’ on YouTube is a bigger threat than HBO

In a letter to shareholders, Netflix explained that it views the video game Fortnite as bigger competition than HBO, with YouTube videos of the game drawing viewers away from the streaming platform.

Take a trip to a new virtual world with one of these awesome HTC Vive games

So you’re considering an HTC Vive, but don't know which games to get? Our list of 25 of the best HTC Vive games will help you out, whether you're into rhythm-based gaming, interstellar dogfights, or something else entirely.

Here's where Xur is and what he has for wares this week in 'Destiny 2: Forsaken'

The weekly vendor in Destiny 2: Forsaken always brings Exotic weapons and armor, some of the toughest loot to find in the game. Here's everything you need to know to track down Xur: Where he is, when he shows up, and what he's stocking.

You could be gaming on AMD’s Navi graphics card before the end of the summer

If you're waiting for a new graphics card from AMD that doesn't cost $700, you may have to wait for Navi. But that card may not be far away, with new rumors suggesting we could see a July launch.