‘Civilization VI’ sacrifices Sean Bean for ‘Rise and Fall’ in February

Civilization VI will see its first major expansion this February with Rise and FallFiraxis announced the upcoming addition with a cinematic trailer, featuring the return (and predictable death) of narrator Sean Bean. In the same fashion that Gods and Kings and Brave New World did for Civilization VCivilization VI: Rise and Fall will expand the base game with a generous infusion of new systems and content to enrich your nation’s stories on February 8.

Civilization VI was a strong game at its launch, elegantly incorporating most of the gameplay systems that V accrued over years of expansion and re-balancing. One area where VI felt particularly weak, however, was diplomacy. Rise and Fall addresses that shortcoming by enhancing alliances. Friendly civilizations can now specify different types of alliances (Research, Military, Economic, Cultural, or Religious), that imbue specific benefits to the participating teams. These benefits also grow over time as the alliances become stronger, encouraging long-term investment in diplomatic relations.

The marquee feature of Rise and Fall is a new system of Ages that will color broad swathes of your history. Fulfilling particular objectives during the preceding era can trigger a Golden or Dark Age. Golden Ages give you powerful bonuses but at the cost of making it more difficult to achieve future Golden Ages. Dark Ages, on the other hand, will create negative effects, but then make it easier to trigger a Golden Age in the future. Dark Ages also allow for the possibility of a Heroic Age, which is like a super Golden Age. On top of the natural strength of particular civilizations, based on when their unique units come into play, Ages will add an interesting ebb and flow to the power of civilizations over the course of history.

A crucial lever being pulled by Ages is a new system of Loyalty. When a given city’s Loyalty drops too low, the border may recede, they run the risk of going independent, or even changing loyalty to another civilization that looks more appealing. Golden and Dark ages will raise and lower Loyalty, respectively. As a non-military option to allow a territory to change hands, the Loyalty system is reminiscent of previous games wherein you could flip cities through an aggressive use of Culture.

One of the most immediately effective ways to boost Loyalty is by assigning a Governor to the city. As in some Paradox grand strategy games, such as Stellaris, you assign Governors to your different cities, giving them bonuses across the whole range of systems in the game. Governors are unique and, like districts, allow you to specialize your cities to make them feel distinct from one another.

The extremely long play time of any given game of Civilization means that early advantages can snowball out of control to make the late game a breeze. Balancing against that with a headwind or rubber-banding mechanics is tricky because you don’t want to make it feel like players are punished for smart, strategic play. Rise and Fall‘s approach to this is Emergencies, which trigger when a player is doing particularly well in a given area of the game — the examples provided for triggers were converting a holy city or using a nuclear weapon. Other players will be given the opportunity to “join in an Emergency against the target” earning “permanent benefits,” though there are not yet any particulars on what form these Emergencies will take.

In addition to all of the systemic additions, Rise and Fall will also include nine new leaders, eight civilizations, 15 wonders, four units, two tile improvements, 14 buildings, two districts, and three resources.

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