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Civilization V: Brave New World

By NAG3LT05-09-2013
BloodyFanGirl (editor)
Bobfish (editor)

The Defence

Firaxis Games
2K Games
Release Date:
US 09-07-2013
EU 12-07-2013

The Prosecution

Intel Core 2 Duo 1.8 GHz
AMD Athlon X2 64 2.0 GHz
Nvidia GeForce 7900 GS
AMD Radeon HD 2600 XT
2 GB
8 GB

The Case

O Brave New World that has such people in it, the last expansion for Civilization V borrows its title from the famous dystopian novel by Aldous Huxley. Do not expect to see any “Soma” outside achievements though, as the expansion is more about the time in which the novel was written – the industrialisation and the start of the modern era. The previous expansion, Gods & Kings, already revamped gameplay mechanics and added more things to the early game, whilst Brave New World adds more general changes that aim to improve the late game. Now is the time to see how well Civilization V’s swan song is.

The Trial

Brave New World not only includes its own new features, but also all the mechanics that Gods & Kings introduced. People without G&K will not have access to the civilizations and scenarios from the previous expansion though. There are a multitude of small changes to many aspects in the game as well; the trade deals got some changes, some religious abilities got modified and some technologies got shifted in order to better balance the game. There are more distinct visual tweaks and performance improvements that reduce time spent waiting for AI to take their turns, and all of these have found their way into a patch for all Civ V players.

One of the first big changes noticeable in BNW at the very beginning of the game is the addition of a new trade route system. Progress in a tech tree and a few world wonders allow players to start trade routes with other civilizations, city states or even their own cities. All you have to do is build caravans and cargo ships and send them off to other cities to get started. They act as units not affected by stacking however, thus they can be attacked by enemies and barbarians, forcing you to divert forces to protect your forces and the trade route itself. While the resources you have affect the profit from a trade, they are not expended when using the system. While cities on the shore can miss out on some tile improvements, the sea trade routes are more effective than land ones. Trading with others can provide you money but inside trade can provide food or increased productivity to your city.

XCOM is good at dealing with illegal aliens.

XCOM is good at dealing with illegal aliens.

However, money is not the only thing traveling across these routes. Some less tangible things hitch a ride as well. Religion spreads not only based on proximity now, but by trade encounters as well. No matter how far away the cities are, if they are connected by a trade route, they feel the religious pressure from each other. Together with traditions, the new ideas spread between civilizations. For every technology you have and your trade partner does not, science goes along the trade route to him and vice versa. An active trade thus acts as a very powerful science equaliser between disparate nations.

Another big change is the way culture works in BNW, which becomes far more apparent as the game progresses. Previously, the culture cost of new cities was very great and culture victory usually meant a small nation pumping out 5 policies and building a magical Utopia wonder. BNW has reduced the culture impact on larger empires (but added a science penalty) and introduces a new way to achieve a culture victory – tourism. Cultural victory is now about the influence on all other civilisations, using tourism, while they defend their own local customs.

All trade routes lead to Venice.

All trade routes lead to Venice.

Tourism is earned by having attractions in your civilisation. Some great people – great writers, artists and musicians - can generate the great works of their genre by visiting your city. Those works are then kept inside museums, amphitheatres, opera houses, wonders and other buildings inside your cities. Each generates some tourism and culture. That tourism can be improved by some policies and in late game by new buildings and international agreements. Tourism constantly adds influence over other civilisations and when it overcomes their culture the influential status is gained. The first civilisation to become influential with everybody else wins the culture victory. While special, great people and world wonders can improve your city’s tourism a lot, adding an additional way to fill your museums and improve your cultural distinctiveness.

Meanwhile, battles in the early game now leave something behind for the later generations. Archaeology is not just a tech in BNW, it has grown into a full blown game mechanic. As soon as you research it, you can find antiquity sites all over the map and build archaeologists. They can dig those sites and give you the choice to either take some old artefact for your own museums or start building a culture generating monument dedicated to the fruits of their labour.

Our blue jeans will eventually become the worldwide fashion choice.

Our blue jeans will eventually become the worldwide fashion choice.

The culture tree itself has changed a lot as well. Former Order, Freedom and Autocracy trees have become ideologies slightly separate from the other policies. New trees for exploration and aesthetics have been added, while the exclusivity improvements have been removed. Now you can pursue all policy trees without any penalties, as long as you generate enough culture. The ideology is also tied to the culture points you earn, but is organised differently. You can pick an Ideology when you either reach the modern era or build three factories, whichever comes first. The ideology policies are arranged in a three-tier pyramid, where you need to pick some lower level ones, before a higher level policy becomes available. However, unlike culture trees, there are more slots to fill and the freedom to pick any path between them. Together with tourism, ideology can affect the happiness of other empires and force them to either change their ideology to match yours or even lead to the defection of their unhappy cities.

Finally there is a new approach to the global diplomacy – the World Congress. The first civilisation to meet all others and research a printing press becomes the founding member of this new international body. There is a base amount of delegates, which can be increased by a forbidden palace, hosting congress and, in later eras, by city state allies and previous decisions. The host and the civilisation with the next highest amount of delegates each make a proposition for a future vote. The next time congress commences, everybody commits their delegates to vote on those propositions, with the new proposals right afterwards. The process repeats and becomes more frequent in later eras.

The host can choose the name for the World Congress.

The host can choose the name for the World Congress.

There are a lot of proposals available for World Congress. Different embargoes can make a luxury resource useless for happiness and untradeable, forbidding trade for some civilisations and city states, thus hurting their finances. Enacting a world religion and ideology can enhance their pressure and give bonuses to civilisations following them, while pissing off those who do not. The big international projects provide bonuses to big production investors and give a large reward to the biggest contributor. All decisions are binding and there is no way to avoid the enacted propositions, other than to vote to repeal them later.

The diplomatic victory and spy system received slight modifications due to the new mechanics as well. Spies sent to the capitals can now be sent as diplomats instead, which do not steal technologies. Diplomats still provide information about the city they are in, while also predicting possible votes and allowing to trade for votes in the Congress. After each technological era, there is an automatic vote on the host of the Congress. When the game reaches the Information Era, the vote for the World Leader is proposed at regular intervals until somebody is chosen for the diplomatic victory.

Even Poland can go into space.

Even Poland can go into space.

There are 9 new civilisations in this expansion: Assyria, Brazil, Indonesia, Morocco, Poland, Portugal, Shoshone, Venice and Zulus. While each of them has its own unique abilities, Venice is the most exceptional among them and is built around new game mechanics. Unlike everybody else in the game, it gets only one city – Venice itself. No other cities can be settled, the only route for expansion is the absorption of city-states using unique merchants or conquest. Venice cannot annex those either, all other cities in the empire are puppets. Money is the compensation for all those inconveniences – Venice gets twice as many trade routes compared to everybody else and can buy buildings and units in its puppets. Trade and diplomacy are its best tools and Venice excels at both.

The 2 new scenarios in Brave New World aimed at military play and exploration. The American Civil War disables most game mechanics, leaving only military production and battles with custom units. The main skills there are turn based battle tactics and logistics. But the Scramble for Africa is a more interesting one, with much more to do. Unlike the New World scenario, Africa always has the same recognisable shape, only the interior is randomised. Different European and local powers compete for domination on the continent using late 19th century technology. This provides variety and a lot of replay value.

The Verdict

Like most 4X games, Civilization V ran into a problem after early game, with the exploration and expansion out of the picture. Gods & Kings has added more variety and improved but these late game problems still remained. Brave New World has managed to really spice up the endgame however, providing a lot of fun and the incentive to play through to completion. Even while it can be argued for some things to have been done differently, it is hard to return to older Civilization games after playing Brave New World.

Case Review

  • More Fun: New interesting late game mechanics for the whole game.
  • Not a Cash Grab: Previous expansion not required but all improved mechanics from earlier expansions are still included.
  • Looks Nice: Visual updates added to the game do nicely to improve the overall quality.
  • Old Tricks Out of the Window: Some older strategies do not work well anymore, epically rule abuse on harder difficulties.
  • Problematic Manual: In-game Civilopedia not fully updated to reflect gameplay changes.
Score: 4.5/5
An amazing completion of the Civilization V experience.
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