Firaxis Games' Civilization series is one of the most iconic series on the planet. It revolutionized the 4X — or explore, expand, exploit, exterminate — strategy game way back in the early '90s. That it continues to thrive well into 2019 is just a testament to how remarkable of a game Civilization is. Civ VI, the most recent entry in the long-running series, is getting it's second expansion in just as many years with Gathering Storm. Maybe more remarkable than sheer staying power is Civ's ability to make such big changes to the system already there, while making some hard-to-miss statements about the world as a whole.
Like Rise and Fall before it, Gathering Storm takes the foundations of Civ VI and pulls out some much appreciated nuance. Rise and Fall added a Loyalty system, so that leaders could no longer govern and build in a vacuum. Your people were always watching you, and more importantly, your neighbors. If you failed the people, they could rebel and leave your country for greener pastures. You're no longer held accountable for just your actions, but your actions in comparison to other world leaders.
Gathering Storm doubles down on that concept, reintroducing Civ V's World Congress. World Congress functions like a sort of UN style assembly, where leaders can band together to reward or shun outliers for their behavior. If the other leaders don't like how quickly and aggressively you're expanding, they can pass sweeping resolutions that can limit how everyone is allowed to trade with you, for instance. This places a set of globalized consequences that both add challenge to any given session of Civ VI, and more resembles real world politics of today.
Another almost "straight from the headlines" feature that changes up the game is World Climate. How leaders interact with the world itself can determine how it rubberbands back on to them. Outside of adding weather effects like floods and earthquakes, World Climate actually takes long-term tally of your resource extraction and industrialization efforts. As you further pollute the air by building big factories, you may find the frequency of certain natural disasters rise as well. Real world effects of climate change popping up in a 4X game is not what I expected to see in 2019, but the strategic diversity it can grant to a round of Civ is as interesting as real life climate change is existentially dreadful.
See more of Gathering Storm below:
Civilization VI: Gathering Storm is available now on Steam! Nothing says "Happy Valentine's Day" like global political intrigue, amirite? Consider skipping the flowers and chocolates, and getting your special someone some hot tips from the Official Civilization VI Wiki!
Jarrett shares his love of video games and geek culture through feature articles on Gamepedia. He prides himself on his deep attraction to Japanese beat-em ups and his god-like Bushido Blade talents.