The real problem of Sid Meier’s Civilization VI Rise & Fall is that Civilization VI is still a complete product, solid and fun, thanks to which you can spend hours in the art of war, including ambassadors and businesses. On the one hand, this is good, because those who have bought the last chapter of this historic series still have fun, especially thanks to the continuous patches to balance the most complex mechanics, the other has made the work of packaging of Rise & Fall, or the first official expansion, definitely more difficult.
In fact, instead of adding real pieces to the basic game, Firaxis had to try to create an experience that could change the rhythm of the game, also trying to correct (and at the same time to teach) some behaviors and some tendencies of the players not much in line with the way in which Sid Meier’s Civilization VI was conceived.
The new narration of the matches is marked by the passing of the ages. These are no longer simply the moment when the appearance of our cities changes, but there is the number of turns each player has to accumulate with a certain score. Everything from the discovery of a new technology to the construction, for the first time in the world, of a certain type of unit, allows us to earn points. The sum total of these points determines whether the next epoch will be normal, economic boom or recession.
This change is the type of vote we can make, and the economic, social and scientific performance of our empire. The vote should be made towards that sector of our economy that we will support with greater conviction since it will allow us to earn bonus points, fundamental to trying to reach the minimum goals of each era. In fact, during periods of recession, not only coins, science and culture generated are a fraction of those normally produced, but cities will begin to lose loyalty to us.
Coming out convincingly from the recession, however, could lead to a heroic era, a period of limited shifts in which our empire will be at its peak, thriving like never before.
The alternation of the eras creates a flow within the games and has the advantage of pushing players to focus on certain technological and cultural achievements in order to obtain the desired score. On the other side of the coin, we have a somewhat too rigid and formalized system that also pushes us to have attitudes that are not really appropriate, such as waiting for a few turns before ending a marvel or building a unit so as to accumulate that score during the next time.
Loyalty works quite similarly to religious pressure and defines the attachment of an inhabited area to its country of origin. A loyalty crisis could lead a city to break away from its country of origin to try to become an independent actor on the global chessboard or to peacefully submit to a neighboring but decidedly more attractive nation.
To defend themselves from this eventuality, or possibly try to steal cities from the friendly neighboring kingdoms, there are several options such as building the new government district, building new wonders (the Statue of Liberty), but above all assigning a governor to the disputed city. These new characters will not only generate a loyalty bonus difficult to scratch but will also allow you to further specialize each metropolis by providing specific and very powerful bonuses.
In fact, there is the religious governor, the one specialized in commerce, the one in defense and so on. We can have a maximum of seven, but this also means that they will not be particularly effective. In fact, the enhancements of their skills are rather limited (mainly related to discoveries of the civic tree and wonders) forcing us, therefore, to choose whether to make them very powerful or to unlock them all in order to control a greater number of cities.
Understanding how to make the most of them can change the fate of a conflict. If during a skirmish it might be useful to have a governor in a thriving city so as to maximize the production or the generation of coins, immediately after having conquered a settlement it could be useful to place a governor in the city so as to resist the temptation to emancipate and return to the old owner.
Through loyalty and governors, Firaxis wants to incentivize players to create compact empires, perhaps not excessively extended, so as not to try to disperse the forces and maximize the possible bonuses. In the event that we decide to do things big and expand too much, we will get a higher economic output, but we will disperse excessively our resources and become weak towards some types of attack. Spies, for example, have new missions where they can foment the population of an opposing city, or have the ability to disable a governor and its effects for a few turns.
Loyalty, if on the one hand formalizes a process already present in the previous chapters, on the other hand, it risks creating confusion if related to tourism and culture, or two parameters that have or have had a similar operation, the culture also manages the territorial expansion, while tourism defines its attractiveness, but does not affect loyalty.
Another incentive to behave in a manner consistent with history comes from the new system of alliances. In Sid Meier’s Civilization VI Rise & Fall, in fact, it will be possible to grow over time an alliance and even to specialize it. In this way, two nations are urged to work more closely together to obtain bonuses with a wider spectrum and ever greater power. Moreover, this will strongly discourage the temptation to betray its allies from a standstill, given that this gesture will have not only consequences from the military point of view but also from the economic, religious, scientific and cultural.
A gesture of the kind, moreover, could trigger an emergency, or a dynamic mission proposed by the game to stop a leader guilty of having committed “something serious”. Unleashing an atomic bomb or being too aggressive with religious conversions and military conquests could push the other kingdoms to coalize and thus have a double positive effect: stopping a nation that has become uncomfortable and getting some convenient bonuses for its economy.
This system has been introduced to encourage players to work towards a common goal by coalescing against leaders who are taking too much advantage, so as to rebalance the situation. All without formalizing in alliances or other things that could be impossible to tighten considering the past among the nations.
To these changes of the gameplay, we must add a bunch of new wonders and leaders. If the monuments introduce effects that are sometimes really surprising, that could go beyond the simple cultural or religious production bonus, the leaders cannot enter a new way to play Sid Meier’s Civilization VI Rise & Fall. Each is obviously characterized by units, bonuses and specific buildings, but this combination is not able to upset the way to approach a game.
The Mongols will have the ability to capture enemy units, but they are a sedentary civilization, the Cree expand their borders thanks to trade routes and the Dutch can build farms in the water, but this does not change the classic progress of events. A pity, because you could try to take advantage of the new features introduced in this expansion, giving it a much stronger character.
This is because, as we said at the beginning, the problem of Sid Meier’s Civilization VI Rise & Fall is that the basic game is still very enjoyable. The new features are certainly a pleasant addition to the formula but do not introduce any element that is essential. God & Kings and Brave New World introduced religion and sharply improved the trade of Civ V, making it essential to have a complete experience of the fifth chapter. Rise & Fall does not succeed in this intent, despite being a welcome addition that certainly contributes to make every game more and more multifaceted and changeable. The fans of Sid Meier’s Civilization VI, however, should not disregard it, despite the desire to have something more is always around the corner.