Publisher: 2K Games
Considering that Brave New World is designed to be the final expansion for Civilization V, it's only fitting that it focuses on the endgame. While Gods & Kings did a great job of freshening up the mid-game, Firaxis' latest content drop is all about sweetening the pot for more culturally sensitive players or economy-focused traders, granting us a host of new features and systems to dominate the world through tourism, money or diplomacy. Artists slave away on immortal masterpieces, archaeologists scamper around to secure priceless artefacts, and powerful game-changing rules can be voted on in the new World Congress; conferring lasting boons or devastating embargoes.
If this is all sounding a little too refined and cultured for your tastes, you'll also be pleased to know that Shaka Of The Zulus is finally making a comeback, meaning that the more warlike amongst us will be able to crush their rivals before they've even researched gunpowder. Indeed, the only evidence they ever existed will be the occasional arrowhead dug up by modern day tomb raiders.
I recently sat down with Brave New World for a couple of hours, and suffice to say that Civilization players are probably going to get dragged back in for yet another long haul.
International trading is one of the biggest new gameplay systems that Brave New World brings to Civilization V, and one of the few features that's immediately available from the outset. Once you've researched Animal Husbandry, you'll be able to construct trading units such as land caravans and cargo ships, each of which can provide a game-long source of income. So long as you're on reasonably friendly terms with a neighbour (open borders and embassies are preferable), you can designate a city to visit, creating a trade route that automatically brings in gold, resources and even a two-way flow of technology and religion between the two players.
Trade units exist on their own layer, meaning that they can stack with other units as they go about their automatic business, though naturally have to be carefully defended to avoid barbarians (or Shaka!) ambushing them. More tactical - or introverted - players can also set up trade routes between two of their own cities, allowing them to grow faster and benefit from increased resource generation.
As a simple yet potent way of amassing gold, making friends and nicking the occasional bit of research, trade routes fit neatly into the Civilization V experience, and should make for a neat addition to the early game. However, it's also just the tip of the iceberg.
Culture & Tourism
If you're chasing a culture victory, you'll be pleased to know that Brave New World massively beefs up this side of things, which initially felt a little flat (especially in the late-game). Tourism has been added to the experience, visible as a new HUD icon, which acts as a powerful new offence against other Civilization's culture ratings. If your lifetime tourism exceeds the lifetime culture of your rivals, you'll win the game, and there are plenty of options available.
Great people, not just great works, are a key way of generating both culture and tourism. Legendary artists like Pieter Bruegel The Elder can paint their masterpieces, such as The Tower Of Babel, while Edvard Grieg and fellow musicians slave away on magna opera including In The Hall Of The Mountain King. Once slotted into their prerequisite buildings, these everlasting icons attract an influx of eager patrons desperate to sample the cutting edge of world culture. Or, of course, you could just invade and steal someone else's.
Another more interesting method of attracting tourism is creating archaeologists, who look suspiciously like a certain whip-wielding professor we're all well acquainted with. Once you've built a university in one of your cities, you can build these vulnerable units and task them with digging up 'antiquity sites' that spontaneously appear dotted over the map. Brilliantly, you'll usually uncover artefacts such as arrowheads or spears, which actually correspond to real events that happened earlier in the game.
Finding a fragment of a decisive battle you had with a rival, or evidence of crushing barbarians who set up camp near to your first city, adds a nostalgic jolt to the late-game, not to mention the option of setting up a tourism site or a standalone artefact that can be traded or plugged into your existing university. Sending
Indy your archaeologists into neighbouring territories to plunder their treasures will also be a fun way of griefing your rivals, with the option to sell it back to them bringing the Elgin Marbles instantly to mind.
This is just a small snapshot of the new tourism options available to players, which ought to present an exciting way of winning matches without relying on guns or Gods.
World Congress: Every Vote Counts
Perhaps Civilization V's biggest new feature comes in terms of the World Congress: an obscenely powerful international tribunal that can lay down laws that completely change the face of the game. The first country to develop the printing press can start work on the Congress, and once developed, it holds regular meetings that all Civs and even City States can attend.
The World Congress' word is law, and its edicts can radically alter the shape of the mid-to-late game. The founder of the congress and the attendee who commands the most delegates can propose new binding , which can be both rewarding and punishing. As an example, holding a World Fair or Olympic Games can benefit everyone (especially the host, who'll garner a massive tourism boost), while the International Space Station can lead to exciting scientific advances for all participants. On the flip-side, however, standing army taxes or trade embargoes can cripple aggressive players.
Once an edict has been tabled, it will become irrefutable if voted through, a totally strict and automatic sanction that can only be ended if overturned at the next congress. To this end, players will need to bribe and threaten other players and city states into voting their way, or buy delegates from other countries to ensure that more scandalous bills fail. The full ramifications of this has yet to be seen, but we feel that it will add yet another layer of deeply tactical and surprisingly aggressive play.
New Civs: Boom-Shaka-Laka!
Brave New World will add several new civilizations to the experience, and I'm allowed to talk about a handful as per the terms of my NDA.
Since the expansion ramps up culture and trade, you can expect some powerful magnates and luminaries to lead your civilizations into a new golden age. Pedro II of Brazil, nicknamed "The Magnanimous," is famed for turning a fractured nation into a bastion of free speech and economic stability. Maria I of Portugal will also be of interest to savvy spenders, seeing as her budgetary genius factors into some exciting unique units. Portuguese Naus sail further than Caravels, capable of trading exotic goods at far-flung outposts, while Faetoria trading posts can be built near cities belonging to other civs to duplicate you a cut of their generated cultural resources.
And then, like a club-wielding fly in the ointment, comes Shaka Of The Zulus. The fanbase has been clamouring for Shaka to return, and as you'd expect, he's a ferociously aggressive pre-gunpowder military option for domination players. Even Montezuma will have much to fear from Shaka's unique pikemen, who can attack twice per turn.
Once again, it's clear that Firaxis aren't afraid of adding completely new systems and mechanics to keep the evergreen Civilization V feeling fresh. We'll find out whether this really is a Brave New World when the expansion releases in summer.