The first expansion for “Civilization V,” last summer’s “Gods & Kings,” added religion and espionage to the game’s array of features, along with several new cultures to plays as, and numerous other tweaks and additions, such as new units, buildings and wonders.
“Brave New World” offers new cultures, units, wonders and buildings as well (it also includes the game-play additions of “Gods & Kings,” though you’ll need the earlier expansion to play as all its civilizations). But beyond that, it dramatically rebalances many aspects of the game, from warfare and trade to diplomacy and culture.
Some of the changes are subtle, others overt. Water and river tiles no longer provide wealth, and trade routes are no longer abstracted — now you must build caravans and cargo ships and send them to other civilizations and city-states to earn money for your empire (you can also use them to send extra food and other resources to your own cities).
Trade can bring in a lot of wealth, but the units that travel trade routes are vulnerable to attack by barbarians and any rivals you’re at war with. What’s more, if you’re a warmongering player, you’ll have a harder time funding your efforts without willing trade partners.
The new civilization of Venice makes particular use of this trade system to make up for its unique handicap — Venice cannot build settlers to found cities in new territory, or exercise full control over cities it conquers.
Instead, it can buy city-states outright with its unique Merchant of Venice unit, and makes puppets of all conquered or purchased cities, leaving it unable to direct production there but free to purchase buildings and units with its stores of wealth, helped along by having the extra trade routes available to it.
Other new civilizations range from Assyria to Brazil, the Shoshone to the Zulus, each with its own twist on the game, though none so dramatic as Venice’s.
The social policy aspect of the game has also been overhauled, with three — Freedom, Autocracy and Order — spun off as choices of ideology late in the game, and Exploration and Aesthetics added to the original selection. Several wonders are now unlocked by adopting certain social policies, as well.
A culture victory is no longer won by researching several social policy tracks and creating a utopia; instead, you have to generate tourism such that your own culture dominates those of the rest of the world, with the help of great works by notable artists and musicians.
You can also dig up the relics of the past to generate more tourism — later in the game you can train archaeologists who will sift through the ruins of historical battles, razed barbarian camps and other sites to find artifacts to display.
Wining a diplomatic victory still depends on garnering support from other civilizations to be voted World Leader by the U.N., but the process begins earlier now, with the World Congress, which allows the world’s leaders to vote on blanket policies that have dramatic effects on everyone — jointly working on a World’s Fair, choosing a world religion, banning specific luxury goods, embargoing trade or imposing a heavy tax on military units are among the options.
With numerous other tweaks and additions, as well as scenarios set in Africa and the American Civil War, “Brave New World” is simply packed.
"Civilization V: Brave New World"
Published by 2K Games for PC, Mac
Rated E-10+ for Everyone 10+ (drug reference, mild language, mild violence)