This DLC is exclusive to PC and was reviewed as such.
If there ever was a clear social commentary in a game – or expansion in this case, then I don’t think it will be more in your face than this one. On the back of the recent conflicts around global warming/climate change/the end of the world, the folks at Civilisation VI decided to use their platform to send a message in the form of a game expansion. While I’m a firm believer that politics and video games should be kept separate for the most part – preferably, this one makes sense for politics ARE part of this strategy game. But does it hinder or improve it?
The Gathering Storm expansion offers a great tutorial that brings you up to speed at the start of the game. These changes are, not in order:
- Disasters: ranging from flooded rivers to erupting volcanoes, to giant sand storms among other effects, these natural disasters are a new feature added to the game that adds new depth to your city management as well as diplomacy to some extent – more on this in a bit. Not all disasters are bad though, as some disasters can leave tiles fertile or simply add to it’s charm. A river flood can be devastating to your structures if you are not prepared, but it can also add a new food bonus.
- Diplomatic Favors: gained through a multitude of ways, this new currency can be traded or saved up for a World Congress where it can be used to push a certain agenda in your favor, if you have enough Diplomatic Favors.
- World Congress: starting off during the medieval Era, this system introduces a new tactical approach to diplomacy. Each W.G. brings a new set of resolutions that vary from doubling the earnings from a certain luxury to penalties on certain units, and each civilization gets to vote. But the trick here is that a nation can vote more than once, but doing so will require it to spend Diplomatic Favors. Aside from the automatic W.G. session, some Emergency sessions can be called by a certain civilization: either for military reasons like being invaded by another, or request for aid after being hit by a natural disaster.
- Power: be it coal, oil, or uranium, all of these resources can be harvested to add to the total Power value. This value doesn’t gain much importance until the start of the industrial Era where Power is needed to, well, power up facilities and machines on which your civilization is progressing. As you can imagine, more power consumption, means more pollution , meaning global warming and in turn larger and more devastating natural disasters; some tiles might even get submerged in water if the water level rises too far.
- Grievances: like Diplomatic Favor, this is a new sub-resource gained through being attacked or invaded by another country, and this gives you a grievances value over them. Using this system you may launch a revenge war with little to no penalty, or can pressure them during World Congress to play in your favor as if they owe you – and probably do for being so rude to attack you. Naturally, third parties can also generate grievances if one attacks their allies or simply attacks too many people unprovoked and this all drops into the World Congress pool once more. Wars before medieval era causes no grievances.
Now with the new features established, how does it fare?
Okay, for the most part. While the World Congress does bring in a new diplomatic approach to the table, it’s ultimately underwhelming. Some of the resolutions are far too random and it feels like there isn’t enough incentive to gather Diplomatic Favor in comparison to other resources with more tangible benefit. And while the natural disaster feature can keep you on your toes for the most part, I quickly learned that strategic placement of your settlement is a quick way to make you care less about it, as you won’t be affected by it much.
The overall feel of the game does change a little, and I think for the better as the end-game becomes more exciting, and winning isn’t the only goal you may set when you start your journey. Will you burn through resources without a care and speed up the world’s ending for a meaningless win? Or would you strive to find the technologies to balance between powering up your cities and preserving nature around you? And to that end, I think the game achieved what it set out to do, it culminates all of these additions into a more interesting finale to your play session.