Civilization VI: Gathering Storm is one the best changes to the Civ games in a very long time. Civilization is one of the few games in my opinion that has never regressed after an update. It may miss the mark and not add things we would like to see but the game always felt a little newer and a little different. Civ VI: Gathering Storm is the latest and possibly last update after Rise and Fall and it’s an update that addresses a lot of changes that the Civ community had been wanting in the game for awhile.
What makes Gathering Storm so good? The changes aren’t just about adding new leaders. It’s much more.
As with every expansion of the Civ series there’s always a new set of historic world leaders that bring some new abilities. You’ll still need to plan a strategy and decide what type of victory you’re seeking with each attempt to play but it’s always good to pick the leader that suits your play style. The new leaders include Mansa Musa of Mali, Suleiman of the Ottoman Empire, Pachacuti of the Incas, Matthias Corvinus of Hungary, Kristina of Sweden, Kupe of the Maori tribe, Dido of Phoenecia, Eleanor of Aquitane who has the unique ability to rule either Britain or France and lastly, Wilfred Laurier of Canada round out the new batch of incoming world greats. Judging by the aforementioned list, Civ VI: Gathering Storm has no shortage of leaders to use. I personally started off my game with Kupe of Maori and he starts his leadership in the ocean (Yes, smack in the middle of the ocean) which poses unique challenges when trying to settle your first city. Wilfred Laurier of Canada allows you to use tiles in the Tundra just the same as a standard tile on normal green land. Eleanor of Aquitane leverages other civs by way of culture and the arts to have them fall under her rule.
Civ VI’s biggest change is probably the addition of weather, climate and natural disasters. Unlike past Civ games, there was no real emphasis on “Acts of God”. Wherever you ultimately set up your civ in games past would have already suffered some effects of climate from the beginning and would affect where you start the game. Now, with climate playing such a huge role in your civ building, location matters less. Mother Nature is coming to get you. Because climate and weather are completely different things they affect the game in a different way. Climate takes place over an extended period so it can take a number of turns to correct damages done by a volcano or flooding. Climate isn’t all about destruction in Gathering Storm. Volcanic eruptions for example while terribly destructive can offer huge benefits over time in creating food and production tiles or adding a bonus to existing tiles if you’ve settled a city within the range of said volcano. Flooding, while also destructive can be beneficial to otherwise dry tiles within your city that may have otherwise produced zero or +1 food which isn’t very good. Flooding may help out. Hurricanes, tornadoes, droughts and sandstorms from what I’ve experienced in the game so far have offered literally nothing to help me like volcanoes and flooding. Climate isn’t all good but it isn’t all bad. It just depends on how you intend to build your Civ.
As you progress in the game and move into the Industrial era and Modern era, you’ll have to power your city. From the onset you’ll start off with coal and graduate to oil, then electricity, nuclear and if you’ve navigated the tech tree properly you’ll be able to use “clean” energy. Why does this matter? Climate is affected in the game by the use of dirty energy and fossil fuels as resources. Your city will become more expensive to run and climate will adversely change your city if you run dirty cities. It’s also an indication that you’re moving in the wrong direction on the tech tree. I loved this aspect of the game. It’s not just about building things like prior games. You have to build with intent to sustain and be more environmentally friendly. Climate is probably my favorite element to Civ VI: Gathering Storm.
Diplomacy & Relations
Civ VI: Gathering Storm really attempts to cover all of the bases when it comes to leadership and how that leadership will change the world either positively or negatively. One way this can be achieved now is via a new “currency” if you can call it that with diplomacy points. Essentially it’s a way to bargain with other Civs for voting power in the World Congress. It’s also a way to secure a diplomatic victory if you gain enough points. The World Congress is interesting in that it ties to the technology tree and also how you interact with the overly aggressive Civs in this game. You could literally enact world rules that benefit you or a friendly civ, it may even help if you’re trying to establish relations with a not so friendly civ. The more you have, the more influence you wield within the World Congress. The World Congress comes up for a vote every 30 turns and other Civ leaders will aggressively try to trade for these points often and they want them all, so do it when it makes sense or if you’re like me don’t do it until much later in the game.
Civ VI: Gathering Storm still has one pain in the ass issue
Civ VI: Gathering Storm for all it’s great qualities and necessary changes still has one issue that bugs me and sadly, 2K hasn’t it considered an issue (Probably because it’s only an issue to me, but still). It’s the one issue that pisses me off the most. What is it? Overly aggressive civilizations early in the game. If you play any other difficulty outside of Warlord, once you setup your civilization and try to implement your early strategy to building your society, you find right away that other civilizations and their leaders are incredibly aggressive from the onset. As soon as they interact with you, they are already demanding to cross your borders, share your resources, trade for diplomatic points, whatever it is they need. No matter whether you agree to engage and trade in good faith or not, it’s no indication of whether or not you’ll have a good relationship with another society even if all things point to it. They’ll still turn around and surprise attack you (Unless you play as Canada) or just flat out attack you. In very few instances has this not been the case. So many times I’ve played this game and within 30 turns some other civilization is aggressively trying to take what I have sometimes just as I get it. I would like to see 2K maybe change in how the AI interacts with you at least in terms of war for at least 75-100 turns. It’s hard to tell what conflicts with another leaders’ agenda in this game. Playing at a higher level starting with King does show some improvement in curtailing and giving you a more realistic version of the AI but overall opposing civ’s are still too aggressive. Way too aggressive.
CivilizationVI: Gathering Storm is worthy of your $40 bucks
If you’re a fan of the Civilization series then you already know how good the game is as a simulation game. Although Civ has had a series of well done expansions there hasn’t been one that has seemingly addressed all of the issues that the community has had with the game. To top it all off the additions to leadership, the addition of climate and the World Congress make Gathering Storm a much more robust game and a game that forces you plan differently in order to grow and maintain your society. If you’ve paid $39 for Rise and Fall then paying $39 for Gathering Storm is a no brainer. It’s a little steep for an expansion but I’ve gotten more value out of it than I have with some Destiny expansions but we won’t get into that.
Point is, Gathering Storm is that good. First time Civ players won’t pay $39 initially because they’ll have to get the base game but they would be pleased to know that their first entry into Civilization will be at a time when the game is most refined and neither scenario is a bad one. I’ve been thoroughly enjoying playing Gathering Storm. It’s worth my $40 and the more you play this expansion you’ll most likely agree. You can find it on Steam right HERE for $39 as an expansion to the Civilization VI base game or you can buy Civilization VI which is currently on sale for 70% and it’s just $17.99 (HERE) so right now you can hit up the Steam store and get Civ VI and Gathering Storm for under $60