Civilization 5: Brave New World Review – Old Is New Again

Finally, the Freedom, Order, and Autocracy trees have been removed to make way for new social policy trees relating to trade and archaeology. In their place is the ideology system. Once you build three factories or enter the Modern Era, you are given a choice of three ideologies: Freedom, Order, and Autocracy. On the surface, these ideologies are much like a larger, more powerful social policy tree; each policy in an ideology is usually much more powerful than their counterparts in the normal trees, and you have a wide selection of choices. However, ideologies also impact your standing with other civilizations, the spread of your tourism, and the happiness of your empire, thus making them as much of a diplomatic and cultural tool as a power boost. In addition, some civs naturally lean towards certain ideologies, like United States towards Freedom (imagine that). This lean can change as the course of the game progresses, though, so it is by no means the required pick.

It’s an excellent system, especially because each of the ideologies offers distinct advantages over the others. The Order ideology focuses on production and science, the Freedom ideology focuses on trade and growth, and the Autocracy ideology focuses on military might. Each one has vastly different tenets, but there are some similarities between them; for example, each ideology can add a tenet that increases happiness based on structures relating to that ideology (Factories for Order, Banks for Freedom, Barracks for Autocracy). A player’s ideology also impacts their potential non-culture choices quite a bit, as ideologies do more than freeze each other out (like they used to). For example, you spread tourism to countries faster if you share ideologies. It’s a good way to add depth to diplomatic and domestic interactions.

Along with all of these feature changes comes a selection of new civilizations. My personal favorites are Venice – which can only have one actual city, and must instead create “puppet states” by purchasing city states or conquering other civ’s cities – and Morocco – which gets an improvement that provides one of each resource, but can only be placed on desert tiles, thus making deserts their most valuable terrain. The new civs are quite different in terms of when they are most powerful and what their best attribute is, but they are all well-designed and fun to play as.

There are two new scenarios too: the colonization of Africa and the American Civil War. The colonization of Africa pits the European (and a few African) powers against each other in a scramble for the highest score after 100 turns. The catch is that the interior of Africa changes with every game, and only the European powers can perform certain actions. The American Civil War scenario asks you to march across a zoomed-in map of the Eastern theatre and capture the opposing force’s capital city, while capturing cities along the way to provide yourself with the unique “manpower” resource (which is necessary to field military units). If you are tired of playing random games, they might be a good way to relax, but they don’t warrant a “must-play.” They follow the same formula as Civilization always does; they aren’t like the crazy, interesting scenarios from Civilization 4: Beyond The Sword.

For those that don’t have Gods & Kings, there’s some good news. Brave New World includes all of the functionality changes from G&K, including buildings, wonders, prophets, and policies. However, if you want to play as the civs or dive into the scenarios introduced in G&K, you’ll have to purchase it. The only things that carried over were features.

There’s absolutely no doubt: Brave New World is the best expansion in recent memory, and easily the best Civilization expansion ever. It elevates Civilization 5 from the issues that plagued it at launch and turns it into one of the most addicting, entertaining, and deep 4X games around. If you have purchased or plan on purchasing Civilization 5, there is no reason not to buy Brave New World.

Pros

  • Makes cultural and diplomatic victories fun and viable
  • Makes all phases of the game (early, mid, late) important
  • Greatly increases depth of interaction between civs
  • Improvements to commerce
  • Includes all features from Gods & Kings

Cons

  • Tourism system is difficult at first glance
  • Scenarios are average
  • Trading routes don’t auto-renew

Final Score: 90/100


Game Front employs a 100-point scale when reviewing games to be as accurate about the experience as possible. Read the full rundown of what our review scores mean.


James Murff’s other work can be seen here, and you can follow him on Twitter at @jamesmurff.

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