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Civilization VI: Rise and Fall Review

Expand your journey! Civilization VI: Rise and Fall is everything you'll need as a fan of Civilization VI, or as a fan of strategy gaming in general, as it expands on its strengths and is the most fulfilling version of Sid Meier's Civilization of all time. Can you build a civilization that will stand the test of time?

Civilization VI: Rise and Fall Review

Introduction

Sid Meier's Civilization VI: Rise and Fall is the first expansion of the critically acclaimed Civilization VI that was released in October 2016. Civilization VI: Rise and Fall launched on February 8th, 2018. Before you read on, please be sure to check out our review of Civilization VI

Civilization VI is a turn-based strategy game in which you lead a nation, from the ancient era up until our very own future. Gameplay consists of constructing cities, working on infrastructure, trade, war and developing culture, religion, science and commerce in your nation. Civilization VI: Rise and Fall expands your options in building your empire and introduces new features never seen before in a Civilization game. This allows you, as the player, to play in any way you want. There are different ways to play, as well as different ways to win. Civilization VI: Rise and Fall is your best chance to create your own legend, your own history. 

Civilization VI: Rise and Fall is available on Steam for $29.99 (US), €29.99 (EU) or £24.99 (UK). 

Gameplay

Civilization VI: Rise and Fall adds several gameplay components to the lot that definitely change your overall experience refreshingly. When I first played the Rise and Fall expansion, I still felt like I was playing the original Civilization VI, but I was kind of overwhelmed by the new features and their impact on your gameplay from early on. There are several major updates that really stand out. 

Ages

Civilization VI: Rise and Fall introduces different ages. As you're playing, you'll be noticing that certain achievements (like attracting a Great Person or building a World Wonder) earn you Era Points. Era Points are added to your Era Score, which is an indication of how well you're doing in your current era (e.g. the Ancient Era or the Modern Era). There's a certain amount of Era Points you'll need to exceed at the end of an Era to avoid a Dark Age. If you exceed an even further limit, you'll even reach a Golden Age. If you're in between a Dark Age and a Golden Age, you'll reach a Normal Age, the most common age to get. The age you've earned at the Era determines your age for the next era. For example, if you reach a Golden Age at the end of the Ancient Era, your empire will flourish for the entirety of the next era, in this case the Classical Era.

The benefits of Golden Ages aren't as apparent as they suggest. Their main influence is on the Loyalty of your citizens. This is also a new gameplay component and will be explained further on. At the start of every new era, the player is allowed to make (a) dedication(s). Such a dedication mainly effects your focus. For example, you can increase your Civic Inspiration bonuses or Religion spread, but the power of these dedications relies heavily on the age you've earned. If you've survived a Dark Age and manage to earn a Golden Age, you'll enter a Heroic Age. In a Heroic Age, you'll be able to make more dedications and gain even better bonuses for your civilization.

Civilization VI: Rise and Fall - Heroic Age and Timeline

The addition of ages really impacts the early game positively. Instead of focusing on building up my early civilization, I'll focus more on exploring and clearing barbarian outposts, to increase my Era Score. The importance of every turn increases heavily with this addition. You'll think twice about the path you choose from early on, and dedications add some focus to your long-term goals. 

Timeline

One of the most surprisingly enjoyable extensions in Civilization VI: Rise and Fall is its Timeline. All achievements that award you with Era Points are being immortalized in a Timeline that you can visit any time you want. These achievements might be simple, like building a new city or clearing an outpost, but it really gets interesting once you'll aim for even higher goals, like finding Religion and building World Wonders. The timeline serves as a memory for all your glorious moments in the game, which could be really satisfying to look back on at the end of a long game. Overall, the timeline is a small addition that adds a huge smile.

Loyalty

Loyalty is one of the main additions that Rise and Fall introduces. Loyalty has everything to do with the stability of your civilization. The strength of your civilization generally reflects upon your Loyalty. The whole  meaning of the Loyalty system feels kind of vague when you initially play Rise and Fall, but you'll understand as you play on.
Basically, every city has citizens that have a certain Loyalty rating. They start off with Full Loyalty, but if your empire is faltering or there's pressure from other civilizations (for example when you have a distant city surrounded by another empire), there might be a rebellion in the making. To avoid a rebellion in one of your cities, you may appoint a Governor (which you can upon researching certain Civics). If you or any other civilization can't stop a rebellion from happening, the city will become a Free City and possibly rebel once again. If so, this Free City will most likely join another civilization.

Civilization VI: Rise and Fall - Rebelling City
This could work in favor of the player, as well. Cities belonging to your opponents might join your civilization. You can influence this by cultural or militaristic pressure on a city. Your age also affects Loyalty. In Golden Ages, you'll most likely never see one of your cities lose its Full Loyalty, but in Dark Ages, you should definitely assign your Governors to your weakest cities to maintain them. The Loyalty system reminded me a lot of the overthrown/deposed functions of Civilization III. In both games, these systems worked out well for me. I had the feeling I could get the cities I wanted without having to build a war and become a warmonger. Instead, I could just focus on my cultural victory, and still gain the loyalty of other cities. This gameplay component also kept me focused on the less fortunate cities in my empire, since they could disappear if I didn't treat them with the love they deserved.

Governors

Governors are mainly used to control vulnerable cities of your civilization to prevent them from rebelling in darker times. However, there's a group of governors you can choose from, each with unique abilities for the city. This enables you to choose your governors strategically. I thoroughly enjoyed the addition of governors, as I could swap them strategically between cities and they'd affect my city planning as well. Their effects on the Loyalty of cities also saved me from some tight spots.

Civilization VI: Rise and Fall - Governors

New leaders

There are 9 new leaders to choose from in Civilization VI: Rise and Fall, in addition to the leaders you could use in the main game. These new leaders have their own abilities and personalities and come with some enhanced AI. They're always good for a smile. I particularly enjoyed Wilhelmina of the Netherlands, since she represents my country, but also because her unique abilities gave me lots of new opportunities in city planning.

Civilization VI: Rise and Fall - Wilhelmina as presented in the trailer

Other additions

There are several other additions that Rise and Fall has. The AI is slightly enhanced at some points (especially with the new leaders joining the old ones), there are new buildings, new World Wonders (like the Taj Mahal), new Natural Wonders, more Resources and even more Units. Additional features like the Emergency meetings are a welcome, but less relevant since they only appear at later stages in the game.

Civilization VI: Rise and Fall - Taj Mahal, one of the new World Wonders

Visuals and Audio

When I saw the intro of Rise and Fall, I almost teared up. The cinematics and audio design were intriguing and astonishing. It made me very eager to start with Rise and Fall. This expansion manages to maintain its ambitious art style introduced in Civilization VI, which you have to be a fan of (I personally have mixed feelings about it). However, with the addition of so much new content, the performance of the visuals is very applaudible. The map feels even more alive, and great updates like the Timeline really shine through in this particular style.

The soundtrack is as always, fitting and awesome. Be it orchestral or traditionally sung, the music in general remains one of the reasons to keep on playing for hours on end. There is little to complain about in Civilization VI: Rise and Fall when it comes to sound and video. You might dislike the art style, but it's pretty enough to not be a nuisance either. 

Missed Opportunities

What I really missed in Civilization VI: Rise and Fall is the fixes for issues I've encountered in the game. The movement of units is still very frustrating and a big change from past Civilization titles. There are more civilizations to choose from, but the AI hasn't improved enough to not be annoying. There are games where one of your enemies will be in the Atomic Era while one of your friends is still in the Middle Ages. At times, civilizations that have no chance of defeating you will randomly declare war or denounce you. Since it's a strategy game, this really turns me off as the game doesn't always follow its own logic. I'd hoped these mistakes would be mostly fixed in Rise and Fall, but that's sadly not the case.

Conclusion

Civilization VI: Rise and Fall meets the incredibly high standard Civilization VI has set for itself. Hundreds of hours of gameplay with rich backstories meet hundres more hours of gameplay through the Rise and Fall expansion. There's more of everything. Everything feels inspired. Rise and Fall might not complete Civilization VI as a perfect game, but it adds an incredible amount of fun to your already awesome journey.

PROS CONS
+ More of everything – No solutions for Civilization VI's flaws
+ More varied ways to approach the game
+ Enjoyable additions such as the Timeline
+ New gameplay components that change the game
9
Amazing

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