Sometimes I play in bed vanilla Civilization 6 on my iPad. I'm a big fan of the Civ series and I always enjoy creating my own little empire, especially when I snuggled into my comforter.
But there is a catch. The iPad version does not yet include the update of last year's Rise and Fall which I usually play on my desktop PC. And that makes the iPad-playing, bed-dwelling version of me frustrated. Because fundamentally Civ 6 i is not as good as updated, advanced, in addition Civ 6 . One is more fun than the other.
So it is with Gathering Storm the latest update for non-iPad, which will be released on February 1
But that does not mean that I'm happy. In fact, I'm pretty annoying. While Gathering Storm represents an improvement, it costs $ 40, which is a poor value.
So, I'll just say that if you're looking for a better, more advanced, more complicated Civ 6 then Gathering Storm is just fine. But if you are looking for value, if you do not want to feel like you are a fan and get punished, then I would like to suggest that you wait for a price reduction.
In Gathering Storm the developer Firaxis attempts to become the dedicate grim reality to global warming. In the first parts of the game, I experience dangerous natural phenomena such as volcanic eruptions and flooding of riverbeds.
The risk / yield dynamics are straightforward. Disasters lead to population loss. They cost resources when I send in units to eliminate the mess. But as in the real world, these locations also offer very fertile ground. The choice is; Populate these areas either or Most players take the risk because the downside is a minor inconvenience. Volcanoes and floodplains provide beautiful graphic sequences and pretty map tiles, but their strategic considerations are minimal.
Later in the game they become even less disturbing. The volcanoes fall asleep. I am learning to build flood barriers and the problem is solved. It does not say much about a strategic challenge. It is rather a small set of tasks that are triggered by binary considerations. Do I want to clean up after a flood or not? I'm building a flood barrier, much like building city walls. It is an insurance.
In the industrial age, human activity leads to rising greenhouse gas emissions, leading to sea-level rise threatening low-lying cities. I contradict that again by setting up barriers.
Certain buildings contribute to global warming, such as coal-fired power plants and industrial military units. If I am an environmental asshole, I can annoy my neighbors by contributing to global warming. If I'm nice (I'm nice), I'll do my part to avoid pollution from industrial time, instead relying on the premium of nature or on subsequent technological innovations such as solar farms and hydroelectric power plants.
When I play as a hyper-environmentally sensitive Maori, I get double resources from pristine forests and jungle tiles. I can play as an environmentally friendly person, which is novel and enjoyable.
But again, there is no big challenge. Global warming turns out to be just another reason that competing AIs get pissed off. This is a long list that includes crimes such as the construction of inadequate ships or the lack of investment in military buildings. Environmental protection first and foremost feels like a personal challenge – like a pacifist – as a real game change.
There is no way to "win" as environmentalists. As far as I can tell, human civilization is not destroyed by human activities, no matter how grotesquely shortsighted. The risk / reward offer is too weak to have any real consequence.
I am also alarmed by the persistence of the game that all problems can be solved by technology or that growth spurts at industrial level can be achieved by other means of construction factories. If anything, the Maori are overwhelmed by their generous resource attributes. You do not have to build factories.
If the Civilization series is something, fantasy versions of the story can be created. Here I conquer the world as Eleanor of Aquitaine. That's cool. But history – the reality – must be the basic template. Forests that act like factories are a cop-out. Firaxis has turned a really difficult historical problem into an asininary, binary problem.
The second major shock in Gathering Storm is a rehaul in Civ 6 's disturbing diplomacy system. The Civ series has always been criticized for hostile AI behaviors ranging from dull to incomprehensible to out-of-control.
After playing the DLC for a few dozen hours, I realize that enemies are less stupid than before. Their actions are generally explicable and based on reasonable interpretations of the world, in their view. This is a welcome fix that should be implemented earlier (a) and (b) without stress for long-lived players.
Enemies now show a "Grievance" number based on my actions. I also have a "complaint" against their actions. This means that if my enemy behaves like a tail, I have some latitude to be back without the unwelcome consequence of a global condemnation. This helps a lot with my handling of the AI. We all agree to the Golden Rule.
That is, the AI's are still prone to make stupid suggestions that I'm sure I'll refuse, and make the effort to keep repudiating their sad actions. No, brazilian guy, I do not want to swap all my horses for a piece of gold. And their perspectives are still based on monomaniacal obsessions. The Vikings will still be mad at me until I build a few ships, even if I do not need or want them.
There is also a new victory condition based on diplomacy. I can collect a currency called Diplomatic Favors. These are earned through alliances and supremacy of city-states. I then spend them during UNO-like gatherings, a world congress where a number of proposals are voted on.
Sometimes this Favor currency has a real value and feels like a real strategic catalyst. If I have many points, I can invade another city and reject any proposal to punish myself. Or I can vote to increase the value of a resource I have in abundance. That's real power.
As the game progresses, the World Council has regularly voted to distribute two points for diplomacy every few decades. When I have collected many favors again and again, I will keep losing my voice and collecting the 10 points I need to win.
This is an entertaining alternative to the established victory conditions and creates a novel situation in which I can win the game by being nice to my neighbors. If Cleopatra suffers from a drought, I can send her money and resources, and I'll be rewarded with victory points. Poor Cleopatra receives my aid packages while I strengthen my power. It's downright machiavellian. I like that.
The AIs, who seem to be eager to trade their favors, at least in the early game, like a peanut shell. It's too easy to collect far more favors than anyone, reducing the novelty and the challenge.
There is a pile of other new things in Gathering Storm many of which are enjoyable. The new Civs offer new play opportunities, especially the Maori, who start the game on a raft in the middle of the ocean.
I like to use a military engineer to tunnel through mountains. I like to improve my tourism statistics by turning mountains into ski resorts. All in all, I enjoy trying new units, buildings and challenges.
Gathering Storm is a useful development of Civilization 6 . Firaxis made smart decisions when it comes to global warming, diplomacy, and his own flabby late game. But even if everything is added up, I do not think that this guarantees a price of $ 40. As much as I love this game, and as much as I do not wish to be loved again, I at least expect respect.
Civilization 6: Gathering Storm is now available for Windows PC. The game has been reviewed with a final "retail" download code from 2K Games. Further information on Polygon's Ethics Policy can be found here .