Climate changes Civilization as we know it... awkwardly
THE weather is changing in Civilization VI, as climate change and natural disasters come to the iconic turn-based strategy game with its latest expansion Gathering Storm, developed by Firaxis for PC and Mac.
As the name suggests, the major theme of this expansion is natural disasters and global warming, which can have pretty significant effects on the game, but it's not quite as well implemented as one might hope.
Rising sea levels flooding and submerging your coastal areas are something that require a prominent on-screen alert, not a small notification in the sidebar, which is easily missed.
I was involved in a full-scale war with Sumeria and while my tanks were rolling through their cities, the sea levels rose twice and suddenly a lot of my districts (including my main university campus) and a lot of farmland was totally underwater - and the notifications this had been happening were buried in a sidebar where I was never likely to see them, even if I wasn't at war with another advanced nation.
Natural disasters are a new addition as well, and they can be pretty spectacular - one catastrophic volcanic eruption completely wrecked the area around a neighbouring civilisation's capital city.
Again though, unless they're happening in your territory (or in line of sight of your units), you won't get an on-screen prompt, which is surprising considering how important they are.
Global warming doesn't become an issue until much later in the game, once you start building power plants and the like, but because I tend to focus on science victories it was hard to be super upset about a few tiles from the coast vanishing underwater when I was working on a giant space ark to send everyone to Alpha Centauri.
The World Congress mechanic has a clunky interface and really doesn't work all that well, either, sadly.
In more positive changes, the Maori civilisation joins the game and brings some interesting new elements.
Unusually, they start at sea (other civilisations begin on land) and I found them to be a very effective civilisation, especially on archipelago maps where their seafaring focus provided useful bonuses.
Canada is another nation joining Civilization VI, with a largely pacifist approach and a defensive-focused Mountie unique unit.
The thing to note is Civilization VI is getting increasingly complex.
Sure, it's still nowhere near as involved as Paradox classics like Europa Universalis IV or Victoria II, but there is a lot going on here - especially in the late game - and keeping track of it all can be quite an exercise.
The AI hasn't gotten any smarter either, sadly - regardless of difficulty level.
I still had civilisations switching from best friend to mortal enemy with no explanation.
I had smaller and weaker civilisations declaring war on me for literally no
reason - and refusing to surrender even as my battleships pounded their smaller cities literally out of existence.
Having said all that, what Gathering Storm represents is a further evolution in what is already arguably the best turn-based four-X game out there, so from that perspective it's a worthwhile addition to the game.
If you're a Civilization fan you're going to want this as it adds a lot of new content to the game, but ultimately unless you really want to play as the Maori or Canada, it might be better to grab this when it eventually goes on sale or pops up in a "Gold" edition of the game.