When Firaxis Games’ Ed Beach, the lead designer of the Civilization V: Gods and Kings expansion pack from 2K, began walking us through a demo of the game at GDC, he did a quick by-the-numbers. Sure, Gods and Kings would be bringing players nine new civilizations, nine new wonders, and 27 new units. But he didn’t want to just give us a laundry list of all the new pieces of the game; he wanted to show us how the game itself was changing. What we were treated to for the next half hour or so was a glimpse at how the Gods and Kings would introduce new game systems to Civilization V, making this a true expansion pack, not just some measly piece of DLC.
Fans of the older Civilization games will be happy to hear that religion is making a triumphant return to the series in Gods and Kings. Part of this addition is that faith is now a resource available for use when creating your civilizations and can be earned in a number of different ways. For instance, one of the new units, the Pictish Warrior, earns you faith whenever it attacks enemies. There are also shrines and temples that you can construct, or you can lay claim to faith-based, real world wonders like Stonehenge or natural wonders like Mount Sinai for an extra faith boost. And if that isn’t doing the trick for you, there is a new religious city-state that players can ally with to earn even more faith. Accumulated faith, in turn, can be used to make purchases in the same way that players do so with gold.
But it’s not just about racking up a resource; you actually establish a religion. This starts by establishing a pantheon of gods, of which there are 20 in the expansion pack. “These operate as a gameplay boost you can give to any of your cities that follow that particular pantheon,” explained Beach. Given that he was trying to establish a culture-driven Civilization, Beach opted for the Ancestor Worship pantheon, which granted +1 culture for every shrine in your civilization.
Beach pointed out that pantheons operate in the same way as wonders in that once a specific pantheon is claimed by a civilization, nobody else can use it. “That same kind of race mechanism is here,” said Beach.
Your civilization’s religion is taken one step further around the 50th turn, when a “great prophet” is born. This prophet has the ability found a religion, which you can modify to your liking, even going as far as naming it whatever you would like (Beach joked that the developers named their religion Sidism, a reference to series creator Sid Meier). When founding a religion, you can combine a set of up to five beliefs, which are basically different perks and boosts, like the ability to reap bonuses from any cities — even if they aren’t your own — that are practicing your religion. And how might that come about? Because religion will spread on its own to adjacent cities that are within 10 blocks of each other.
Beach also touched on some of the new city-state upgrades that would be available in the expansion pack, like the new mercantile city-state. In the example that he showed us, one mercantile city state could create jewelry, which could be sold for resources. Jewelry literally cannot be found anywhere else in the game, so if players want to get their hands on it, they have to ally with this particular city-state, Tyre.
And in response to a common complaint that winning over the favor of city-states was more of an economic victory (in that you could just throw money at them to do so) than a diplomatic victory, Firaxis has vamped up the quest system. City-states can now give you up to three quests at a time, and there are new types like individual quests that are aimed at specific civilizations (or religions!) and global quests, which can be completed by anybody. Currying favor by completing quests for city-states makes the accomplishment feel a little more genuine since it now takes more than a fistful of dollars.
Combat in Civilization V will be seeing some new tweaks too, mostly in the form of the new units. There are new ranged units, like the composite bowman, and an entirely new era and tech tree from the Great War (WWI) Era. Units from this new era include tri-planes, WWI-era bombers (which allow players to enjoy air units prior to WWII, which was not possible previously), the machine gunner, and the WWI British tank.
One other big combat change is the adjustments to the naval units. Previously, ships could only do ranged attacks, but now they can directly attack other naval units and perform “melee” attacks on them, as ridiculous as that sounds. They can also do direct coastal attacks on cities that are located near the shore.
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