Civilization 6: Gathering Storm Review
Reviewed on PC
When you think of the Civilization series you tend to think of seven year-long games, angry Gandhi, and an enjoyable meander towards a peculiar victory. Civilization is an incredibly enjoyable series - just not one that often requires a lot of quick thinking... I mean, it is a turn-based strategy game after all. Well, Gathering Storm - the upcoming bit of DLC - is set to try and change that, it introduces a vast array of new and returning features that are designed to make each match more dynamic.
If that sounds like it's a strange thing to do for a turn-based game that's because it is, but it doesn't change the fact that it works pretty well here. So what exactly has been added?
Well, we have the World Congress back again. This comes up every so often and is a meeting of the minds basically. In it, each of the leaders decides to vote for against certain propositions - things like one leader getting extra gold if they are trading for example. This is where it really pays to be friendly with your neighbours, after all, it's much easier for these to go in your favour if play nice.
These little bonuses affect the following turns and can turn a troubling situation into a favourable one if you play nice with the other kids. This isn't all though, there are special events that can occur. For example, there might be a cultural world fair, where each nation competes to bring in the most tourists, the winner gets a nice cash prize and a few other bonuses. It also regulates aggression too, if someone is being too "British Empire" about things then the others are likely to band together in order to reclaim an invaded city. Every instance changes things slightly and it leads to an interesting new flow to the game.
Of course, Gathering Storm is named so for the new environmental effects. The changes this makes are huge. Everything about your placement from the moment you set up your first city onwards is impacted by these new systems. If you decide to settle on a coast, then you may well be in for trouble later on. Using too many fossil fuels in the industrial era onwards can cause sea levels to rise, essentially trashing large swathes of your hard work if you aren't careful. This feels a lot weightier in a long game, but in a shorter one still has an impact. You can even use up too many resources and end up turning a once bountiful area into a desolate husk. You really have to weigh up your expansion and how you go about things. Deciding to use lots up quickly to try and win is only fine if you do so. Scorch the earth and fail and you'll find yourself with no means to carry on.
Then you've got the disasters that aren't man-made - because climate change isn't helped by humanity. Perhaps the most impressive of these are the volcanos; gigantic world impacting monoliths to the power of mother earth. An eruption will decimate anything in the local area but will also leave the ground more fertile. It makes for an interesting interplay between risk and reward. You can't predict when the eruptions will happen, so you just have to accept them as something that's going to and then figure out if you want to risk it or not.
Then there are the completely wild events like hurricanes and floods. These can ravage certain parts of the world depending on their path of placement. A flood will affect areas around a river and leads to similar considerations as with a volcano. Do you want to expand into an area that could be washed away?
All of these things make for a game which is substantially more dynamic, a world that is always changing, and a game which is notably different from one moment to the next. It makes for more drama than ever before, and you never feel quite like you're fully in control. It's exciting and makes each game more exhilarating than ever before.
All of this is added plus a plethora of new units, leaders, tech, civics, and much more. Honestly, it's astounding just how much Gathering Storm adds. This should be the piece of DLC that skyrockets Civ VI above every other iteration because it's truly astounding. Even once a match is over you can now compare your victories and losses to previous ones thanks to the Hall of Fame. There's just so much here, all of which makes for a new feeling game, one that has been built up and is a titan of the genre now. This is well worth dipping back into Civ VI for and you'll be engrossed for hours upon doing so.