Since this is an expansion, the rest of this review is written with the expectation that you've played Civilization 5. Religion works like culture or the happy ticker toward a Golden Age, with "Faith Points" counting up based on religious buildings or civilization bonuses. Once enough faith points have been accumulated, a civilization can create a parthenon, which offers up one bonus in a large list of improvements. The next faith milestone is to get to a couple hundred points and create a Great Prophet to establish a religion. You'll want to get there sooner rather than later, since only a certain number of religions can be established per game (dependent on settings). In other words, if you don't establish one fast enough, you might not establish one at all.
After the religion is established, you'll have a longterm subplot throughout the rest of the game. As you focus on winning the overall game, you'll find yourself trying to spread your religion. Once a religion is established, players choose up to three more bonuses, and then another two bonuses a little later with the religion's expansion. Over hundreds of turns and thousands of in-game years, you'll send out missionaries to proselytize and inquisitors to quash heathens in your lands. Religion can also spread naturally, but at some era you'll have banked enough faith points to buy missionaries and inquisitors to control your religion's destiny through brute force.
The second major addition, espionage, takes on two roles: either as a catch-up tool if you're falling behind in tech or as a luxury bonus tool against city-states. Once you receive your first spy, you can place it in a city you've discovered and beging a small side quest. Espionage is all handled through a menu system – no pieces to deal with – so it's actually efficient and intuitive. If you're falling behind in tech, just place a spy in a smart civilization's city and let them work their magic to obtain free technology without having to research it. As long as the other civilization doesn't have a spy doing counter-intelligence in the same city, you should be be good to go.
Personally, I liked using spies for city-state election rigging, which will bring a city-state more in your favor for easy luxury resource accumulation. Actually, city-state management is much simpler in Gods & Kings
in general, with far more opportunities to get these random tribes on your side. Instead of being a nuisance that you'd have to put effort into in the normal Civilization 5
, the city-states definitely feel more part of the game than before. They are still useless for anything beyond their bonus resources, but at least getting those resources doesn't necessitate crushing them or focusing on the patronage civic.
Other tweaks veterans may appreciate include more luxury resources, melee and ranged naval units and a bunch of nit-picky balances to wonders and great people.
With a couple hundred hours of Civilization 5
under my belt and shown on my waistline, I welcome the changes of Gods and Kings
. It's more Civ 5
and I could easily wrap my brain around the additional mechanics. Will it satisfy the complainers who thought Civilization 5
was too streamlined? Unlikely, but Civilization 4 Complete is still readily available
Everything in this expansion makes me feel like we're approaching (or have already hit) the "final version" of Civilization 5
. There's certainly some more balancing to be done and bugs to squash in this expansion, but all the major concepts of previous Civilizations have been added and done so in a way that fits Civilization 5
This review is based on review code provided by 2K Games.
Note: Joystiq does not provide star ratings for downloadable content reviews with the understanding that the quality of the core game's experience is unchanged from the retail release to DLC add-ons; see: Civilization 5 review.