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Jul 23, 2013
Rock, Paper, Shotgun - firstname.lastname@example.org (Adam Smith)
I’ve founded religions, spied on my neighbours and sent a spaceship in search of a new home on a distant star. The promise of a Brave New World was enough to bring me crashing back down to Earth though, and I’ve been making new friends, meeting old enemies and creating great works of art. This latest expansion takes on the greatest challenge of all – injecting some meaningful activity into Civilization’s end-game. I’ve spent a week uncovering its charms and chores, and here’s wot I think.>
Robots are brilliant! There's almost no problem they can't fix. Whether it's your lack of a chilled beer, the continued non-eradication of human existence, or the finicky way Civilization V handles multiplayer match-ups. That last problem has been solved by Giant Multiplayer Robot, which is actually a website, not a robot. Although maybe it's a website run by a robot.
Currently in beta, the service aims to make Civ 5 multiplayer easier to organise, by removing the need for all players to be logged in at the same time. Instead, the client uses the game's hotseat mode, automatically swapping the save file between players. The app's creators (who, if you remember, may be robots) have made a video to show the system in use:
The service also offers other improvements to the hotseat mode, by allowing players to leave an in-progress game, customise the turn-timer, and even use mods. That Adventure Time-themed multiplayer campaign that I know you've been dreaming of? Totally possible.
You can check out Giant Multiplayer Robot, which has just been updated with Brave New World support, at the app's website.
In addition to making the world Brave and New, Civ 5’s latest expansion can also make it a little confusing at first. With the huge changes to trade, culture, and diplomacy, you’ll probably want to know a few things before you start shepherding your next civilization to victory. Listen closely, my liege...
Trade Routes are your main source of income
Before Brave New World, the main way to boost your income for most of the game was with buildings and, sometimes, tile improvements. Now, the new trade route system is what will be filling the lion’s share of your coffers. If you want to get rich quick, research caravans (and later, cargo ships), and max out your trade route limit as early as possible.
Also keep in mind that trade routes are more profitable the more resources each partner has that the other doesn't. A wise Trade Prince will want to found cities on scarce luxuries for maximum profit. And don’t forget to protect your trade routes from pirates and barbarians with a decent army and navy.
Tourism is thine sword, Culture is thine shield
The new method of culture victory involves overpowering the Culture of all other civs with your Tourism. If you’re going for a Culture victory, this makes it important to get your culture train rolling as early as possible. But you were already doing that to stack those amazing policy bonuses, weren't you? Weren't you?!
If Culture victory sounds like your thing, be aware that you won’t be able to generate a lot of tourism early on. Do whatever you can to boost your rate of Great Person generation, and rush like mad for the wonders that can hold Great Works with excellent theming bonuses. You will need to do some trading to make the most of said bonuses, but be sure you don’t trade away something you’re going to need for another slot later.
Control the World Congress, control the end game
The World Congress becomes possibly the deciding factor for the rest of the game from the moment it’s founded. Other than enabling Diplomatic Victory, it allows you to cripple your rivals by non hostile means... though they can do the same to you. It can give you a leg up on other victory types with shared wonders and mandated research funding. Ignore it at your peril.
By extension, City-State allies are now even more important, as they come to represent a majority of the possible votes in the World Congress as the eras draw on. I haven’t played a single game of Brave New World in which I didn't end up taking the Patronage policy tree to exploit this. Be nice to the little guys, and their votes will lead you to dominance.
How I learned to stop worrying and love the new ideology system
Ideologies (Freedom, Order, and Autocracy) have changed a fair bit. You now have an incentive not to join the prevailing world ideology, as the first civ to choose each branch gets two, free policies. They also now tie into the tourism system. Civs with high Tourism can cause unrest in civs using a different ideology where their culture is popular.
Also beware power blocs with lots of city-state allies, as they can pass a resolution in the World Congress instating a “World Ideology,” making it very hard for anyone outside that ideology to get anything passed ever again. A similar resolution exists for World Religion.
With the above suggestions in mind, you should be prepared to face the Brave New World that awaits you. Oh yeah, and Alexander is still a huge jerk.
Read our review of Brave New World.
Jul 8, 2013
Civilization V was always the most fun just before the end of the Renaissance, with the experience sliding into a slog post industrialization. The new mechanics added in the previous expansion, Gods and Kings, grow less relevant, and you’re either well on your way to your chosen victory condition, or pretty far from it. Brave New World creates an endgame that is as varied, textured, and tense as the early and mid game already were. Overhauls to the cultural and diplomatic victories have made achieving either of these a more hands-on, aggressive process that will keep you making meaningful decisions and planning ahead.
The most noticeable chunk of these improvements comes in the form of the World Congress, an expansion of the United Nations that was (and still is) the path to diplomatic victory. Now coming into play in the late Renaissance/early Industrial era (when things used to bog down), the nations of the world and their city-state allies can vote on measures like banning nuclear weapons, building cooperative wonders, or embargoing a given civ—with truly devastating economic consequences, given the moneymaking potential of the new trade route system.
Whereas income was largely a matter of upgrading your cities before, Trade Routes are now the main means of generating gold. Following the expansion's theme of making passive game elements more active, you'll build caravans and cargo ships, then decide where to send them. You need to be trading with other civs or city-states to generate cash, which adds another interesting diplomatic layer. If you're a megalomaniacal conqueror hated by all, you'll find yourself without trading partners, and your economy will almost certainly crash.
It’s important to protect your trade routes with a strong navy, and some certifiably bad dudes on islands.
The other new mechanic is Tourism, a resource that opposes the culture value of other civs. If your Tourism outpaces their Culture, you can eventually become Influential among their people. Doing so with all remaining civs is the new means of achieving cultural victory. Tourism is generated by Great Works of Art, Writing, and Music, each created by a new or revised form of Great Person. The new systems take Culture Victory from probably the most boring way to end the game to one of the most active and engaging.
Of the nine new civilizations added for this expansion, I was especially captivated by Venice. Essentially a playable city-state that can never found or annex new cities, Venetians rely on the ability to build double the number of trade routes as anyone else, which becomes a licence to print money in the late game. It's probably the most out-of-the-box civ in the franchise’s history, and playing it is a whole new experience.
Firaxis has also thrown in a group of new historical scenarios: the lackluster American Civil War, and the Scramble for Africa. This latter option is a deep, extremely replayable map, featuring a randomly-generated, explorable interior for the continent and three different victory conditions. Each of the three groupings of civs—Europeans, North Africans, and Sub-Saharan Africans—have very different goals, and because the map is different each time, playing the same culture group twice doesn't diminish the scenario’s great sense of discovery. It stands alongside the likes of Fall of Rome as some of the most fun I’ve had with Civ V.
Discovering a new, randomly-generated landscape every time is what makes the Scramble for Africa scenario shine.
Comparing diplomats to pope hats, Brave New World isn't quite as much of a step forward as the Gods and Kings expansion. But the later eras are an entirely new affair, solving some of the game’s largest problems in novel and enjoyable ways. Brave New World’s additions to the already-excellent Civ V have resulted in the high point of the franchise, and one of history’s greatest turn-based strategy experiences.
The picture - the header of our Thief review from 1999 - may be a bit of a giveaway, but why not? It's Friday, after all. We can indulge in a little bit of misty-eyed nostalgia without fear of our bosses asking us why we're staring wistfully into space and making bow and arrow and mimicking guard-clubbing animations over and over again. That's the sort of freedom only the weekend can bring. Here's what we're planning to play between now and Monday, but what will you indulge in?
We like to live on the cutting edge here at PC Gamer, so this weekend Phil will be playing a bright new thing from Looking Glass called Thief: The Dark Project. Apparently it has these things called polygons and features lots of emergent crime and - wait - it's not 1998? Oh well, that's okay, Phil's planning to modernise it with the NewDark patch, which should help it run on his fancy pants modern computer box (it's not even beige!). He likes stealth. He likes crime, but he's never played the original Thief, so it should be an interesting education. Will cudgelling those broad, sharp-shouldered guards prove as interesting in a post-Dishonored/Deus Ex: Human Revolution world? We'll see.
Rich, meanwhile, is still playing Rogue Legacy from last week, but is also planning to dip back into Dota 2 to relax. Okay, maybe not relax. to hone his sense of focus in a highly competitive arena, which is Rich's equivalent of a summer break, really. Dota 2 fans can look forward to a proper release for Dota 2 in the coming month or so. The release itself is largely symbolic given the number of invites swimming around players' Steam inboxes, but it might come with a significant update and new heroes. Beyond that, there's The International 3. I'm determined to learn enough about Dota 2 before then to understand what is going on. I'd like to get in on the cheers and excitement triggered by plays like these:
I was lucky enough to review Saints Row: The Third, and liked it very much indeed, which is why I'm excited that Chris is going to give it a go this weekend. He's played the (very funny) opening hours, but there's so much yet to discover, the laser-shooting VTOL jets, that whole section set inside a computer, the bit with the tiger. After just a few hours, you have more toys than Batman, and the city is yours to boss. It's a riotous little power fantasy, elevated by a lust for silliness and a sense of abandon that, for some reason, reminds me of Dead Rising. I'm pretty sure there wasn't a penis bat in Dead Rising, though. FOR SHAME.
Graham will spend the weekend peering over a fine glass of port, listening to Tchaikovsky and calmly taking over the world with art in Civilization V: Brave New World. The second expansion, due out next week, adds new cultural victory conditions, and lets you use great artists in more interesting ways. If he doesn't come back to work in a top hat and start lecturing us on renaissance values then I will be surprised, and just a little bit disappointed.
Apparently it's going to be gloriously sunny here over the weekend, to which I say NO. I demand RAIN and TRENCH COATS. Evocative sci-fi adventure game Gemini Rue will answer the call, giving my mouse pointer control over the fate and actions of a hardboiled space-detective and an imprisoned amnesiac. Will our jump-suited captive regain his memories? Will our coated friend escape the clutches of the sinister Boryokudan? Will I ever master the fiddly cover-based gun combat system? Don't look at me, I'm only a few hours in. I might just stand in one of those beautifully drawn streets and listen to the rain for a while instead.
That's us, but how do you plan to escape the sunshine this weekend?
Jul 1, 2013
Shacknews - Alice O'Connor
Almost three years after launch, Civilization V's promised Pitboss multiplayer mode is finally arriving today in a new patch. The update also brings an observer mode, support for custom maps in multiplayer, AI tweaks, new terrain art, bug fixes, and more, making everything spick-and-span for the launch of the Brave New World expansion next week.
Pitboss is, in the words of the patch notes, a mode "which allows players to connect, take their turn, disconnect, and come back later. Email notifications and steam notifications are built into the system." A more laid-back mode for people who don't want to sit and play a round for several hours straight, see.
At first Pitboss will require someone to act as server, but developer Firaxis plans to release a standalone server that doesn't require a Steam account, "once the system has received a healthy amount of feedback from the community"--ie it's ironed out bugs and niggles.
The patch brings loads of other fine changes, especially to multiplayer, so do check the notes. It's due out later today, and should update automatically through Steam.
Jul 1, 2013
Rock, Paper, Shotgun - email@example.com (Adam Smith)
Civ V brings out the worst in me and Brave New World may be the expansion that changes all of that. I was approaching the industrial age in a recent multiplayer game when I realised what a terrible ruler I was – ‘terrible’ not because I was a failure but because I was too much of a success. I was the coal-devouring, smoke-belching face of global domination, like a nightmarish Punch cartoon come to life, the leader of a people who saw foreign nations as obstacles to be removed. Civ V is a strategy game that encourages the drive toward victory rather than the establishment of a culture with character. Brave New World may change that when it is released on July 12th. Here’s an early launch trailer.
Sid Meier is second only, perhaps, to Tom Clancy in the ranking of “guys with their names at the front of game titles.” Unlike Clancy, though, Meier actually had a hand in developing legendary games like Sid Meier’s Civilization, Sid Meier’s Alpha Centauri, Sid Meier’s Pirates!, and the original X-COM.
Meier hasn’t always courted the press, but over at Kotaku there’s a lengthy feature interview relating Meier’s recollection of pivotal moments in gaming history. For example, there’s the somewhat-disputed origin of the “Sid Meier’s” moniker that made its way to so many of our favorite games:
“We were at dinner at a Software Publishers Association meeting, and Robin Williams was there,” longtime collaborator Bill Stealey says. “And he kept us in stitches for two hours. And he turns to me and says ‘Bill, you should put Sid's name on a couple of these boxes, and promote him as the star.’ And that's how Sid's name got on Pirates, and Civilization.”
The interview also explores a lot of Meier’s personality, including some aspects that I had never known before. Meier is a devout Christian who plays music for his church. Though his games are frequently about violent times and places, there is never any blood or gore shown. He designs and creates his games by playing them, over and over, until they are fun.
For a ton of great anecdotes about the games and studios that defined Meier’s career and, in turn, defined an industry and a generation of gamers, check out the full profile.
Image from Firaxis.
Jun 28, 2013
Sid Meier's Civilization V’s newest expansion, Brave New World, doesn’t hit PC until July 9. But the drive of the human spirit to create great things is so indomitable, so profound, that the producers of the launch trailer refused to wait and instead released it today. For freedom! For progress!
Or maybe they put it out 11 days early because it’s got Keith David narrating, and that alone should pour some gas on the publicity fire.
We’ve had a lot of fun with Civ V and its various expansions, and we’ve been looking forward to diving into this one. It adds nine new civilizations including Morroco, Brazil, Venice, and Indonesia. The new civilizations and their leaders can strive toward eight new Wonders, including Broadway, the Globe Theatre, and the International Space Station.
Players can also look forward to conquering the world monetarily through new trade routes or bringing nations to order through the World Congress.
Brave New World hits on July 9 in the US and July 12 everywhere else. You can snag it for $30/£20.
Shacknews - Steve Watts
Civilization 5's fast-coming Brave New World expansion focuses heavily on the late-game, according to the creators. A new launch trailer highlights that by showcasing several of the world's more recent events, like the advent of movies, tanks, airplanes, and rocket ships.
In fact, it gives such a rousing summary of our greatest accomplishments over the last century or so that it's easy to momentarily forget it's advertising a game expansion pack. That's just the kind of opportunity you have when your game is all about human achievement. Check it out below.