I have to be honest; I was never huge into the Civilization games before this game for a few reasons. One, I never had the patience to sit down and learn all the intricacies to be a truly great leader (and player), and two, all the micromanaging was never my forte. So when the call came to review the new expansion pack for Civilization V, titled Gods and Kings, I was a little apprehensive at first, thinking I might be jumping in both feet first into the deep end. Boy was I surprised, as I’m now deeply addicted to the game itself and its first expansion pack.
As this review is solely based on the Downloadable Content (DLC), I will assume you’re already a Civilization (V or otherwise) player and already know about the core game itself. As this is DLC for Civilization V, you do need the full game to enjoy all the new features and fixes that’s included with Gods and Kings. That being said, let’s get into the details of why you’re going to want to spend your money on this expansion pack!
So what do you exactly get for your $30 expansion pack? The short list is 13 new buildings, 27 new units, 9 new wonders, 9 new playable civilizations, a new faith mechanic based on religion (like how culture and science already work in the game), new religions, espionage for diplomacy, and three new scenarios that are incredibly fun to play. So let’s go into each category individually so you can see how much new content is here waiting for you.
First, let’s go over the new playable civilizations. Each new civilization employs a special ability, unit, building, power, improvement, or combination of any that makes them a unique choice every time you play. I’ll just quickly go over each of the new ones and some of their special abilities or traits. Maria Theresa leads Austria, their unique unit is a Cavalryman and they can puppet or annex an allied City-State with gold. Queen Theodora rules the Byantines and can command a unique Trireme that shoots fire. Carthage is ruled by Queen Dido, gains free harbors in all cities, and can even pass through and over mountain tiles once they have a Great General. The Celtic leader Boudicca has a unique warrior that not only has a combat bonus outside friendly tiles, but also gains faith when killing an enemy. Haile Selassie rules Ethiopia and gains a bonus to combat versus civilizations with more cities than him. Attila the Hun, who controls the Huns obviously, gains access to a unique Battering Ram much earlier in the timeline. Pacal of the Mayans can create pyramids that generate faith and science. Netherlands is ruled by William of Orange and has a unique unit that can convert enemy ships to his side. Gustavus Adolphus controls Sweden and has bonuses when trading and befriending. Lastly, Spain and Mongolia, which were both DLC previously, are included in the expansion as well on top of the new nine civilizations.
Arguably the biggest addition to Gods and Kings is the inclusion of a new ‘faith’ resource. Faith will allow you to find your own religion and reap the benefits of doing so. Just like how science and culture already works, you cultivate faith in the same way. Once you have missionaries and other special units, they can be sent out to spread your religion in other lands and will also influence relationships with other civilizations. There are eleven included religions that range from Christianity to Judaism to Buddhism and more.
Espionage makes it return to Civilization in Gods and Kings, as you can now employ and send out spies to city-states with various quests and objectives. These spies, if successful, can steal technology, scout, rig elections, and more from their undercover posts. A slight change to spies this time around though is that they aren’t a trained unit any longer, instead they’re given to you at certain points in time and can also gain levels for succeeding in missions. Beware though, as captured spies will also give out information about your civilization, making you decide the balances of risk versus reward.
You’ll no doubt find a favourite civilization out of the new ones quite quickly based on how you prefer to play. Myself, I quickly flocked to control the Carthage since I play a more militaristic game, and now having the ability for troops to scale over the mountains is almost like relearning a whole new strategy and makes the game fresh. With faith and espionage adding a new layer of strategy on top of all the other new features and additions, it’s easy to justify the price of entry for this expansion and doesn’t feel like it’s forced but rather an evolution of the Civilization gameplay we’ve all come to know and love.
The 27 new units will range from Gatling guns to Missionaries, to even Destroyers ships (that count as melee) that are now capable of capturing cities at harbors. The 13 new buildings range from Police Stations (espionage) to Bomb Shelters to Shrines (faith) and more that factor in totally new strategies for gameplay. You’ll also discover new wonders like the CN Tower and Petra among others.
My favourite addition to the Gods and Kings expansion is without a doubt the three new scenarios for you to play and enjoy. The first is “Fall of Rome” that has you playing out the events as either side of Rome trying to defend or even as the Barbarians trying to overthrow the infamous Roman Empire. “Into the Renaissance” is the second scenario that has you playing a religious based situation as you try and defend yourself against the Turks and Mongols. My favourite scenario out of the three though is easily “Empire of the Smoky Skies”. This scenario is based on the steam-punk sci-fi genre where you get to eventually build flying airships and huge menacing looking tanks and even has a twist on the conditions for winning.
Gods and Kings looks like it belongs in the Civilization world and the new animations for the unique units are great to see when zoomed in closely. The airships in the steam-punk scenario also look like they belong and are a believable technology progression. The scenes where you talk to the newly included leaders look like what we have come to expect from Civilization V. Not to mention they are voiced believably as well.
In a day where we seem to get nickel and dimed for every DLC purchase, this is a fully fledged and realized expansion. Those that still play Civilization V will be happy to know that Gods and Kings adds more than just simple unit additions. For instance, the addition of the faith mechanic adds a whole new layer of strategy to an already deep and complex game. With its slew of new features and mechanics, Gods and Kings make a great addition Civilization V world. So if you are looking to come back or a reason to start creating your empire once again, Gods and Kings can be purchased with confidence.