Review

Civilization V: Brave New World Review

  • Game release: September 21, 2010
  • Reviewed: July 8, 2013
  • PC

Brave New World fulfills Civilization V's full potential, and stands as one of the most expertly crafted strategy games in years.

Civilization wears a special mantle within the realm of strategy games. As one of the first games in the genre and a progenitor of the 4X style, it not only spawned one of the most popular strategy franchises but also one of the most influential. Sid Meier's Civilization V took many core elements of gameplay back to their roots, retooling and refining them in an attempt to modernize the aging mechanics. It was a somewhat controversial move, stripping out much of the complexity that fans had come to expect, but after both Gods & Kings and Brave New World, the full beauty and elegance of what Firaxis has done is readily apparent. With exceptionally clever additions to many of the weakest areas of past entries, Brave New World isn't just the best Civilization has ever been; it stands as one of the most expertly crafted strategy games in recent memory.

Richmond should probably be a little worried.

Probably one of the biggest changes is Brave New World's inclusion of trade routes. In the past, international trade was handled solely by agreements between two heads of state and formed the core of the game's diplomacy system. Now, trade routes establish the new foundation for international relations. You have the option of building caravans and cargo ships and then either shipping supplies to and from your own cities or trading with other rulers and city-states. Distant civilizations and those with different luxury resources yield higher profits, but are vulnerable targets for hostile forces. Significant investment is necessary to reliably safeguard your income sources during the early game, but the trade-offs can be highly beneficial.

Much like the soft power exercised by real-world economic cooperation, the full potential of trade is elegantly subtle. Science, religious influences, and some cultural effects are also transferred via trade routes. If, for example, your civilization is significantly more advanced than the one with which you are trading, your advantage slowly begins to disappear as your trade route grants huge research bonuses to your trade partner. Similarly, religious pressure is transferrable and can be used to great effect if you're looking for a clever method of picking up converts. Additionally, if your favored stratagem in Civilization revolves around rapid expansion of your empire, then internal trade routes can be used to transfer food and production resources to new cities, allowing you to rapidly build up defenses and boost population growth.

Cargo ships are worth quite a bit more to raiders than caravans, and historically, merchant fleets have been the fuel of the world's mightiest powers. The oceans can be a big place, however, and even in the later stages of the game when you have aircraft carriers and battleships at your disposal, guarding several thousand miles of transoceanic routes can be taxing. What it does do, however, is provide a rare excuse to build and maintain powerful naval forces. This update not only brings Civilization in line with one of the more critical elements of history, but it does so in such a fun, unique, and genuinely creative way that the whole system couldn't feel more natural and fundamental to play.

In the Scramble for Africa scenario, you can play as either a European colonial power, or any one of several first nations.

The second major addition to the Civilization feature set is tourism. As an expansion of culture, tourism fundamentally alters one of the game's many win conditions. In previous iterations of Civilization V, cultural victories were handled in an incomplete way. Culture-producing buildings, wonders, and great persons would drive social innovation, allowing you to select new policies that gave your civilization certain bonuses supporting different strategies and play styles. After five social ideas had been completely adopted, you could start the Utopia Project and claim victory. While fun as a sort of idealized method of establishing global domination, the Utopia Project was very difficult to defend against, requiring either a powerful military action or a dramatically superior cultural output to be quickly developed--neither of which is easy at any stage of the game.

With Brave New World, that system has been retooled. Culture still allows for social innovation and the adoption of new, beneficial policies, but they are no longer the real key to a victory; they're simply a decent gauge of progress. A culture win now requires that your civilization hold significant sway over the majority of other civs in play. By fostering a society that creates great painters, musicians, and writers, and then displaying those works publicly in museums and theaters, you compete with others for the attention of the global community; the greater your influence, the closer you are to a win. Buildings, units, and various other features have all been added to support this play style and, most importantly, to help prevent other players from winning too quickly.

Later in the game, you have access to ideologies, which are three expanded trees that can help you further refine the focus of your nation. Freedom, order, and autocracy all support different strategies and play a role in diplomacy. Freedom is focused on helping more great writers, artists, and musicians find their way in your society. Order gears your civilization for raw industrial output and can help fuel a powerful war machine. Autocracy establishes a rigid social structure that can help you focus your society on the creation of wealth, science, and expansion. Countries with matching ideologies receive bonuses to trade and tourism on both sides, while those with opposing perspectives suffer penalties. Changing ideologies is difficult without a dissatisfied citizenry, but with some planning and basic information on your rivals, careful choices can help prevent other countries from gaining too much cultural influence.

The World Congress allows anyone to propose resolutions that can have huge effects on the countries of the Globe.

New systems for managing great works, as well as the completely new archaeology mechanic, reinforce these ideologies. In Brave New World, most artists no longer produce one-off boosts to culture; instead, they create great works, modeled after real paintings, songs, or literary works from history. As your civ creates new great artists, they demonstrate the creative output of your country to the world. Paintings can be put on display in museums to help attract tourists, musicians can go on concert tours or create masterpieces that echo through your orchestra halls, and writers can compose a political treatise for a one-time culture bonus, or their work can be showcased in amphitheaters or art houses and used to help increase tourism.

Unlike most units, archaeologists can operate well outside their national borders and can construct temporary tile improvements and archaeological digs in foreign territory. Once discovered, these artifacts can either be returned to their "rightful" owners or taken to bolster your own country. Reflective of the tradition of cultural plundering on the part of quite a few European nations throughout history, within the context of Civilization, these units can be used to prevent cultural warfare or as gestures of good will. It's a small addition, but it helps reinforce the new cultural victory mechanics and the final major gameplay change: the revamped diplomacy system.

Delegates in the Congress are apportioned based on your alliances with City-States.

One of Civilization V's biggest changes was the inclusion of city-states, miniature nations that could ally themselves with another civ and grant minor bonuses as well as militaristic or trade options. To achieve a diplomatic victory, you needed to win an election in the United Nations and be appointed the secretary-general. City-states played a role, and well-managed relationships yielded bonuses easing that path. Brave New World takes all of those gameplay tweaks and dramatically expands upon them, yielding what may very well be the most full-featured diplomacy system seen in a game like this.

Once any given civilization has researched the printing press and has discovered every other player on the map, the World Congress is established. After a variable number of turns, the congress is convened again to consider resolutions, sanctions, and global projects like a World's Fair or the International Space Station. Each time the congress meets, you are given a number of delegates based on your alliances with city-states, your status as a host of the conference, and the current global era. The civ that discovers the others is always the first host of the congress and receives a huge advantage in setting the tone for diplomatic relations moving forward. This is a substantive expansion of the rules governing diplomatic victory, and it establishes the World Congress and, later, the United Nations as a full-featured mechanic with a purpose beyond determining a winner.

City-states receive a huge boost in terms of relevance, for example, because your relationships with them determine what resolutions you can pass or what you can block from other civs. Voting is public as well, so committing delegates to one or another policy can help forge or break alliances. Certain proposals, such as those for new congress hosts and the establishment of a world leader, must be called by a city-state, preventing abuse on the part of players. Steamrolling too many of the tiny city-states not only makes diplomatic victory impossible for you, but could lead to huge sanctions limiting trade, removing access to your luxury resources, or severely crippling your military power by imposing an international tax on standing armies.

There's now an entirely new screen for managing culture and the placement and organization of great works.

Beyond the additions to diplomacy, culture, and trade, Brave New World comes with eight new wonders, nine new civilizations, and about a dozen new units. Each of them brings a bit more to the already staggering amount of content contained in the core game as well as Gods & Kings. These additions don't affect all that much, but the new civs are built to take advantage of the updated mechanics, and they reinforce the overall theme of the expansion. It is, however, a little disappointing that not all of the content from Gods & Kings is included, most notably the civs that are unique to that expansion. If you have Gods & Kings, you will have access to everything, but if you skipped out, Brave New World isn't all-inclusive.

Further refinements to the AI have yielded more-cautious opponents that actively seek to exploit your weaknesses throughout the game. Careful diplomacy is necessary to successfully navigate the potential minefield of political opponents and also prevent any one nation from gaining too much influence in the World Congress. Still, if you're too aggressive, you're likely to draw the attention and ire of other civs who will actively aim to cripple your civilization through embargoes, sanctions, or any number of other political actions. Victory is much harder and requires more careful management of the image of your civ and its place in the world.

Beyond the open-ended single-player "campaigns" and multiplayer matches that have become the staples of the series are various prebuilt scenarios chronicling specific eras of history. Brave New World features two such modes covering the American Civil War, and the second European wave of colonization and the Scramble for Africa. As the peoples of the world are still struggling to slough off the legacy of the late 19th century, these scenarios offer a tasteful, informative, and fun perspective on humanity's ambivalent relationship with colonialism, imperialism, and human exploitation.

Social Policies have also received an overhaul, adding two new groups as well as sets of ideologies to help you customize your Civilization.

Civilization has always been a big game, seeking to encompass the entire span of human history, from the advent of agriculture and animal husbandry to the exploration of space. The game is a monument to humankind, both its triumphs and its sins. Brave New World taps into some of the darkest chapters of the long and storied history of our species, but presents them with respect, reverence, and a distinct sense of optimism for our uncertain future. This expansion is a fantastic accomplishment, and one that finally fulfills all of the potential of this chapter of the series.

The Good
Gameplay updates help balance different play styles
New mechanics build upon previous games and expansions
Scenarios are great twists to the standard, open-ended play
Brilliantly irresistable gameplay
New AI tweaks take advantage of refined victory conditions
The Bad
Not all content from previous expansion is included
9.5
Superb
About GameSpot's Reviews
Other Platform Reviews for Sid Meier's Civilization V

About the Author

Daniel Starkey's first review for GameSpot was his critique of Starseed Pilgrim, and he hasn't looked back.

Discussion

413 comments
haftjik
haftjik

" As the peoples of the world are still struggling to slough off the legacy of the late 19th century, these scenarios offer a tasteful, informative, and fun perspective on humanity's ambivalent relationship with colonialism, imperialism,"


Don't agree with this statement that the violence, terror and theft associated with imperialism or colonialism has a neutral or 'ambivalent' reaction from the Earth's peoples.


And that cuts to why I feel somewhat ambivalent towards this game, while I don't doubt the strategic excellence etc - I know that I am agreeing to become infused in the personal beliefs of Sid Meier and others, on which civilisations were important, on who invented what and on the likes of the above issue - was colonialism good? I don't think so. You will get a certain right wing opinion on world history in this game, whispered in your ear as you play.


Don't agree with the politics (and history (as just one version) IS politics) of Civ 5 but the strategy etc is interesting.

vfibsux
vfibsux

Finally got to this in my backlog and was pretty underwhelmed. The diplomacy sucks, the AI sucks. I love how someone can go from being your friend to denouncing you in one turn even though you did absolutely nothing. I am not talking the Mongols either. Too many things make zero sense. 

I just got done nuking the crap out of the Netherlands after they started a war with me, laid waste to their entire land. They beg for  peace, then within 2 turns they are insulting me for the lack of strength of my military lol. 

Seriously, the game is so overrated. It gives you MMO syndrome, even though it sucks you will  continue to grind carrots just to get to the next one. Addicting and good are two different things.

raduz123
raduz123

I thought GS were stopping scoring games like this, instead using a strict 1-10 scale?

Yannakos
Yannakos

God I wish they made this for the console!  I don't play computer games anymore but would love to get for the PS4!

FroMcJoe
FroMcJoe

Sweet so they made the game what it should have been initially

Senor_Kami
Senor_Kami

Is there a new update or an alternate opinion review for this or something?

*edit* Ahh, it is.  I'd go with an 8.5 for Civ V+ All the Expansions but 9.5 is close enough.  Personally hoping Civ 6 is simply Civ 4 with the new features of Civ 5 bolted on.

jumpyluweegee3
jumpyluweegee3

Why is this listed as the top current game when it came out three years ago?

thecman25
thecman25

hard to believe this game got a better score then bioshock infinite and grand theft auto v

quickshooterMk2
quickshooterMk2

new reviews eh? 

this game is great! but it's biggest con it's addicting as fuck 

i would advise if you have job/work/high school project, then don't play this game unless you have a vaction 

CyberLips
CyberLips

I thought GS didn't use half points anymore...

Gaming-Planet
Gaming-Planet

Damn this game is addicting. 

Hours go by so fast and you can't stop!

Trikl0ps
Trikl0ps

One of the worst parts of the Civ/SMAC saga. I thought I'd give it another try after vanilla 5 was so damn boring that I couldn't believe it. I'm like the biggest fan of Civ, especially 4 BTS. 

Unfortunately, the game still sucks completely. The AI cannot deal with 1UPT (hillarious stuff happens when he tries to position his ranged units.. in front of his melee ones), diplomacy is stale and offers nothing. Buildings take ages to construct, you do not need more than 3-4 military units in the early days and you better not build too many buildings or roads because they cost a fortune in maintenance. This all results in a "gameplay" of clicking Next Turn for 20 minutes in a row (exaggerating here a bit). And that is the only thing you do. 

God, this is so boring. Until 0 AD I steamrolled 3 opponents in Civ 4 with an axemen/swordsmen rush, followed by a beelined Lib and musketeers. I founded my religion and spread them to my neighbours, securing diplomatic relationshis around the globe. What happens in Civ 5 compared to that? Exactly.. nothing! 

vincent_jupiter
vincent_jupiter

The best turn-based strategy game that i ever played. 

crypa
crypa

it becomes boring in time, because diplomatic its static, full of flows, how on the earth is a submarine invisible, but attacking an ancient ship it means war, who told the faction about the nation of the submarine   GOD??? what use of aircraft is that, you still need units on foot around a city in order to attack, thats blasphemy, i cant play it further its just a kid game.

Rampagerabbit
Rampagerabbit

Love this game and the new expansion pack just add more love to this well designed and crafted game.

aaaas15
aaaas15

goooooooooooooooooooooooooooood


Detriiment
Detriiment

So sad that Gamespot isn't making video reviews for games as good/as famous as Civ V  .... Wtf are your reviewers doing that they can't take the time out of their schedule to review one of the greatest RTS games of the year?  Jesus Christ, this site disappoints me more and more everyday.

maddogmark25
maddogmark25

People who are saying this game is boring are obv. bored by strategy games; why are you even commenting?

Its_MitchConnor
Its_MitchConnor

Fun for the first day you play it but rapidly turns into a snoozefest.

sethfrost
sethfrost

Before this comment disappears in the realm of neverness: no one has trouble with the "historical" setting of this series? I am not talking about the inaccuracies, like the Morrocan ruler from the Saadi clan, who just discovered the Kilimanjaro, only 4 tiles away (never mind the biggest desert on Earth in between, I guess), or that his "General" is called "Rommel"(!) and their neighbors are a native American tribe (Shoshone) on the soil of AFRICA! This games mechanics are propagating a unified view of the world and the people in it. Everyone and everything under "one" game mechanics (which means "one set of rules"). Diversity, complexity, heritage and history, are just different colors on the same set of units. "History" as lipstick. To me (yes, I am old) this game is not just silly (no matter how good the gameplay may be, to some), but it is sadly reducing (or stealing) history for its ludicrous purpose.

ABArules
ABArules

wow prior to this the only strategy game i played was shogun 2 which was amazing, coz i t has real time slashing ;), but i never knew a turn based RTS can be this good i bought it on steam sale and started playing with greece and am hooked to this masterpiece, its the best diplomatic options you will see in a game, and of course the nuclear bomb, i was bombed by my greedy neighbour gandhi lol,  revenge will be mine,

Jam133
Jam133

I feel so terrible that my puny mind can't deal with turn-based strategy games. I'm really missing out but I just can't get to grips with them. I have Civ V (no expansions) and have never been able to get my head round how it all works. As a recent PC convert I'm ashamed. Is there something wrong with me?

ttomm1946
ttomm1946

@vfibsux Agreed..The most overrated Civ yet......zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz

shaharpazpaz
shaharpazpaz

@raduz123 It's an old review, written before the new system. They said all old reviews will remain the same

amar1234
amar1234

@raduz123 

They could be using IGN score system?I mean even the website looks like IGN now, so its 1-10 in 0.5 increments so 20 point scoring system instead of the 100 point they used to have. Or more likely its the old score, as its a old game that they reviewed a long time ago.

Senor_Kami
Senor_Kami

@thecman25 It is a pretty great game that can easily last you hundreds of hours before you get tired of it.

raydawg2000
raydawg2000

@CyberLips I thought you would of noticed this game was reviewed months ago, well before the new point scale was put in place

simc1
simc1

@Trikl0ps Seriously I played thousands of hours on every Civilization (from 1 to 5) and this last one completely blows. If you are not at war there is almost nothing to manage besides waiting for the next policy. The biggest letdown in videogames history, challenging the new SimCity for this unfamous prize...

Rampagerabbit
Rampagerabbit

@maddogmark25 This game is not boring in anyway, and those you think that need to play it a bit more to understand what it is all about. Is not a fast past FPS or RTS game. This game is perfect in pretty every aspect of it. So correct that you say, why even commenting if they think is boring make no sense.

loudbill13
loudbill13

@Its_MitchConnor 


Are you playing as the same leader, and playing on the same map over and over again or something? There are tons of ways to win, tons of maps to play on, and tons of leaders to play as. There is also a pretty big community for it on the steam workshop.

Nevsek
Nevsek

@sethfrost  @maddogmark25  @ruddockjack  @gilldominic Seth does make a good point for future iterations of the game.  Even though each civilization has their own stats, advantages, and disadvantages, they still all move toward the same ends.  The concept and implementation of modernity is the same for every culture.  In the real world, this is an effect of the global proliferation of Western colonial attitudes.  If each civilization were left to its own, modern society would look vastly different depending on each culture.

For Civ VI, this could add an amazing diversity to gameplay if each society developed its own concept of modernity.  Of course, this would be speculative, but as pointed out by the respondents, the game isn't about accuracy.  Civ developers are missing out on an opportunity to explore what could have been if non-European cultures had dominated the globe.

ruddockjack
ruddockjack

You utter numbty, like most video games civ isnt meant to be a history lesson, I hate to break it to ya but most plumbers dont have moustaches and can jump higher than a house, and hedgehogs arent blue, get over yourself gonad.

maddogmark25
maddogmark25

@sethfrost It's a strategy game. It's not meant to be an accurate  historical representation of history. It's meant to be fun.

gilldominic
gilldominic

@sethfrost The Civilization series has never been about obsessively adhering to historical accuracy or simulating actual real history to the tee.

It is a video game. It is designed to provide an enjoyable game experience.

You describe how each civilization is the same except for their colour. Yet that is a completely inaccurate description of Civilzation V's gameplay. Every nation has different modifiers, and as you play the game, you further modify, adapt and specialise your nation as you see fit through terrain improvements, buildings, technologies, social policies, religion and countless other variables.

It isn't about each nation having a manifest destiny the moment you select to play them, which must be adhered to. Each nation is more a character to take on a journey. You develop the character yourself, and the journey is different each time. That is part of the beauty, and one of the main drivers as to the success, of Civilization.

You can attack most any video game or film or book or any piece of fictional (and often even non-fictional) media ever produced on the grounds of accuracy, or depth, being sacrificed to produce an enjoyable end product.

Ultimately Civilization isn't about history at all. You are creating your own history each time you play a game.

PeejayYeh
PeejayYeh

@Jam133 It's just okay. Strategy games require patience and perseverance, and once you get the basics, the game becomes you. Once you learn the game through experience, the game will give you an overwhelming, lasting imprint in your mind that will span in a very, very, looooooooong time, enough for you to appreciate the Strategist-Tactician in you. Bon voyage to your PC strategic life, mate! And try other Strategy Masterpieces, too, including Chess. ;D

isrq
isrq

@Jam133 No.Most strategy games are a bit hard to get grip on at first.Just be patient,spend some time with it and mark my words, you'll find out what a great game it is. 

Tohirun
Tohirun

@Jam133 have you tried to finish the game?

as the game progress, you'll learn the game mechanics

just experiment

Sid Meier's Civilization V More Info

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  • First Released
    • Macintosh
    • PC
    • Unix/Linux
    Civilization V features a number of new elements, as well as the addictive gameplay that has made this empire-building series a hit.
    8.2
    Average User RatingOut of 4842 User Ratings
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    Developed by:
    Firaxis Games, 2K Games
    Published by:
    2K Games, Aspyr, Mastertronic
    Genres:
    Turn-Based, Strategy
    Content is generally suitable for ages 10 and up. May contain more cartoon, fantasy or mild violence, mild language and/or minimal suggestive themes.
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    Drug Reference, Mild Language, Mild Violence