Back in the middle of February, I participated in the Civilization podcast PolyCast episode 140 along with hosts DanQ, Makahlua, TheMeInTeam, and qnl. We discussed several topics relating primarily to Civilization V, including:
- An interview between GameInformer and series-creator Sid Meier about the future of the franchise.
- Discussion of recent forum topics on Civ Fanatics, including flaws in Civ V's score calculations and the best civs to use in ranked multiplayer.
- An open-mic call-in from Verade regarding our favorite game in the series and how Civ III stacked up against Civ IV and V.
You can listen to the entire podcast below, or visit PolyCast's website at http://civcomm.weplayciv.com/polycast/.
Participating on the podcast was fun, and I hope that the fine folks at PolyCast invite me on again in the future. We had some good discussions, and it was very nice to have a chance to talk to some hardcore veteran Civ players, since I sadly don't have too many friends who are big fans of the series.
One of the more notable elements of the podcast (from my point of view) was that during the podcast (at about the 12:45 mark), I speculated that Firaxis and 2K's support for Civ V in the form of patches may be slowing down because they are working on an expansion pack. I want to emphasize that this was pure speculation on my part.
But, low and behold, by the end of the month (February), 2K announced Sid Meier's Civilization V: Gods and Kings!
I called it! They did it! I'm like Nostradamus over here. ;) ;)
I'm definitely excited about the announcement of an expansion, but I have to admit that my excitement is a bit tempered by the fact that the feature set of this expansion feels very much like fan service. Firaxis seems to be implementing a lot of things that the community has asked for, but I don't know how well they have been thought-out or implemented into the rest of the game's mechanics. Notable new features include:
- A new, customizeable religion mechanic with eleven different religions.
- A new espionage mechanic that comes into play during the Renaissance.
- Expanded industrial era with earlier aircraft units (biplanes) and WWI-era land-ship tanks and machine guns.
- Melee naval units, including the ability for naval units to directly attack coastal cities.
- City states are able to offer multiple quests at the same time, and can offer passive, "first player to do X" quests.
- New civilizations including Maya, Dutch, Byzantines; new units and wonders; expanded tech tree (hopefully a longer classical era); new city states including new religious and mercantile types.
- 3 custom scenarios, including the fall of Rome and a Victorian "steam-punk" variant.
The religion management widget from Civilization V: Gods & Kings.
Most of these features are things that have been requested by the community, but none of these are really new ideas. Religion and espionage are things that have been in previous games and which should have been included in the base game. But whatever. We're finally getting it. No real surprise that these features got packaged into an expansion.
Espionage is also returning in Gods & Kings.
The most appealing element of the expansion (to me) is that the diplomacy and AI are supposedly being beefed up. Supposedly, the AI will do a much better job of building a balanced army and (hopefully) using them better. This will be a huge boost to the playability of the game, particularly in single-player. The AI will also plan betrayals and invasions in advance.
The expansion has been announced for late spring, but no specific date has been announced. I will look forward to it.