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PAX East 2012: Civilization V: Gods & Kings with interview
by Andrew Whipple III

If time is your biggest enemy, you're probably shaken to the very core when games like Civilization V surface. But what do you expect when turns can take days, diplomacy issues spill over into reality and strategic movements constantly have you second-guessing yourself? With Civ V's first big expansion on the horizon, Gods & Kings, one of the PC's biggest time sinks threatens to become even greater.

Civ V players will be happy to hear that the entire development team that worked on the core game is also developing Gods & Kings. The game certainly looks as sharp and, as you might have guessed, the expansion is bringing with it a myriad of new features and units. Firaxis states there will be 27 new units, along with nine new wonders and nine brand new civilizations. Two of the new civilizations they showed off consisted of the Huns lead by Attila and Carthage, controlled by Dido.

Firaxis definitely knows their history and they're doing their best to represent what each civilization did well in the past. Each civilization can create unique units, so in Carthage's case the African Elephant was a no-brainer. Carthage can also take their units and traverse mountainous regions almost effortlessly and are able to create the unique water-vessel called a Quinquereme. Spoilers: they aren't friendly.

Since we're on the subject of naval warfare, Gods & Kings is emphasizing a large focus on naval combat. Firaxis didn't like how naval combat was so bland with limited choices in the vanilla game. Oftentimes players would just sit back and bombard a landmass from afar until they controlled it. That didn't strike the developer's fancy. To correct this, naval vessels are now categorized in ranged and melee groups, striking a better balance than just complete ranged.

The other, more important change is the brand new emphasis on religion. Players can now create their own religions and attempt to spread them throughout the land. It's definitely possible to convert cities, but it does take some time. What's really neat is that each religion can choose their own beliefs that are completely unique to that specific religion. For example, if you're the first one to gain religion in a game and you pick a certain religious belief, no one else in the game will be able to choose it. Ever. Your followers also can be assigned beliefs which generate specific rewards based on what you choose.

Using religion and faith as a new resource really changes how Civ V feels. The game was always deep and intuitive, but now it feels even better. There's also a new mechanic in the game that allows for great people or even prophets to be born. What you do with these people is up to you, but it just further accentuates the variety of options Gods & Kings can throw at you.

Ever wanted to know what someone was going to do before they did it? Perhaps you wanted to steal some enemy tech for your own purposes? If so, the new espionage system is just for you! The first civilization to reach the Renaissance will receive a spy. This spy can be thrust into the thick of it to perform multiple acts such as disclosing enemy positions, stealing tech and can even stage a coup. Higher ranked spies can even tell you what your allies are really doing, perhaps saving you from being stabbed in the back.

It's important to note that you can't build spies, so the ones you receive are extremely valuable and come by only as you advance to a new age. Be careful with them! Firaxis also made it a point to express their displeasure with how certain end-games sequences worked out. In the core game, sometimes people would hoard all their gold, wait until the end and then spend it all in one glorious turn, often netting them a victory. To combat this, Firaxis is toning down the value of gold at the end game. Hear that? No more exploits!

As you can see, Firaxis obviously hasn't been slacking. Gods & Kings is absolutely brimming with content and changes fans have been clamoring for. Come June 19th (North America, June 22nd for the rest) you can bet fans will be happy with this outcome.

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- Andrew Whipple III

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