Civilization 6: Rise and Fall expansion adds many new systems that could’ve altered the core game dramatically, but end up being completely pointless.

Many people, myself included, had high hopes for Civilization 6: Rise and Fall, the first major expansion of the much-loved strategy game.

I was hoping to see some significant changes and a much-needed shake-up of the classic Civ formula. And while the expansion does add multiple new systems and features, most of them feel incomplete; perhaps even wasted.

As you might expect, Rise and Fall adds several new civilizations interesting new mechanics, as well as new leaders to existing Civilizations that unlock new play styles for them. But that isn’t where this expansion tries to innovate.

Civilization 6: Rise and Fall review

The most impactful new system you’ll find in Rise and Fall is the Loyalty system.

Loyalty is a new value attributed to your cities.Cities and settlements deep within your territory will have higher loyalty, while cities surrounded by enemies settlements will have lower loyalty.

You want to keep that loyalty up, as a city with low loyalty might rebel against its owner and even defect to other civilizations.

When I first learned about of this new system, I immediately thought of Black & White 2 and its “Impressiveness” system. I was really looking forward to the ability to take over cities peacefully by manipulating the citizens’ loyalty. Unfortunately, the result was significantly less impressive.

You see, loyalty kind of limits where you place your cities. There’s no motivation to space them apart, as they will most probably rebel. I ended up with massive city clusters that their only goal was to support each other’s loyalty.

At the same time, the loyalty effects on other cities are mostly passive, and there aren’t many actions you can take to affect it directly. One method that does allow you to influence nearby cities loyalty is a project called Bread and Circuses. Once you construct an entertainment district, you can use that project to and increase the loyalty contributed by each citizen in this city.

However, the project’s effects aren’t immediately apparent, and in order to get it to affect nearby cities, you have to fulfill somewhat odd and unintuitive requirements.

The only time loyalty had a significant effect on my game was during extensive military conquests, where a conquered city would turn back to its original owner due to loyalty pressure from its nearby cities still under enemy control. That forced me to go back and recapture that city over and over again.

Civilization 6: Rise and Fall review Governor

Governors are another new element introduced in Rise and Fall. There are several different types of Governors, each granting different abilities and buffs when assigned to a city.

Governors also grant increased loyalty to their city, which makes them a useful tool for preventing an out of the way city going rogue.

But you can’t appoint a Governor to a freshly conquered city, thanks to a built-in delay. That delay renders them a somewhat ineffective tool against low loyalty.

The third major addition is the introduction of Ages. Ages are split into three types: Normal Ages, Dark Ages, and Golden Ages. Each type is chosen according to the Era Score which is in turn calculated by your achievements throughout the previous Age.

During a Normal Age, the player gets to choose a dedication to focus on during that period. These can be for aspects like trade, warfare or research, and give a bonus to the Era Score whenever you complete a specific objective related to your dedication.

A Golden Age occurs when you raise your Era Score past what is needed to achieve a Normal Age. In a Golden Age, your citizens produce more loyalty, and you also get to choose a new dedication. Unlike the dedication in a Normal Age, a Golden Age dedication doesn’t provide bonuses to the Era Scores, but Instead makes certain aspects of your empire better through buffs.

The lack of bonus Era Score helps prevent chaining several Golden Ages in a row.

Civilization 6: Rise and Fall review

A Dark Age happens when you don’t reach the minimum Era Score required for a Normal Age. During a Dark Age, your citizens produce less loyalty, but you also unlock several new policies which allow you to weather the storm. However, they always come at the expense of some other aspect of your civilization.

When you achieve a Golden Age right after a Dark Age, you will unlock a Heroic Age. This one is similar to an ordinary Golden Age but allows you to choose three dedications instead of the usual 1.

My impressions of the Ages system is somewhat similar to that of the Loyalty system. The player doesn’t have enough control over it, and there aren’t that many ways to intentionally influence it.

Most of the objectives that raise the Era Score are ones that I would’ve tried to complete regardless of this system, which make the whole thing a bit redundant.

I often found myself “struggling” to get to a Dark Age because my score would always rise just from playing the same way I usually would.

Civilization 6: Rise and Fall review Timeline

The new Timeline feature allows the player to see the history of their empire throughout the game. It had the potential to add a bit of flavor to the game, but as a purely cosmetic feature, and not an interesting one at that, it ends up feeling as unnecessary and gimmicky as the rest of the expansion.

The reworked alliances system is a welcome addition that actually works well enough. It allows form alliances that focus on different aspects of the game such as research, trade, culture, military, and religion. That way you can have specialized partnerships with numerous factions in the game, which adds even another layer of strategy to your overall play-through.

Overall, Civilization 6: Rise and Fall might add a lot of new systems and mechanics to the core game, but most of them feel like background noise. There doesn’t seem to be any real impact on the game’s strategy or management.

I really wanted to like this expansion, but with most of the new additions feeling like random buffs or punishments, without any real control on my part, I found myself mostly ignoring those systems or even forgetting they exist in the first place.

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