Civilization V: Brave New World Review

It mostly looks the same to vanilla Civ V but there are differences, mostly under the game mechanics hood

  • Developer: Firaxis Games
  • Publisher: 2K Games
  • Release Date: 9 July 2013
  • Time played: Estimated at 20 hours (347 hours Civilization V total)

It's been a long time since I reviewed Civilization V. Unlike the breakneck pace that some EA titles are released *cough* Battlefield *cough*, Firaxis takes a bit more time and care into their titles. Brave New World was released about three years after vanilla Civ V and the differences are considerable, to the point you'd be excused if you thought they were entirely different games. There are even some major changes over Gods & Kings, Civ V's first expansion pack - and that (re)introduced the major concepts of religion and espionage.

Anyway, I've played approximately 20 hours with Brave New World, mostly multiplayer. I can only make an estimate since the 347 hours that Steam lists me as investing actually counts for all versions of Civ V (i.e. vanilla, Gods & Kings and Brave New World).

Plot (5/5)
It's interesting since in my old scoring system I included Plot as an element to every game review, even if it really wasn't a consideration. For consistency in comparing this review with my Civilization V review I've decided to retain it. Nothing has really changed here in that the Civilization series is a great series when it comes to generation of "war stories". No two games will ever be the same which means plenty of new experiences to last you for awhile. In fact, Brave New World might be considered even better thanks to the revamp of culture and the introduction of Great Artists, Great Writers and Great Musicians.

Gameplay (5/5)
I'm happy to say that the gameplay has improved quite considerably over the original version and even Gods & Kings. Especially if you're not the sort to automatically go for a domination victory every time.

The expansion has definitely made it more enjoyable to go for a cultural or diplomatic victory. In fact, the expansion discourages warmongering as the AI will take note of your aggressive nature and conquering city states means less lucrative trade partners. Oh and did I just mention trade? Trade routes have made a return to Civ V and just like Civ II, you can build caravans that contribute production to other cities (not as overpowered as the ones in Civ II though where you can stockpile them to rush wonders).

There's even more "situational" civs as well, i.e. civs that are quite potent in certain situations but have weaknesses too, as opposed to normal civ traits where they get subtle bonuses. For example, Venice acquire cities through Merchants of Venice and can't build settlers! This must be my first Civ game ever where I've never had that ability!

Culture has been the major revamp. Now culture points are used as "defense" and tourism is used as "offense". Become influential over other Civs and you win a Cultural Victory

Sound (5/5)
No complaints about the sound. As mentioned in my original Civ V review, it's great to see some authenticity when you hear the Civ leaders speaking in their native language, even if it's only a few sound bites.

Music (4/5)
Not much has changed with the music. There are little excerpts of music played whenever a great musician writes a Great Work of Music, however all the pieces of music I've created don't seem to be very popular as I haven't recognised them. That or I'm a total n00b when it comes to recognising classical music. I haven't come across any modern pop music such as the Beatles or Elvis (relatively speaking of course). Maybe they couldn't afford the licensing fees?

Graphics (4/5)
I don't seem to be plagued with as many video and graphics issues as I had with vanilla Civ V. Either most of the issues have been fixed with patches, graphics driver updates, a better graphics card or all of the above. Combat animations are still buggy at times and occasionally your cursor might stick on the loading icon when in reality you are able to interact with the screen.

Replay (4/5)
At the current rate, I could see myself playing Brave New World several times throughout the year. It's currently my most popular multiplayer game and I have quite a few friends playing it at the moment (and enjoying it too).

Polish (4/5)
Thankfully many of the bugs have been fixed and basic features that were missing in the original release now exist. For example, the intro cutscene can finally be skipped now and combat animations in multiplayer are now possible. You still get the occasional CTDs and disconnects in multiplayer though.

Score – 9/10

Brave New World is definitely a contender for best game expansion of 2013. The expansion reinvents how culture works in Civilization V and offers more interesting gameplay when it comes to trading and diplomacy. The only real criticism you could make is that they should've had these in the game in the first place! But that's just the way it is with Civ expansions isn't it? :)

If you want to get the game, you can get it on Steam.

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[ LINK: Official Civilization V: Brave New World website]