Civilization VI: Rise and Fall
Civilization VI : Rise and Fall provides big historical moments and crises.
Continuing the last couple of Civilization games’ predilection for ‘unstacking’, Civilization VI: Rise and Fall has peeled apart more of the series’ fundamental systems. This time it’s the march through history itself. It’s more dynamic and messy, with civs—as the title promises—rising and falling as they enter new eras and experience Golden and Dark Ages. Yet Civilization has rarely felt this structured or cohesive.
Eras divide Civilization, representing a civ’s technological and cultural level. In Rise and Fall, the system has been spun out into two types of era: Player eras and game eras. Player eras are the mark of a civ’s individual progress, while game eras start and end at predetermined moments and affect every civ.
The result is that you’ll still be rewarded for investing in science and planning ahead, but if you don’t, there’s going to be a fixed point where the new era officially begins, so you’re not going to fall too far behind. It’s a nudge towards parity that keeps things interesting without diminishing the rewards for having the most enviable civ.
It’s with the inclusion of Golden and Dark Ages that things get a bit messier. During an era, every civ is in a race to increase their era score with historic moments. Depending on how many you have, the next era will be a normal, Golden, or Dark Age.
These ages affect the loyalty of your citizens and let you pick era-long buffs that give you new abilities, like recruiting builders by spending faith, or make it easier to accumulate era points through things like building districts or conquering. Get a Golden Age and you might see your civ enter a period of prosperity with every city praising your name, while a Dark Age could spell civil war, turning cities into free cities that can be snatched up by rivals.
A Dark Age isn’t the end, though. It introduces new challenges, certainly, but they’re all surmountable, and indeed there are even some advantages. If you’ve not expanded too quickly and your cities are pretty loyal, then you’ll likely make it through unscathed. If you’ve done well and gathered enough era points during the Dark Age, you’ll enter a supercharged Heroic Age.
If anything, it could stand to be harsher, though I do appreciate that it feels less like punishment and more like a trickier path. I’ve yet to see it fully realize its potential, however. It’s unpredictable, but huge upheavals have been largely absent in my games.
There have been a few large-scale international emergencies, though. These are new cooperative events that task civs with banding together to solve a crisis, targeting another empire. In my game as Scotland and Robert the Bruce, I sparked one off when I converted the Catholic holy city of Seville to Protestantism. It created a mission where I had to hold it for 16 turns and the rest of the world had to stop me. Unfortunately for Spain, only a few friends lent a hand and I got myself a cash reward and an explosion of faith.
While the objectives are simple and the AI isn’t a great team player, it’s an effective way to force civs into conflicts, making the world a bit livelier in the process. Perhaps more importantly, it turns what could have been overlooked moments into significant events. I wouldn’t have remembered the conversion of Seville in any other game, but now I remember it as this siege with Spain and its allies furiously summoning lightning bolts out the sky in an effort to rid the city of my religion.
That’s what lies at the core of Rise and Fall. It’s an expansion that homes in on single moments or periods and gives them greater impact. It shakes things up, so it won’t convert everyone, but the added dynamism is a massive boon for a series where the pace can be predictable.
Every civ is in a race to increase their era score with historic moments