Courtesy of 2K providing access, I have had a few days now to give the upcoming Civilization VI expansion, Gathering Storm, a go. As the name would imply, a lot of the new features in the game are centered around weather and climate. We’ll have more to say about that in the coming weeks in our fully scored review.
For me though, the most exciting additions, by far, are all the new ways that players can be more nuanced with their diplomacy, and even achieve a diplomatic victory.
One of the few gripes I had with vanilla Civilization VI was the game’s seemingly random diplomacy. It was very hard to fully understand why the AI behaved the way that it did, and how one could fine tune their relationship in either direction.
As I noted in my review, Rise and Fall tweaked it a bit, and certainly improved on the experience, but it wasn’t one of its core features. Gathering Storm, in spite of its name, finally features it.
The biggest change is the addition of Diplomatic Favor, a new currency that is the reward when players seek allies, cooperate, and just generally play nice with the international community.
When the Medieval Era arrives, you can start spending Diplomatic Favor in a new World Congress, that allows you to spend your favor to vote and push through resolutions that effect all the Civs in the game.
Eventually, if you accumulate enough favor, and lead the way in cooperation and peaceful events such as providing financial aid to Civs in need, you’ll earn Diplomatic Points.
You can use your favor to gain more points, and eventually, if you score 10 either by overwhelmingly voting for yourself or convincing others to, you can earn a win through the new Diplomatic Victory conditions.
All of these features give peaceful players a weapon of sorts to protect themselves that didn’t exist before.
Before Gathering Storm, if you wanted to be a peaceful player going for either a Culture or Scientific victory, you would just try to isolate yourself, avoid stepping on anyone’s toes, and hope aggressive Civs stayed away long enough to allow you to do what you needed to do to win.
Now with Diplomatic Favor, you can passive-aggressively get some revenge, and even cripple those that cross you through the World Congress.
For example, with your overwhelming favor, which aggressive Civs naturally lack since they likely won’t be in as many alliances or be trading if they are constantly at war, you can pass resolutions that make purchasing an army more expensive or slower, reduce the effectiveness of their most vital resource/luxury.
Speaking of which, resources have also been overhauled to be commodities that are actually accumulated over time, and some of them play into a new Power feature that dramatically changes the endgame thanks to its effect on climate.
Again, we’ll talk more about climate at another time, but it’s worth mentioning as it’s yet another way that crafty diplomats can wield pressure on their opponents, without actually having to go to war. Cutting off trade, swinging your resources to another power, or just hoarding it all for yourself can have a dramatic impact on how the game plays out.
I’l have even more to say when our final scored review is out, but this is exactly what I’ve been begging for since Civilization V came out.
Since Civ V, the series has modernized in so many positive ways, and has made itself way more accessible. However, Diplomacy is the one area that has felt left behind. Gathering Storm is the first time since V changed the game that I feel Firaxis Games is finally treating it with the importance it deserves, and that sets up this expansion to be a great one.