What does an expansion need to accomplish to be successful? I like to think the purpose of an expansion is to reinvigorate a person’s enjoyment of a game. An expansion needs to add something new to the game while also making what was already there better. Civ 6 Rise and Fall definitely falls into the category of an expansion that makes the game feel fresh and new, while expanding upon what already made the core game great.
A great place to start with this new expansion is the new Civs that you can play. Each new ruler adds to the unique way you can build your empire. You have Civs like Poundmaker who really encourage you to build lots of trade routes throughout your empire. You also have Civs like Korea who have specialized campus districts that give a LARGE bonus to your science score. Something that always amazes me about the Civs is how unique they are. Each of the Civs added in this expansion feel totally different from one another and are all suited to different playstyles. I personally fell in love with Scotland. They have the ability to build golf courses which not only increase your happiness but also your gold and culture.
Another major change to the Civ experience is ages. As you progress through the game you are given an era score for various actions like clearing a barbarian encampment or building a wonder. This era score adds up and affects whether you go into a dark, normal, or golden age. What’s fantastic about this is each age comes with its own bonuses and hindrances. Being in a golden age is nice but it may encourage other players to try and take you down a peg or two. A dark age may sound rough but you can select policies that help your empire grow even in dark times. This feature continues throughout the whole game which makes some of the normally stagnant end portions much more interesting and enjoyable.
Once feature I wasn’t sold on when the expansion was announced was loyalty. In the new expansion every city has a loyalty meter and depending on how happy the city is and how close it is to your other cities that meter will rise or fall. If your loyalty in a city gets too low, it can flip and become a free city for the taking. I was worried that because of loyalty you couldn’t build large empires (which c’mon, we all love to build large empires!) In truth, though, this feature works well and doesn’t hold you back on empire expansion. What it does force you to do is be more strategic about how you capture cities. You may have the military strength to steal a city from another player but will you have the loyalty to keep it. I still don’t know if I am totally sold on loyalty but it is a fun mechanic to have to juggle.
The last major feature to be added in the game is governors. These guys and gals ROCK! Each governor has their own bonuses that they add to the city they are housed in. You can either choose to get more governors or upgrade the governors that you already have. Either way, having governors will help your cities grow in new and profound ways. I personally like to have lots of governors as this helps with city loyalty but if you prefer to grow tall and not wide, the upgrades you can get on your governors are worthwhile.
All in all, this expansion isn’t a requirement. The core Civilization 6 game is great on its own and doesn’t need an expansion. My little brother asked me if he should pick up Rise and Fall, wondering if it was worth it for an occasional player like him. Even with how great the core Civ 6 experience is, I still strongly urged him to get the expansion. It doesn’t reinvent the wheel but it does make the whole experience better. Its additions can be felt throughout a playthrough from beginning to end. Get it now and spend a few hundred hours enjoying this wonderful game.