Civilization V: Brave New World is the second large expansion available and it is bigger and better than the first. I play Civilization V with a cup of coffee next to one hand and a mouse in the other in one long marathon setting that usually spans across a quiet weekend. I may not play continuously, but the game sits on my computer like a good game of chess used to sit on my coffee table. We would play for days, each player making a move when walking past the table.
I play Civilization as a pacifist most of the time, building armies for intimidation with the hope of never firing a shot. Brave New World’s focus on international trade, diplomacy and culture has added more complexity and enjoyment to the end game and pacifist victories finally feel like a clever way to win. What exactly is in the box?
International Trade Routes
I never struggled with money in Civ V, but playing as Portugal, I had cash flow problems from the start. The new systems are not well explained and it took me some time to figure out how trade routes worked. Once I had done so, it became a major focus point as they are extremely lucrative and easy to manage. Start trade routes as early as possible, explore as quickly as possible to uncover more and building a vast empire fuelled by the coffers of other civilizations becomes an excellent way to start the game.
New Cultural Victory
Great Artists, Musicians and Writers can now create great works that can be displayed inside museums, opera houses, amphitheatre and great wonders like The Great Library. It adds one more small item to juggle as it is vital to have enough open slots for great works by building enough of the right kind of buildings otherwise there is nowhere to display them. Be aware that you have to build an Opera House before being allowed to construct a museum once you have researched Archeology. Later in the game, Archeologists can also add cultural benefits by excavating sites of ancient battles.
New policies and ideologies
On entering the industrial age, it is possible to choose the an ideology – Freedom, Order or Autocracy. Each ideology has its own set of new policies and this will change the way other civilizations interact with you for the rest of the game.
The word congress is quite powerful and provides the potential for political intrigue like no Civilization game has before. The first civilization to research the Printing Press and come into contact with all civilisations will host the first World Congress. Resolutions can be proposed at the World Congress and these really shape the game if you devote the time to become politically influential. Some resolutions are nicer than others. It is possible to boost scientific exploration and cajole other nations to invest in the greater good, but it is also possible to reign in aggressive or powerful opponents by imposing sanctions, taxes or bans. Play the politics right and the World Congress offers the means to achieve great things; get it wrong and other nations may turn against you.
New Civilizations, Units, Buildings, Scenarios and Wonders
The new buildings, units, wonders, 9 new civilizations and 2 scenarios add more variety and choice to the game, but none particularly changes the way it is played. Venice is the possible exception as it can only be played as a city-state and although other cities can be puppeted, it is not possible to find new cities yourself.
Photophobia (Light Sensitivity)
There is no flash or flicker in Civilization V and none have been added with Gods & Kings. It is very accessible for anyone who has photophobia as a result of conditions like migraine, autistic spectrum disorders, cataracts, colour blindness, dyslexia or traumatic brain injury.
The camera provides a static aerial view with options to move in any direction with either the mouse or arrow keys. Zoom is also available. If the movement of the camera is a problem, click anywhere on the mini-map and you will be jumped there instantly.
Low Vision and Visual Field Defects
The text size is adequate for headings and menus, but the standard text size throughout is small and paragraphs are dense blocks of text. The borders of city-states and other countries can be difficult to notice when zoomed out, but the lines are quite clear when zoomed in completely. Icons are easy to recognize and the zoom option greatly assists anyone with low vision.
There are no localized effects in the centre or periphery of the screen and thanks to the zoom, its very accessible to anyone with central, multiple or peripheral field loss (tunnel vision). Civilization V Gods and Kings makes no changes to the user interface and the title remains very accessible for anyone with some visual loss.
Colour Blindness (Colour Vision Deficiency)
All use of colour is supported by text, illustrations or icons. There is no reliance on colour alone anywhere in the game.
- Video Options can be customized in the Options menu. Set the screen resolution, toggle anti-aliasing and play in either full screen or widowed mode.
- Graphics details can be adjusted by setting 9 different settings.
- VSync can be enabled or disabled with a tick box.
Subtitles & Closed captioning
There are some subtitles and many pop-up boxes and the menu and user interface is entirely text based. Dialogue and sounds not subtitled are limited to some flourishes throughout the game.
Reliance on auditory cues
There is no reliance on audio cues and Civilization V: Brave New World plays very well without sound.
The audio options in the menu is limited to four sliders to adjust music, sound effects, ambiance and speech volume individually.
It is a turn-based strategy game that does not contain any timed elements. Take as long as you like to make your decisions and implement them. There should not be any issues for anyone who struggle to react quickly.
Precision (Manual Dexterity)
Precision is a low requirement as control of your civilization is for the most part done via menu systems and clicking on a tile to assign a function to a particular unit. On maximum zoom, the tiles are large and hard to miss. Commands are mostly mouse-click based, combined with a single key-press for supplementary actions. Accidental clicks can buy buildings or delete a unit, but any action with significant consequences is a followed by a pop-up box asking if you are sure that you want to take this action and with the auto-save option in place, if you do make a grave error, reload the latest save and the problem is solved. Civilization V, with or without this expansion is very accessible to anyone who lacks precise muscular control result of partial paralysis, tremors, spasms or involuntary movement.
A typical game from start to finish can take anything from hours to hundreds of hours, depending on how you choose to play. It is easy to dip in and out of, have both auto-save and manual save options and can be played just as well for five minutes as five hours. It is very accessible for anyone who has a chronic fatigue or chronic pain conditions like arthritis, joint problems or repetitive strain injuries who struggle to play for long periods of time or may need frequent scheduled or unscheduled breaks.
Complexity of Controls
The controls are simple and easy to use. It can be played with a mouse only, with a mouse and keyboard or almost entirely with a keyboard. There is no requirement to hold down any buttons, push them repeatedly and no complex multi-key configuration. It is very accessible for anyone playing with one hand or limited use of both or either hands.
- There is no in-game key mapping, but as there is no complex mechanics, a GlovePIE script can enable complete key mapping for all keys used.
- Full screen and windowed mode are supported, borderless windowed mode is not available.
- Pause any time by pressing escape.
- Auto-save is customizable – set how often you want to save and how many saves you want to keep. You can manually save as well at any time and with Steam, cloud save is also available for up to ten save files.
The language used is text based and quite technical and complicated. Except for the help and tutorial menus, there isn’t much reading to do, but many terms and concepts have to be learned and understood in order to master the game. The text is quite small and at times intimidating if you have dyslexia or other language based learning disabilities.
It is a complicated system, but it is a menu-based system with very little reliance on memory. If you forget what you were building, whether you have garrisoned all your cities or which advancement you are researching, you can look it up in seconds.
Calculations and Currency
Multiple currencies and how to grow and use them are at the heart of all strategies. There is no requirement for intricate mathematical knowledge or calculations, but you have more than one budget to manage successfully.
Complexity and Support
It is a complex game that requires some study to understand and appreciate, but the tutorial is helpful and always at hand. Civilization V has been the most accessible to newcomers in the series with many simplifications implemented to make it easier to start playing without prior knowledge. It remains an intricate strategy game and the expansion has added more to it. If you are looking for an easy game to master, this isn’t it. It’s a thrill ride of menus and fiscal adjustments as time inexorably ticks by bringing you ever closer to the end where either victory or defeat waits.
The single player mode has some interaction with city-states and other nations, but Diplomacy is a limited, superficial and bipolar pursuit as their allegiances tilt towards you and then suddenly away. City-states are largely bought or positively influenced by spies, requiring no social skill to master.
The social interaction with the NPCs of Civilization is not predictable and difficult to understand. Be prepared for anything and if a long-term relationship of friendship suddenly ends with an unexpected declaration of war and an army of foreign invading troops, it’s not you, it’s them.
The multiplayer mode pits players against each other in the race-to-victory. It does not differ from the single player game other than instead of the AI controlling other nations, other players are now pulling the strings behind the curtains. Some social skill is required to converse with other players in multiplayer mode.
- Tutorials can be set to the skill level of the player
- The UI can be reduced in size and feel less overwhelming
- Actions can be automated and production can be queued in a city’s menu to reduce the amount of information that trickles in on each turn and provide a longer viewpoint and more freedom to focus on other aspects of the game.
Civilization V: Brave New World is an expansion pack worth investing time and money in. The extra stuff thrown in provides some variety for those who have already played it, probably twice or more, but it is the international trade routes and world congress that really changed the way I approached playing, particularly in the post-industrial era. I would highly recommend it as a must-have expansion for fans and for anyone who isn’t, this is Civilization V at its best, now is the time to try it.
[stars rating=”4″ type=”Game”]
Product: [amazon_link id=”B00CPLENH8″ target=”_blank” ]Civilization V: Brave New World Expansion Pack (PC DVD)[/amazon_link] | Developer: Firaxis Games | Publisher: 2K Games | Platform: PC | Genre: Strategy | Players: Single and Multiplayer | Version: Europe | Release Date: July 2013 | Content Rating: PEGI 12, ESRB 10+