Civilization V: Gods & Kings is an expansion that adds more content to Civilization 5 without making any changes that significantly alters how the game is played. Religion and espionage have been added, as well as new buildings, units, civilisations, wonders and scenarios. Firaxis created an excellent package that improves the base game, adding many more hours of enjoyment.

Civilization V screenshot of Circei on randomly generated map

Reasons to play it

Religion And Espionage

The two main features are religion and espionage. Religion is most important at the start of the game and slowly looses traction over time, whilst espionage kicks in the moment anyone hits the Renaissance era and grows in importance over time. Religion tipping into espionage is an interesting concept. Faith is added as a resource similar to Culture that unlocks new buildings, can be used as a currency to buy things and as  religion spreads it can advance your diplomatic relations with like-minded nations and city-states.

Plenty of extras

The mountain of new things breathes new life into Civ 5. It doesn’t change how you play the game, but the addition of 9 new civilizations, 9 new wonders, 27 new units, 13 new buildings, 2 new city-state types and 3 new scenarios makes it interesting all over again.

Room for Improvement

Espionage is a menu

I was hoping for Espionage to permeate the game the same way that religion does, but espionage is caged in a spartan menu. Spies are added to the system over time and for each spy you can choose a city to relocate them to. Place a spy in your own city to counter espionage, send them off to foreign lands to investigate and steal technology or positively influence city-states. It is a reasonable mechanic, but it could have been so much more.

More Civ 5 not (much) better Civ 5

The expansion does not fundamentally change the game and most original flaws remain, if somewhat smoothed over. Diplomacy is still a disappointment despite receiving some love. The somewhat improved AI is still pretty awful in combat at higher levels of difficulty. The flavour of the game is very much the same and although there is nothing wrong with an expansion that smooths over and expands on much loved elements, once you are hooked again, the same frustrations will surface again.



Visual Accessibility * Audio Accessibility * Physical Accessibility * Cognitive Accessibility

Civilization V Roman Empire Start Screen

Visual Accessibility

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.

Motion sickness

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.

Audio accessibility

Information relevant to those who have a hearing impairment, experience problems with speech perception, suffers from tinnitus and the profoundly deaf.

Subtitles & Closed captioning

There are no subtitles, but dialogue is limited to some flourishes when new advancements are made.

Reliance on auditory cues

No reliance on audio cues and 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.

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Physical Accessibility

Reaction time

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.

Civ 5 Gods and Kings Espionage Menu

Cognitive Accessibility


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.

Civilization V Rome City Menu

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.

Social Interaction

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.

Civ 5 Gods and Kings


Civilization V Gods and Kings is an expansion that without a doubt, improves Civilization V. If you have played Civilization V prior to the expansion and loved it, this is a must-have upgrade, but if Civilizaton V wasn’t your thing, the expansion isn’t going to change your mind. It doesn’t make Civilization V any more or less accessible, the game mechanics remain fundamentally the same, but it does add a layer of complexity that might make it difficult for anyone who is still struggling to master the basic concepts. If you have enjoyed Civ V until now, it will renew your interest and add dozens of hours of strategizing to an already magnificent game.

[stars rating=”4″ type=”Game”]

Civilization V: Gods and Kings was released on 22 June 2012 for PC. The game review is based on the PC (exclusive) version of the game.