It looks like 2019 is going to be a Golden Age (oh-ho!) for iOS strategy fans as Civilization VI's first major expansion has released on the App Store and we've received confirmation of the second being on the horizon.
Aspyr Media's late-2017 iPad port of Civilization VI was an utterly mindblowing effort. Before they brought the - frankly definitive - 4X series over to handheld we simply hadn't seen a proper realisation of the long-running, PC series on handheld. As a matter of fact, the last time an entry recieved a same-pace, same-depth port as its PC counterpart was the N-Gage port of the original back in 2006.
Fast forward to October 2018 and that iPad port became available for iPhone too. However, the PC version continued being developed and also receieved large expansion packs during that time. If you've been wondering where the expansion packs - like Rise and Fall (which launched in Feb 18 for PC), and Gathering Storm (which launched in Feb 2019 for PC) - are for mobile then we now have the answer: Rise and Fall launched on the iOS App Store yesterday, and Gathering Storm later this year.
As well as the developments on the iOS platform, the Civ VI Twitter account also confirmed that both expansions are planned for Nintendo Switch release later this year.
Rise and Fall
Civilization VI: Rise and Fall for iOS, much like the core game's port, is feature complete when compared to the PC original.
There's a lot of major changes to the way that the game works, including scoring for each era. This scoring results in an opportunity to pick out new civilisational bonuses based on how you performed. If you did well then you may go into a Golden Age, if you did poorly then you'll dip into a Dark Age. It's not all bad (but it mostly is) as you can turn around a Dark Age and emerge into a new Golden Age. Doing this will trigger a 'Heroic Age' much like the Rennaisance, which is a hightened age of high culture and as a result you will gain the chance to take rarer and more beneficial bonuses.
In addition to this there's also a loyalty system. This will seem familiar to long-term fans of the series. Each city, including those not of your civilisation, will be influenced by the choices you make in managing your people. If you don't look after your people then they may revolt, and if more presitgious and respectful civilisations loom nearby then they may be able to swing them to their banner. It's functionally similar to Civ IV and Civ Revolution's culture flipping, but done in a much more tidy manner.
Governors have been added to the game, each having their own specialities. These are a more visual, and interactive, way of setting your nation to auto-manage if you don't feel like micro-managing. It feels like a massive, improving riff on the 'auto-govern' functions which have occasionally featured in previous Civ games, and it feels fantastic. These feel a lot more personal and realised than ticking a 'prioritise food' button in a menu, and it allows you to focus on other elements, like the deeoer alliance system.
While it's going to take a ground-up overhaul in order to build diplomacy into a key part of Civ, the improvements to alliances do promote a more passive playthough. Civilzation VI: Rise and Fall added in the ability to 'level up' your intereactions with certain rival civilisations. If you do a lot of research agreements then the reward from them will grow as you specialise in them. While the Civ series almost always boils down to turtling up or muscling down, at least you can now have longer term and more rewarding relationships with the factions who aren't hating on you due to being slightly close to you.
As a further deterrant to warmongering, for what it is worth, there's also an 'Emergency' system. Emergencies trigger when the fine balance of the world is shifted too much in favour of any one player through things such as nuke deployments, city state captures, or other big shifts. When these fire all other players get the chance to form up into an alliance to potentially gain rewards once the crisis is averted. It's an interested addition as it allows the game to better simulate worldwide wars or crusade equivilents without too much diplomacy prepping.
There's also a 'Timeline' feature, which presents your milestones in a sleek timeline, new world wonders, new units, new policies, new civs and leaders and a bunch more stuff that I'm not going to list off here.
For all of my discussion about diplomacy above, it's one of the two key ideals behind the second grand expansion for Civ VI.
Civilization VI: Gathering Storm for iOS, can be best described as having two major focuses: Global Diplomacy and Global Effectors. The expansion introduces environmental effects like storsm, climate change, floods and volcanos. These are not all negative, many of them actually have positive implications if you can interact with them on the right level. For example, a volcano and flood may risk firing and damaging your land, however between those moments the land around them is exceptionally fertile. You can even turn a flooding river into a power source via swapping out dams for hydroelectric ones as the game continues.
There's many reasons why a hydroelectric dam might be very useful in Gathering Storm. For a start, there's now the risk of overly industrious civilisations negatively affecting the global temperature via extensive waste and CO2 creation. The worse you make global warming, the worse the effects; tiles can be consumed by rising sea levels, and the frequency of environmental effects can rapidly increase.
To accomodate for this new focus, resources have been redefined between material and fuel, the latter becoming even more essential due to the potential global repurcussions and cold-hard advantages they can give.
The other major change is the inclusion of the World Congress. This is a much welcomed addition as it allows the relationships between civilisations to dominate global policy, and it also allows the wealthy and sinister to stop Rise and Fall's emergencies from firing under certain conditions.
There's a few other features added in, naturally we see the amount of leaders, playable civs, units, buildings and wonders increase, however there's also tweaks to espionage and a system which randomises future tech. Lots of cool stuff.
Civilization VI: Rise and Fall is now available on the App Store, Gathering Storm will release later this year. You'll need the base game in order to play them.Check out our news section to discover the latest, and greatest, games.