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Sid Meier's Civilization VI: Gathering Storm

Game review by
Chad Sapieha, Common Sense Media
Sid Meier's Civilization VI: Gathering Storm Game Poster Image
Major expansion improves already fantastic world simulator.

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this game.

Educational Value

Kids can learn about many facets of history and human development. Players will learn about historical leaders ranging from Eleanor of Aquitaine to Dido of Phoenecia, including specific military, cultural, and religious elements of their nations and ideologies. Players will develop their own empires, learning how events such as military conflicts, natural disasters, scientific developments, and more have shaped the world in which we live. Sharp players will detect patterns in play and see how they mirror events in our civilization's past. Kids are bound to come away with an improved understanding of and interest in both history and world events.

Positive Messages

This game encourages interest in history, culture, science, government, and world events. It illustrates the consequences of conflicting ideologies and personalities while also showing what can be accomplished when people work together for a common cause.

Positive Role Models & Representations

The new leaders -- each based on historical and/or legendary rulers, such as Kristina of Sweden and the Maori's Kupe -- exhibit a range of personality traits, ranging from religious fervor to a love of culture and human accomplishment. Some lean towards peaceful growth, while others are openly hostile, courting conflict and war.

Ease of Play

Multiple difficulty levels and game modifiers allow players to tailor the experience to their own abilities. The interface may seem daunting at first, but tutorials and in-game guidance do a very good job of leading kids through play, ensuring they don't miss important events and decisions.

Violence

Civilizations can attack each other with units ranging from archers and swordsmen to jet fighters and giant death robots. But fighting's brief and viewed from a raised perspective high in the sky, rendering combatants tiny. There's neither blood nor gore, though it's worth noting that entire cities and cultures can be wiped out.

Sex

Contextual text describing historical practices and events includes words such as "raped" and "prostitute."

Language

Historical quotations and descriptive text includes occasional instances of mild profanity, including words such as "damn" and "hell."

Consumerism

This is a paid expansion to the game Sid Meier's Civilization VI, which players must either already own or purchase in order to play the downloadable content (DLC).

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Descriptions of historical events includes references to controlled substances, such as opium.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Sid Meier's Civilization VI: Gathering Storm is a downloadable add-on for Windows PCs and Macs to the world simulation game Sid Meier's Civilization VI, which is required to play. This expansion contains content similar to the base game, including brief skirmishes between military units (archers, knights, tanks, airplanes, and more) viewed from a raised perspective high in the sky with no blood or gore. It also has quotes famous historical figures and text that describes historical events using suggestive but contextually appropriate language, including the words "raped," "prostitute," "damn," "hell," and "opium." Its depiction of key figures, inventions, types of government, and more, and how these elements affect both nation growth and conflicts between competing neighbors is likely to stir some level of interest in both history and current world events. New additions, including natural disasters, a World Congress, and focused scenarios simply enhance the simulation.

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What's it about?

SID MEIER'S CIVILIZATION VI: GATHERING STORM, a paid expansion to Sid Meier's Civilization VI (required to play), adds new leaders and systems to Firaxis' award-winning world simulation. While the core of the game remains unchanged -- players once again try to create and develop a civilization that outshines all others in a variety of ways, from science to military to religion to culture -- several original elements have been added to enhance the experience. The most obvious are the new leaders, including Canada's Wilfred Laurier, Mali's Mansa Musa, and the Inca's Pachacuti, among many others. Each of these leaders come with unique strengths that set them apart from the others, typically making them suitable for pursuing a particular type of victory -- such as France's Eleanor of Aquitaine, whose love of culture makes her a good choice for players pursuing a cultural victory. Other modifications have a noticeable impact on all civilizations. For example, natural disasters -- including floods, storms, volcanic eruptions, and droughts -- can rip through and destroy key parts of any civilizations they touch, but may also leave behind newly fertile land ripe for exploitation. A new world congress allows players to spend diplomatic favor to push through resolutions that can affect the entire world by changing the value of specific resources or condemning a particular religion. Meanwhile, two new scenarios modelling major world events -- The Black Death that swept across Europe and Western Asia in the 14th century and the outset of aggression between Germany and France at the start of World War I -- provide shorter, more focused experiences.

Is it any good?

This huge and substantial expansion makes one of the best world simulation games ever made even better. Sid Meier's Civilization VI: Gathering Storm deepens, enhances, and improves the experience in a variety of authentic and meaningful ways without overwhelming players with new complexity. The new World Congress, for example, adds an easy-to-understand layer of strategy that grows the game's diplomatic systems -- there's now even an optional Diplomatic Victory condition -- in such a way that any returning player can easily comprehend over the course of a game without wondering what needs to be done. Ditto for the new natural disasters. When settling near an active volcano or river prone to flooding, we're warned of the disasters that might occur in the future -- and the potential benefits after the event -- so we can make an informed decision. Several late-game additions and rule changes bring new drama as you approach the 21st century, including technologies and civics that reflect concerns specific to our current moment in history, such as guarding against rising oceans, dealing with carbon emissions, and resettling displaced populations.

If that's not enough to bring players back for a little more, other additions probably will be. The new leaders come with unique units, buildings, and bonuses that can greatly change your strategy. Kupe's Maori, for example, begin the game at sea, which forces players to grow a very different type of civilization, especially in early eras. The two new scenarios are both fast-paced and intense, with The Black Death rewarding players who know how to effectively direct religion and economy and War Machine forcing players to sharpen their military management. Add in fresh surprises while exploring -- there are more than a dozen new wonders to discover -- and plenty of new technologies and civics to research and exploit, and Sid Meier's Civilization VI: Gathering Storm stands as one of the best expansions of any Civilization game yet.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about screen time. The Civilization series practically invented the notion of players being compelled to keep playing "just one more turn" over and over again until late into the night, so what's your strategy to keep play time at healthy, manageable levels?  

  • What do you think we can learn about our current world by studying important people and events of the past?

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