Sid Meier's Civilization VI: Rise and Fall

Game review by
Chad Sapieha, Common Sense Media
Sid Meier's Civilization VI: Rise and Fall Game Poster Image
World sim expansion helps foster kids' love of history.

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A lot or a little?

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

Educational Value

An in-game "Civilopedia" provides plenty of (mostly) accurate information on governments, economies, technologies, sciences, cultures, artifacts, other historical subjects. Players will learn basics about famous historical personalities, including leaders, artists, philosophers, military commanders, others while observing how different types of policies, doctrines affect happiness, productivity of populations. Likely to foster interest in social studies, history.

Positive Messages

Designed to stimulate interest in history, including culture, government, science, progression of human civilization. Encourages strategic thinking, long-term planning.

Positive Role Models & Representations

New leaders exhibit various traits, from Zulu's militaristic Shaka to arts-loving Tamar of Georgia. Regardless of leader chosen, players are free to guide evolution of their civilization as they wish, rushing to war or prizing peace.

Ease of Play

Excellent tutorials, in-game explainers teach rookies the ropes as they play. Multiple difficulty levels, customizable game parameters allow players to tune experience to their ability.

Violence

Battles viewed from a raised perspective. Tiny generic warriors use weapons ranging from swords, axes to machine guns, bombs to attack each other. No blood, gore; characters collapse, disappear when defeated.

Sex

Mentions sexual scenarios -- including prostitution, rape -- in historical context.

Language

Occasional use of "damn," "hell," "bastard."

Consumerism
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

References to wine, opium in economic, historical context.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Sid Meier's Civilization VI: Rise and Fall is a content expansion to a world simulation game that allows players to create and experiment with the growth of a human civilization. Players can choose to be as peaceful or as aggressive as they like while developing their nation, pursuing cultural and scientific objectives or building up a vast military industrial complex. Battles involve tiny warriors viewed from a raised perspective slashing with swords or shooting guns. Fights last just seconds and show no blood or gore. Players are bound to learn a lot while playing as they watch the effects of various governments, tinker with different types of economic policies, and read text blurbs on historical characters, such as the Netherlands' Queen Wilhelmina and Korea's Queen Seondeok. Parents should note that these text descriptions occasionally reference mature subjects, including wine, opium, prostitution, and rape, but only in historical context and without glorification.

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What's it about?

SID MEIER'S CIVILIZATION VI: RISE AND FALL is an expansion pack that adds new content and features to the base game, Sid Meier's Civilization VI (required to play). The core game remains essentially unchanged. Players pick a leader -- there are nine new leaders to choose from -- and then settle a capital and begin working over the course of several hundred turns to grow their empire's culture, economy, science, and military to achieve one of several types of victory, ranging from religious dominion to military supremacy. But returning players will notice a variety of changes and additions as the game progresses, the most prominent among them being Great Ages. Reaching specific milestones will increase your era score and result in a prosperous Golden Age, but fall behind and you may enter a difficult Dark Age. A new Loyalty system, meanwhile, allows individual cities to express their allegiance to your rule. If loyalty dips too much, a city might break away and declare its independence. You'll either need to accept its liberation or prepare military action to reclaim it. And should one civilization begin to overwhelmingly eclipse its rivals, other leaders can declare an emergency alliance in hopes of leveling the playing field. Other additions include a new timeline that gives players an up-to-the-minute view of the milestones that have helped their civilization grow through each era, additional content in the form of units, resources, and districts, and new characters called governors that can help manage the loyalty of troubled cities.

Is it any good?

So long as you aren't expecting an entirely different game, this expansion is bound to please. Sid Meier's Civilization VI: Rise and Fall doesn't fix what isn't broken, and adds plenty of fun new content to inject a bit of freshness into an already great game. While some players will be drawn to the expansion simply to have a chance to play the new leaders and civilizations -- King Jayavarman VII of Khmer is particularly fun, especially for those keen to do battle with war elephants carrying giant ballista -- the real joy comes in understanding and mastering the new systems. Golden and Dark Ages can turn tides, which forces players to stay focused on tasks and events that can increase their era scores. It's a good way to help break a long game into more manageable chunks. And keeping cities loyal on harder difficulties makes for a satisfying challenge -- nearly as gratifying as inciting disloyalty in the cities of neighboring empires before marching in to scoop up a defecting metropolis.

Other changes simply improve the player's quality of life while playing. The new timeline, for example, is a nice way to pull yourself out of the weeds for a moment and see how your civilization is progressing over time. And a lightly revamped city information bar keeps vital city details at your fingertips. The new types of alliances that can form -- not just during emergency situations, but anytime -- provide greater reason to engage in the game's previously underused diplomacy system. The sugar on top comes in the form of little surprises that pop up as you play, like the ability to build a wonder you've never seen before, create a new district, or enact a new policy. You probably won't feel like you're playing something new, but with the Sid Meier's Civilization VI: Rise and Fall rule set enabled, you might well feel as though you're playing something better.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about screen time. The Civilization games are famous for their "just one more turn" style of play, which can drive players to keep playing into the wee hours. Can you stop playing on command, or do you need to set a turn limit for yourself each session?

  • Talk about history. When looking at the history of our world, are you more interested in learning about the people who shaped it or the ideas and technologies that helped define eras?

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