|Pub: 2K Games|
|Release: July 8, 2013|
|Screen Resolution: 480p-1080p||Drug Reference, Mild Language, Mild Violence|
Rather than undermining the military aspects of the game, these updates put conquest in a new light. Trade routes with allies provide a target for enemies and barbarians, for example, and you'll need to defend them--cooperation and violence go hand in hand. Basically, you're still free to slaughter your way to victory, and pretty much every game will involve some military strategy, but the other options are actually tempting for a change.
There are two new scenarios as well, each of which lives up to the standards set by Civ V and the previous expansion. In one, you relive the American Civil War, starting just after the events at Fort Sumter. In the other, you reenact the "scramble for Africa," the period in the late 1800s and early 1900s in which several European powers sought to conquer the continent to their south. Both of these simulations model events and nations in an amazing degree of detail while keeping the gameplay manageable and allowing your decisions to change the course of history.
And none of this hurts the accessibility that's one of Civilization V's most promising features. On an easier difficulty setting, new players can learn the ropes without facing a serious threat of annihilation. The adviser system guides you through the basic elements of strategy, and there are always prompts to keep you from forgetting basic tasks. Because you have so many choices, the game never seems to run on autopilot, but it certainly does shepherd you along whatever path you choose. Once you have the feel for the game, you can crank the difficulty or face human opponents online for far more challenging experience with no hand-holding.
The AI has been changed, too, not only to adjust to these other tweaks but also to work better in general. Its harshest critics still won't be satisfied, but you'll see less outright stupid behavior.
One last thing that's worth noting: Civilization V's expansions work on a toggle system; in the main menu, you can turn the new content from Gods & Kings and Brave New World on and off. This lets you customize the game to your liking, but it also allows Firaxis to offer both expansions separately. The upside is that you don't need to have Gods & Kings before you install Brave New World, but the downside is that buying this expansion won't give you access to the features included with the previous one, which would have been a nice bonus.
Essentially, if you love Civilization V, Brave New World will open up a world of possibilities. And if you haven't yet picked up Civilization V, Brave New World is the best way to play.
Date: July 15, 2013