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Monday, May 25, 2020

Civilization VI gets even better with its New Frontier Pass


Article by Matt S.

I love Civilization VI - I've made no secret of that in the previous reviews I've done of it, and with every new addition to the game, Firaxis manage to make the thing more interesting. Every time. 


Last week, the company released the first part of its New Frontier Pass, a season pass that will involve six substantial DLC drops between now and March next year. Each time you'll get new civilisations to play with, new leaders, and some new game modes to play with, as well as other small bits and pieces. The first of these DLC drops, for example, also brings players with new city-states to meet (and probably wish to dominate), as well as new resources to collect within your nation. Most importantly, though, are the two new civilisations, and they're both excellent: the Maya, and Gran Columbia. 

As I've repeatedly said with Civilization, the appeal of the series to me is the ability that it has to make me want to learn stuff. I was already marginally familiar with the Mayan culture, from bits I've picked up here and there over the years, but I admit that more modern South American history has been a blind spot to me, and so over the last weekend I found myself spending more time learning about the leader of Gran Colombia, Simón Bolívar, than I did actually playing the game. Did you know that Bolívar travelled three times as long on horseback in his quest to liberate the north of South America than Napoleon did across his entire career? Neither did I under I hit up the Wikipedia page dedicated to him. I bought myself this book for my Kindle, too. I have to know more about this man. He's fascinating, and not someone we learn about in Australia unless we go and discover this stuff for ourselves. Without Civilization VI, who knows when - if ever - I would have come across his name.


Mechanically the Gran Columbia civilisation is an interesting one, too. Units have greater movement ranges by default, and you can be more tactical with them; with other civilisations, if a unit gets an experience level it has to spend its entire turn "levelling up," but with Gran Columbia, a unit can still have the rest of its turn when it gains an experience level. This allows you to play momentum tactics, where you roll in fast, and then rely on the free "healing" that a unit gets when it levels up to keep pushing deep into enemy territory. You also get a bonus great general character every time you enter a new era, which provides a massive boon to your military forces, and Gran Columbia also gains the Llanero unique cavalry unit, which is a specialist in mass combat and swarm tactics.

The Maya, meanwhile, benefit from keeping their nation small, with cities built close to the capital getting powerful bonuses. Building farms also improve both housing and production, making this essential city improvement incredibly potent for the Maya. Additionally, the unique unit for the Maya, the Hul'che, is a replacement for the archer in the ancient game, and it's much more powerful, allowing you to play a game where you gun for the early leadership advantage.

Beyond the two new civilisations, the new "apocalypse" mode added forest fires and meteor showers as natural disasters. Frankly, forest fires should have been a threat as long as the Australian civilisation has been there, but it's a welcomely authentic addition to having to deal with the various other disasters that can strike. It's also possible to turn on an additional mode that makes nature a nightmare - new disasters to that mode include comet impacts and solar flares, there's a new unit called the "soothsayer" that can call down natural disasters at will, you can sacrifice units to active volcanoes, and if climate change hits the maximum level, the game enters an "apocalyptic" state - something that you don't actually want to experience if you've become in any way attached to your people, I assure you.


Of course, you don't have to play with any of the above, of you can include the new civilisations into the mix where you play as an old faithful. Civilization VI was already ridiculously dense with how much it offers, and with this season pass, just based on the first of six DLC drops alone, there's going to be so much more depth added into the game. It's honestly amazing how well it's all still balanced because... it really is well balanced overall.


We already know that the next DLC pack will be Ethiopia, and it will land in July. We have no idea what's to come for the next four packs after that. While they're likely set in stone, I do recommend that everyone reach out to 2K games and ask for the Ainu to be one new civilization. Firaxis has done such a good job representing native peoples in this game to date. It would be good to see the native Japanese get their moment to shine.

The season pass is pricey up-front, at about $Aus60, though you can buy individual DLC packs if you'd prefer. I do think it's worth it with Civilization VI, though, as this DLC represented what DLC does best when handled well. It gives players totally optional ways to further enhance their game if the game is a hobby unto itself for them, and they're looking for something more. At the same time, it's offered in such a way that doesn't compromise the base game for the more casual players. I have the DLC on both Switch and PlayStation 4, and a two months sounds about right to play this to death until I get a chance to start messing around with Ethiopia. Knowing that I've now got another year of solid releases from Civilization VI to come just solidifies the game as the very epitome of the 4X strategy genre.

- Matt S. 
Editor-in-Chief
Find me on Twitter: @mattsainsb



Civilization VI gets even better with its New Frontier Pass
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