The weather can get gloomy and you will need to bring sunshine to your people in Gathering Storm, the second official expansion pack of Civilization VI, a game in which you play a leader trying to keep a civilisation happy.
Changing environmental conditions, in the form of climate changes and natural disasters, is a key new feature of this pack, making it challenging but a blast to play.
Launched in 2016, Civilization VI is a game of strategy, actions and consequences, over the premise of leading a civilisation from crude settlement to world power.
The game is played via turns, or turn-based, as you explore the world, found cities, keep your people happy, create trade routes, research new technologies, spread your religion, raise your armies and try to beat your rivals through technological superiority, cultural influence or military might.
The gameplay is the same in this new expansion, but there are eight new civilisations and nine new leaders to choose from. These civilisations include Maori led by Kupe and Sweden led by Queen Kristina, while a unique leader Eleanor of Aquitaine is able to control either the French or English civilisation.
Unlike previous versions, the game's world map now is an "living" one, with terrains featuring geothermal fissures and volcanoes situated at mountain ridges that separate continents, while the floodplains and marshes are sited along rivers. Thus, you get natural disasters like floods, earthquakes and volcanic eruptions as you try to build your civilisation.
Furthermore, the game's climate will change depending on what the civilisations are doing. As the game moves from the Medieval era into the Industrial Age, more trees are being cut down and the rise of fossil fuels (and burning them) will lead to more carbon dioxide being produced and the start of global warming. Consequently, ice caps might melt and extreme weather will ensue, leading to more natural disasters.
More realistic game world
Natural disasters add unpredictability
Still highly addictive
Diplomatic victory is tough
PRICE: $49.90 (PC, version tested; Mac), requires Civilization VI original game
GENRE: Turn-based strategy
However, you can help to reduce C02 emission by tapping clean power such wind, solar or thermal energy.
The map does warn you about certain areas being prone to flooding or susceptible to disappearing when sea levels rise, but natural disasters are still going to happen and often unexpectedly. On the flip side, the flooding or the magma flow will make the land more fertile and you can build farms on the devastated land to yield more produce.
It all adds an element of unpredictability that, while frustrating, makes the game more fun.
Another new feature in this expansion pack is the new Diplomatic Victory condition. This is linked to a new currency called Diplomatic Favour - gained by doing another civilisation some goodwill such as gifts or keeping promises to your neighbours like creating new trade routes. Diplomatic Favour can also be traded with other civilisations using gold and other commodities.
You utilise the Diplomatic Favour during voting of new resolutions in the World Congress - the game's very own United Nations. For instance, if you happen to be a coastal civilisation and the first to suffer the effects of rising sea levels, you will want other civilisations to stop burning fossil fuels. And you add more Diplomatic Favour into your vote to get the resolution passed in your favour, which earns you points much needed for a diplomatic victory .
But achieving diplomatic victory is tough. As the World Congress only convenes once every 30 turns after the Medieval Age, it is tough to earn enough points quick enough for victory compared to other means like military conquest or cultural influence.
Civilization VI - Gathering Storm is a worthy expansion to get for Civilization fans, particularly given the newcause-and-effect climate change gameplay and the unpredictability brought about by natural disasters.