Civilization 5: Brave New World Review

I love the Civilization franchise – before starting on Brave New World, I had sunk 100 hours into my Civ 5.  I think my favourite thing about the game is that no matter how you play (militaristic, cultured, etc), there is a way to win that will be satisfying.  Brave New World is an expansion with a focus on culture and diplomacy, which is a lot more realistic, but not necessarily suited to everyone.

CivVBNW_ReviewScreen_al-Mansur bargaining

In general, I prefer to strive for cultural or scientific victories.  It’s not that I’m against violence, but I just don’t enjoy early game battles – there is no joy in seeing my puny archers and warriors go up against other pre-historic units.  If I’m going to get a military victory, I wait until I have helicopters and nukes and take over the world quickly and efficiently.  So, for me, Brave New World added a whole new level of interest to the game.

Unlike vanilla Civ 5, Brave New World has a more realistic cultural victory.  Rather than adopting policies and then eventually building the Utopia project, this cultural victory happens when you spread your culture around the world, eventually becoming the dominant influence in all other civilizations.  As your civilization advances, your tourism will also grow – this helps to spread your influence.  Your influence grows from cultural buildings, masterpieces created by great artists, writers or musicians (and later in the game, archaeologists), as well as trade routes.

CivVBNW_ReviewScreen_Nau and Feitora

Trade has a new approach in this expansion.  In addition to the usual swap meets between leaders, you can now set up trade routes between cities.  You can send food between cities in your civilization, or trade with foreign cities in the hope of getting more money, as well as possibly spreading your religion or getting more science.  International trade also spreads culture and influence, making it a powerful tool towards cultural dominance.

Related:   Rumour – ARK: Survival Evolved is getting an expansion called Scorched Earth

Before going on to look at the change in policies and ideologies, I need to stop here and just look at all the aspects that went into the change in cultural victory.  As you might imagine, this was a lot of fun – I was able to found a religion (as added with the Gods and Kings expansion), spread it around the world and eventually become the most culturally dominant force in the world.  However, I find the game to now be overly focused on culture.  It is almost by default that you will achieve a cultural victory – in previous play-throughs, I really didn’t know if I’d manage a cultural, a scientific or a diplomatic victory.  With this expansion, as long as you build all the normal buildings and wonders, as well as use your great artists to build masterpieces (and not start a golden age), it can actually be difficult to get a scientific or military victory before winning by cultural or diplomatic victory.

CivVBNW_ReviewScreen_Ashurbanipal Ideology match

Speaking of diplomatic victories, there is a much stronger focus on diplomacy in Brave New World.  The World Congress gets established relatively early in the game, allowing voting on a variety of proposals – everything from establishing a World’s Fair to adopting trade embargoes.  City-State alliances become more important considering the voting, and your decisions about proposals can affect relationships with other civilizations.  This provides a longer build-up of diplomatic ties (especially when combined with embassies and espionage as added in the Gods and Kings expansion), making a diplomatic victory seem less contrived.

Policies and ideologies have been revamped – new policies have been added and the ideologies only become available in the Industrial Age.  Whether you adopt Freedom, Order or Autocracy will open a variety of abilities, as well as wonders, and change your relationships with other civilizations.

Related:   Get out of boring suburbia in The Sims 4: City Living


I found the ‘normal’ games to have some added elements of enjoyment, yet the inherent weaknesses of the game are still apparent.  The early game is dynamic and interesting as you explore, grow and meet new civilizations.  However, the mid to late game is still rather uneventful.  If you manage to survive the early game, by later in the game you are probably so far superior that you can research and buy any unit or building that you might need in order to dominate the others.  It becomes a matter of getting through the turns until you win.  Otherwise, if you are playing on a harder difficulty, you will probably be destroyed before you even have a chance to grow into a threat.

As for the scenarios, I thought the Scramble for Africa was a lot of fun.  You explore and plunder the Dark Continent in a race for dominance.  I found it particularly striking that you can’t declare war on other European powers if you play as a European power yourself, or other African nations if you are playing as an African nation.  This led to my inevitable war against the Boer nation – what else was I to do when playing as England?  Just by having this small restriction, you end up only considering war against the African nations, while opening embassies and borders with your European neighbours.  Definitely worth a play through.

CivVBNW_ReviewScreen_UN Session

On the whole, I thought that Brave New World added some interesting new aspects to Civ 5.  I like the organic approach to cultural victory, as well as the added realism in trade and diplomacy.  The game can still stretch on a bit long, especially when you know you will reach victory in 27 more turns but just getting there seems to take ages.  If you’ve played through Civ 5 more times than you care to admit, this expansion definitely freshens things up and adds a whole new level of game play.  Just be prepared for some accidental cultural victories along the way!

Related:   Hearthstone’s One Night in Karazhan adventure kicks off this week


This expansion goes a long way towards ironing out some of the kinks in Civ 5. There are still some issues, but I will probably sink more hours into this game than I care to admit.

Civilization 5: Brave New World was reviewed by Zoe Hawkins on a PC

Author: Zoe Hawkins

Wielding my lasso of truth, I am the combination of nerd passion and grammar nazi. I delve into all things awesome and geek-tastic. I believe people should stop defining themselves and just enjoy playing games, so let's get on with it!

Share This Post On
  • Admiral Chief Groot Wors

    I’m loving the fact that turn based still has a great part to play in today’s gaming 🙂

    • Skyblue

      I tried XCOM for the first time a few days ago (PS+ freebie) and I’ll def be getting into it big time after I’m done with TLOU. I seem to remember a few guys freaking out about how awesome it is and I agree.

      • Admiral Chief Groot Wors

        Yeah, currently on my 4th playthrough. Loving it

      • Warren Ross

        I bought XCom for my wife on Friday, and she chalked up 24 hours over the course of the weekend. 🙂

        I’m busy with my 6th attempt at “classic ironman,” and I’m about halfway through and confident of a win. If you do get it, I’d recommend playing with “ironman” enabled as the tension goes through the roof!

        • Admiral Chief Groot Wors

          Ironman is for my next playthrough.

          Have you done the marathon mode?

          • Warren Ross

            No, my first play-through and win was on “normal ironman” which was very touch-and-go as I lost almost my entire squad on a very late mission. However, the strategic portion of the game is not too difficult, and I managed to win without even getting complete satellite coverage.

            Classic difficulty is very tough…I do believe you need to be just a little lucky right up through your first terror mission. If you can get through that you have a fighting chance.

            I’ve actually found that playing on “classic ironman” is making the game take a lot longer anyway. Because I was always going for engineers in the beginning and focusing on satellite stuff, research becomes incredibly slow and it’s difficult to actively progress the plot until your economics are solid.

          • Admiral Chief Groot Wors

            I’m finding Marathon mode quite more difficult as certain things that would, for argument’s sake, take 7 days to complete, now costs almost 3 times as much and takes 28 days.

            Lost 3 council members quite early on, as it was really impossible to juggle the time/resources/etc

  • John Ambitious

    Listening to the gamers? Have they completely mad? We should know from MS that that is a big no no this early…you have to screw up first, then listen to them.

  • Hammersteyn

    Paul Kruger FTW. That’s one Lions tour the Brits almost didn’t survive.

    • Admiral Chief Groot Wors


    • Admiral Chief Groot Wors

      Although some say he was a bit of a coward :-/

      • Hammersteyn

        Well I talk shit about people who have done great things too. Doesn’t make them less great. Did you know he had 17 children!

        • Admiral Chief Groot Wors

          Did not know that. O_O

          • Hammersteyn

            Busy making boertjies and all that.

          • Admiral Chief Groot Wors


        • John Ambitious

          Well, he was probably setting up the first franchise SA ever had…

          • Hammersteyn

            ‘n Ketting Slaghuise?

  • Warren Ross

    Nice review, thanks. I’ve played and enjoyed every incarnation of Civ, and Civ 5 has been the best yet, but the cultural victory conditions aren’t exciting or even very logical at all. It seems that the best way to win a cultural victory is to set up on an island map all by yourself with a single city and then hope nobody invades you…hardly a reflection of how cultural ideas spread in the real world.

    Sounds like the expansion changes that quite a lot, but it’s pretty steeply priced at $30! Might wait for the inevitable drop…

    • Brady miaau

      hmm, yes I think so too. Bought Gods and Kings at less than $10

  • Skyblue

    I’m just going to leave this here… must… not… buy…

    • Admiral Chief Groot Wors

      Wow, even more impressive than my Skyrim stats!

      Salute to you dude!

      Double salute for the SS2 avatar!!!

      • John Ambitious

        That beats my Skyrim stats too.

        • Admiral Chief Groot Wors

          Yeah. Where you at?

          • John Ambitious

            Sitting at 290 now…but talking about it is putting me in the mood to get back into it….

          • Admiral Chief Groot Wors

            Tell me about it……resisting like crazy now! But I have XCOM to keep me addicted….almost at 100hrs

          • Trevor Davies

            I just pipped you with Borderlands 2 this weekend, sitting on 291 hours lol The new expansion is fun.

          • John Ambitious

            Well done.

            Challenge accepted!

          • Admiral Chief Groot Wors

            I clocked about 50 odd hours offline, had me some interweb issues, but damn, DAT SKYRIM. Love it!

          • John Ambitious

            Oh yes. No offline hours for me, so you may very well have this one…for now…

          • Admiral Chief Groot Wors

            Well, there is no proof, so I have no leg to stand on (arrow in knee you see)

      • Skyblue

        Shot and I have 258 hrs racked up in Skyrim… and a lost save file after a fresh Win7 installation, not cool.

        SS2 is still my fav gaming experience of all time and I’ve needed to update my Avatar for a while 🙂

        • Admiral Chief Groot Wors

          Agreed, SS2 was damn epic. They should make SS3 dammit!

    • John Ambitious

      That is commendable

    • Brady miaau

      Ok, you win

      • Skyblue


    • RESTECP.

      • Skyblue

        Do ya even know wha it spellz?

        • Admiral Chief Groot Wors


    • Zoe

      wow…. that’s seriously impressive

      • Skyblue

        More like addiction, digital heroin that damn game.

        • Zoe

          agreed! I thought I was addicted with my 100 hours – now i feel like a lightweight compared to you 😉

    • Mossel

      I see your 380 hours and raise you 1640hours on Dota2. Well actually its not me, its one of my friends… it has no life, also he’s failing varsity lol.

    • Guest

      Here’s my 2 cents! Barely had the chance to post this… Well, back to Civ5!

    • Broeks

      Well, here’s my 2 cents. Barely had a chance to post this! Oh well, back to uncle Sid…

      • Skyblue

        Okay, you win ;-p

      • Jebentzelf

        Oh good. Now I feel less of a life waster with my 702 hours.

        Weird thing is, I don’t even think V is a very good addition to the series. Which means it’s really like a drug. Can’t stop even though I know it’s “bad”.

        • Broeks

          Can’t agree more Jebentzelf!

          The previous games had a lot more substance to them. I think Firaxis really “dumbed” the game down on the first version. So far things are looking up on “Brave New World” though…

  • Kromas

    I’ll just come right out and say it. I have had enough civ. Give me Alpha Centauri 2!!!

    • Seraphim

      Here here.

      Anyone know if it’s still possible to get the original Alpha Centauri?

  • Brady miaau

    OK, sounds awesome.

    BUT I agree with you. Most of my civ games, I just alt-F4 about half way through. I know I have won, the game just has not caught up to that fact yet. It does get a bit boring, to be honest.

    I am not sure I want this now. I dunno. And I have sunk nearly 200 hours, according to Steam, in Civ V. I still miss some of the dynamics from Civ 3 and 4, the war was awesome. In Civ 3, I would have stacks of Tanks, hidden behind my borders and just smash my way through. A bit more boring now. Civ 3 and 4 were not boring in the middle bits.

    And civ 1 and 2 had inter city trade, was awesome, you send food caravans to your capital and make into this mega city, that dies off as soon as an enemy starts hampering trade!

  • Daniel Keevy

    I can’t wait to play this. I love my culture victories!

Like this post? Share it with your friends! Hate it? Share it with your enemies!

We rely on good people like you to share our content. Spread the news to your friends, family or social media trolls!