Brave New World is the newest expansion pack for the critically acclaimed Civilization V by strategy developer Firaxis and continues on from Gods and Kings as tweaks to features from the original Civ V and adding new features such as Tourism and Ideologies.
New Civilizations and corresponding leaders tie in with these new features focused around cultural growth to make the most out of the new systems, playing well and with as much refined attention to detail as expected from the game and expansions so far. Integration of these new systems into AI of previous leaders provides some refreshing experiences.
Changes to the gameplay in this addition to the series are designed to add new possibilities to a players already wide strategies as well as more clearly define the victory condition and play styles.
While keeping with the original score of the game, the music and audio cues remain from Civilization 5 with clear notes for actions needed and calming orchestral scores to fit the tempo of the context in-game.
In keeping with the base game and the previous expansion, Gods and Kings, the voice acting for each of the leaders is of high caliber, with attention to detail on dialect and accent correctly matching the background and history of the civilization and its appropriate leader.
Visually, the addition of UI elements for the newly integrated great works system is at first muddled but quickly become familiar with several playthroughs.
I will admit on first attempting a cultural victory with the new tourism system I was originally quite confused with the systems in place and the tutorial fell short on explaining UI elements surrounding this feature.
While the dynamic nature of each round developing a setting and relationship between each leader, slight tweaks in AI reaction make the interaction with other leaders in the game feel more fluid and effects of your actions feel a bit more obvious at the (to be honest) low levels I was playing at.
Being an expansion pack, most of the differences from its predecessor and base game come into game play and mechanics.
Brave New World introduces two new game play mechanics into the mix, with tourism being a new accruable resource necessary for a cultural victory and Ideologies which work in addition to cultural policies in order to both give your civilization bonuses and to align your goals politically with other players in a game.
Tourism is a new resource gained through the collection and storage of great works. Cultural buildings such as opera houses as well as wonders such as The Louvre now have an allocated number of slots for great works similar to how some buildings within cities have slots for workers such as artists, engineers etc. Filling these slots with great works requires the use of great people and each great work slot filled provides tourism for your civilization eventuating a cultural victory when your civ’s tourism income exceeds the cultural income of your opposing civilizations.
This new approach to cultural victory turns the win conditions from a collection of certain recourse to a complicated pathway to victory, weighing your tourism growth against the cultural growth of other civs and vice-versa, differentiating a cultural victory from a political by no longer necessitating politics.
The other new feature is Ideologies. There are three ideologies to choose from and similar to the religious system of gods and kings your chosen ideology can net you benefits to your civilization. The difference comes when civilization align and misalign ideologies, with political bonuses being given to players who share and ideology and deductions given to those who hold an unfavorable ideology. (i.e. the rest of the world follows freedom and you follow order) This system plays more into the political victory side of the game and adds a layer of complexity lost from the integration of cultural and political victories.
With the addition of two new systems, Tourism affecting Cultural victory while Ideologies being geared towards political relations, the Brave New World expansion adds new choices to players allowing each of these new systems being able to effect games in new and interesting ways, while diversifying victory conditions.
As an expansion at a $50 USD price point I would definitely recommend this expansion for veteran Civilization V players looking for something fresh to mix up their games but for newer players, playing with the base game before committing to these new features would be prudent to familiarize yourself with the core gameplay before adding these tweaks to the experience.