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Civilization 5's 'massive expansion' Brave New World delivers the Civil War, World Congress and more this summer

Samit Sarkar (he/him) is Polygon’s deputy managing editor. He has more than 15 years of experience covering video games, movies, television, and technology.

Civilization 5 developer Firaxis Games is working on the turn-based strategy title's second expansion, Brave New World, and plans to launch it this summer on Windows PC for $29.99, publisher 2K Games announced today.

Aspyr Media will handle the expansion's Mac port, which is also set for release in the summer. Firaxis launched the first Civilization 5 expansion, Gods & Kings, last June.

Brave New World will bring nine new playable civilizations and eight new Wonders, such as the Parthenon in Athens and the Uffizi Gallery in Florence, into the game. It also includes two new scenarios: "War Between the States," which lets you play as the Union or Confederacy in the American Civil War, and "Scramble for Africa," in which you compete with other world powers to explore the continent and discover its natural resources.

Gods & Kings added religion to Civilization 5, and that expansion's changes were concerned primarily with the early and middle parts of the game. For Brave New World, Firaxis is shifting focus to the second half of the game.

"We do a tremendous amount in response to community feedback, only because once the game is out — especially a game with as many layers and the complexity of Civilization — it becomes very apparent where the weaknesses are in a game," said Dennis Shirk, senior producer for the Civilization 5 series, in a recent phone interview with Polygon. According to Shirk, Firaxis realized the late-game content wasn't as compelling as the first two-thirds.

Firaxis realized the late-game content wasn't as compelling as the first two-thirds

"We wanted to kind of build on [Gods & Kings] and focus in on new game systems to make the modern age — the Industrial Age and on — as exciting as possible," explained Ed Beach, lead designer on Civilization 5's two expansions, in the same interview.

Those new and overhauled systems include trade routes, which are now international; diplomacy, which takes ideologies and a new World Congress into account; and the culture victory, which is a much more active strategy. And it's the interplay between all those systems that will define Brave New World, according to Firaxis.

"A culture victory was challenging before; it wasn't nearly as engaging or interesting. It was basically a very turtling strategy," said Shirk. He added that by the middle of the game, players of the culture route were simply clicking the "next turn" button a lot because there wasn't much to do at that point.

In the new setup for culture victories in Brave New World, great artists are split into artists, writers and musicians. You'll be using them to create great works — Beach gave the example of Shakespeare writing Macbeth — and then you'll have to build a place for that work to be exhibited, like a theater or museum. That location will attract people from other civilizations to generate what Firaxis is calling tourism.

"Tourism is a measure of how much your culture has been able to go out and spread to the rest of the world," explained Beach. "It acts as your sort of offensive culture, and you're trying to overcome the defensive culture that that other civilization has put into play. Once you've been able to do that with all the other civilizations in the game, then you get to the culture victory now."

The new international trade routes also play into culture victories. Your culture not only attracts other civilizations for tourism; it also spreads across the globe along trade routes.

"If you're trying to overtake another civilization, you might want to trade more with them, because your culture footprint is going to become greater as a result of trading with them," said Beach.

Firaxis is also expanding the diplomacy system with Brave New World. In Civilization 5, you got to a diplomatic victory by building the United Nations and being chosen as the World Leader. The studio, inspired by precursor organizations and summits like the Congress of Vienna and League of Nations, is implementing a new body called the World Congress.

The World Congress is formed when one nation has met every other nation, and its member states vote on resolutions concerning issues of global importance. You can influence those discussions and tailor resolutions to your advantage, like for imposing sanctions on a belligerent nation that's a thorn in your side or implementing trade policies favorable to your civilization's goods and resources. Shirk explained that Firaxis wanted to provide a sense of 20th-century diplomacy, like "that stress level that you had internationally" during the Cold War.

impose sanctions on a belligerent nation that's a thorn in your side or implement trade policies favorable to your civilization's goods and resources

"Now it's all about the interactions between civilizations, and vote trading, and espionage to kind of find out how other civilizations are voting and really just causing shenanigans with the World Congress as you're going towards World Leader," said Shirk.

"Our real goal was to make that second half just as exciting as the first half of the game."