Civilization 5: Gods and Kings First Look Preview -- Have Faith in Civ!By Eric Eckstein - Posted Apr 06, 2012
This Civilization 5: Gods and Kings preview is going to change the way you look at Faith, but I promise not to get too religious. Yes, there will be new scenarios, units, wonders, technologies, blah blah blah, but really there are three core additions to Civ 5, one is espionage, one is naval combat and the other is religion. When I wrote my Civilization 5 review, I remember missing the way religion was handled from Civ 4, but the way it's implemented in Gods and Kings is more impressive than what was done in that game.
Quite simply, you gotta have Faith. It's a new resource that is earned each turn by either building shrines or discovering ruins, much like gold, science, or culture. As a nation, you'll need to make a choice as to whether or not you want to go down a faith-based path and reap those rewards, possibly putting your might or social influence at a disadvantage. Eventually, as you earn faith, you'll hit a milestone which opens up the Pantheon of the Gods, which is basically a bonus you choose to affect a city. Do you want to add +1 Culture to your cities, or maybe +1 Food for camps near your city? Depending on how you plan on leading your empire, these are critical decisions.
Later, if you stay the course, you'll unleash the power of a Great Prophet who can found your religion. From here, you'll pick a symbol; traditional religious symbols are available, but they can be renamed to whatever you want. Then you'll pick a bonus for the founder of the religion, i.e. you, and again bestow bonuses such as +2 gold for each city that follows this new ideology. You'll also pick a bonus for those that follow your religion, so you can grant cities with additional Happiness, making them more likely to want your faith in their cities.
The way religion spreads in Civ 5: Gods and Kings is simple: Any city within 10 hexes of a religious source will slowly feel the effects of religious conversion. Missionaries can help quicken the spread, while Inquisitors can stamp it out. While there are no negative effects you can attach to religions, it's still not wise to let a rival empire sway your people during the early parts of civilization.
As your nation develops, religion becomes less important and information takes its place. And so is born the age of espionage, where players unleash spies on the world to subtly nudge it in their best interest. Unlike previous Civilization games, spies are not units you can build, but they are awarded throughout the game. You'll unlock your first Spy during the Renaissance age, and another two for the last two ages. You can also earn more through wonders as well.
These spies are organized via another screen, where you can move them to cities (enemy or city-states) to establish surveillance, or once there incite them to do a variety of actions. They can rig elections within city-states to make them like you more and everyone else less, or even force a coup to make it happen quicker… but at a high risk to the agent itself. They can also steal technology from rivals, an old standby of the Civ series.
There's also an Intrigue tab, which allows you gain insight as to the goings on of your enemy civilizations. News reports detailing civs gearing up for a sneak attack on a third party, or even yourself, will come in, granting you an opportunity to prepare or take advantage of the newfound information. For example, if you learn of one nation's plot to attack another, you can inform the soon-to-be victim about the plot and earn major brownie points in diplomacy.
The most controversial change though, in my opinion, is the retooling of naval combat. Now, destroyers act as melee units and are able to take over undefended, weakened cities. With battleships and aircraft carriers softening up a coastal city, all it takes is one destroyer to sneak in and claim it as its own. This will certainly cause players to safeguard their port cities, but maybe there's a bit of a stickler in me that doesn't believe it's strategically accurate to be able to win a city with a boat. I'm happy to be challenged on that front.
As you can see, Gods and Kings is looking mighty impressive for an expansion pack to the original Civilization 5. While I'm still waiting for a fantasy or space-faring scenario, I'm content to settle for the wonders of religion and espionage in this follow-up. If you loved Civ 5, you're going to thank the heavens for Gods and Kings.
Civilization V: Gods and Kings ships on June 19 for PCs everywhere.