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Civilization V (or Civ for short) has asked you to build an empire that stands the test of time, and you’ve risen to the challenge more times than you can count. If you’ve thrown hundreds of hours of your life at Sid Meier’s masterpiece though, it’s quite possible that firing up the game again doesn’t give you the same spark of excitement that it used to. Perhaps the AI opponents have become predictable, or the game mechanics no longer offer you tense decisions. You need something fresh and exciting to breathe new life into the game.
Does this sound like you? Then it’s time to check out what the modding community has to offer. Like Skyrim and Team Fortress 2, Civ 5 has an active community taking advantage of Steam Workshop support to tweak and expand the game so that you don’t have to wait for Firaxis Games to release more content.
Let’s dig past all the My Little Pony and anime character mods, and take a look at a few cool game-changers.
As Civilization V stands, happiness is the resource that caps population growth in your nation. Have a lot of it, and your citizens will happily toil and multiply. Run low and they slow down in their discontent.
The Emigration mod adds new mechanics that make excess happiness more valuable. Cities that offer a great quality of life produce a new resource called prosperity. As the game progresses, citizens of each city periodically examine their nearby neighbors. If another city promises greater prosperity, there’s a chance that some members of the less appealing settlement will pack their bags and head for greener pastures. The effect even happens over the borders between nations. Want to mess with your opponents? Make an exciting city right on their border, and watch as their people jump the fence to pledge allegiance to your flag instead!
If you’ve purchased a lot of DLC, you have dozens of map scripts in your game that generate unique worlds at the click of a mouse. You can try to conquer chains of islands, vast plains, or even replicas of Earth itself.
So why would you want PerfectWorld3? Civilization V’s existing map scripts do a fine job, but they don’t look exceptionally organic. PerfectWorld3 crafts maps based on models of Earth’s rotation and wind patterns, placing jungles, deserts, and everything where it would make sense. It also draws rivers based on more realistic, elevation based drainage patterns, so you’ll see more winding, forking rivers running out of mountains and down hills toward bodies of water. The mod doesn’t place the same priority on game balance that the core map scripts do, but the results sure are pretty.
If there’s one complaint you’ll almost universally hear from veteran Civ players, it’s that at the game’s AI is ultimately pretty dumb. The game’s standard difficulty settings make the game harder not by providing more intelligent AI, but rather by cheating. Your opponents are gifted unfair advantages in resource output to make up for their limited problem solving abilities.
Smart AI is still in beta, but it’s out to make your opponents a little more cunning. They’ll move their ranged attackers a single space and fire in the same turn, rather than only moving twice or firing. They won’t waste a barrage of ranged attacks on a city when an attack from a single melee unit could capture it. These probably sound like small things, but over the course of an 8-16 hour game of Civ, they add up to tons of wasted efficiency. It’s hard to feel proud of your victories if you pull them off by exploiting dumb moves even the newest player would never make.
Unless you’re ready to go on a gaming binge for a whole day, odds are you’ll have to play your games of Civ in more than one sitting. If you don’t come back to your save file for several days in a row, it can be tough to remember all of the nuances of your diplomatic situation. Which of these rulers has been playing nice with me? Who are we getting these citrus shipments from?
InfoAddict takes the game’s abundance of data and presents it in an easy to read fashion. You’ll know exactly where you stand with neighboring civs thanks to the simple diplomacy web, and you can peek in on how all players have performed over time with a variety of graphs. The mod even creates a World Factbook entry for each nation’s stats. Practicalities aside, it’s also just a great tool to bring the narrative of your game to life. It’s much easier to imagine the history of each civilization when you can see the results of their decisions in the data.
In Civilization V’s advanced setup options, there are lots of things to tweak. You can toggle start biases that keep certain civs near their familiar landscapes, deactivate certain victory conditions, or tinker with your world’s age, temperature, and moisture levels.
If that’s not enough for you, Really Advanced Setup gives you even more settings to mess with. Want your civ to have a financial buffer at the game’s start? Nudge your starting bankroll up accordingly. Want to see if a team of four backwater civilizations can take down one with a huge scientific lead? Make it happen! Can’t handle it if your starting city doesn’t have access to a few extra luxury resources? Pick your favorites and plant them in range. It’s easy to imagine dozens of fascinating scenarios you could set up with this tool without ever resorting to modding the game yourself.
Maybe you’re not convinced that a few mods can freshen up Civ 5 for you. It’s a lost cause. At this point, nothing short of a whole new game could hope to grab your attention.
If you haven’t played Civ 5 at all, the video above won’t really convey what’s new or fresh about Civilization Nights, but the bottom line is that you’re looking at a total game conversion. Different tech trees, different social policies, new wonders, new units, governments, revolutions, happiness management, and more. It’s lovingly detailed too, with included artwork and interface elements crafted to match Civ 5’s iconic art deco design. At the time of writing, the mod is compatible through the Gods and Kings expansion, but its developers are hard at work on support for Brave New World and expect to release that update in May.
One More Turn
These six mods are just a taste of the 92 page mod library hosted in the Steam Workshop. Granted, not everything in there is treasure, but if you exhaust your interest in the mods listed above, there are many more to investigate. That is, if you can find the time for it.
Don’t look at me. You’re on your own for that one.
Have you played or made a mod that our community absolutely needs to try? Don’t leave us hanging! Tell us what it is and where to find it in the comments.
Prefer your empire building out among the stars? We can fill you in on Sins of a Solar Empire: Rebellion.