Natural Disasters, World Congress Coming in Civilization VI: Gathering Storm

Firaxis Games has announced the second expansion for Civilization VI, titled Gathering Storm. The DLC launches on PC—which we now have to clarify since the game is also on Switch—on Feb. 14, 2019. With it comes a ton of new features including volcanoes, storms, floods and other environmental effects. The fan favorite World Congress also returns with the addition of the Diplomatic Victory. 2K calls it the “largest expansion Firaxis Games has ever created.” And you know what? It just might be.

Natural Disasters

The biggest change coming in Gathering Storm looks very fundamental. Natural disasters don’t just come out of nowhere, as in Sim City. Volcanoes and flood plains are defined at the start of each match and settling near them is a risky decision.

Rivers periodically flood, damaging structures on those tiles. Those floods also bring rich soil and nutrients, though. Deal with the disaster, or mitigate it with the new Dam district, and you can reap the rewards.

Volcanoes erupt from time to time, spewing lava down on nearby tiles. They too enrich the soil to help with long-term farming output.

Civ VI has always had continents, but they’ve been somewhat arbitrarily defined. There rarely seemed to be a rhyme or reason as to why one stopped and another started. Firaxis has reworked tile generation so that you’ll find mountain ranges, volcanoes, and geothermal fissures along these boundaries.

I’m ridiculously excited that such a small feature from Civilization Revolution is making a return. With more natural features comes a need to distinguish between them. Any time a civ discovers a geographic feature, it’s automatically be named after the discoverers. It’s honestly sorely needed. Just having names for rivers, mountains, and other features adds another level of attachment to the world you’re playing on.

Gathering Storm also adds droughts, blizzards, sand storms, tornadoes, and hurricanes. While Firaxis didn’t detail what each disaster does, Franchise Lead Designer Ed Beach says the team “had fun adding in some of the historical impacts you might imagine storms would entail.”

Global Warming has also been added as a late-game threat. Every civilization must decide whether it’s going to use Coal, Uranium, or Oil. Each of these impacts the environment and can lead to more flooding, stronger storms, sea level rise, and melting polar ice caps. It’s ultimately a small touch, but an interesting one that makes the world feel more united and less isolated.

New Districts

Alongside the aforementioned Dam district, Firaxis is also adding Canal districts, finally allowing you to make that annoying peninsula traversable for your naval armies. Each city can have up to two canals—meaning you can create a three-tile wide path between bodies of water. Combined with the Panama Canal wonder you create a full seven-tile navigable path between Canal districts, cities, and the new wonder. That specifically comes with its own achievement.

On the traversal side, you’ll be able to add both mountain tunnels and railroads. No longer will that small pocket of luxuries be hidden away from the entire world.

Diplomacy Returns

Both the diplomatic victory and World Congress return in Gathering Storm. You need to accrue diplomatic favor with the nations around the world while limiting the number of grievances. The latter is replacing the rather annoying Warmonger score. Hidden among Beach’s letter to the fans is an interesting note that promises retaliation won’t be so heavily punished.

“If you’ve ever been at the receiving end of a surprise attack and retaliated by taking a few cities,” Beach says, “I think you’ll appreciate how this system has been updated. The other leaders are now likely to feel that such a countermove was entirely appropriate.”

The World Congress comes with its usual features. Utilize that favor you’ve earned to impose bans on all nations or sponsor World Fairs, World Games, Disaster Relief, and Emergencies.

Other Features

Oh, right! Gathering Storm also adds an entire new era of future techs and civics. These new branches will be semi-randomized with every game to help make things feel authentic.

Beach also promises “we do have some new items unlocking in these late eras that spice up the present Science, Culture, and Domination Victories in fun new directions.”

  • Nine new leaders from eight new civilizations are introduced. Each brings unique bonuses and gameplay, as well as a total of nine unique units, four unique buildings, three unique improvements, two unique districts and one unique governor.
  • Seven new world wonders, seven natural wonders, 18 new units, 15 new improvements, nine new buildings, five new districts, two new city sets, nine new techs, and 10 new civics will be added.
  • The Espionage system has been enhanced with new options, the Culture and Science Victories have been updated, new Historic Moments have been added, and additional improvements have been made to other existing systems.

Beach says some of the new leaders will “have interesting interactions with the new environmental mechanics, as well as with the World Congress.”

Looking Back

Civilization V, the game’s predecessor, had two large expansion packs. Gods & Kings, the first, added religion and enhanced diplomacy, espionage, city-states, plus both land and naval combat. The second, Brave New World, added the new culture victory, a swath of new policies and ideologies, the World Congress, and international trade routes. The latter two features were big hits that returned in Civ VI. That’s not to say the cultural and religious victories didn’t add additional depth, but they’ve come to be accepted as the new norm.

The first Civ VI DLC, Rise and Fall, added great ages (both Golden and Dark), city loyalty, governors, and emergencies. It also included some quality of life additions like timelines (similar to Civilization Revolution, which I’ll never stop praising for features like this) and a better alliance system.

For a full look at what Gathering Storm will offer, head on over to the announcement page.