Religion and espionage return this spring to the venerable strategy series.

As I mentioned in The Escapist Podcast a few weeks ago, I’ve been playing Civ V again. Nothing beats Civ for pure time-suckage gameplay and the fifth iteration of Sid Meier’s design is a no different. The DLC for Civ V has so far been mini expansions adding a new civ or two and some scenarios, but I’m not sure if that business model worked as planned. To eke out some more revenue from a 2 year old title and deliver some mechanics old-school Civ fans missed, 2K Games and Firaxis announced today they are bringing a much more substantial expansion pack to Civ V called Gods & Kings. Religion from Civ IV returns, as does espionage, and the expansion also promises tweaks to naval combat, enemy AI, and of course new civs, scenarios, wonders and units. 2K Games said the expansion will be available in “late spring” but no word on pricing.

“Our team has a strong vision for bringing religion and espionage to Civilization V and the incomparable Civ community has expressed their enthusiasm for these features as well,” said Sid Meier, designer of the first Civ and creative head of Firaxis. “We’re excited to deliver this robust expansion pack that will give players countless hours of new gameplay experiences and more reasons to take just one more turn.”

The lead designer of Civ V was a young buck from the modding community named Jon Shafer. He made a lot of bold choices in the design – no-stacking units, hexagon tiles – that many longtime fans resisted but ultimately made for a fresh new game. Shafer was happy with Civ V, but he felt a little tied down at Firaxis, where he must have felt resistance from the old guard so he left Meier’s company to lead a team at rival PC strategy house Stardock. The Gods & Kings expansion seems like it adds back in some of the “sacred cows” that Shafer might have wanted to keep out of the vanilla game and honestly, I think an expansion like this is the perfect way to address the omission of religion and spying.

Here’s the full list of changes and features in the Gods & Kings expansion. I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t excited about each one of them and look forward to losing days of my life to Civ V again.

  • Expanded Epic Game: The core game experience has been greatly expanded with the addition of new technologies, 27 new units, 13 new buildings and nine new Wonders.
  • New Civilizations and Leaders: The expansion features nine new civilizations including Carthage, the Netherlands, the Celts and the Mayans, each with unique traits, units and buildings. Gods & Kings also adds nine new leaders including William I, Prince of Orange, Boudicca and Pacal the Great.
  • New Game Scenarios: Three new scenarios let gamers experience the medieval period, the fall of Rome, and embark on a new adventure in Empires of the Smoky Skies, a Victorian science-fiction scenario.
  • The Return of Religion: A first for Civilization V, players seek out Faith, choosing a Pantheon of the Gods and creating Great Prophets to found and spread their customized religion across the world.
  • World Domination: The fight for world domination is more dynamic than ever. Gods & Kings features a reworked combat system and AI that places more emphasis on a balanced army composition. Additionally, the navy is now split into two different ship types, melee and ranged, making coastal cities vulnerable to a surprise naval attack.
  • Enhanced Diplomacy and Espionage: Establish embassies at foreign courts for closer ties or clandestine operations. As the religions of the world start settling in and the world moves into the Renaissance, spies can be unlocked to establish surveillance of foreign cities, steal advanced technologies from your strongest competitors, or garner influence with City-States through election rigging, or even a coup.
  • City-States: Two new city-state types have been added, Mercantile and Religious, adding new gameplay to a greatly expanded quest system to further the narrative of the game and making diplomatic victories more challenging.

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