Expansion packs in the past have been great for the Civilization series. With Civilization V, Gods and Kings added much to the early-game, while Brave New World fleshed out the late-game, and the resulting package was something that you could sink hours into. I certainly did; it’s one of the few games on my Steam account that has a three-digit hour count.

Sadly, Rise and Fall does not feel special at all. It does little to expand on what Civilization VI brings to the table, and nothing at all to fix its still-lingering problems.

While I did write a somewhat favourable review for Civilization VI (and I stand by it, of course) the game failed to hold my interest in the long run like its predecessor did. That isn’t entirely out of the norm for this series; much as I may laud the excellent Civ V when played with its expansions, it did indeed feel rather dry when it initially launched, until the expansions fixed that. However, Civilization VI already had a wealth of content from the get go; rather, it felt that something was lacking in its cohesion, and that caused me to drop the game sooner than I’d hoped. And while an expansion could be just what the doctor ordered for this issue, the changes brought about in Rise and Fall feel small and insignificant by comparison. You have Governors, who can add enhancements to the cities they oversee. Golden Ages have been overhauled, to a point where you must now work to achieve them, or risk enduring a Dark Age, which will be a detriment to your nation. Then there is the Loyalty mechanic, which brings back the possibility of cities declaring independence or being flipped to another civ’s control. These are all changes that are welcome, but for the most part are barely noticeable. There isn’t any big change to the way you play the game, no major addition that adds a new dimension of play. Instead all of the changes are minor, and serve little to bolster the game’s lack of ability to keep you enticed.

And because of this, the expansion does little to hide the fact that glaring faults with the base game still remain unchanged; namely, the AI. It is impossible to play a peaceful game here without at least one or two nations (likely at the same time) declaring war on you constantly and usually for frivolous reasons, if they even have a reason to begin with. And don’t you dare strike back with a war of your own against them, because if you do then everyone will see you as a warmonger, increasing your enemies further. And with the new Emergencies system, this can force them into a coalition of sorts against you, meaning you lose either way. You end up wasting money on a big enough military just in case they do come knocking, and you can’t even take a city or two from them to teach them a lesson in case you do end up bring the wrath of the world down on your head. It’s utterly ridiculous, and the fact that this remains in the game this long after launch, and is now made worse by the expansion is unacceptable in my eyes.

Civilization VI isn’t a terrible game, per se. It is built on mostly great foundations, and a good deal of content is there. But the weak points are enough to bring it down constantly. And where the Rise and Fall expansion pack should have helped to alleviate these problems, its changes are barely noticeable. In the end, all the game does is make the faults even more glaring, especially this long after release. My advice? Just get the complete edition of Civilization V.

+ Some changes are neat ideas
-- Not enough content for price
-- Main issues with base game remain, some made worse