Gathering Storm is the second expansion to hit the sixth installment of Civilization. With a focus on natural disasters and climate change from industrialisation, this expansion now harkens back to the first iteration of Civilization, where climate change was first introduced as an in-game mechanic. Additionally, the World Congress and Diplomatic Victories also make a return with more ways for the player to maneuver diplomatically. New Civs introduced in this expansion include Canada (whooo!), the Kingdom of Hungary at its height, the Māori (a rework of the Polynesians in Civilization V). Returning Civs include the Inca, Mali, the Ottomans, Phoenicia (Carthage from Civilization V), amd Sweden.
Settle near volcanoes, at your own risk
As the name suggests, climate change and natural disasters are the main features of this expansion. Depending on where the player settles, their cities are now susceptible to numerous disasters, such as floods when settling on a river or dust storms when settling on a desert. However, the aftermaths of certain disasters also delivers incentives to players to settle in riskier areas. For example, floods fertilise riverbank tiles while volcanic eruptions also fertilise adjacent tiles, which lead to greater yields. Combine this with the special abilities of a select Civs, players may actually find settling near these regions rewarding.
Industrialisation and global warming
As the game advances to the later areas, the decision of every Civ begins to alter the climate. Another mechanic introduced in the game is Power, a type of supply-demand yield similar to Amenities and Housing that is usually required of late-game buildings such as factories and stadiums. When entering the Modern Era, Power can be mostly easily acquired by building coal or oil power plants, but they produce massive carbon emissions. Players would eventually need to switch to less polluting or renewable sources of energy to stop global warming or suffer the consequences. As global sea levels rise, the frequency of natural disasters increase and low-lying coastal become flooded or even submerged.
Improvements based on man-made marvels
This expansion also shines the spotlight on mankind’s modern engineering marvels. Players are now able to build dams, tunnels, railroads, and canals. Most of the new world wonders added to the game also reflect the same theme, such as the Golden Gate Bridge and the Panama Canal. Seawalls can also be built to mitigate future sea level rises, while seasteads can be built as replacements to tiles lost due to climate change. I really liked how the Civs chosen to represent this expansion are also focused on their engineering abilities—the Inca for their tunnel building, Phoenicia for its Cothon, and Hungary for its baths. While the Netherlands were already added in a previous expansion, their main ability was also changed to reflect on the nation’s reputation for building dykes and reclaiming land.
What I loved most about Gathering Storm is the amount of times it adheres to fan service. Canals are no-longer an indirect feature where the player can make by settling on an isthmus tile, they can now be built as actual districts to create new waterways through continents. The Giant Death Robot, a Civ 5 fan favourite also makes a triumphant return with even more broken additions. All in all, Gathering Storm is another excellent update to Civ 6 that has a rather optimistic view of the world’s ability to fight climate change.