TL;DR – A good improvement to the game that fixes a lot of the issues I had with Season One.
Score – 4 out of 5 stars
Last year the good folks over at Firaxis Games did something I won’t ever have called, they released a Battle Royale mode for Civilization VI. At first, it sounded absurd because a turn-based strategy game is not the place you would expect to see this kind of mode. However, the more I thought about it, the more it did make sense because isn’t Civilization just one extended Battle Royale mode? Only instead of the growing wall of doom, you have Alexander and all his horses. You can find our review for Season One HERE, but with the announcement of Season Two, we thought it was time to jump back in and see the improvements first hand.
For those who have managed to miss that Fortnite world domination over the last few years, a Battle Royale style game is when you start dropped on a map with very few resources. You need to arm yourself and expand your abilities and quickly because everyone else on the map is doing the same thing, and there are only so many loot drops to go around. However, this is not a mode you can turtle in because a wave of horror, in this case, fallout, is closing in making the map smaller and smaller and slowly forcing people to crash into each other and then it is last one standing. The thematic paint that Red Death puts on this is that nuclear weapons have destroyed the world and there is one spaceship taking you to safety. The only problem is that everyone wants a seat of the last ride out of town, but there is only room for one.
Season Two of Red Death came as a free patch for Civilization VI’s New Frontier Pass, and honestly, it was a surprise, a pleasant surprise, but a surprise none the less. So the first thing I wanted to see was the significant changes that they had made to the gameplay. The first significant addition to the game is two new factions, the Aliens and the Zombies. The Aliens are of course based on those from the XCOM franchise which is entirely on-brand for the series. Given that they have appeared in many Easter eggs and even a unit in the main game before. Besides the art assets being replaced, so we get a flying saucer instead of a helicopter, the big bonus you get is the ability cloak yourselves. I used this set traps, and also to shimmy away when I bit off more than I could chew. The Zombies have the ascetics of being led by a sentient brain in a jar, which is just the kind of silliness I am here for. Zombie unit are crazy hard to kill, and they create new Zombie units when they kill people. The trade-off is that they are always dying. Oh, and if you manage to kill off the Zombies, don’t fret because the Raiders might send a few of them after you making them much harder to subdue.
While there are the two new additions, all the other factions get an update as well with a second bonus. I quite like the Jock’s pocket nuke, though it can reveal to everyone in the game where you are. The Cultists get to use a similar mechanic to the Soothsayers from the Apocalypse mode to bring a GDR to life, and if you can pull that off, you could be unstoppable. Mutants spew forth Red Death into safe tiles, Borderlords get to fake supply drops, Preppers get traps, Mad Scientists get shields, and heck the Pirates even get to go on treasure hunts. Like a lot of things in the game, how effective each of these bonuses are is based a little on skill, and a little on random dumb luck. However, all of these touches go a long away to helping each of the factions to play differently.
The smaller changes might be where some of the real quality of life improvements that help the game shine can be found. On the surface I found the maps were a little bit more interesting, most of this is cosmetic, but I appreciated it. I mean I was happy to hear our old friend Sean Bean make the jump over giving a loud sound out whenever someone dropped a nuke. The big and most welcome shift is the addition of an observer mode. When you are playing with friends, when someone was eliminated, it was a case of goodbye and awkwardly hang out in discord until we are all finished. Now they get to see the carnage go down, and from talking to people, they appreciated it. It also helps those who might not be as good with the game a chance to watch others play and get tips. There does need to be the whole “no spoilers” rule in effect, but worst-case scenario, at least you can vote kick now. The turn-based combat is still a little awkward around the mode, but that just makes you a bit more careful with placement and making sure you move quickly.
In the end, do we recommend Red Death Season Two? Yes, yes, we would. These are some excellent improvements to the game and allow it to start to take on its own character. I had a lot of fun trying to get back to my mothership even if it seemed like the game went out of its way to drop supply drops as far away from me as possible.
Note: A thank you to my friends that helped test out the new mode with me
By Brian MacNamara: You can follow Brian on Twitter Here, when he’s not chatting about Movies and TV, he’ll be talking about International Relations, or the Solar System.
Have you played Civilization VI: Red Death ?, let us know what you thought in the comments below, feel free to share this review on any of the social medias and you can follow us Here. Check out all our past reviews and articles Here, and have a happy day.
Credits – All images were created by Firaxis Games
Lead Designer – Anton Strenger
Lead Engineer– Ken Grey
Producers– Amanda Bonacorso & Kevin Schultz
Art Director– Kat Berkley
Music– Geoff Knorr, Phill Boucher, Roland Rizzo & Christopher Tin
Developer– Firaxis Games
Disclosure – I am a moderator on the site Civfanatics of which several staff and players are members of the ‘Frankenstein Testing Group’, Firaxis Games internal playtesting team. I am not part of this team, nor do I have any links with Firaxis Games or 2K.