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‘Civilization VI’: New Frontier Pass, updates, modes and everything you need to know

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Expand your empire and conquer the world

It’s been four years since Civilization VI first launched, but developer Firaxis Games has been keeping the game fresh with regular updates, expansion packs and new modes, alongside the extensive New Frontier Pass system.

Whether you’re a seasoned Civilization player looking to jump back into the fray for just one more turn or a newcomer who wants the thrill of taking over the world as Genghis Khan, we have all the latest Civilization VI news to keep you in the know.

Eager to know more? Read on for everything we know about Civilization VI.

Civilization VI is the sixth mainline instalment in the long-running Civilization franchise of turn-based strategy video games. It is the fourth to be developed by Firaxis Games – which took over from original developer MicroProse in 2001 – and was released in 2016, six years after Civilization V.

Civilization VI was originally released in 2016 for PC and Mac. It was later ported to the Nintendo Switch in 2018, with PlayStation 4 and Xbox One versions launching in 2019. An Android edition of the game was released in 2020.

Civilization VI is a turn-based strategy game that is often classified under the subgenre 4X – an abbreviation of explore, expand, exploit and exterminate. The game requires players to explore a sprawling map, and subsequently expand their empire by building new settlements and exploiting the resources in areas they control. While doing all this, players will also have to fend off and eliminate opponents.

Civilization VI builds off the general gameplay of Civilization V, and retains the use of a hex-based grid first introduced in the latter title. Other returning mechanics include city-states, religion, a tech tree, espionage, resources and world wonders.

The game, however, does introduce new ideas, such as Districts. Unlike in prior games in the franchise where all buildings of a city are bound to a singular tile, Civilization VI “unstacks” cities. Players will now have to build specific districts to construct related buildings – such as a University requiring a city to have a Campus District.

Civilization VI also limits the number of units players can have in a single hex, with only similar or symbiotic unit types allowed to be stacked. For example, a combat unit (like a warrior) can be stacked with a civilian unit (a builder). Players can also combine two or three of the same combat unit to form Corps or Armies, respectively.

In addition, the game’s Civics tree has been reworked for Civilization VI. Culture generated by cities is now used to unlock different parts of the Civics tree, much like Science for the tech tree, and will grant players access to new governments, policies and more.

Civilization VI can be played online with other players for up to 12 users on PC. Multiplayer games can be played in various ways: turns can be played simultaneously, where moves are locked in after every player clicks “end turn”; turns can also be played one player at a time, like single-player games.

For both modes, games can be saved and returned to thereafter, with all players being re-assigned their original empires and units. It is also possible for AI to take over a player should they not return. There is also an option to “play by cloud” where the game is sent to the next player after the current one takes their turn.

There are two official expansion packs for Civilization VI, Rise And Fall and Gathering Storm, in 2018 and 2019 respectively.

Rise And Fall introduced several new mechanics to the game, such as Ages, Governors and Loyalty. For Ages, civilisations are evaluated on accumulated points every Era, and will then move into an Age (Dark, Normal, Golden and Heroic), all of which grant different benefits and disadvantages.

Meanwhile, Governors are agents that can be appointed to individual cities across a player’s empire. There are seven unique Governors available, each with their new special abilities and skills. Loyalty, on the other hand, represents the political alignment of a city, which can cause cities and territories to revolt or change allegiance.

Gathering Storm added natural disasters to Civilization VI, in the form of volcanic eruptions, floods, hurricanes, blizzards, tornadoes and more. Even though these events are mostly random, players have the opportunity to mitigate disasters with newly introduced city improvements and buildings, such as dams.

In addition, a new climate system has also been introduced to simulate the effects of power consumption (such as coal or oil plants) on the world. Players can track the amount of CO2 levels in the world, the predicted rising sea level, as well as the ability to pivot to green power alternatives like solar, wind and geothermal power plants.

Lastly, Gathering Storm also brings back fan-favourite mechanics from the previous games: the Diplomatic Victory condition and World Congress. It opens up a new way for players to win the game through diplomacy, by building alliances and gaining favors from other world leaders.

Both expansion packs also added new playable civilisations, leaders, scenarios and unique units. Firaxis has since stated that it currently has no new expansion packs in the works for Civilization VI, and have instead turned their focus to the New Frontier Pass.

The New Frontier Pass is a season pass for Civilization VI which started on May 21, 2020. The pass is a year-long project for the developer, consisting of six new DLCs released bimonthly for US$40. Once complete, the season pass will add eight new civilisations, nine leaders and six fresh game modes to the title.

The content will also be available to purchase individually, ranging from US$5 to $9. The New Frontier Pass is available across all platforms and will not require any Civilization VI to work. However, specific game modes and leaders cannot be played without one or both expansions.

Firaxis is set to release the ‘Babylon Pack’ on November 19, as part of the New Frontier Pass. The DLC will add fan favourite civilisation Babylon back to the game, alongside new city-states. The content update will also introduce the Heroes & Legends Mode, which will allow players to control 12 different heroes, based on legends such as Hercules and Beowulf.

In October 2020, Firaxis released a free update for Civilization VI that introduced a new scenario, inspired by the classic Sid Meier’s Pirates! game. The scenario pits players against each other in a “contest for treasure and glory on the high seas” and features four different pirate factions – the Dread Pirates, Privateers, Swashbucklers and Hoarders – each with their own unique abilities. Players will also face off against aggressive navies from AI nations such as the British, Spanish, French and Dutch.

In September 2020, the developer released the Byzantium & Gaul DLC pack, as part of the New Frontier Pass. It added the two titular civilisations into the game, alongside two new world wonders: the Biosphere, which increases appeal for marsh and rainforest tiles, and the Statue Of Zeus, which grants free military units to the civilisation that builds it.

A new game mode called the Dramatic Ages, which will make Dark and Golden Ages “more potent than ever”, was also included in the DLC. According to the mode’s description, players will start off a game in a Normal Age, with the subsequent Era being either only a Dark or Golden Age.

The August 2020 update for Civilization VI added the Tech And Civic Shuffle Mode, which randomises the prerequisites, cost and positions of the respective tech trees. However, the same randomised tree will be applied to all players in a match as to ensure a “fair and level playing field for everyone”.

The August update will also introduce the Natural Wonder Picker. It’ll allow players to choose which natural wonder will randomly generate on the map from the available pool, based on the expansions a player owns.

In July 2020, Firaxis dropped the ‘Ethiopia Pack’, which introduced Ethiopia as a playable civilization into the series for the second time, following Civilization V: Gods & Kings. It also added the Secret Societies game mode, which is available for players who own the Gathering Storm or Rise And Fall expansion packs. It features four different groups for players to join, ranging from an occult society to a literal pact of vampires.

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