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Civilization IV vs. Civilization V: What's New?

by: M.S. Smith ; edited by: Michael Hartman ; updated: 4/17/2012 • Leave a comment

Civilization V, the latest addition to the Civilization franchise, makes some major changes to the game's mechanics. This article highlights some of the most important differences between Civilization IV and V.

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    Civilization IV vs Civilization V: What’s Different?

    Each new game in the Civilization franchise has to stand up to intense scrutiny from Civilization fans. The first Civilization game came out in 1991, and some players have been playing the Civilization games since the first title came out. They’re intensely loyal but also intensely protective – new games in the series have to survive a trial by fire.

    Civilization IV received some criticism when it arrived, but was generally welcomed into fold and, by the time the expansions had been released, was considered to be among the best games in the franchise. Civilization V has a lot to live up to. So what’s new to the series?

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    City-States are independent cities that never expand. They are obviously not as strong as civilizations, but they’re not meant to challenge civilizations for world conquest. Instead they are used in enrich the diplomatic game. The city-states that you meet will have a certain opinion of you. This opinion can be influenced by doing things for them, like taking out a Barbarian encampment, or by simply giving them gold. If you do enough kind things for a city-state it will become an ally and give you bonuses.

    There are three types of city-states; Maritime, Cultural and Military. Maritime city-states give you bonus food, Cultural city-states give you bonus culture and Military city-states will randomly gift you military units. The opinions that city-states form about your civilization will also impact your ability to win a diplomatic victory.

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    Civ 4 vs Civ 5: Combat Combat has been significantly revised in Civilization V. Combat between two units in Civilization V can take multiple turns. In addition, only one unit can occupy a space on the map at the end of a turn (with a few exceptions). This eliminates death stacks and encourages players to move their units forward along a front as you might expect armies to move in a real war.

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    Hex-Based Map

    Civ 4 vs Civ 5: Hex Based Map Civilization games, including Civilization IV, have always used a map with square tiles. This has always been a bit of an issue because square tiles result in a map that doesn’t feel as fluid as you’d expect.

    Those with a close eye on the Civilization IV vs. Civilization V debate will note that the introduction of hex-based tiles actually reduces the movement possibilities of a unit at any given time because units in Civilization IV could move diagonally between tiles. However, most wargames use hex based tiles for a reason – they’re generally easier to understand but also still provide a very wide range of movement.

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    Civilization happiness is much harder to manage in Civilization V than in Civilization IV. The happiness of your civilization is now applicable to your entire civilization rather than individual cities. This makes happiness more difficult to manage and more damaging overall. A very unhappy city can drag down your entire civilization.

    Civilization V is also much harsher when it comes to the happiness of occupied cities. An occupied city in Civilization V generates additional unhappiness until you build a courthouse - an expensive structure that can’t be purchased with gold. This makes it difficult to blitz an enemy and absorb them into your civilization quickly, slowing down the efforts of civilizations that want to conquer everything in sight.

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    Social Policies

    The traits of your society was handled in Civilization IV using the civics system. These traits could be changed throughout your civilization’s history. Civilization V, on the other hand, uses a tree-based system called Social Policies. This system works like a skill tree in a RPG, but you can’t change your social policies once you’ve adopted them. This makes the system less flexible than the one found in Civilization IV.

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    These are not all of the changes between Civilization IV and Civilization V, but they’re the most important ones.

    Which is better? Ha! I’m not going to wade into that flame-war. But if you have an opinion, please feel free to leave a comment.