Civilization V

Civilization V
Developer(s) Firaxis Games
Publisher(s) 2K Games (Windows)
Aspyr (OS X, Linux)
Distributor(s) Take-Two Interactive
Director(s) Jon Shafer
Producer(s) Dennis Shirk
Lisa Miller
Designer(s) Jon Shafer
Ed Beach
Scott Lewis
Programmer(s) Brian Wade
Tim Kipp
Ed Beach
Artist(s) Dorian Newcomb
Chris Hickman
Brian Busatti
Writer(s) Michelle Menard
Paul Murphy
Composer(s) Michael Curran
Geoff Knorr
Series Civilization
Platform(s) Microsoft Windows, OS X,[1]
Release date(s)

Microsoft Windows[3]‹See Tfd›

  • NA: September 21, 2010
  • EU: September 24, 2010

November 23, 2010[4]
June 10, 2014

Genre(s) Turn-based strategy, 4X
Mode(s) Single-player, multiplayer

Sid Meier's Civilization V is a 4X video game in the Civilization series developed by Firaxis Games. The game was released on Microsoft Windows in September 2010,[3] on OS X on November 23, 2010, and on Linux on June 10, 2014.

In Civilization V, the player leads a civilization from prehistoric times into the future on a procedurally generated map, achieving one of a number of different victory conditions through research, exploration, diplomacy, expansion, economic development, government and military conquest. The game is based on an entirely new game engine with hexagonal tiles instead of the square tiles of earlier games in the series.[5] Many elements from Civilization IV and its expansion packs have been removed or changed, such as religion and espionage (although these were reintroduced in its subsequent expansions). The combat system has been overhauled, removing stacking of military units and enabling cities to defend themselves by firing directly on nearby enemies.[6] In addition, the maps contain computer-controlled city-states as non-player characters that are available for trade, diplomacy and conquest. A civilization's borders also expand one tile at a time, favoring more productive tiles,[7] and roads now have a maintenance cost, making them much less common.[8] The game features community, modding, and multiplayer elements.[5] It is available for download on Steam.

Its first expansion pack, Civilization V: Gods & Kings, was released on June 19, 2012, in North America and June 22 internationally. It includes features such as religion, espionage, enhanced naval combat and combat AI, as well as nine new civilizations.[9]

A second expansion pack, Civilization V: Brave New World, was announced on March 15, 2013. It includes features such as international trade routes, a world congress, tourism, great works, as well as nine new civilizations, eight additional wonders, and three ideologies. It was released on July 9, 2013, in North America and in the rest of the world three days later.


A player starting location with one city and one warrior unit showing.

Civilization V is a turn-based strategy game, where each player represents the leader of a certain nation or ethnic group ("civilization") and must guide its growth over the course of thousands of years. It starts with the founding of a small settlement and ends after achieving one of the victory conditions—or surviving until the number of game turns end, at which point the highest-scoring civilization, based on several factors, such as population, land, technological advancement, and cultural development, is declared the winner.

During their turn, the player must manage units representing civilian and military forces: directing units to explore the world, found new cities, go into battle to take over other civilizations, control production in their cities to produce new units and buildings, improve land, handle diplomacy with other civilizations in the game, and finally direct the civilization's growth in technology, culture, food supply, and economics. Victory conditions can include taking over the entire world by force, convincing the other civilizations through diplomacy to acknowledge the player as a leader, becoming influential with all civilizations through tourism, or winning the space race to build a colony spaceship to reach a nearby planet, or winning from being the most powerful civilization on the globe after a set number of turns.

The artificial intelligence (AI) in Civilization V is designed to operate on four levels: the tactical AI controls individual units; the operational AI oversees the entire war front; the strategic AI manages the entire empire; and the grand strategic AI sets long-term goals and determines how to win the game. The four levels of AI complement each other to allow for complex and fluid AI behaviours, which will differ from game to game.[6] Each of the AI-controlled leaders has a unique personality, determined by a combination of 'flavors' on a ten-point scale; however, the values may differ slightly in each game.[6] There are 26 flavors, grouped into categories including growth, expansion, wide strategy, military preferences, recon, naval recon, naval growth, and development preferences.[10]

As in previous versions, cities remain the central pillar of Civilization gameplay. A city can be founded on a desired location by a settler unit, produced in the same way as military units, and the city will grow in population, produce units and buildings, and generate research, wealth and culture.[11] The city will also expand its borders one or more tiles at a time, which is critical in claiming territory and resources. The expansion process is automated and directed towards the city's needs, but tiles can be bought with gold.[6][12]

Siege warfare has been revamped. Whereas cities in previous Civ games relied entirely on garrisoned units for defense, cities in Civ V now defend themselves, and can attack invading units with a ranged attack expanding two tiles outward. Cities have hit points that, if taken down to zero, will signal the city's defeat to invading forces; surviving an attack allows a city to recover a fraction (approximately 15%) of its hit points automatically each turn. In addition, any melee unit loses hit points upon attacking a city, dependent upon the strength of the city and unit. Hit points can be increased by garrisoning a unit in the city or building defensive structures (e.g. walls).[12]

Captured cities can be annexed, razed, or transformed into a puppet state, each option having distinct advantages and disadvantages; for example, puppet states will provide resources, have lower unhappiness, and not increase the cost of cultural polices, but has reduced science and culture yields and cannot be directly controlled, being controlled by the A.I. instead.[13]

In this iteration of the series, tactical gameplay in combat is encouraged in place of overwhelming numerical force, with the introduction of new gameplay mechanisms. Most significantly, the square grid of the world map has been replaced with a hexagonal grid, a feature inspired by the 1994 game Panzer General, according to lead designer Jon Shafer.[14] In addition, each hexagonal tile, including city tiles, can accommodate only one military unit and one civilian unit or great person at a time, forcing armies to spread out over large areas rather than being stacked onto a single tile. This has the effect of moving most large battles outside of the cities, and forces increased realism in sieges, which are now most effective when surrounding the city tile because of bonuses from flanking.[6][13]

Increased movement points, simpler transportation over water (embarkment instead of unit transport with water vessels), ranged attacks, and swapping of adjacent units allows for more precise maneuvering of units.[6][13][15] There is also a balance between ranged and melee units. Ranged units can attack melee units without retribution, but melee units will normally destroy ranged units.

In an effort to make individual units more valuable to the player (compared to previous games in the series), they take longer to produce, and gain experience from defeating enemy units. At set levels this experience can be redeemed for promotions, which provide various bonuses for increasing their effectiveness, or to substantially heal themselves. In a further departure from previous games, units are no longer always destroyed if defeated in combat, taking partial damage, which can be healed at various rates depending on their type, location, and promotions earned. However, healthy units can still be completely destroyed in a single engagement if the opposing unit is much stronger.[16]

Special "Great Person" units are still present in the game, providing special bonuses to the civilization that births them, with each named after a historic figure such as Albert Einstein or Leonardo da Vinci. Great people come in several varieties, and those available in the base game can be consumed to produce one of three effects: start a golden age, build a unique terrain improvement, or perform a unique special ability. For example, a Great General can create a 'Citadel' (a strong fort with the ability to inflict damage on nearby enemy units), or increase the combat strength of nearby friendly units (this is the only ability that does not require the consumption of the unit). With the exception of Great Prophets in the expansion sets, capturing a Great Person destroys him or her. Many Great People in the game have bonuses linked to the special ability of the Civilization; for example, one of Mongolia's special abilities is to increase the movement rate of great generals from 2 to 5 and rename them into "Khans".

The technology trading that occurred in previous titles in the series has been removed in favor of joint technological ventures. Two civilizations at peace can form a research agreement, which for an initial investment of gold provides both a certain amount of science so long as they remain at peace.[17] Prior to the PC version of the game, research agreements provided both parties with a random unknown technology after a set number of turns of uninterrupted peaceful relations. It is possible for a civilization to sign a research agreement for the sole purpose of getting an enemy to spend money which could be used for other purposes; AI civilizations are programmed to sometimes use this tactic before declaring war.[18] British actor W. Morgan Sheppard provides the narration for the opening cinematics to the original game and its expansion packs, the quotations at the discovery of new technologies and the building of landmarks, and the introduction of the player's chosen civilization at the start of each new game.[19]


City-states, a feature new to the series, are minor civilizations that can be interacted with, but are incapable of achieving victory. Unlike major powers, they may expand in territory but they never establish new cities, although they can conquer other cities with military units. In addition to outright conquest, major civilizations have the option to befriend city-states, via bribery or services, for bonuses such as resources and units; these bonuses increase as players advance to new eras. In the Brave New World expansion pack, being allied with city-states will grant you additional delegates in the World Congress starting in the Industrial Era. There are three types of city-state in the base game, each with different personalities and bonuses: maritime, cultured, and militaristic. Two additional city-state types (mercantile and religious) were added in the Gods & Kings expansion pack to complement new gameplay mechanics. A city-state has the potential to play a prominent role in diplomacy among larger civilizations, as well as make specific requests and grant rewards.[20]

Culture system

In a change to the culture beans system, in Civilization V players have the ability to purchase social policies with earned culture.[21] These social policies are made up of ten separate trees; prior to the Brave New World expansion pack, filling out five of the ten trees was a requirement to win a cultural victory. These policies replace the "Civics" government system of Civilization IV; the main difference is that the player had to switch out of old civics to adopt a new one, while social policies are cumulative bonuses.[22]

According to Jon Shafer, "With the policies system, we wanted to keep the feel of mixing and matching to construct one's government that was part of Civ IV, but we also wanted to instill a sense of forward momentum. Rather than having to switch out of one policy to adopt another, the player builds upon the policies already unlocked. The thought process we want to promote is 'What cool new effect do I want?' rather than the feeling of needing to perform detailed analysis to determine if switching is a good idea."[22]


As in previous games, there are multiple ways to achieve victory in addition to military conquest. The player may focus on scientific research and become the first to assemble and launch a spaceship, winning a Space Race victory. Diplomatic victory requires support from other civilizations and city-states in the United Nations. In the revamped culture system of Civilization V that consists of social policy "trees", the cultural victory prior to the Brave New World expansion pack involves filling out five of the ten "trees" and completing the Utopia project (reminiscent of the Ascent to Transcendence secret project in Sid Meier's Alpha Centauri).[13]

World domination is an option, but the victory condition has been simplified compared to previous games in the series. Rather than completely destroying the other civilizations, the last player who controls their original capital wins by conquest.[23] Since the Brave New World expansion pack, you must control all original capitals (including your own) in order to win by Domination. The player can also win by having the highest score at the year 2050 AD; all victory conditions can, however, be disabled. This and other settings, for example turning off city razing, can be modified in the "advanced setup" screen while setting up a game.


There are 18 playable civilizations available in the standard retail version of Civilization V, with 7 DLC civilizations and a further 18 added by the two expansions; leading to a total of 43. The player chooses a civilization and assumes the role of its leader, based on prominent historical figures such as Napoleon Bonaparte. Each leader of a civilization has either 2 unique units, or a unique unit and either a unique building or a unique improvement, (e.g. Arabia has the camel archer which replaces the standard knight unit, and the bazaar which replaces the market), and a unique ability (e.g. Bushido for Japan, which causes their units to still do maximum damage even when damaged themselves, and gives 1 culture from each Fishing Boat and 2 culture from each Atoll). The player is able to interact with the leaders of other civilizations via the diplomacy screen, accessed through clicking on a city of that civilization, or through the diplomacy button at the top of the screen, which features — for the first time in the series — fully animated leaders that speak their native languages.[5][6] For instance, Augustus Caesar speaks in his native Latin and Montezuma speaks in his native Nahuatl. According to Émile Khordoc, who voiced Augustus Caesar, the voices for the leaders were recorded in early 2009, approximately a year and a half before the release of the game.[24]


Firaxis began work on Civilization V sometime in 2007.[25] Initially, the team working on the game consisted of seven artists led by Jon Shafer; this team gradually grew to 56 members.[26] For initial tests of gameplay ideas, the team used the Civilization IV game engine (Gamebryo), while a new graphics engine was built from the ground up; this new engine, called LORE, came online only 18 months prior to the game's release.[26] Teams working on different aspects of the game were located close to each other, which enabled the developers to solve some of the issues they were facing in a timely manner.[26]

According to producer Dennis Shirk, the move to one unit per tile had a great impact on the game's core systems, such as forcing them to create an entirely new AI system and the lack of emphasis on the game's later eras.[27] The increased emphasis of the game's new features also meant that the developers had to trim some of the systems that existed in previous Civilization games.[28] Other challenges that faced the developers included the lack of members working on the multiplayer and the loss of critical team members.[29] After approximately 3 years and 3 months of development,[26] the game was finally released on September 21, 2010.


LORE (Low Overhead Rendering Engine) is the name of the graphics engine used by Civilization V (and its successor Civilization: Beyond Earth). There was a presentation of LORE at the GDC2011. While Direct3D 11 was still in alpha stage, Firaxis decided to design the rendering engine natively for the Direct3D 11 architecture, and then map backwards to Direct3D 9. This approach shaped up as being that advantageous, that Civilization V officially supports AMD's proprietary Mantle low-level rendering API, which is a stateless, as are Vulkan and Direct3D 12. With Vulkan being heavily based upon Mantle, it should be relatively easy to also include an Vulkan rendering path, but no such announcements have been made by Firaxis.

A major addition to the Direct3D 11 API was Tessellation and Civilization V contains one of the most complex terrain systems ever made. The rendering engine uses the GPU to ray-trace and anti-alias shadows.

The native ports to OS X (November 23, 2010) and Linux (June 10, 2014) use an OpenGL rendering path.


As of November 21, 2012, the Windows and OS X versions of Civilization V have had regular patches since being released, which included major gameplay alterations, numerous crash fixes, and other changes.[30][31][32][33][34][35] Patch support for OS X has often been delayed, with some patches being released more than a month after their Windows counterparts.[36][37][38]


2K Games released Civilization V and its demo on September 21, 2010,[3][39] It is distributed through retail and the Steam content delivery system. The OS X version was released on November 23, 2010,[4] and the Linux/SteamOS version was released on June 10, 2014.[40] In conjunction with its release, the State of Maryland, where Meier and Firaxis are based, named September 21, 2010, as "Sid Meier's Civilization V Day", in part due to Meier's success and for him "continuing a tradition of developing the talent and creativity of future generations".[41]

A special edition of Civilization V was also set for worldwide release on the same day as the standard edition. The package consists of a 176-page artbook, a "behind-the-scenes" DVD at Firaxis, two-CD game soundtrack selections, and five metal figurines of in-game units, as well as the game itself.[42]

A Game of the Year edition was released on September 27, 2011. It includes all four of the "Cradle of Civilization" map packs, as well as some of the new civilizations (Babylon, Spain, Inca, and Polynesia), their respective scenarios, and the official digital soundtrack. However, the "Explorer's Map Pack", "Civilization and Scenario Pack: Denmark - The Vikings", "Civilization and Scenario Pack - Korea" and "Wonders of the Ancient World Scenario Pack" are not included.[43]

A Gold edition was released on February 12, 2013. It includes all "Cradle of Civilization" map packs, the "Explorer's Map Pack", the "Wonders of the Ancient World Scenario Pack", all the DLC civilizations and the Gods & Kings expansion pack.[44]

A Complete edition was released on February 4, 2014. It includes both expansions and all the DLC packs.[45]

Downloadable content

Besides the 18 civilizations available in the standard retail version, additional civilizations are available as downloadable content (DLC).[46][47] Babylonia under Nebuchadnezzar II was announced as a bonus civilization included in the Steam and Direct2Drive Digital Deluxe Editions,[46][48] and later offered for all on October 25, 2010.[49] Mongolia under Genghis Khan as well as a Mongolian themed scenario was added with a free update on October 25, 2010.[49]

Spain, under Isabella, and the Inca Empire, under Pachacuti, as well as a similarly themed scenario were offered as the first "Double Civilization and Scenario Pack" on December 16, 2010.[50] The "Civilization and Scenario Pack: Polynesia" was released on March 3, 2011, and adds the Polynesian Empire under Kamehameha I.[51] The "Civilization and Scenario Pack: Denmark" was released on May 3, 2011, and features the Danish civilization under Harald Bluetooth, similar to the Viking civilization from previous games.[52] On August 11, 2011, the "Civilization and Scenario Pack: Korea" was released featuring the Korean civilization under Sejong the Great.[53]

On August 11, 2011, a "Wonders of the Ancient World Scenario Pack" was released adding three new ancient wonders – The Temple of Artemis, The Statue of Zeus, and The Mausoleum of Halicarnassus – as well as a scenario based around the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World. This was the first time that new wonders were added as DLC.[53]

Additionally, several DLC map packs were offered as a pre-order bonus from various retailers: Steam, "Cradle of Civilization: Mesopotamia";, "Cradle of Civilization: Asia"; Gamestop and, "Cradle of Civilization: The Mediterranean"; and "Cradle of Civilization: The Americas." All four maps were later made available for purchase through Steam. Coinciding with the release of the "Civilization and Scenario Pack: Denmark" on May 3, 2011, an "Explorers Map Pack" was released featuring map types inspired by real-world locations like the Amazon and Bering Strait.[52]

Mods may be downloaded via the Steam Workshop for the Windows version.[54] As of July 2013, the OS X version does not officially support mods, although working around and moving files from and to certain folders will enable them.[55]

An independently-developed software known as Giant Multiplayer Robot makes use of the hotseat multiplayer mode in Civilization V to mimic the play-by-email functionality that was present in previous Civilization series titles.[56]

Expansion packs

Gods & Kings

On February 16, 2012, an expansion pack titled Gods & Kings was announced. It was released on June 19, 2012, in North America, and June 22 in the rest of the world. The expansion added new features to the base game such as religion, espionage, three new scenarios, an expanded technology tree, several new units, new religious and mercantile city states, nine new wonders and nine new playable civilizations: Austria, Byzantium, Carthage, the Celts, Ethiopia, the Huns, the Maya, the Netherlands, and Sweden.[9] Additionally, Spain, previously available only as DLC in Civilization V, is included with the expansion.[57]

Brave New World

On March 15, 2013, an expansion pack titled Brave New World was announced and released in North America on July 9, 2013, and internationally on July 12.[58][59] The expansion added new features to the base game such as international trade routes, World Congress, tourism, Great Works, two new scenarios, eight new wonders, several new units and nine new civilizations: Assyria, Brazil, Indonesia, Morocco, Poland, Portugal, the Shoshone, Venice, and the Zulus. Additionally, Ethiopia, previously available in the first expansion pack, is included with the expansion.[60] According to steam statistics, the expansion had a huge success, which helped Jon Shafer to stay at Firaxis as a leading designer for Sid Meyer's Civiliztaion future series, for example Sid Meyer's Civilization VI.


Aggregate scores
GameRankings89.17% (49 reviews)[61]
Metacritic90/100 (70 reviews)[62]
Review scores
Game Informer9.75/10[66]
PC Gamer (US)93/100[70]

Civilization V received critical acclaim, achieving a Metacritic score of 90/100 after 70 reviews[62] and 89.17% after 49 reviews in GameRankings.[61]

G4TV gave it 5 out of 5, describing it as a "fantastic turn-based strategy game... In many ways... the best representation of the series and certainly the most accessible for new and old players alike", adding that the "diplomatic model is anemic" and describing the AI as "fairly average."[65] IGN gave the game an "Outstanding 9.0", saying "This is the first Civilization for PC that is worth just about every person’s time," but also criticizing the AI for being too aggressive and noting that players who played Civilization IV may miss the civics and religion features.[69] GameSpot praised the game's addictiveness, claiming it to be "yet another glistening example of turn-based bliss that will keep you up long past your bedtime".[67]

Some reviews were less positive, with the most common criticisms being directed at the game's artificial intelligence. says that the game features an "A.I. that can't play the game," and noted that the game has "some nice innovations that will make it hard to go back to Civilization IV. But in other ways, it's a disappointment that needs a lot more work."[71] Eurogamer gave the game an 8/10 despite their criticism that "the AI in Civ V is still curiously terrible,"[72] while GameShark gave the game a B+ while stating that "the computer opponents are ill equipped for the military side of things."[73] Other complaints include criticism of the game's speed, which is approximately 5 hours at "normal" game pace.

In an update on a Kickstarter project, lead designer Jon Shafer himself criticised some of the game's shortcomings. For the game's diplomatic system, he wrote that AI opponents "were completely enslaved to their gameplay situation, and as a result they appeared random." As for the strategic AI, Shafer said although he was "very proud" of his code, ultimately he felt "it really wasn't very good" since the AI "floated from one 'strategy' to another without any real cohesion behind [its] decisions."[74]

Shafer mentioned that the game's global happiness mechanic "strongly encouraged [players] to stay small and the penalties for not obliging with this demand were quite harsh. It was virtually impossible to build the large, sprawling empires which had always been a feature in the series." On the removal of sliders, he wrote that "players were...permanently locked into their past economic choices." According to Shafer, the game's "maps wasn't really suited for" one unit per tile and that "the congestion caused by [one unit per tile] also impacted other parts of the game." In the end, he concluded that some of the game's problems "were all due to decisions I made with the design."[74]

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External links

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