The Ideology expansion for RimWorld has been out for quite a while now, having launched back in July of 2021. I know because I bought it when it came out and fully intended to write about it last summer. But the expansion went through some needed changes based on feedback pretty quickly, so I waited for that to settle down then moved on to something else and forgot about it.
But I got RimWorld out again this month and played a bit… this week literally has three posts now about me looking for something to play… and I figured I ought to revisit my thoughts on the expansion.
RimWorld, just to dial back a moment, is a top down survival simulator that has been around for over five years now if we count early access. My earliest post about playing was back in 2017. Since then it has had the Royalty and then the Ideology expansion packs.
The basic scenario premise is that of three people having their spaceship crash land on a planet and having to get themselves off planet and home again.
From a mechanics based “win the game” point of view, there is a well established through path which SynCaine covered back in 2017; get food production up, build defenses, ignore missions, do the minimum to keep your people happy, and focus on tech to build that spaceship in order to get off the planet.
Even adhering to that, getting through the game has some challenges. Raids become more common and more aggressive as you move through time, and when you have that ship built and are getting it ready for launch, the attacks become relentless.
But another way to look at the game is as a story generator. Each of the people in your game, the colonists, have skills and personality traits that dictate what keeps them happy and how they get along with others.
The game has a whole system of possible interactions, including rivalries, relationships, couples falling in love, marriage, divorce, and simple animosity that can break out into fist fights.
Royalty and Ideology both add more layers to your colonists, though Ideology much more so than Royalty. Royalty you can basically play along with or ignore. Ideology becomes a serious part of the game play.
So one of the first patches to the Ideology expansion was the ability to not use it once you had purchased it. You cannot just ignore it like Royalty. After that there was a lot of tuning.
From a pure mechanics “winning” point of view, Ideology makes the game harder because it makes your colonists more difficult to keep happy. So if that is your gig, then this is hard mode.
For those who enjoy the story of their colonists, this adds in a whole new dynamic.
When starting up the game you can opt out of the expansion or, if you run with it, choose a pre-made ideology, go random, or roll up your own specific ideology.
The web page for the expansion has a list of the many memes and precepts that can be mixed into an ideology.
An ideology isn’t just a religion, though it can have religious rituals and symbols. It is more of a total community belief system and, as you can see from the choices on that screen. It can be anything from a criminal gang to cannibals to tree worshiping vegans.
And with any ideology comes a list of expectations. There will be rituals they expect, official positions to be filled, clothing to be produced, and activities they will demand, otherwise they won’t be happy.
For example, I had a colony of burka wearing female supremacist dominators who were quite unhappy unless I sent them out on the occasional raid in order to beat down on the locals and capture some of them to enslave. Every raid gave them a temp happiness boost, every slave in the colony boosted their happiness by a bit, and the person who did the actual enslaving got a big happiness boost.
Interestingly, one of the people they enslaved had the masochist trait and their happiness was improved when the were forced to wear a slave collar and body strap. That slave was never going to revolt.
Unfortunately, the other slaves were not so inclined and there was a bloodbath when they rose up. (Pro tip: don’t put the slave quarters next to a storage room that contains weapons.) The slave rebellion left only one colonist alive, one of the slaves, and their wounds got infected and they died a few days later.
One of the reasons for the rebellion was that everybody on the planet has an ideology and if you want to bring people into your colony and keep them happy, then you need to convert them. That takes time.
Another drug loving colony was wiped out when a raid hit while they were in the middle of getting stoned. Granted, it was a big raid, but I am not sure all of them being huddled around the communal bong set the right tone for defense.
The expansion opens up a range of new items from apparel to ritual related furniture to quests that can change up your colony completely.
So, is it worth $20? Certainly more so than the Royalty expansion.
If you like the story of your colonists more than building that spaceship, the Ideology expansion adds a lot of depth to the game.