Religions in Civ IV, which most hardcore players consider a pretty good implementation of it, basically exist as happiness factories for cities that have them, and gold factories for the nation that ‘founded’ it. In this upcoming expansion, it seems there are just more of them, and that they’re just happiness factories. Granted a 30 min meeting is probably less than optimal for digging into the intricacies of it (if there are any), but I’m only excited about it in the sense that it will add a layer - any layer - to an otherwise flat game.
Proper implementation of a religion mechanic would see the religions act almost as wholly sovereign nations with no borders. Work with the leaders of the religions that hold sway over the people in your nation, benefits are provided. But it could also setup power struggles not only between yourself and religious leaders, but between the religions themselves, sparking holy wars, crusades, etc as the religious leaders prod nations into doing their dirty work.
On the other hand, we see the return of espionage, apparently through a spy unit, which gets a big fat ‘thppppppppp’ from me. That you have to divert industrial production to build a unit to conduct espionage is friggin ridiculous.
All in all, two dynamics that should have been in the initial release a year and a half ago are here now, and neither are really inspiring.
Guess I need to get back to working on my clone.