First, some background: I started out with Civilization I as a kid way back when. I've played every single game in the Civ series since then, spending hours and hours playing around with Civilization IV, for example. When I heard Civ V was coming out, I was tremendously excited.
Then I experienced the Civ V demo, which stuttered and barely worked and I thought to myself, I'll let this wait for a bit, so they patch the game and get it in order.
About half a year after release I tried vanilla Civ V. It was as bad as the reviews on Amazon and other gamers experiences had led me to believe and I dropped it.
Then along comes the expansion, again I wait a few months and this time I see some positive reviews on Amazon. I hear from some people that enjoyed it and I think to myself, "ok, let's give it a shot."
The conclusion in one sentence: this game is not only still not worthy of the name "Civilization", it is still barely worthy of being called a game.
A lengthier overview:
0. Steam - not spending time discussing this or DRM, up to the gamer.
1. Interface - the interface is a clunky, oversized hodgepodge. The new Gods & Kings interface clashes with the vanilla interface and does not use a consistent GUI. In particular, both the religion and espionage interfaces are strange, unintelligible list based scroll-fests. The city overview becomes unmanageable in the late game with the painful profusion of units and buildings requiring long periods of scrolling. The notifications on diplomatic, game and city-states events is clunky and messy, occupying a massive amount of screen real estate, while conveying very little of value to the game. The various overviews and demographics are very unenlightening compared to previous incarnations of the game. The way the game skips from unit to unit automatically seems to be completely random and is very confusing when trying to coordinate an army. In particular, I could not find a "next unit" keyboard shortcut, which meant I had to continually switch from mouse to keys and back. Using the mouse - the next unit command is on the right side of the screen, while the unit information is at the bottom left - I often ended up moving the wrong unit to the wrong destination, simply because it was not clear which unit was selected. The units themselves are difficult to distinguish, all of them resemble large masses of little men, so you need to pay attention to the little icon floating above them, at certain zoom levels, however, this little icon is halfway into a neighbouring hex. The animated combat feature seems completely superfluous and slows down gameplay ridiculously. I could go on, but suffice to say the user interface is not user-friendly, big, bubbly icons and buttons to notwithstanding.
2. Gameplay - gaming is a complex form of play where the player has to feel like he or she is making effective choices that determine outcomes. On many gameplay fronts, Civ V continues to be a hopeless cludge. One particular horror is being unable to end a turn while there are still units without orders. I could not figure out how to do this in approximately 30 hours of play, which indicates a ridiculous failure of interface design.
2.a. Expansion - growing your civilization, which is what the Civilization franchise always stood for, has become more or less choice-free. City placement does not greatly affect how productive cities will be. Terrain is mostly irrelevant, there are no bad terrains or locations any more (for example, building a city in the middle of a fetid jungle works just fine). Improving terrain has little effect and can be automated (and ignored). Further, the only "growth" constraint in the game is an arbitrary whole-empire happiness that affects all your cities at once - which is rather strange.
2.b. Military - Enemies are a joke and do not check expansion, being feeble and incapable opponents - so long as you remember that they will always randomly and for no reason attack you. So, to expand, the formula simply involves building a basic army and then ignoring all the other civilizations. The strategic AI is absolutely inept. But oddly aggressive. The main thing I found was that I was loathe to get into a war because it was so boring. While the interface jumps from unit to unit at random, I would have to move them all. One by one. Every unit. Every turn. Because the pathing is so bad, that if something occupies a destination tile, the unit suddenly stops. I found myself hating wars, because they were boring. There was no chance or choice, the AI is so poor that I knew I would win the conflict, if I took the time. I often did not want to, because it was simply boring and slow.
2.c. Diplomacy - one of the most painful parts of the game, still. The AI players seem completely arbitrary and as soon as you begin to do well, they refuse to trade with you any further. In one particular game, I finally took down a bullying neighbour who kept reneging on our deals and finally attacked me. I destroyed the enemy and took his cities - and the game punished me! My empire was crippled by punishing unhappiness and all my cities stopped producing. And there was nothing I could do to fix it, except wait. In another game, I had a long history of "declarations of friendship" and "defensive pacts" with one neighbour against two others. Finally, in a war they started against my ally, I decide to destroy them. My ally promptly disowns me and hates me, because I am a bloodthirsty warmonger ... well, thank you. That's gratitude.
2.d. City States - these little "NPC" civilizations are a horrible cludge in my opinion. They are basically annoying little space hogs whose requests are basically unimportant to the game of civilization. In the long run, they play no effective role, neither as allies (inept military AI) nor as ... well, I don't know what they are supposed to do. I do know that I would regularly get 6-8 messages per turn regarding something they "wanted" and about which I could not care less.
2.e. Economy - the economy is completely out of your hands, your only role is to plop cities around and use money to buy buildings, because the rates of production are so ridiculously slow. There are still no empire wide controls for managing your empire, but this is mostly irrelevant, since unless you play at higher difficulty settings where the AI opponents cheat (faster production, etc.), there is no need to pay it any attention.
2.f. Religion - faith is yet another resource that gets produced and bolts on to the rest. Yet another resource that you acquire more or less easily and which has no major impact on the game.
2.g. Espionage - the most horrible, clumsy implementation of espionage into a civilization game I have yet seen. It basically does nothing for game play, the interface is horrible and it adds yet more pointless popups. And, if you are more advanced than your opponents, there's not much to do. You can look at their boring cities. You can't plant bombs or poison the water supply or try to stir up a rebellion.
2.h. Rewards - finally, the biggest general problem. With any game you except rewards for success, whether big or small. Unfortunately, this game does not deliver them. You build a world wonder, a little music plays, you get a picture and almost no game effect. It hardly seems worth the effort. You found and spread your religion, the same story. You plant your spies and they don't have anything much to do apart from clutter your interface with more inane messages. You defeat an enemy and ... nothing much happens, except that if you take over their cities, your empire collapses - so you have to call them "puppets" and leave them to AI governors. And, finally, you win the game ... and a little music plays, you get a picture and then get to see a list of the game messages that annoyed you throughout the game anyway. Or a few demographics. Or some graph lines. And a little score saying you ranked as highly as this or that character. The game does not make you care. I actually used nuclear weapons on some opponents just because I was fed up, they had been consistently rude and belittling to me for no reason for half the game and I wanted to see a flashy animation. Well, the units were damaged, the bomb flashed, the city was reduced in size and some fallout spread out. Yay.
3. Fun - however, even a game with a funky interface (I'm looking at you, EU III), can be fun. Even a game with clumsy gameplay can be fun (can't think of one quickly). This game, however, is not fun - at least if you're a strategy gamer it's not. As I mentioned, one of my biggest gripes in the interface was not being able to find a way to end turns more quickly - because they were so boring and all my choices felt so irrelevant!
I'm going to repeat what many have already said: if you want to play Civilization, stay with Civ IV.