Hands on with Civilization: Beyond Earth

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GC Civ BE

Gamescom is slowly fading into memory, but we have one last bit of reporting for you – the promised hands-on preview for Civilization: Beyond Earth. I savored every second with the game, and it’s even better that you can imagine.

My first turn saw me starting out with a brand new city, an explorer and a soldier. The world actually featured the all new Fungal Biome. It looks pretty grotesque, and certain points actually emit noxious fumes that can harm your units. Depending on future affinity choices, I was told that this could change and your units might actually helped or use these gasses to their advantage.

For the demo, the developers had selected a starting cargo that actually revealed the shape of the continents on the new planet. This was really helpful for me – I knew to send my explorer to the south rather than the north as there was more to explore that way. However, upon moving I stumbled upon an alien nest. In fact, the aliens are really rather strong – they easily killed off my explorer before I could get my soldier in place as reinforcements. When my soldier arrived, I was able to clear out the nest, but in order to collect the cool resource pod I’d discovered, I needed to build another explorer. Unlike previous Civ games, not all units can collect items on the map.

CivBE (1)

I also had to make decisions about the first things I wanted to build in my new city. I decided to play the culture game, opting to build a culture building before the clinic. Either one of these options actually unlocks a quest when it is completed. These quests help players align themselves with an affinity as well as give context and story to the experience. The quests are quite nuanced as well – I was asked to choose between letting my Earth plants run wild, changing the environment of the new planet, or if I should control them and find a way of working with the new world. Tough choice so early on in the game.

Unlike previous Civ games, the other factions aren’t present on the world at the start of the game. Instead, after a couple turns, a ship arrived from Earth, carrying another faction. I was able to instantly see where they settled on the planet, as well as get the usual introduction to the new Civ. These civilizations are compensated for their later start by receiving larger starting bonuses.

CivBE (2)

One of the most striking things was the new tech web. Each bit of research moves your Civ in a new direction. They also contain sub-research tiers that are linked with the affinity. For example, genetics research is a neutral topic, but once you go into more depth you might choose a direction that leans towards adapting your society, or dominating the alien life forces. In this way, your affinity ties into every aspect of gameplay and choice that you make. I wouldn’t be surprised if over time, I tend towards certain affinities more than others throughout gameplay – certain choices just felt natural to me as a player, which showed my own innate affinities.

Thanks to playing the culture game, I rapidly acquired the necessary levels to upgrade my Virtues – a mechanism similar to social policies in Civilization V. Just like in previous Civ games, Virtues can reward you with improved productivity, a free worker or other advancements. I found myself tending towards the Prosperity and Knowledge trees, although I was happy to see the horizontal bonuses as well as the vertical ones. If I’d been giving the time and opportunity, I could have seen results from adding Virtues across Prosperity, Knowledge and Industry, even before maxing them out.

CivBE (3)

While I only got to play six turns of the game before time was up, I can tell you that the game is ridiculously addictive. I was supposed to actually just play for 15 minutes, with the other 15 minutes devoted to interview. It was painful for me to stop playing, I was completely absorbed within moments, desperate for just one more turn to see what would happen next. The combat is much harder than what we’ve seen in previous Civ games – aliens are tough and you will encounter them early on in the game; you simply can’t compare them to the barbarians of previous Civ games.

By adding meaningful choices earlier on in the game, as well as quests to help frame those decisions, Civilization: Beyond Earth feels like a completely new experience that will make old fans and new players happy. I can already tell that the replay value of the game is astronomical – with so many decisions to make, affinities and factions to play with, each play through of the game really could be completely different.

Last Updated: August 28, 2014

Zoe Hawkins

Wielding my lasso of truth, I am the combination of nerd passion and grammar nazi. I delve into all things awesome and geek-tastic. I believe people should stop defining themselves and just enjoy playing games, so let’s get on with it!

  • Sk3tz0

    Sooooooo looking forward for this.. Heaeder makes it look like the CoD gonna Pop out around the corner and gat that poor space dude in the brain..

  • WarframedSquirrel

    I’ll just leave this here… may be too soon though…

    http://img-9gag-lol.9cache.com/photo/ad6YrzD_700b_v1.jpg

    • Admiral Chief Assassin

      Hahaha. Good game taht

      • Sith JJ

        taht
        You’re also getting fancy now hey?

        • Admiral Chief Assassin

          Indeed dahling

    • Maxiviper117

      Prediction maybe ? 😉

  • Kensei Seraph

    I can’t wait for this.

  • Life stealer alert!

    • Kensei Seraph

      Like any of us have a life to steal.

      • Sith JJ

        LOL

  • Sith JJ

    I want it!!!!
    Any Civs is the greaaaatest.
    Just…one…more….turn….

  • Sk3tz0

    If i cant become Galactic Supreme Emperor in RL.. I’ll do it in Game.. 😛

    • Brady miaau

      Moo2 was always better at that for me, more sort of “Galactic Emperor”

    • Sith JJ

      Yea, sucks that Trevor beat us all to that already.

  • Brady miaau

    Hmm, my wife asked what to get me for my birthday.

    I wonder. Perhaps I should send her this page?:)

    • Admiral Chief Assassin

      Dear Mrs Brady miaau,

      Kindly note that your husband, Mr Brady miaau is a stand-up guy, and really behaves himself well whenever he frequents this fine specimen of a site.

      Regards,

      The Admiral Chief

    • Sith JJ

      Dear Mrs Brady Miaau

      I also support this decision. For the greatness of Civilization: Beyond Earth cannot be overstated.

      Regards,

      JJ

    • Her Highness the Hipster

      Dear Mrs Brady Miaau,

      Please note that your husband is rad and deserves an awesome game. He always behaves like a gentleman in the comment sections and has earned the right to lose many many hours ensuring our civilization continues.

      kind regards,

      Zoe

    • hubble19

      Dear Mrs Brady miaau,

      Please also note that should you get your husband this game, he might completely forget you exist and spend the next 3 months staring at his screen muttering; ‘Just one more turn…’

      Regards,

      hubble19

      • Admiral Chief Assassin

        Only 3 months?

        • hubble19

          I would spend more, but there’s this thing called ‘work’ which some of us just can’t seem to avoid. Maybe I should get my boss Civ. Get him out of the way….

          • Admiral Chief Assassin

            Play against him, your promotion is the motivation to win

          • hubble19

            Pffft, he’d sooner fire me than admit defeat after I nuke him

    • Admiral Chief Assassin

      I’m going to laugh my ass into spasm if she actually reads these comments

      • Brady miaau

        Well, I have mailed her the link. Whether or not she actually does, well that is up to her and the little bundle of joy at home

        • Sith JJ

          She should, it’s really entertaining.

          • Admiral Chief Assassin

            The game, or us colourful characters?

          • Sith JJ

            Us, of course.

          • Admiral Chief Assassin

            Of course

    • hairyknees

      Dear Mrs Brady miaau,

      I know nothing about Civilization (the game), but I can assure you that I am a certified gamer. Gaming isn’t just a place we go when need to escape reality. It’s a place we go to truly live. Your husband sounds like a swell guy, let him live.

      Regards,

      The Porra Intern

      • Sith JJ

        “Know nothing about Civ”
        A little part of me just died inside.

        • hairyknees

          You ever played Dota 2? 😛

          • Sith JJ

            Damn it.
            Fine.

          • hairyknees

            I rest my case <3

          • Kensei Seraph

            What the hell is wrong with you people?
            If the game has been made since you started gaming then why haven’t you played it?

          • Sith JJ

            I played the first Dota. But it’s just not my type of game, that’s all. Just like racing games aren’t everyone’s cup of tea.

          • Admiral Chief Assassin

            Point cabbage

          • Sith JJ

            Is that like pointdexter for the Portuguese?

          • Admiral Chief Assassin

            More like:
            Cabbage 1
            JJ 0

      • Admiral Chief Assassin

        How do you know if someone is a porra, he tells you!

    • Viking Of Science

      Dear Mrs Brady Miaau

      I can tell you, because I am a Scientist, that Mr Brady Miaau should recieve the Simulator: “Civilization: Beyond Earth” as a Birthday gift. and furthermore, I have a study that proves that If he is allowed to share the Civilization with your Child, He/She will grow up to be President of a Galactic Federation, I Cannot stress enough how important it is to get a grasp on Galactic peace treaties and Mineral Mining at a young age.

      Your Family, and Decendants will thank you.

      Kind Regards

      Viking Of Science (An Actual Bearded Scientist)

      • Admiral Chief Assassin

        Seems legit

        • Sith JJ

          He has a beard, everything he does is legit.

          • Brady miaau

            I have a beard and can attest to that

  • Skoobaz

    sold!

  • Mrs Brady Miaau

    This is Mrs Brady Miaau. Mr Miaau has neglected to tell you I have bought him Skyrim before 😉 You provided me with a good chuckle now! Thank you dear gamers. I will strongly consider providing my well behaved gentleman daddy and husband the chance to dominate civ space while baby and I are conquering dreamland at night 🙂

    • Admiral Chief Assassin

      Noted, please post some pictures here of him playing this, you know, for SCIENCE

    • Brady miaau

      Hi,

      Look, the dishes, you know, I mean to. Ok. And the garden. And you know, fixing the pool. And the house. And that new dress. I never actually said, um, no. I was just kidding when I asked if hell was frozen over yet. Really. 🙂

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