Civilization: Beyond Earth goes above and beyond

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GC Civ BE

If there’s one game that has always stolen a ton of my time, it’s Civilization. The new approach to Civ takes us into the future and seems to offer the best experience to date. Are you ready to lose 100+ hours of your life, at least?

During Gamescom, I had the excellent luck to sit in on a Civilization: Beyond Earth demo. In the future, Firaxis implies that something happened that changed the way our nations and cultures interact – not only were we forced to leave Earth, we also banded together in new ways. The factions function differently to countries in the past – rather than being the main thing that defines your culture, factions give abilities and city bonuses, as well as letting you pick your cargo for the beginning of the game. Depending on the cargo you choose, you can begin the game with a worker, or perhaps a greater portion of the map revealed, or even the outline of the continents visible in your map.

Affinity seems to have more influence over your gameplay than factions. While it isn’t a guarantee of peace (civilizations with the same affinity can end up going to war), they affect a wide range of interactions from research to espionage, special units to victory conditions. You don’t start the game with a specific affinity, though – these are developed through research, quests and other activities. As explained in the interview below, Affinity is something of a “post-human trajectory” that rolls your religion, government and biology into one belief system. As civilizations align themselves in one direction or another, their Civilization representatives visually display that progress.

Great people have been somewhat replaced by satellites – these can offer buffs to energy, research, production and even military abilities. However, there is only a set amount of room in the skies, so you might find yourself battling with other civilizations for room for your satellites.

Virtues are used to replace the policies from Civ V. However, this time around there are bonuses for vertical as well as horizontal progression. You no longer need to complete the entire tree to reap the rewards – you can grab upgrades from a variety of Virtue paths and still get some nice extras. The four virtues are Might, Prosperity, Knowledge and Industry to reflect the different play styles that players might adopt.

Diplomacy has also been given an upgrade in Civ: BE. Unlike previous Civilization games where you had a limited amount of options, Civ: BE has added in a system of favors. If another civilization needs help and you provide them with resources, they will actually “owe you one” in a diplomatic sense. These favors can be called in for resources or other activities.

Unlike previous Civ games, the alien life is sort of like a faction – not quite like barbarians, though. Aliens will become aggressive if you attack them, but depending on your affinity you can also make that aggression degrade more quickly. Depending on that affinity, you can even use the alien life forms to your advantage, making them converge on an enemy civilization. However, due to the new paths in the game, the developers explained that factional conflict only really takes place later on in the game. The same is also true with founding your second city; it can simply take longer and be more difficult to expand due to the presence of alien life forms.

I had an awesome interview with the guys behind Civilization: Beyond Earth. Unfortunately, the mic seemed to die again part of the way through. However, you can at least see what we could salvage over here, and keep an eye out for my addictive hands-on preview in the coming weeks.

Last Updated: August 19, 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. You can read more of my words over at www.borngeek.co.za, or just follow me on all the social networks to get the true range of my sarcasm and wit.

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