Civilization: Beyond Earth could have been a huge change for the franchise. Moving from historical simulation into the future (and on to new planets), it had the potential to be a revolutionary new kind of Civilization. Unfortunately, many feel they didn’t do enough to make it truly unique. That’s about to change with a new expansion, Rising Tide.
When I got to chat with Dave McDonough (co-lead designer) and Andrew Frederiksen (producer), they elaborated on three key changes in the expansion: aquatic gameplay, diplomacy and hybrid affinities.
Aquatic gameplay is much as it sounds – it allows players to settle and play and fight over the oceans, opening up the whole map (barring the icecaps) with seamless integration into land territories. New resources are being added that are water specific, some of which can only be found at different depths. As a result, the designers have done all new water design so that the various depths look distinct.
Players can choose to build their cities on land and branch out into the water to grab those resources, or build on water and allow their reach to grow onto land for traditionally strategic resources. Of course there will be some balancing changes to support this aquatic gameplay, as well as some tweaks to map generation and customisation; I’m totally going to create a version of Waterworld that isn’t pure 90s trash.
The all new diplomacy system is what makes me particularly excited about the expansion. It changes all of the things we take for granted in the base game, changing how you reflect hostility and how you end up in war or peace. While the existing eight leaders will continue to be present, their identities and interactions will be stronger. In fact, strategic resources are being taken out of diplomacy put into the trade system where they belong – you’ll no longer open up the diplomacy menu to try to get resources you need, instead using it to exert power and influence over other civilisations. There will also be deeper interaction between above board diplomacy and the darker forms of diplomacy, like espionage.
Beyond the existing eight leaders, there will be four new playable factions. These are colony ships of people who didn’t leave with the original seeding group but who left earlier or later. They’re wilder, more radical and have stronger ideologies.
While they couldn’t give me details on all four, they could give me details on one: Al Falah is a Middle Eastern faction. In the lore of the game, the Middle East was depopulated because of ecological issues. These people are the ones who stayed, fought through and reclaimed their land, going into space through force of will. However, the ship didn’t have Cryo capabilities, so this civilisation has gone through generations as they traveled through space. Thus, the people who arrive on planet aren’t the ones who left Earth; they were born in space and have a totally different perspective on the purpose of a planet as compared to those who were originally of Earth.
The new hybrid affinities aren’t quite as developed as pure affinities, but they offer unique abilities. For those who played Civilization: Beyond Earth, when pushing for the pure affinities (Purity, Supremacy or Harmony), you would often pick up the odd point in a different affinity. Your people might be following a path of Supremacy through bionic enhancements, but found that some alien technology helped along the way. Or perhaps, you were going for Purity with just a touch of Supremacy technology to help you along. Previously, those extra points in other affinities weren’t really helpful beyond the specific technology or perk that they granted.
Now, with hybrid affinities, blending a combination of affinities actually changes the interpretation of what the common ground would be. Rather than needing to be purely aligned in one direction, players can have some mixing. While affinity-based victory conditions still rely on the original three affinities, the hybrid affinities can grant unique abilities and units, as well as perks. These units can be incredibly powerful and help pave the way for domination victories. Plus, they sound like they will look incredibly cool as the combine the various philosophies in their designs.
In order to balance the new gamely from water and affinity changes, the tech web is getting looked at, too. While they couldn’t give me many details, of course they will need to change, add or update the tech web to allow for the new kinds of gameplay that we’ll see.
Finally, one of my gripes with Civilization: Beyond Earth was that the dearth of achievements minimised the replay value. While I’m still trying to hunt down all kinds of Civilization V achievements, my percentage for achievement acquisition is way higher on BE despite playing for fewer hours. The guys assured me that they will add as many achievements as possible in the new expansion – they love achievements and want to add as many as the’ll be allowed.
No sense of date for this expansion as of yet, although Dave and Andrew did assure me that there will be some patching of the base game to prepare for the expansion, as well as to help interplay between people who may or may not have the expansion who still want to play co-op.
While we still need to learn a lot more before I can be totally amped for the expansion, it sounds like it will add a lot of content and depth to the game, as well as update successful strategies. I’m excited to see more at E3 and hear how the expansion will address the criticisms of the base game. Plus, water cities and all new diplomacy sound like reason enough for me to want this expansion.
Last Updated: May 18, 2015