I only jumped onto the Civilization bandwagon recently with Civilization V, but that hasn’t prevented me from getting ridiculously excited about Beyond Earth. The series is leaving the green field of earth and setting out to break ground on new planets with this year’s sequel. Is it an entry that fans simply have to pick up?
If your a Civilization fan, then prepare your credit card. Beyond Earth looks like a must-have.
Civilization: Beyond Earth is an immensely pleasing simulation of a future human society, struggling to survive on a new planet. It presents the player with a constant stream of challenging and intriguing choices. Packed with big ideas about science and science-fiction, it meticulously interlocks dozens of strategic gaming systems that work together at a level that approaches genius.
Beyond Earth is nowhere near the strongest game in the more than 20-year-old Civilization series, but this big collection of interesting experimental ideas definitely still kept me playing long after I should’ve gone to bed. The Affinities and streamlined military upgrade system, and a colorful change of scenery make it worth the time to figure out the difference between Protogenetics and Surrogacy, and suffering through temperamental alien wildlife.
Beyond Earth succeeds in spite of its similarities to Civ 5. It offers a game steeped in the traditions and mechanics of Civilization, that’s nevertheless surprising and new in often unexpected ways. I’ve conquered countless civilizations on the planet Earths of each various Civilization game, and each time it’s felt like reinventing a fantasy version of the past. In Beyond Earth, victory feels like living in—and forging—humanity’s future, and I can honestly say I’ve never had more fun building a civ “to stand the test of time.”
Civilization has always had something to say about this stuff (and civilisation has always had something to say about this stuff) but Beyond Earth goes further than ever, suggesting that even if we do eventually live on Pluto, the distractions will have joined us there, and will probably have multiplied. When we get into space, the real danger – and the real wonder – will be the fact that we have brought ourselves along.
The Civilization series is one of the biggest names in strategy for a very good reason, and Beyond Earth adds some wonderful ideas on top of all that, but the underlying systems have remained largely untouched. That’s either exactly what you wanted to hear, or reason enough to hold fire. I still find it almost impossible to play this game in anything smaller than three hour increments, but I’ve been surprised to find myself just a little tired of the Civilization formula.
Seems like Beyond Earth does exactly what it needs to do – introduce some new mechanics to a familiar formula and keep the fans happy. Be sure to check out our review for Zoe’s take on the interplanetary strategy title, which launches on PC this Friday.
Last Updated: October 23, 2014