E3 2014 – First impressions of Civilization: Beyond Earth


As a long-time Civilization fan, I’ve tracked its iterations since the early days when I played Civilization 2 and Colonization on my old PC. Sid Meier has maintained a legacy of great game design and collaborated with individuals like Brian Reynolds, Soren Johnson, and Jon Shafer. Did you know that Sid also had partly influenced the original X-COM? So when the opportunity rose to catch a glimpse of Beyond Earth, I immediately threw in my hat. Even if rumors spread that it looked like a reskinned Civilization V with Alpha Centauri, I wanted to give it a chance — I mean, Alpha Centauri was an awesome game!


Some fans of the Civ series may be wondering, “Why isn’t this called Alpha Centauri 2?” Well, based on a side conversation with one of the developers, there is a good reason for that! Given their initial deals with EA, when Firaxis was first an independent developer, they were set on abiding with not using the Alpha Centauri line. Why? Because the current publisher is 2KGames. 🙂


The demonstration was non-interactive as Pete Murray, marketer and writer, leads us to how Beyond Earth distinguishes itself to being what seemed like a reskin of Civilization V. Beyond Earth is organized to have three different philosophies that have various factions who are associated with them. Like in recent games, the leaders of these factions are fully animated as well. The three philosophies are Harmony, Purity, and Supremacy. Harmony believes in the symbiosis with the new planet. Purity believes in maintaining humanity by making this world a new Earth. Supremacy believes that the ends justify the means, like a Divine Conquest. These three approaches are called “Affinities” and depending on what you do and what you research, you build points in them.


Like in one of the expansions for Civilization V, there are Covert Operations available in Beyond Earth, allowing you to create intrigue, smuggle, and sabotage other cities and stations. What’s a “station”? It’s the name for Independent Settlements that are not affiliated with anyone. Think of them as Civilization V‘s City-States. There are also downed ships, ruins, and large skeletons that are scattered throughout the land for discovery, like the Ancient Ruins of the previous game. There are also Quests/Missions available in the game, all possessing a narrative context which offer you a variety of choices in the development of your game.

Another interesting aspect of the demonstration is the Orbital Layer of gameplay. While Civilization V was mostly ground (even airplanes were on the ground map), the Orbital layer allows you to see satellites and other things which ultimately affects the ground layer. Just a reminder, this new planet is untamed, so there are alien creatures wreaking havoc and poisonous miasma that can wreck your day!

Civilization: Beyond Earth comes out this fall for PC, Mac, and Linux platforms! And if you notice no articles from me for a few weeks upon release— this will be why.

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