Firaxis Games and publisher 2K Games have recently announced that the Civilization series will be going into space, with their recent reveal of the sci-fi themed 4X strategy game Sid Meier’s Civilization: Beyond Earth. The developers have even stated this title is the spiritual successor to SMAC (Sid Meier’s Alpha Centauri) and that a few of the original designers from SMAC are still on the team. Here’s the official announcement trailer.
To answer the first question why not call it SMAC 2? The Alpha Centauri trademark is owned by Electronic Arts. It also seems the developers may be using a different background and lore for this new title, though many of the themes are similar. The Earth has reached its limits and humankind embarks on its greatest journey to settle a new world for itself.
Information is still scarce but there are a few tidbits of information out already (mostly gathered from a lengthy PC Gamer interview with the devs):
- The faction selection will be expanded from previous games; the player does more than just select a starting faction but also chooses what they are taking with them on their expedition, influencing the player’s starting conditions.
- The developers mention that not every faction arrives at the same time. The human player will arrive alone on the alien world and the other factions will arrive later but better prepared to balance their late arrival (no information on how multiplayer will be handled at this moment).
- The new planet will be highly varied between playthroughs, offering diverse biomes and alien creatures. The aim is to give the impression that these are unknown alien worlds (not always the same one between playthroughs), but also to help keep a level of mystery and uncertainty between playthroughs.
- The game will also support the modding community and already hint to the potential of player generated alien worlds.
- There will be an orbital layer in which players will be deploying satellites in order to offer many bonuses which will range from military to economical and scientific.
- The game will still use the 1 unit per tile (and a hex based map) from Civilization V. The developers expect the orbital layer will add more tactical depth to the combat and are aware of the complaints about the combat AI in Civilization V, which they are hoping to address properly in this title.
- There will be a quest/mission based system that will guide the player as they explore the lore of the planet and help them forward through the game.
- The technology tree will be non-linear and will branch out into three separate affinities (Supremacy, Harmony, and Purity). These will be affected by the player’s choice and in turn have an impact on the player’s faction and their interactions with their new world.
- The game will have 5 victory conditions, three of which will be tied to the three affinities, with two others which will be affinity neutral for those that do not want to fully commit down one path.
The developers went into a little more detail about the technology paths and affinities. So, the three paths are Supremacy, Harmony, and Purity. Supremacy revolves around fully embracing technology which involves robotics, AI, and cybernetics. Purity revolves around terraforming and adapting the planet (forcefully if need be) to human needs, while Harmony is adapting humanity to its new home and developing a symbiotic relationship with the planet.
Talking to Joystiq, the developers have also addressed fears some people have that the game might be ‘dumbed-down’, saying they are focusing on giving a deep experience to the player.
The new systems that are implemented here give this game complexity. I know our fans [are always] afraid of us dumbing something down. This is not dumbed down. -Lena Brenk, Producer at Firaxis Games
However, such statements are best observed than promised, it is still a good sign the developers are addressing such concerns quickly.
Sid Meier’s Civilization: Beyond Earth is developed by Firaxis Games and published by 2K Games. It’s slated for a 2014 Autumn/Fall release. The anticipated price is set for $49.99 USD and will most certainly be made available on Steam. So we can expect this spiritual successor to SMAC to be out by the end of this year. It really has big shoes to fill, but fortunately the developers seem to know this fact. We will keep you updated as more information is made public.Subscribe RSS
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