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Civilization: Beyond Earth Update and Interview

By on September 19th, 2014 11:33 am

Civilization: Beyond Earth | A turn-based Sci-Fi 4X Strategy Game by Firaxis and 2K Games

Several weeks remain before the release of Sid Meier’s Civilization: Beyond Earth, the new turn-based sci-fi 4X strategy game by 2K and Firaxis Games. SpaceSector approached Firaxis for an interview and despite the hectic schedule of pre-release, the two Lead Designers, Will Miller & David McDonough, answered our questions. The answers were brief but hopefully a bit of information will be there for our readers.

However, before bringing you the interview, people interested in Civ: BE can find more information about the game on their twitch streams. These videos can be found on their twitch channel, which are archived for later viewing. They cover topics such as early game choices, affinities, the virtue system, some early and mid-game techs, and espionage.

These live twitch streams air on Thursdays at 2PM Eastern Time (11 AM Pacific Time and 8 PM CET) and for the last few weeks have been on a weekly schedule. Here is a quick lowdown of features they discussed:

Civilization: Beyond Earth | Cities

Basics:

  • The native fauna are not just mere barbarian. They are not always offensive (but can be opportunistic), however they can be provoked if pressed and at lower aggression levels won’t aggressively pursue fleeing units.
  • The factions only offer a single unique quality, similar to the more basic Unique Abilities found in Civ V. These factions are further customised via the seeding process.
  • During the creation of the game, the player will seed their colony project. Selecting your faction, ship (which gives a little boost), colonists (which gives a basic output bonus), and cargo (a freebie at the start).
  • Cargo includes a free building, a unit, or population. While the ship trait will give effects like having a larger zone to pick for your first settlement, seeing several strategic resources, or having the coastline mapped on the minimap.
  • The Tech Tree is more of a Tech Web as the player starts from the middle and spirals outwards from there in all direction. Each core tech referred to as a branch tech will have leaf techs, these tend to be more expansive to research but offer useful buildings, units, bonuses, and many times affinity experience.
  • Virtues are the replacement to social policies in Beyond Earth. They operate the same way with the exception there is only 4 trees and each go 15 virtues deep. The player also gains additional bonuses to go deeper in any given tree but also gains bonuses when unlocking more virtues within a given tier, thus rewarding both deep and wide strategies within the virtue system.

Check our previous coverage on Beyond Earth if you want to know more about the three different affinities and other basic gameplay concepts.

Affinities and Unit Evolution:

  • Players gain affinities level from accumulating experience by completing quests and researching (or stealing) affinity techs. As the player goes up in affinities they gain passive bonuses from their affinity and unlock the ability to upgrade their units.
  • Unit upgrades are the replacement to the traditional tech replacement of older units. Though some units only appear later and some only to a given affinity, the player will be able to upgrade older units to the graduated state.
  • These upgraded units will have a choice between two bonuses the player can take. Also, at a given affinity level the earlier ‘neutral unit’ will change to its superior affinity aligned unit, each with its own choice.
  • Three of the five victory condition is tied to the affinities, one for each. The last two are achievable by everyone, First Contact with another race which is similar to the Technology Victory, and naturally the Domination Victory (which is still based on being the last faction to still own their original capital).
  • Supremacy can build a Warp Gate back to Earth to “liberate” humanity from its organic prison. Purity can build a Warp Gate to bring in settlers from Earth to start a new home for mankind, and Harmony can merge its consciousness with the alien world in a perfect symbiotic relationship.

Civilization: Beyond Earth | Combat

Espionage:

The latest video goes into great detail on how the espionage system works, one of the elements of the game that has been greatly expanded upon from its last Earth-bound predecessor (i.e. Civ5).

  • Agents can be deployed to increase intrigue in a given city, or used to stop agents and reduce intrigue in your own cities. Intrigue seems to be accumulated individually for each city separately.
  • Agents can stay at the Headquarters to offer a passive boost to your faction which can be set by the National Security Project.
  • The agent’s chance to succeed is separate to getting caught or detected. Also, the more factions that dog-pile into a city the more likely a spy will be caught or detected to counter-balance the rapid increase in city intrigue (the Casablanca Effect).
  • There are buildings, wonders, and even satellites that can help the player defend themselves against enemy agents.
  • There is a quest chain that relies on espionage which helps the player further expand their espionage capabilities.
  • Once the player reaches a certain intrigued level they can perform actions such as taking energy, science (which are not deducted from the target), or steal technologies. You can even get free units based on the enemies’ units available (though they will match your affinity, however) and sabotage their satellites.
  • The player will also have a powerful actions that is dependent on their affinity and even have access to coup-d’état which lets the player flip a city to their faction. This includes their capital which means it is possible to achieve a domination victory peacefully.
  • The player can get more agents via technology, virtues, and even quests. The construction of the spy agency that unlocks the espionage mechanic for your faction grants the player with three starting agents.
  • Lastly, there is one faction that specialises in Espionage. The ARC, which gets all-around bonuses to espionage.

Civilization: Beyond Earth | Orbital Layer

Interview with the Lead Designers

Here is the interview with Will Miller & David McDonough, Lead Designers of Civilization: Beyond Earth.

SS: What gameplay feature has been the easiest and which has been the toughest for you to reach the state where you were finally happy with the end result? Also, speaking of features, are there plans for continued development post-release with DLCs and expansions like with past Civilization games?

Will & David: That’s a really great question. We’re very happy with how the game is coming together now, but I guess as designers we always feel a need to keep tinkering with the design. Right now we’re focusing on getting Beyond Earth finished, and we don’t comment on future plans.

SS: You mentioned giving the players options when they start new games, from selecting the planets biome to the load out of their colony ship during the seeding phase. Can we expect many of the options we are accustomed to from past Civilization games when we set-up a new game like disabling certain victory condition, changing the overall aggressiveness of the aliens, and further planet customisation options (like multi-continent, Pangea, or having no oceans)?

Will & David: Yes, absolutely. You have plenty of control over the planet’s geology and ecology, whether it’s super-low rainfall or humid, ancient or new. Those play into the scripts that go about designing the game. You can also disable certain victory conditions, if you would like.

SS: You spoke a bit about favours during diplomacy. What sort of actions can we expect out of ‘cashing-in’ favours? Will we be able to use them to influence other factions to go to war or to make demands from them, like “stop ‘spying’ on me” or “stop encroaching on my territory”? What other improvements in diplomacy can we expect from Civilization V?

Will & David: Yes, many of those options are possible with favors. They work a bit like a currency for diplomacy: you can earn them by giving the other leaders valuable energy, resources, or other forms of aid, and then cash them either in to get different resources back at a later date, or to demand a positive response to something you need the leader to do – up to and including declaring war on a mutual enemy. In addition to the favor system, the other leaders will contact you from time to time to discuss things like your Affinity development and attitude towards wildlife. Our hope is that players will find this gives them a better sense of how the AI’s attitude towards them is developing over the course of the game.

Civilization: Beyond Earth | Exploring

SS: Let’s speak about the tech web. We noticed that the leaf techs tend to be far more expensive than the core branch techs and many of them have affinities attached to them. Can we research multiple leaves under a branch tech? Also, if we can, what prevents the player from leveling up multiple affinities since it seems we are encouraged to go down ‘one path’? Also, are hybrids possible or even viable?

Will & David: Yes, you can research any leaf tech under a branch tech. You can also go down multiple Affinity routes, although you may have the most success if you prioritize and focus on just one. You need to have a certain level with an Affinity in order to pursue its victory condition, so if you don’t do that and straddle a variety of Affinities, you may find yourself limited in terms of what victories you can achieve.

SS: Lastly, many veterans of the genre still hold SMAC in high regards to this day despite its age, though Civ: BE does seem to focus on bringing the concept of Civ on an alien world to a new generation of gamers and fans of the later Civ games, but what do you consider Civ: BE brings to the table for those that enjoyed SMAC?

Will & David: One thing we hear a lot from gamers who played Alpha Centauri was how much they enjoyed the characterization of the leaders and how it built its world from simple elements. We’re trying to do the same things in Beyond Earth, creating the idea of how a world might be expanding or developing, while letting the player’s story take center stage.

SS: We would like to thank both Will Miller & David McDonough and Firaxis for this opportunity and taking time from their busy schedule to answer our questions.

Sid Meier’s Civilization: Beyond Earth is developed by Firaxis Games and published by 2K Games. It’s slated for release on October 24, 2014 as a world-wide release. The price is set for $49.99 USD and is available on Steam. The pre-order offer is receiving the Exoplanet map pack for free. The game can be ordered online (and for digital distribution in the form of Steam keys) from several outlets, two such examples are Amazon and GamersGate.

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52 Comments


  1. killias2 says:

    I broke down and preordered this over at GMG (which has had it, off and on, for 25% off). Here’s hoping they nail it! I was a little bemused by the initial release of Civ V, but the expansions have shown that they still have the talent over at Firaxis.

    • Karry says:

      > I was a little bemused by the initial release of Civ V, but the expansions have shown that they still have the talent over at Firaxis.

      I am of the opposite opinion. CivV was a moderately well made game with pretty stupid AI, expansions added some interesting mechanics at the expense of AI getting completely lobotomized. Might as well play an Anno instead, as CivV provides zero challenge and Anno is a better building game.

  2. Karry says:

    From what i hear on forums it wont live up to be a replacement for Alpha Centauri, it will be slightly better CivV with slightly worse and technobabbly tech tree stolen from Endless Space which is very weird and not a good decision IMO.

    “Virtues are the replacement to social policies in Beyond Earth. They operate the same way”
    Which is also pretty bad, just as it was in CivV, just stacking infinite bonuses, instead of making a deliberate CHOICE with pros and cons.

    Just as we still dont have a proper successor for X-Com, a proper successor for MOM, and a proper successor for MOO2 – we are not likely to ever have anything close to Alpha Centauri, for better or worse.

    • DrBalthar says:

      Hmm that’s just your opinion man :D. Well honestly I never liked MOO2. I find both Xenonauts and X-COM more entertaining than X-Com ever was. Alpha Centauri is high on my list but it is not my favourite planetary 4X only on MoM you might be right but I wait for that when WoM is finished.

    • ACEofHeart says:

      I too believe CivBE will not be equal to what Alpha Centauri offered to gamers. I always felt a sense of urgency in AC, that each next move was critical (not that it always was ). Gameplay in AC was both quick and tense, it’s atmosphere and personality has never been equaled. I see CivBE being much more layed back and at a slower pace. As for XCOM, I do think Xenonauts is very close. Give it a try.
      As for MOO2. No one has come close. Not sure what it is today that designers want an absolutely cluttered ugly main screen for a MOO2 clone. I want to think I’m looking at Space when playing, not at a spreadsheet.

    • Happy Corner says:

      “From what i hear on forums it wont live up to be a replacement for Alpha Centauri, it will be slightly better CivV with slightly worse and technobabbly tech tree stolen from Endless Space which is very weird and not a good decision IMO.”

      Uh, no. Not even close.

      In Endless Space, the tech tree had four branches, but you needed stuff in all four. You couldn’t just specialize in one direction and keep going like that, or you’d fall behind in your ability to colonize planets or develop planets or update your fleets or whatever. So far, Beyond Earth sounds like the opposite approach, specialization is key while the hybrid approach punishes.

      Also, there will never be a successor to MOO2 or X-COM. Because now we have a population of gamers who look through at those games through the drunken haze of nostalgia, unable to acknowledge the flaws that they had or entertain the notion that maybe – just MAYBE – there might be a better way to approach the things those games did. Everyone has this impossible image in their head of MOO2 and X-COM, that no game today could ever live up to – not even MOO2 or X-COM themselves.

      • t1it says:

        4x gamers has a common religion – reverence of the one True God MoO2. My problem is while I reckon it was genre defining, the actual game wasn’t all that super-good as everybody here remembers it. This is of course my opinion and nobody else’s. But I only started playing like around 2000 so maybe it was too late for joining the nostalgia excursions found all over Space Sector.
        I still think it’s the “best” one in the genre, but this is a good deal because of game design and not at all “perfection” in every area as some people here (none in this particualr post) make it out to be. But ehh…should shut up now or I’m a heretic…

        • Happy Corner says:

          “But ehh…should shut up now or I’m a heretic…”

          No, no, keep talking. If people like us don’t speak up, this tragic situation – people pining for MOO2 so much that they become unable to appreciate more modern games – will continue forever!

        • It’s alright. I have actually quite a few times written pieces where I describe the flaws of MoO 2 and SMAC. Sometimes to the dismay to many of their fans.

          Don’t get me wrong, I loved those games when I played them then and still get enjoyment out of them now when I can get the dosbox to work. However, I don’t think they are perfect, neither now and neither then. Many of my criticisms of them I had back when I first played them.

          Heck, in the case of MoO 2 I think I was more critical of it when I played it in the past, which would be hard to imagine if you hear my current criticism of it.

          So you are not alone. I always think more is gained from always having a critical mind, both of present and past, and never holding the ‘good old days’ on a pedestal. “Back in the good old days,” is a statement that goes as far back as the Romans and the Greek, if not even further back.

      • ChrisB says:

        Chalk me up as one of the pining over MOO2 nostalgia. I’ll admit its impossible to compete with an adults nostalgia of childhood. Just go and watch one of your favourite childhood movies as an adult and prepare for disappointment.

        But what I have yet to see is a space 4X game that that offers an overall package of solid gameplay and atmosphere which rivals it. Far too many games now days chase after one or two pieces of the puzzle to improve upon while losing focus of the whole. Mostly just nicer 3D graphics with weaker gameplay than MOO.

        The best space games i’ve played since MOO have been Sins of a Solar and Homeworld which are not trying to be the same… Its hard to compete with the nostalgic genre defining MOO unless you can break ground and define a new genre I guess.

        All it would take to please and old nostalgic piner like me would be to make a clone of MOO to run on todays systems with very minor improvements. Stardrive 2 recently put out a lets play that is looking awfully close to it(all drama from that developer aside) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=h_J1rakqq4U&feature=youtu.be

        • zigzag says:

          I agree! MOO2 certainly has its flaws, but I’d rather spend 5 hrs. playing it than anything that’s come after it. SOASE is great, but – like you mentioned – a completely different game.

  3. Smoking Robot says:

    I’m a huge fan of CiV, but going to pass on this for awhile. It looks a little too much like a ‘re-skinned Civ V’.

    I’ll play ‘Endless Legend’ instead while waiting to see if CIV:BE gets fleshed out with some interesting expansions.

    • Sam says:

      I just got endless Legend. Its a good start, like the graphics and hexes.

      even so, you have to buy anything Firaxis does.

      yours
      Sam

      • Vanhal says:

        Well, i looked at firaxis earlier games.
        Not counting Simgolf and Ace Patrol (not my interest at all), there are not even one that i didn’t enjoyed. Always better than indie.

  4. marlowe221 says:

    Thanks for doing the interview. I am watching this game but I am on the fence about it although, honestly, it’s mostly a thematic issue – I tend to be more of a fan of fantasy than science fiction games as a general rule.

    Whether I buy it or not I hope the game turns out well – the more 4X games the better.

  5. Jeff P says:

    I’m really looking forward to this: the product will be high quality (thanks to both the developer and publisher), it will be well-supported for years, and game mechanics will be comfortably familiar. It may not be as deep as SMAC, nor as ground-breaking, but I’m sure I will enjoy the experience.

    That being said, I rarely purchase any game until it has been out for a while (killing bugs, adding content, and reducing the price) so I will have to be satisfied with reviews, blog posts, and YouTube videos until Civ:BE has fully matured.

    • SQW says:

      Not to mention you can buy the GOTY edition without being nickle and dimed to death by the deluge of DLCs that’s typical of Firaxis.

  6. ChrisB says:

    Huge SMAC fan and I really enjoyed Civ 5. I’m hoping this is at least as good as Civ 5 with some alien life and thats all it’ll take to make me happy.

  7. Vanhal says:

    One thing i know for sure, after a huge letdown that Pandora was, this will most probably be what i look for.

  8. UncaJoe says:

    Perhaps it’s not nostalgic, it might just be familiarity – with older games, I mean. I still play SMAC and MoO because they’re kinda easy to get into and play. At the same time, they STILL hold my interest (and keep me up ‘way too late at night) right up to the very end. I can’t think of any other newer games that do that – and I’ve got a bunch of them gathering “dust” on my hard drive.

    On another note, I’m not too impressed with the CIV’s anymore (Civ3 was the last one I really enjoyed) and I certainly don’t expect Firaxis to make BE any better. I, too, shall wait until after it’s been played awhile and I can get some real-world feedback from actual players.

    Which is not to say the feedback from SS is not good. It is. And I really do appreciate all the work these guys put into it.

    • JD says:

      “Civ3 was the last one I really enjoyed”

      I feel exactly the same UncaJoe. I still play Civ3 from time to time.

      By the way do you have any relation to GIJoe ;-)

      • UncaJoe says:

        JD, not that I know of. But there are several Joe D’s where I live, (and we’re all distantly related) so it’s possible.

  9. Ofer Molad says:

    Satellite mechanism has a big potential. One satellite per geographic area plus the eventual crash means that you will have actual choices.. Not just “stacking infinite bonuses” like satellites in SMAC (yes, I’m quoting you Karry).

    Also, I hope that the military macro game will be more interesting. Many 4X games, and Civ / SMAC in particular, just have a research race to get the big guns or armour first. This formula can be a bit boring. When there are different technologies for different factions (this is common in fantasy titles and RTS), things can get more interesting (and replayable). In BE, the affinity specific abilities and the new “tech web” has a potential to go in the second direction, and I hope it goes there and goes far..

  10. NoldorElf says:

    It’s really too early to tell at this point if this game is going to release well or not. I just hope that it does not end up like Civ V and needing several expansions to fix serious flaws in the game.

    They’ve added some interesting mechanics to the game, and there does seem to have been some effort to have kept some of the good parts of Alpha Centauri.

    But there are some areas I am uncomfortable about. The first is the quality of the AI, which in Civ V was surely lacking.

    The other is the story line itself. Alpha Centauri was quite engaging in that regard. This current game so far, we know so little about.

    Best to wait and see for the actual launch of the game.

  11. Vanhal says:

    Question is, can you play this game without grinding everything into dust? Pandora sucked hard exactly because you couldn’t.

  12. JD says:

    Rob Zacny’s preview is here:
    http://www.pcgamesn.com/civilization-beyond-earth/civilization-beyond-earth-preview

    “this points to my major misgivings with Beyond Earth: it’s near-complete lack of character” — ouch

    • Happy Corner says:

      Out of context, that quote is an indictment of the game, yes. But having read the whole page, I’m actually more convinced that I will enjoy Beyond Earth.

      For all the noise that has been made about Alpha Centauri’s setting… honestly, there’s only so many times you can play that game before its “character” is just background noise, because you’ve seen all the descriptions and quotes zillions of times already. We remember AC today because it remained a fun 4X game even after its world became ultra-familiar. And it sounds like Beyond Earth will be a fun 4X game in its own right, as well.

      • BlueTemplar says:

        We remember SMAC because of the awesome quotes by memorable characters done by excellent voice actors. (As compared to the forgettable, monotone droning of Leonard Nimoy.)

        • Adam Solo says:

          I liked hearing Leonard Nimoy’s quotes :) But, SMAC’s voice quotes were very special, I agree.

        • Happy Corner says:

          I agree with Mr. Solo about Nimoy… he added a touch of class to Civ 4, and I wished Civ 5 had a similarly good quote reader.

        • BlueTemplar says:

          And don’t you think that you mostly appreciated it because you knew who Leonard Nimoy was and because you used to watch Star Trek?
          Whereas, since I’ve hardly watched any Star Trek before a few months ago (never saw it shown on TV), I could hardly be moved by that.

          Do you know who the people who did the voiceovers of Alpha Centauri are? I don’t, but I appreciate their work a lot nonetheless.

        • Adam Solo says:

          Can’t remember if I was aware that it was “Spock” narrating the tech progression in Civ4 from the get go. I knew at some point that it was effectively him, Leonard Nimoy, but I don’t remember if that had an effect on my overall appreciation of the voice overs.

          What I do remember was to be somewhat annoyed when they introduced a few new technologies in the Beyond the Sword expansion. Not because of the techs themselves, but because it was somebody else doing the voice over job, of so attached I was :)

          So, I loved hearing the quotes said by Leonard, but can’t tell if the fact that it was Spock narrating them had any effect on me liking it or not. Consciously, I don’t think so. I guess I just liked the solemn tone he used.

        • I loved Nimoy in Civ IV but I will be honest I liked the robust voice of the narrator (can’t remember his name now) of Civ V as well.

          I agree with Adam, Beyond the Sword has someone else voice the new techs and it sounds they got Alex from Accountant for that. It was jarring to hear it alternative between Nimoy and him. At least Civ V managed to keep the same guy.

        • Frankenchokey says:

          I could be mistaken, but weren’t the Beyond the Sword techs narrated by Sid Meier himself?

        • Adam Solo says:

          I have the impression that it was Sid Meier, yes. Could be mistaken though.

      • JD says:

        I think you need to re-read Rob’s preview HappyC. “Character” is not a bunch of descriptions or background fluff. It is a sense of emotion that runs through the game, something untouchable that creates that emotion when you play. Rob is clearly saying there is none of that in the turns he played Beyond Earth as opposed to playing normal Civ.

        • Adam Solo says:

          I read Rob’s preview, and like Rob’s work in general. If he says there’s little character to be found in the game I believe him.

          The thing is that I think he’s very demanding about that very subject when analyzing games, especially sci-fi strategy games. Not criticizing him in any way, character is a very important aspect of a game (think Homeworld, Alpha Centauri, Civilization, X-COM just to name a few good examples, some of which sci-fi based).

          It’s all about having something in the game which you can connect with deeply or relate to dearly. Having real-world nations or leaders with strong ideologies is one thing, having future nations, “invented” leaders or weird aliens is a another completely different.

          Hopefully, the gameplay is very good to help compensate the alleged lack of character, or sense of emotion like JD puts it.

        • I agree, it is easier to create that connection with overt leaders or tying it to established history. Without either, and it is much harder.

          Another factor could be the factions do not feel as pronounced, with a lot of starting stats based on the seeding and the factions UA being much less significant than that of previous Civ games might also add to it.

          Naturally, I haven’t played yet so I am running on conjecture.

          In the end, I think it will come down to gameplay. Oddly, I rarely notice the character/personality of a game. So I am curious if I am going to pick up on it too. He did seem to enjoy playing it a lot, it just that it lacked that last bit of ‘sweetness’ that it should have had. Which considering the background of the game, you’d think it would have had it.

          Update: Oct. 27: It is exactly what I was saying. The problem is pretty much what I said here.

    • Ashbery76 says:

      Nothing can compare to the theme in AC but the sad thing is it seems they haven’t really tried in this game.It does looks a bit bland with generic avatar Sci fi with added dune worms.

  13. Bene Tleilax says:

    i enjoyed civ 5 BNW alot , playing on deity pangaea map was a blast!i did not played alpha centaury that much because of his turn limitations, so im glad that beyond earth its not alpha centaury 2 but its more like scifi civ 5 ,so glad that there is no more unit stack, and no more turn or victory type limitations; i want somekinda sandbox feeling from my strategy games.
    my only concern atm is the limited number of factions we have, civ5 was great also because u could play vs 20+ other nations, maybe others will come with patches, dlc’s,expansions.
    even if this game its a fail i will buy it ,because its Firaxis, and good strategy game developers are so rare in this time.
    hate EA, activision,sega. suport firaxis, paradox, and independents, thats how we will have again good pc games.

    • BlueTemplar says:

      What’s wrong with unit stacks in Alpha Centauri? They allow far more complex strategies!

      • JD says:

        Indeed they are BlueTemplar. Stacks are better. Sulla has written a huge essay back when Civ5 was released on the failed hex based combat in Civ 5.

        Even Shafer is moving back to stacks with At the Gates. Only in games such as Unity of Command does the 1 unit per tile, or read this as 1 abstracted army unit per tile really work. As it is combined with supply mechanics. Moving a bunch of units on a hex is not tactical combat. Encircling your enemy whose supply is cut off, is. That is exactly what Unity of Command does.

        Imho the best implementation of ‘tactical’ battles in a 4x still goes to the original Master of Orion with it’s stacked fleets and interesting obstacles on the battlemap.

  14. JohnR says:

    Can’t believe it. With early Metacritic player scores for Beyond Earth averaging in at a very lackluster 6.6, it looks like it might be yet another in a growing list of disappointments released this year. In fact the real Metacritic player average score may be much lower when you factor in the inflated scores typically given by shills and fanboys at Metacritic. To be fair it is still early, but the growing number of lukewarm and negative player comments at Metacritic and in the forums doesn’t inspire confidence. Glad I held off on this one and adopted a wait and see approach. Between Zenimax/Bethesda and Sid Meier, all I can say is “How the mighty have fallen.”

    • Happy Corner says:

      That’s the user rating, where any hater OR fanboy can assign any idiot score with no way for the system to filter the bullshit out. The critic score is 82 / 100 and “generally favorable reviews” (at this writing).

      Not that it matters. A Metacritic score is like the average temperature of every patient in a hospital. It’s “data”, I suppose, but it tells you absolutely nothing.

      • BlueTemplar says:

        Sid Meier wasn’t the lead designer on this game.

        Haters and Fanboys are Haters and Fanboys for a reason. Metacritic “critic” score is a lot worse than the “user” score. One reason is probably because the “critics” aren’t impartial either and tend to be fooled (“EA is too big to make a bad game so Sim City can’t be bad.”). Another is that “critics” only rarely make reviews after game release, almost only if expansion packs are released.

        Besides, now Metacritic user score has a competitor : Steam User reviews – 68% positive so far for BE.

    • SQW says:

      Total Biscuit’s vid on Beyond Earth gave a pretty balance review of the game. It’s a decent game that a lot of people will enjoy because, hey, it is basically the same old CIV game you know and love. However, the negatives that he and many other reviewers pointed out are also present and valid and are things which I simply cannot overlook personally.

      The CIV formula has changed so little over the decade that a new IP like BE could’ve been an opportunity to push the boundary. Instead, we got CIV 5.5. 10 bucks says Galactic Civ III will go down the same route. Any takers?

      • BlueTemplar says:

        No, since GalCiv3 devs pretty much said so themselves. At least we won’t be disappointed. (Though after Pandora and Civ5, I didn’t have a lot of hope for Civ:BE… which pretty much turned up to be a lot more like Pandora than Alpha Centauri.)

        • So did the developers of Beyond Earth. In every interview, in every video, and every comment they made it is clear this was not SMAC 2. It was only inspired from it, like how a lot space 4X game claims to be partially inspired off of the MoO series (1 and 2 only, naturally).

          They even said the game is an offshoot from Civ V, a companion game to that game. They even have streams of the game showing it off in play that was being made available over a month before release, and by a few weeks before release it had over 6 hours of videos. They even had a few let’s player do 250 turn demos.

          Short of tattooing it on people’s head, I can’t think of how they could have been more clear.

          It was mostly the readers and some game ‘journos’ that kept harping on about it being SMAC 2. So the expectations created for this game was less of the developers fault and more of the fault of the fans who were quite frankly hyping themselves up on something that was never said! and then deconstructing the game before it even came out when evidence showed it was not like SMAC 2 (which they never said it was).

          Heck, even the term spiritual successor made them uncomfortable and they preferred to use the term inspired from. So no, they did say so themselves.

          Lastly, a lot of people do like Civ V after G&K, and especially more with BNW. Though not all share this opinion and that is fine, Civ V is not a universal example of a bad game (at least not anymore or to everyone). In the end it is an opinion. That is why if someone didn’t like Civ V I usually suggest they stay away from Beyond Earth.

    • csebal says:

      The problem, yet again, is that many players judge the game by comparing it to their idealized memories of Alpha Centauri. While it is true, that the game is generally at least a spiritual successor of it, Beyond Earth is not AC and never claimed to be.

      It is XCOM Enemy Unknown all over again. There will be plenty who will hate and dislike this game, not because it is bad, but because it is not what they WANTED it to be. Others will love it for it is a decent, well crafted civilization game set in an alternate environment.

      I have sunk some 18 hours into the game since release and personally I am loving it. My only real complaint is that it is CIV5 at its core, with most of the weaknesses and flaws CIV5 had.

      Also the UI is a little hard to handle at times, information I need is not readily available (like veterancy upgrades of a unit, or its upgrade level) and there are things that are hard to see (tech web icons differentiate between buildings and wonders in such a way, that for the first 12 hours, I thought there is no visual difference between them.

      Apart from these nuisances, the game is fun and challenging, because it is full of decision making points that matter.

      The entire fact that instead of a linear tech tree, you have a non linear tech progression means that there are dozens of ways you can go and you have to constantly adjust your progress based on your situation..

      The affinity system might appear to be bland at first, but when you factor in the related unit upgrades, it becomes another interesting decision point and differentiating factor.

      The virtues – again, with the two dimensional bonus system – are a lot less trivial to pick from than the CIV5 policies were and offer way more variety.

      The quest system is awesome. It is the way storytelling should be done in 4X games and I do believe it will become the golden standard for future 4X games. Others have tried quest systems in 4X games in the past, but none of those were so seamlessly integrated into the game. None of them felt so natural.

      Last, but not least, the aliens.. they pose another interesting dilemma with both economical and political consequences. Sure you can go medieval on them, but it will cost you plenty of units, especially early game and some nations will hate you for it. You can try to coexist with them, but that will limit your options on where you go on the planet.

      All in all: I do enjoy the game greatly, but then I never expected it to be Alpha Centauri in the first place.

      • BlueTemplar says:

        I wonder, did they take the quest system from Endless Legend, or did they arrive at a similar result independently?


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