Sid Meier’s Demo For Sid Meier’s Civilization: Beyond Earth

A new life awaits you in the off-world colonies.

Civilization: Beyond Earth is, as I understand it, an alternate ending to Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome. What happens after the kids reach Tomorrow-morrow Land? Does Aunty Entity rebuild civilization? Will Max return? And what about supposed sightings of Ironbar Bassey with a gentle brute bearing more than a passing resemblance to Blaster?

You can find out now, if you aren’t already playing, as Firaxis have released a demo. Click that ‘Download Demo’ button over on Steam. I’ll give it a go too, actually.

I’ve made a huge mistake. Beyond Earth, it turns out, is nothing to do with Beyond Thunderdome. Or if it is, I can’t make head nor tail of the damage it does to the Rockatansky canon. This Beyond Earth is a turn-based strategy game with nary a glimpse of a Pursuit Special or sawn-off shotgun.

The demo offers 100 turns playing as Brasilia. You can choose starting perks like your colonists and cargo, but game options deeper than the difficulty are locked – it’s a Standard pace game on a Duel-sized fungal Protean-style map (Pangea, in Civ: On Earth terms). You can play it over and over to try different things, of course. And it has a robot tutorial buddy.

We still have a review in the works, but for now y’all can at least see for yourselves how Beyond Earth begins.

126 Comments

  1. Guvornator says:

    I wish I’d have known of the demo existence before I bought it. I’ve spent a couple of days with it, and it doesn’t really feel different enough from Civ V. Maybe the Civilization name means it has to play a certain way, but t has a certain expansion pack-ness about it. In short, it’s not that it’s not a good game, just it’s not exciting enough to a day one purchase.

    • Xocrates says:

      In the meantime, I’m constantly surprised by how different if feels from Civ V.

      Yes, there is a lot of mechanical overlap, but focus and progression are very different.

      • Guvornator says:

        Well, I’ve yet to get into late game as yet, so it may well change. But for me so far it’s lacked a real sense of “The Other” that I was hoping for. The planet’s don’t feel strange, forbidding, yet inviting exploration. The Alien’s don’t feel otherworldly, and their units are largely analogous to the players own (wolf beetles = marines, Manticores = rangers etc). The tech tree has been half inched off Endless Space.

        What maybe screwing my perception is the way Paradox switched their game up between Warlock 1’s well made Master of Magic clone and Warlock 2, where in the created a massively different experience despite using the same essential mechanics as the first game. That sort of change was really what I was expecting from Beyond Earth.

        • LexW1 says:

          I’m finding BE pretty fun, but I am a little disappointed at how close it hews to Civ V in some regards, and a big part of that is what you say, the lack of sense of “Other” – of a truly alien world – of a transhuman future. Some of the gameplay additions are great, but some of the decisions are pretty inexplicable, like the fact that it is, if anything, less philosophical and less thoughtful than Civ V.

          What really drags it down, though, for me, is general blandness – bland Factions with no real attitudes or peculiarities, a fairly bland planet, bland resources, bland aliens, and no real “oomph” to anything (except maybe the music!).

    • Lakshmi says:

      I think you can do the game a disservice and play it like Civ V – which I did at first. Then I realised I was skimming past new gameplay, units, buildings, underlying mechanics and kind of brute forcing it to work. Once you up the difficulty, I doubt how easy that will be to win. By playing it as a new game, I did much better on higher difficulties levels. Not tried the deity equivalent yet, though.

  2. Monggerel says:

    This is just beyond me.

    • Lakshmi says:

      I think it’s just not very civilized for a Monday morning.

      • XhomeB says:

        What on Earth are you people talking about?

        • Corporate Dog says:

          Probably better if you don’t ask. Don’t want to get Meier-ed down in it.

          • Quote Unquote says:

            Yes, just Sid down, relax, and avoid the SMACdown.

          • mr.black says:

            The end of that first sentence would be a perfect spot for a semicolon(isation).

          • AXAXAXAS MLO II: MLO HARDER says:

            Now THAT pun was reaching (for the stars).

          • corinoco says:

            Settle down, you’re behaving like a bunch pirates about to be railroaded.

  3. Alfius says:

    Any word on whether they’ve done away with the obnoxious restrictions on unit stacks from Civ 5?

    • Lakshmi says:

      Still one type of unit per hex.

    • Guvornator says:

      They’ve not. Although I don’t think it’s obnoxious. It’s to make you think tactically about unit placement, which is fine in my book.

      • Lakshmi says:

        I miss my stack of doom but yes, I agree, it’s much better really.

        • mike2R says:

          I imagine I’d agree if I played multiplayer. But the nice thing about stacks of doom is the AI can handle the concept as well as I can. In Civ V its just too easy to compensate for bad building choices by outplaying the AI militarily.

          I guess it depends what you want out of Civ. One unit per tile makes it a better war game, but its at the expense of what I really like about the series – the city management and building side. Adding more room for the player to outplay the AI unit for unit, spoils that side of it for me.

          • Xocrates says:

            My problem with stacks of doom is twofold: It’s too easy to curbstomp someone with a weaker army (or simply unprepared), and it’s too difficult to defend large territories. Wars in Civ V and BE are actually costly, just capturing a city is a massive win.

            This did have the side effect of largely making the AI much more passive though.

          • Dinoflaw says:

            True enough, but one unit tile does stop you punishing bad settlement placement quite so harshly and I feel makes coastal settlement more viable. I agree though that the shift has made it easier to compensate for weak strategy through good tactical play.

          • Chris Cunningham says:

            People who hate one-unit-per-tile as strange. Alpha Centauri’s biggest flaw was that by mid-game, three quarters of your time was spent watching stacks of like 30 artillery vans pinging away at one another. There were no tactics involved in fights at all – whoever had the advantage in gun strength x stack size was the winner, and there was little real impetus for the hard-to-reach later weapon techs when it was easier to just create enormous stacks of troops with the relatively early strength 6 gun and roll over everything.

            Well, that and unit design. I really like the homage to SMAC in Beyond Earth’s units, without having to go and delete 50 new useless Aquatic Super Fusion Marine prototypes every time I get a new tech.

          • bills6693 says:

            @Dinoflaw, I think its actually better in terms of settlements. You choose your settlement locations and territory better, I feel. One-unit per tile means:

            Chokepoints are viable. If you can make it so the enemy can only get a small number of units in combat at any one time and you can stop them with melee and ranged units, you have a nice chokepoint. You want to consider the chokepoints on the maps (with coasts, mountains and canyons) when placing your settlements

            Its a tradeoff between defence and workable land. You want workable land to, well, work. But if 1-2 sides of your city are ringed by a mountian/canyon, you have a really well defended (but less productive, and slower growing) city. Its a trade-off, and I feel that tradeoffs are ALWAYS a good thing in a game

            Costal cities are more viable options. As you said. As in, another tradeoff. Coastal tiles are generally worse producers than land tiles, so you are getting less production. But you get coastal trade routes, units etc. Plus better defence from the land, but a weakness (sea bombardment, and easy flanking). Really, its just a lot of tradeoffs, which again I think are great for gameplay.

            Overall I think its better 1-unit per tile because of the limits it puts on you making you have to make decisions on all levels, including the high-level settlement placement, road building, and tile improvements (such as nodes).

          • Gap Gen says:

            Interesting, my approach in SMAC was to build high-tech units and use air power to block off zones of control. One game I conquered an entire continent in 2 turns with an army of mindworms and formers building maglev lines. By contrast, once the AI overtook you in tech their bases became unassailable with your troops trying to kill neutronium armour with chaos guns.

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            BlueTemplar says:

            No, one unit per tile makes it a much WORSE war game. The variety of strategies you can use on the battlefield is lessened a lot when you cannot properly combine and maneuver multiple units. This leads to frustration to the player and an AI that is even more incompetent than usual.
            If you want to see examples of advanced strategies in a multiple units per tile setting, I can recommend you Vel’s SMAX Strategy Guide, and especially these parts :
            link to weplayciv.com
            link to weplayciv.com


            Alpha Centauri’s biggest flaw was that by mid-game, three quarters of your time was spent watching stacks of like 30 artillery vans pinging away at one another. There were no tactics involved in fights at all – whoever had the advantage in gun strength x stack size was the winner, and there was little real impetus for the hard-to-reach later weapon techs when it was easier to just create enormous stacks of troops with the relatively early strength 6 gun and roll over everything.

            Well, that and unit design. I really like the homage to SMAC in Beyond Earth’s units, without having to go and delete 50 new useless Aquatic Super Fusion Marine prototypes every time I get a new tech.

            Sorry, you just don’t seem to have played SMAX much. First, you can disable the automatic prototypes. Second, I’ve _never_ seen this situation of “30 artillery vans pinging away at one another”, and it just doesn’t seem like you or your opponent knew how to counter them. Third, SMAX has probably the most tactical fights in all of Civ games, go read the strategy guide I linked if you don’t believe me.

          • Chris Cunningham says:

            Disabling automatic prototypes means having to build my own Super Graviton Clean Shock Troops every time I build a new tech, which is no more fun. If you’ve never sat through an entire cup of tea while the AI shuffled multiple dozens of artillery around then I don’t really know what to say to you.

            As for your tactics article links, one is entirely devoted to ZOC despite ZOC being far more important in a one-unit-per-tile system than one where any single free tile is a route to zerg in every unit you want. And the other is so overthought as to be near-parody: if you insisted on building some coherent combined force with multiple synergies and ten different perks every time you want to take a city, you’d still be playing your first game of SMAC.

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            BlueTemplar says:

            I linked the second part because it shows the multiple possibilities you have. Sorry, but designing your own units is IMHO one of the most fun parts of 4X games. Finding which designs work and which doesn’t (and how to combine them) is another. And when you’re having fun, why wouldn’t you spend a lot of time at it? (And since most of the time is spent devising new designs and testing them, actually clicking on buttons to make the design takes only a fraction of this time.) Besides, when you’re playing a PBEM where an average turn takes more than a day, you tend to have a lot of time to think about such things.

            In my experience, the AI on the contrary doesn’t tend to build enough artillery in SMAX (and boats have penalties when in bases and against ground artillery).
            (P.S.: And when I play against the AI, I tend to not only to play on the highest difficulty level, but also to mod the game to give additional boosts to the AI (and penalties for me), so it’s not like it doesn’t have the economic possibility to do that.)

            No, ZOC’s aren’t far more important in Civ5/BE, because :
            1.) The 1UPT system makes the whole battlefield clogged with military units after the early game (I also get the impression that this is especially true in BE and that maps tend to be configured to be played smaller), so ZOC’s don’t show up that much (and BE has more impassable terrain reducing the number of tiles even further).
            2.) I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but ZOC’s in SMAX are a hard block : they prevent unit movement completely… unless you use Probe Teams (or obviously destroy the blockers).

      • Dread says:

        For me, the one unit per hex is the worst decision, they have ever made for a civ-game and the biggest flaw in Civ 5 and Beyond Earth.

        Yes, it’s more tactical combat and it allows you to tactically outplay opponents; it’s a good decision in a war game, however Civ is not a war game.
        If you are doing something like this in a 4x, you should approach it like Age of Wonders, i.e. stacks move around the world and have an extra battle-map, where the battle takes place (and that’s something Sid Meier won’t do, because of his Covert Action rule).

        There is just so much wrong this one unit per tile rule.
        It’s nonsensical, as you have to imagine the scale of the game; if you play on real world map, english longbowman can literally shoot over the channel.
        There simply isn’t enough room to maneuver your troops well. You constantly enconuter tight places and bottle necks.
        Controlling a large army (25+ units) is a nightmare, as they constantly stand in each others way, making it very hard to even make an opponent feel the impact of a superior army. Let alone the fact how long it takes to issue commands to this many units one by one.
        In extreme cases, you can end up with something like this: link to garath.net

        Finally, this change pretty much makes army irrelevant; I don’t build troops, because I don’t want to endure the hassle of waging a war in this way and the AI is incapable to win a war, because it is so easy to hold your land with nothing more than a couple of ranged units.

        I’d take my deathstacks over this any day.

        • Chris Cunningham says:

          You’re never supposed to have been building fifty units. Funny that all the other efforts taken to dissuade people from building ludicrously sized armies (penalties to gold, penalties to production, penalties to happiness) never worked, but one-unit-per-tile has finally fixed this.

          • Dread says:

            It “fixes” it, by making it impossible to use an army effectively. You need at least 12-15 units to take a single city, if it’s defended by 2-3 guys. An army of this size is already very hard to control.

            And how can you presume, what you are supposed to do? What do you do, when you need to take out an enemy city to prevent him from winning the game, but he has it protected by 20 units of his own? Just lay down and lose, because you are not supposed to build enough units to break through his defense?

            Ironically though, in this situation, even if your army was three times as strong as his, you probably would be unable to take out his quickly enough thanks to one unit per tile.

            Should a player simply become immune to any attack, just because he has 10 ranged units in a defensive formation between his cities?

            If this is fixing it, why not just remove military completely?

          • Xocrates says:

            @Dread: He still has to pay unit maintenance, if he manages to keep an army that big AND is on the cusp of some other victory he’s so far ahead that he would probably win regardless.

            Stack of doom would just mean all the units would be piled on the city instead of around it.

          • battles_atlas says:

            Isn’t the 20 units in a city stack the point of nukes?

          • Dread says:

            Err, what? I wouldn’t call 20 units a big drain on the economy, unless you are playing on a smaller map. Besides gold is pretty plenty in Civ 5.

            In any case, this example illustrates the problems with one unit per tile perfectly.

            Imagine, you have the same tech, your army is 50 units, his army is 20 units. You need to conquer a city within 3 turns or he wins.

            Civ 5: impossible, it’s likely you’d lose even though you have many more troops, because you will have big problems trying to bring your army in position. You may be able to do it, if you have the room and spend 10 turns to completely surround him.

            Civ 4: he has 20 units in the city, you attack with your 50. Depending on unit compositions, there is a decent to good chance, you’ll be able to take him out.

            One unit per tile adds maneuver and positioning as a major factor in the outcome of a war, yet Civ is in no way suited for that, you need to spend time to get in the position, in civ terms, that’s years or even decades you spend on that; combined with the fact, that there are many bottlenecks and tight spaces makes it way too easy on the defender, essentially allowing him to become immune to any attack of any sized army.

            Besides, it’s not like there aren’t ways to combat death stacks, collateral damage can be devastating, if your stack gets caught in a bad spot.

          • Xocrates says:

            Thing is, I don’t see that as a bad thing. War is costly, and so is war in Civ V. You should not be able to win a war in 3 turns.

            Quite frankly, reading your posts only make me think that I must be an enormous noob at the game, because I’ve never seen anyone even TRY to make armies that big, never mind being able to support them.

          • Dread says:

            I don’t make armies that big, I just build 5-15 ranged units to become immune and that’s that. War in Civ 5 is far too much of a hassle to even bother with it.

            War in Civ 5 has nothing to do with being costly, it’s being pointless; as the game mechanics and terrain so heavily favor the defender, that it’s very hard for an attacker to gain something, even when being superior. Even stuff as simple as just pillaging improvements cannot be done against a set up defense.

            In Civ 4 war is definite way to win the game, you need to keep or your army up to avoid being crushed and even if you are unable to take cities you can seriously hurt your enemy with pillaging.
            In Civ 5 the military aspect boild down to either build enough to defend yourself easily and focus on other things or be annoyed at the mechanics to command large armies.

            By the way, I’m not saying deathstacks are perfect, they are far from it. They are just much better than this one unit per tile mechanic, Eagle0600 below has some good ideas on how to improve it.

          • Stonehead says:

            I completely support one-unit-per-tile policy. Not only are death stacks ridiculous, they also suck the fun out of the tactical part of the game.
            And of course it’s easier to defend yourself. Have you ever read any history – at all? There have been countless instances where a small number of defenders in a better position (castle, hill, etc) have either held or prevailed against vastly larger enemy armies.
            If you waited for the last three turns to do something about that puny little civ that is about to win – you failed.

            Also, moving big armies around is a serious issue. It’s all very much simplified in Civ, of course, but one-unit-per-tile is a much better abstraction of complex military logistics than stacks of doom.

          • Dread says:

            There also have been more than countless instances in history where the larger army easily prevailed over the smaller one. Instances where the smaller troop prevailed are just more in the focus, because they are heroic actions, worthy of being remembered. A tale of “well, we had 1500 men, they were 500, we lost 30 soldiers and crushed them” is rather dull, isn’t it?

            How this system of being unable to attack anybody unless you vastly outtech them while you are able to defend yourself with a handful of men against a large army is more fun than deathstacks is beyond me. One unit per tile effectively removes the military as a factor in the game.

            Moving big armies around in a civ-game is not a problem, you always have to keep in mind the scale of the game, a single tile represents hundreds of square kilometers, you can put a big army in there. Deathstacks are a better approximation than this.
            Seriously, just look at the map when you start an earth map on standard size. Italy is two tiles, so the whole of Italy can support a grand total of two regiments? The mediterrean has a width of one. On that scale, you can put an archer in southern italy and he can shoot at carthage. It’s ridiculous.

            The mechanic tries to implement wargame mechanics into the game, yet you simply lack the room to maneuver to be able to play a wargame. If you want to bring this mechanic in a 4x, you need a separate battle screen like Age of wonders does.

          • hotmaildidntwork says:

            Scale arguments are worthless, scale in civ has always been inexplicable and in many cases it can vary wildly between games.

            The combat improvements from civ 4 to 5 were the best change that they made. My civ games have never done anything but inevitably descend into war, so the war might as well be engaging.

          • Dread says:

            If only the war in Civ 5 was engaging.
            No room to maneuver, inability to control anything resembling an army because of lack of space; that’s just not fun.

            But really, if your games always descend into war, you are doing something wrong. In Civ 4 at least, it is very possible by means of diplomacy to survive and win an entire game with just a token military, though it is a risky strategy.

      • Eagle0600 says:

        It’s a fine goal, but I think the hard-cap of one-unit-per-tile is a poor way to go about it; if only because it stops me from moving workers through each-other, and generally being very annoying, even when I only have a very few units (one per city, for example). Some kind of soft cap, perhaps based on a supply concept, or increased maintenance costs, or health damage for staying stacked and moving, or only allowing one unit to attack from any given hex in a turn, just anything but a hard cap. Because the hard cap is the one thing that I can’t forgive: It’s annoying.

        Actually, the way trade routes work is kind of annoying too. Why not just give them indefinite, interruptible durations?

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          BlueTemplar says:

          AFAIK, Civ4 has a widely-implemented “submod” that allows you to limit tiles to X units. IIRC, the AI, surprisingly, manages well enough as long as X isn’t too low.

        • Press X to Gary Busey says:

          I like the one-per-hex for combat units (but don’t understand the reasoning for civilian units). But it’s a pain to move more than a couple of units together.
          I had a couple of ideas for modding it when Civ 5 released (a shame I don’t have any modding skills at all and it’s probably not possible in the engine or without breaking the AI).

          Combat units getting a “marching” penalty when stacked. No positive terrain bonus and at least a -50% penalty or more if attacked. Every unit in the stack taking collateral damage if attacked by ranged. And perhaps a limit to 3 units per hex like the air units in cities. One problem is deciding which unit will be the defender if attacked in melee though. Another issue is bonuses etc. if the units are stacked inside a city.

          An alternative idea I had was to let civilian units stack and give every combat unit a “deploy” toggle. Switching between civilian and combat unit (if melee attacked while undeployed they are simply ambushed and destroyed). This would probably require some massive work with alternative animations or models to actually give some kind of clue what they are currently set as.

        • P.Funk says:

          Hearts of Iron III anybody? There is a fine example of how to handle the stack of doom concept. I forget the exact numbers but there is a scheme where the organization of your units determines the efficiency of your attack. You can only have on a given frontage, ie. a single tile, a certain width of attacking or defending forces. So you could have a death stack but you’ll be limited to X frontage which varies based on things like hardness I think or some other meta number crunching. They did this to figure out a way to make combined arms units effective without making it a game of spamming one type of unit.

          Making a river crossing? Defender loves those, you get a big penalty, however if you throw some engineer units in with that stack you’re suddenly going to find things a bit easier. You can’t just spam units either. You need to mix and match them to get an ideal balance. Putting up a wall of one unit type rarely works except as a stop gap. Certain unit combinations actaully lead to a better use of the frontage while other combos are wasteful. Best thing is if you just put a huge stack there it actually harms your efficiency with things such as supply or movement so there is a min maxing to be done with your stacks to ensure you attack with as much as you can without having too much. This leads to a lovely push and pull.

          Of course it can’t be literally translated. HOI III is on real time system that counts down by the hour. Nevertheless it just goes to show that there are solutions in between the extremes of stacks of doom and ridiculous single unit tile rules.

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            BlueTemplar says:

            Yes, these are good ideas. The thing is we know that stacks of doom aren’t a problem when done properly (like in Alpha Centauri), while I’ve yet so see proof that carpet of doom can be done properly in a 4X game without crippling it.

        • DavishBliff says:

          The trade system works well – you’re free to alter your routes periodically to suit new goals, and you’re given a free reminder about existing routes, so you don’t forget about them for 15 turns after it would’ve been smarter to change them.

          It also makes your decisions consequential, which is good. You can’t just back out of a commitment to trade immediately.

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            BlueTemplar says:

            No, it’s bad design. A good design would be that trade routes are forever until you break them, when you break them there might be an additional penalty (but with maybe the unit being automatically teleported back to base so that you can start a new one immediately).
            The game forcibly reminding you about the trade routes is the kind of baby-sitting the player that sadly has became a bit too common in recent games.
            Another issue is that you’re supposed to protect trade routes, but can you tell a military unit to guard a trade unit?

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      JiminyJickers says:

      The one unit per tile is my favourite improvement that Civ V introduced and, thankfully, this game has the same feature.

  4. ilmara says:

    If you try it be aware that a pretty major bug is still not fixed: You cannot use fullscreen with a resolution higher than 720p on high refresh rate monitors (100Hz+). Some tweaks – window mode – are available though.

    It seems TV output is buggy too in certain cases.

    • Asurmen says:

      This happened with Civ 5 so I assume that’s what you mean by still not fixed. I sorted it in Civ 5 by editing settings file before launch to run correctly.

      • ilmara says:

        As far as I know editing the INI file does not work this time. For now the solution seems to be windowed mode or removing supported resolution from the registry (for NVidia users)

    • Asurmen says:

      Edit; oops duplicate post.

  5. Stonehead says:

    I agree with Guvornator.
    This game has very poor value for money. It’s very expansion-y.
    It’s a good game (if you ignore a plethora of bugs) just like Civ V, but it isn’t a NEW game. It’s reskined CivV with some expansion-like features. I mean quests and affinities are nice additions. Tech network is also nice, but none of these are revolutionary in the way that changes from one Civilization to the next were and I’ve been playing them from Civ 2.

    This way, I feel like I’ve wasted money. :/

    • Xocrates says:

      I really can’t agree. It feels about as different from Civ V, as IV did from III to me (V was a bigger departure)

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        JiminyJickers says:

        I also think that it is very much different from Civ V, I think people obviously haven’t played it enough if they haven’t noticed the vast differences.

  6. Stargazer86 says:

    Yeah, it’s not quite the Alpha Centauri successor that I was hoping for. It’s decent, don’t get me wrong, but it really does feel just like Civ 5 in space rather than any sort of actual innovative offshoot. More like a mod than a game of its own. I’d say it’s worth picking up but not for full price.

    Prokhor Zakharov is disappointed.

  7. Lakshmi says:

    I should say we’ve found some bugs in co-op multiplay victories. If you need to built a satellite, then a wonder – if one person does the satellite, any co-op player can build the wonder – but the game doesn’t ‘tick over’ the victory into a win if someone other than the satellite builder does it. Just a for info if anyone else plays co-op – for now have one person do the victory building.

  8. MeestaNob says:

    Getting great press reviews but being clubbed to death by user reviews.

    Might be a good idea to try the demo.

    • Gap Gen says:

      Having played it, it’s a good game, but not as good as my expectations, given that it’s treading in the footsteps of one of my favourite games ever, which was always gonna be a hard act to follow. And actually, I’d like it a lot more if it paid attention to worldbuilding and storytelling as a coherent whole rather than throwing in a bunch of sci fi crap and hoping some of it sticks. SMAC was thematically very strong, with a few key choices radically changing your faction without even different unit types, whereas BE has a ton of small percentage modifier decisions (e.g. do you make a building you only have two of produce +1 energy or +1 health?) slowly morphing your faction into something else. SMAC had one metanarrative working through it that was strongly developed through well-written flavour text, whereas BE has a bunch of endings that make the direction of the story appear more scattershot. In SMAC the individual quotes worked together to strengthen the sense of place and build personalities around the leaders, whereas in BE it feels more scattershot, and they don’t even have different voice actors for each leader in the quotes (and please PLEASE stop with the single quote about villages every 10 turns, African dude, we get it with the stereotyping).

      So yeah. The game itself is solid, and certainly deserving of the 8/10s that are floating around the review sites, but the mood of people who liked SMAC is generally one of disappointment. That’s not to say it’s a bad game, but I guess if you come at the king, you best not miss.

      • mpk says:

        And actually, I’d like it a lot more if it paid attention to worldbuilding and storytelling as a coherent whole rather than throwing in a bunch of sci fi crap and hoping some of it sticks.

        This is where it’s falling down for me. There’s no inherent narrative in the bland corporate entities you have as civs.

        • bills6693 says:

          For me I felt the narritive problem was more that doing one thing didn’t lock off something else. In my one long (still going) playthrough, I’ve maxed out purity but I’m still levelling up the other affinities through tech. I’m getting quotes and techs which are totally aligned to individual affinities that are not my own.

          I think it would be better if there was more choice on the large scale. There are tons of these quest choices you make, which are cool in their own right, but they’re not ‘big’ choices – food or culture? production or energy? 1 tile extra sat range or 10% sat build speed? 250 science or +2 science? None of them really build a narritive.

          If, for example, the tech tree was designed so that doing one thing literally opened up one path and blocked another, it’d be good. Even better would be if you don’t know what you’re getting in for – it tells you roughly what you’re going for but its a plunge in the dark. If, for example, you could take one path towards making floatstone useful for construction and buliding, and another where it was useful for military means. You couldn’t do both and you didn’t know exactly how it would help, and its not just one choice but a long, game-changing path.

    • bills6693 says:

      I would say, however, that 100 turns isn’t very much in my opinion. 100 turns into my game I hadn’t discovered half the stuff that is there. But it may be the best bet anyway :) like many others I’d say I enjoy the game, its defiantly a good buy, but you might want to wait for a sale unless you are really keen to play it now, 33% or 50% off would probably be perfect

    • LionsPhil says:

      The fact they offer a demo does mean my chance of purchasing it rises from “nope” to “perhaps”.

      Edit: Whoa. Although playing the demo has just shifted that into “hell no”. Wow, did they drop the ball on this one. Full marks to whoever saw Civ V’s military traffic jam and thought “that was the best thing ever, let’s flood the map with semi-passive barbarians”.

      • DavishBliff says:

        Er, the aliens are only a significant obstacle/annoyance in the early game and the very beginning of the mid-game. Once you get the second tier of soldiers you can clear them out, get rid of the miasma, and stop them from spawning pretty much entirely. The early game is very hazardous for your units (you can’t just kill everything with one warrior-equivalent as in Civ) but it doesn’t persist.

  9. fredc says:

    I think it works better than Civ 5 – at least it certainly has quicker turn-ends, even in the late game.

    My problem with it is pretty much the same as the problem I had with Alpha Centauri, which is that the progression through human history is a pretty big part of the appeal of Civ for me. With AC and CBE, the entire tech tree feels pretty much like “Future Tech I through 500”. Although the stompy mech units and pseudo space marine “battle armour” units are fun I guess?

    It’s still a good game and definitely not just (only partly) Civ 5 in space. For the first time, a nice intro movie as well.

    • DavishBliff says:

      I’m also finding the sci-fi stuff a bit harder to get into compared to Civ’s relative linearity. I’m still unsure if the tech web was the right idea or not: there’s a lot of information to take in and it’s horrible at guiding you the first time you play, really. But I can see the benefits, too – it would be really silly to have one end-game tech that all others funnel into for a game set in the distant future.

      I do like that there are Makers (more or less) and the way the civs are all clearly descended from certain countries/regions on Earth is interesting. Polystralia!

  10. SuicideKing says:

    I’m couldn’t get into Civ games, but Alice writes very entertaining intros. :)

  11. derbefrier says:

    I messed with it a bit and it seems to be a lot like civ 5 with a lot of small differences. I”ll probably wait a bit to pick it up seeing as there’s quite a few games comming in the next few weeks I am more interested in.

    • Premium User Badge

      JiminyJickers says:

      There are many differences to Civ V, I prefer Beyond Earth. Can’t wait for some expansions to flesh it out even more.

    • malkav11 says:

      It’s really hard for me to understand how people come to this conclusion. Having played a complete game of it, they’re clearly based on the same engine, but the actual play is very different. Unfortunately, it’s also not quite where it needs to be to make that different gameplay as rewarding as it should be.

      • derbefrier says:

        Well I have only playedthe demo up to about the first 50 moves and it is a lot like civ 5 in a lot of ways maybe the demo just isn’t long enough for the differences to really shine. I probably just need to spend some more. Time with it. I plan on buying it eventually as I loved civ 5 but from the demo it just didn’t seem diferent enough to choose it over some other upcomming games that I want.

        • hotmaildidntwork says:

          I’m about 200 turns in so far. My impression is that it starts out like civ 5 in many ways and then gradually unrolls the differences. It makes for a fairly gentle lead in for those used to 5 and it kind of works to give you the feeling of a society adapting to an alien environment, but it also means that a lot of the unique features don’t become evident until after the demo would already have ended.

  12. Volcanu says:

    But who rules Bartertown?

  13. Chris Cunningham says:

    I’m the odd one out then – after swearing to myself that I wasn’t going to pay thirty quid for this when it came out, I downloaded the demo and then shelled out for the full thing as soon as my turn counter expired.

    There’s lots to like and quite a bit I’d like to see fixed. In particular it’s deeply frustrating that there’s no diplomatic way to get other factions from beating on your city-states, and the “build X in town Y” quests need some idiot-proofing to ensure that they don’t request a building that needs resourced not found in the area. I also suspect that the unit upgrade system needs a rethink, what with ARC having gone from being completely dominated by a single one of my robots to wailing over half my civilisation in the space of one turn when their rocket vans got upgraded. But that’ll come in time.

    • Gap Gen says:

      Yeah, it’s remarkably free of bugs for something that has so many buttons and levers. The only other thing I heard of from a friend was that if you purchase buildings then you don’t get the health perks, which they noticed when their health was in the toilet despite having all the necessary buildings to improve it.

      • Bull0 says:

        We noticed something with that. My working hypothesis is that they can only increase your health by as much as the population of that town, etc, but really i’m not sure. I noticed a few other irritating niggly things – leaders offering you empty deals and being upset when you hit accept, etc.

      • Horg says:

        Local health bonuses cannot offset more local negative health than there are citizens in a city. If you found a city and immediately buy out 5 health worth of buildings, you will lose 3 health for founding a city, the initial population unit will be offset and you wont get any more negative modifiers from the city until you reach 6 population. Global health modifiers from wonders and virtues ignore this rule.

        • Chris Cunningham says:

          Indeed. It’s just “happiness” renamed, with a (very) minor perk of granting a bonus to colonist production for a positive value, and with the rather large negative of not being tied to a golden age counter (meaning that the optimum colony health is zero).

          It’s interesting to note what they’ve removed from Civ 5 actually: no golden ages is a biggie, no Great People, no world government (which was one of the best-done things about SMAC). The cynic in me thinks that at least some of these are being held back for an expansion.

          • Xocrates says:

            World Congress wasn’t in Civ V until Brave New World though, which was already pretty bizarre.

            But yeah, BE has a lot of obvious “expansion material” missing.

          • Chris Cunningham says:

            What’s keeping me optimistic here is knowing how much Civ 5 improved between vanilla and BNW. I don’t expect this to fix the weak writing (you can’t patch in soul), but the niggles will probably get fixed, even if I have to pay again for them.

          • The Council says:

            I would have to entirely disagree. When you reach Utopian health levels (20+), you receive +10% to Culture, Production, and Science, +20% to Outpost Growth, and -50% to Intrigue levels from hostile actions against your city. For the 10% features, I’d take that over a Golden Age any turn of the week!

          • Chris Cunningham says:

            Yeah, I’ve noticed that now (I got some late-game bonus from a wonder or policy which suddenly gave me 84 health), but it’s very much a binary thing – you either stick to the baseline of zero which keeps your civ ticking along without being too expensive, or you shoot for 20, which doesn’t become possible until rather late on. Happiness was already a bit of a fudge, but I don’t see how stripping it down to a basically binary state helps.

  14. Elusiv3Pastry says:

    I’ve played Civ 1-5 to death (and I think the single unit per tile is the best thing ever) but I have to say Beyond Earth bored me beyond tears. All of the AIs played pacifist hippie roles in my game (set to very hard difficulty), so after I cleared out the aliens around my cities (which wasn’t hard) I’ve spent 200 turns just clicking “next turn” with nothing happening. I don’t need diplomacy because my spies steal all their tech. My explorers wander around at will thanks to some alien repulsing tech, so there’s no danger there. Finally I decided to go for a conquest victory because just to stir things up and the pitiful handful of units the AI had only did 1 damage to my mechs of doom, so I only needed a few units to take all of their cities.

    It’s quite a letdown.

    • Gap Gen says:

      That’s interesting, I know someone who’s been playing on I dunno, I guess the third-fourth difficulty level and been having a hard time from the AI. I guess it could be a bug, but that kind of thing is hard to tell I suppose.

      • Xocrates says:

        Even playing on the lowest difficulties, the AI is noticeably more agressive than Civ V. I never got through one game without at least an AI declaring war on early-mid game, whereas in Civ V they were either a particularly aggressive type (Hi, Attila!), or would only do so when you were on the verge of winning – and often not even then.

        • Gap Gen says:

          Oh yeah, what does publicly denouncing someone actually do? People keep doing it and I’m like “OK dude, whatever, I have twice as much stuff as you”.

          • Chris Cunningham says:

            It influences the AI’s internal scoring on you. If you denounce an AI’s own enemies, it’ll improve your standing with them, much like friending someone’s friend will improve relations with them. It also serves as a warning that someone doesn’t like you if you’re not paying much attention to diplomacy.

        • hotmaildidntwork says:

          It seems like it’s a bit craftier too. ARC declared on my alliance in the game I’m playing now and then immediately moved half a dozen combat rovers into our territory. They’d been hiding just out of sight range in the fog of war beyond our borders, which is a trick that I’ve never seen an AI pull before.

  15. XhomeB says:

    Alpha Centauri not only was a remarkable Civ game (probably the best one ever made), it felt like a clever commentary on the complicated human nature, the implications of technological advancements… It was mechanically sound, but what elevated it above everything elese was how genuinely fascinating and atmospheric it was lore-wise. The world colonists landed on truly felt like a mysterious, unknown place.
    Beyond Earth is… just a “fun” Civ game with LET’S REPLACE BARBARIANS WITH COOL LOOKING ALIENZ, made by a bunch of teens who grew up playing Mass Effect and steered as far away from good literature as possible. Boy, is the sci-fi world on display here banal and boring. To make matters worse, the factions have almost zero character.
    Beyond Earth feels… hollow. The game might get an expansion, its flaws might be ironed out eventually, but it’ll remain a mediocre product in terms of atmosphere, writing and lore. You can’t “fix” these things, because the foundations laid down here are so weak.

    I just realised how magnificently crafted AC was. 15 years have passed and it remains unmatched to this day. Incredible.

    • eggy toast says:

      Are you calling sci fi novels fine lit?

      • GernauMorat says:

        While not all science fiction is literature, some most definitely is. I would point you to Ursula LeGuin for one

        • magogjack says:

          I never understood why people feel the need to look at a genre and say “nothing of worth here.” Even a Saturday morning cartoon can transcend in the right hands.

      • Lanfranc says:

        I defy you to read Consider Phlebas or Embassytown and not consider them fine literature.

      • bonuswavepilot says:

        I think part of the problem here is that really good SF sometimes just gets considered ‘not SF’, a sort of inverted no-true-Scotsman thing. 1984, for example – people generally don’t think of it as Science Fiction, but it surely is.

      • blackmyron says:

        Check out Sturgeon’s Law for the answer to that one.

    • Big Murray says:

      Alpha Centauri was too complicated. I tried to play it a bunch of times, and even as a Civ-veteran who’s been playing right from the very beginning, I found it to have a stupidly harsh learning curve.

      • Press X to Gary Busey says:

        And as you reach the top of Mt. Learning Curve, the Hidden Valley of The 247 Pages Manual is revealed. Where the actual learning begins. ;) (There are also some stories, suggested reading tips, planetography, flora/fauna and a lot more. From the olden days when manuals were like bundled strategy guides).

      • LionsPhil says:

        Honestly, about 90% of that is just learning that “monopole magnets” means “railways”, which you can look up in the in-game Datalinks (which means “Civilopedia”), as has been possible since Civ 1 (although 5’s was sodding useless). Right-clicking on things when they are presented as choices will usually consult Datalinks.

        It’s a bit of a hump, but well worth getting over because on the other side lies the best Civ game (in quantum superposition with Civ IV, which is also the best Civ game).

    • LionsPhil says:

      Beyond Earth is… just a “fun” Civ game with LET’S REPLACE BARBARIANS WITH COOL LOOKING ALIENZ, made by a bunch of teens who grew up playing Mass Effect and steered as far away from good literature as possible.

      Christ, I thought you were exaggerating until I fired up the demo. These “quest narratives” are effing dreadful.

      Also apparently these satellites, which go into orbit, have enough fuel in them to achieve escape velocity. :|

  16. Dread says:

    Overall, for me Beyond Earth is a disappointment. I didn’t expect them to make an SMAC remake, but BE, while a decent game, fails to deliver in every aspect. They kept the worst parts about Civ 5, they neglected to include crucial good things about Civ 5 and/or SMAC and on top of that, they included new flaws.

    The worst parts of Civ 5:
    one unit per tile. I already talked about this at length in another comment
    weak AI and Diplomacy. it’s pretty much a copy&paste from Civ 5, though diplomacy is now largely irrelevant with the removal of luxury resources and the AI is very passive.
    global happiness (health = happiness), the penalties for negative health are mediocre and with the right techs you can really skyrocket it allowing to sprawl extremely wide and far.
    maintenance costs for roads, though easily eliminated

    What they didn’t include:
    Planetary Council. Really, that’s a key feature in SMAC and Civ 5 had the world congress, which was very good. How could they not include that?
    Factions with personalities. SMAC lived from the diverse agendas of the factions, the factions in BE have as much personality as a Civ 5 civ, i.e. barely any; considering there are only 8 in total (SMAC had 7) as opposed to Civ 5s 43 this is inexcusable.
    Variants on the tourism and religion mechanics.
    The futuristic technology of SMAC (terraforming, cities on water)
    Unit variety. I didn’t expect a recreation of SMACs workshops, but 7 basic units + 3 per affinity? A single jet-unit in the entire game? Where are bombers? Helicopters? Submarines? Stealth-based units?

    New problems:
    The trade routes. I like the system, but it’s such an annoyance. When you have 12 citites with three routes each and every single turn you have to restart 2 or 3 of them, it’s really getting on my nerves. This needs some automation badly.
    The removal of demographics and statistics in any way, shape or form. Just why? Not only does that make it hard to gauge your standing in the world, but I always like to take a look over the statistics at the end of a game.
    The technology web makes it nearly impossible to gauge the progress of other factions. Units are no indicator, as they rely on affinity, which is only partially based on tech; the web provides a lot of freedom and you don’t seem to research many techs (in my game I only got 42 out of the 80 techs, before I won.)
    The very, very low difficulty. I played my first game on the second highest difficulty and it was as easy as a Civ 5 game on Warlord. I was never threatened and just cruised to a transcendence victory after about 60% of the turns before any of the AIs even reached affinity lvl 13 anywhere.

    To me, BE really screams: “Buy the expansions!”, it’s missing a lot of stuff and needs more time to ripen.

    • battles_atlas says:

      “The removal of demographics and statistics in any way, shape or form. Just why? Not only does that make it hard to gauge your standing in the world, but I always like to take a look over the statistics at the end of a game.”

      I was wavering, but that has killed it for me. Seriously, I love that shit. Civ, like most other games of its ilk, has always undercooked the history the player creates. We live in an age of Big Data supposedly, is it that hard to grasp that you could do some really nice visual stuff at the end with all the data the play through has generated? Use it devs!

      • Xocrates says:

        Some of the end-of-game stats are actually there, but for some reason they are not shown in the end screen.

        Instead, you need to go to the “Extras” in the main menu and choose to see the “replay”, which is just the end of game graphs.

      • wondermoth says:

        Info Addict mod is already out on Steam Workshop, contains all the stats you’ll ever need.

        As for BE: it’s in a better place than Civ V was at launch. I expect that two expansions down the line, it’ll be superb, just like daddy.

        • LionsPhil says:

          Scrolling down the comments, this repeated pattern just cries “wait for the GOTY edition, when it’ll actually be finished”.

          • Xocrates says:

            This has been true for Civ in general though. Beyond Earth was the first one I got before at least one expansion was out.

          • LionsPhil says:

            …no?

            I’m not sure Civ 1 got any expansions, and was so far back into the dark ages that patches were literally something you had to snail-mail disks to the publisher for.
            I think 2 got a world editor with some moddish scenarios, which weren’t essential (I can’t remember what happened patchwise).
            SMAC vanilla is perfect in every way, obviously. (The expansion added a CD check so is clearly the Devil incarnate.)
            I honestly can’t remember much of 3 at all.
            4 vanilla is fine. Honestly, I don’t care much for the expansions it got—the revamped espionage and corporations felt more like flab than features. The main reason to install them is to purge the Devil.
            5 I can’t say, because I dislike the base game so strongly I haven’t bought any DLC.

          • Xocrates says:

            To be fair I was talking about my experience. I started on 3, and while vanilla 4 was fine, I didn’t felt it was different enough from 3 until the expansions were out.

            5 was worse since even with Gods and Kings (which is when I got it) it still felt like 4 lite, though Brave New World made wonders to make it feel its own game.

            Beyond earth is probably the most interesting Vanilla I’ve played (though not the best – that would be 4), but yeah, it will need at least an expansion before it really gets into its own.

    • hjarg says:

      Totally agreed. Especially the trade routes part. Come on- i just look what the previous city i traded with was and that’s that. But then again- if it were not for that, then there is pretty much nothing i can do anyway but to click “End turn”, for
      – the AI does pretty much nothing. I had once over several games it declaring war on me- and failing to mount any coherent offensive.
      – Aliens are less annoying then barbarians. They don’t attack my cities, especially not after i’ve built the fence that keeps them at 2 squares away- and that also gives immunity to trade caravans. If i kill them by dozens, the planet does not get pissed off. Basically, it doesn’t matter if the planet is hostile of friendly or you go around hugging aliens or killing them. Want to be harmony player that also does alien mass extinction? No problems.
      – And you know, what really pisses me off. When spend hours of (not really) hard thinking of strategies and what to build and all that, you get “Congtats, you won” popup and that’s that. Same with Civ 5, but you get even less happiness about it. And i feel the process is not explained enough… But nothing like even on Civ 5- watch replay, see score, see that i’m worse then drones…
      – Even worse, when the building completes, the game just tells you “City has completed a project”. What did i build? Come on, when dealing with 10+ cities, it is hard to remember what i built. And it is sometimes important- perhaps i finished a trade depot and now want to build some trade vessels, but oh no, didn’t remember…

      Btw, there is one thing you missed- under main menu, in extras, there is replay button. You can get access to demographics and high scores from there.

      • Dread says:

        “Btw, there is one thing you missed- under main menu, in extras, there is replay button. You can get access to demographics and high scores from there.”

        Indeed, there it is! Why they would hide that in such an obsure place instead of providing it at the end of game screen is beyond me. Though it only hold the graphs and not the little fast replay on how everybody expandend.

        Still remains, that there no demographics, statistics or top 5 citites available in game. Let alone the fact, that the victory progress is as muddy as it gets, as all it shows is a percentage completion fo each faction, you pretty much have to learn what exactly the steps for each victory type are, to be able gauge where everybody stands.

        Yeah, you make some good points, the cities not telling you what they built totally slipped my mind, as by the ponit that mattered, I didn’t really care anymore and jsut built everything. The trade depot seems to be the msot important building and I just bought that outright for every city and shipped the convoys in from other cities.

        And also true, the aliens really can’t hold a candle to the ones in SMAC.

        • hjarg says:

          Yes, the demographics or at least graphs are really not what i expected, but at least something is there. Why they did not have it in the end, is a mystery.
          And another thing- the only way to declare war on a station is to send a soldier to attack it. No matter the fact that you have several artilleries and airplanes ready to kick their ass, you cannot declare war before you send your soldiers in… No seperate diplomacy as per city-states in Civ 5. And the poor buggers can defend themselves only when someone attacks directly. So when i reduce their defences by ranged attacks and send soldiers in only when there is nothing left, i lose none. Well, except for the poor folk who most likely gets wiped out when declaring war.
          Small details that show that the thought going into the game could have been better.

      • wondermoth says:

        “Totally agreed. Especially the trade routes part. Come on- i just look what the previous city i traded with was and that’s that.”

        If you look a bit harder, you’l find that there’s usually a better option available. I’m not sure how the trade economies work, but they definitely fluctuate a lot.

        The real problems with trade routes are

        a) no hotkey to assign a new trade route
        b) no means to sort the trade routes by yield, and
        c) they’re just too damn OP. Rush autoplants, rush health buildings/virtues, and Infinite City Sprawl your way to victory by using internal trade routes to production-bomb new colonies. You can get an outpost from start to “health-neutral with trade-depot + autoplant + 3 convoys” in less than 20 turns.

        I’m sure they’ll get things balanced eventually.

  17. Joshua Northey says:

    It is a decent game that plays real smooth. Well worth your time and money if you like this sort of thing. It is not some cross genre piece of greatness though.

    There are a lot of little weaknesses that will likely be cleaned up in expansions/patches. Sadly the narrative parts while ok are not close to AC’s quality.

    I will probably get a few dozen hours out of it each major expansion/patch, which is plenty for me but not the hundreds I get out of my real favorites.

  18. eggy toast says:

    I got Endless Legend recently, as well as reinstalled Civ4, and I have to say between the two of them they’ve cemented for me the notion that Civ V is just plain disappointing, even after all the expansions, and that I shouldn’t let the decades of love for the series make me feel like I can’t admit that.

  19. Zenicetus says:

    I bought it and spent some time with it over the weekend. I wouldn’t call it a complete failure, but man, what a disappointment that they didn’t do more with this opportunity. I don’t even mind the Civ5 engine, it’s been over a year since I played a Civ game so I’m not bored with the mechanics.

    The big disappointment for me is how generic it feels. The alien world and its inhabitants, and the colonist units and tech all has a designed-by-committee feel. There are lots of sci-fi tropes here, but nothing very edgy or interesting. It’s a very “safe” design, which is unfortunate given the opportunity to do something more creative.

    Maybe that’s inevitable when the budget gets this big. Or maybe I’m just spoiled by seeing the creativity in a few other games recently, like what Amplitude is doing with Endless Legend. That’s far from a perfect game, but at least they weren’t afraid to make a world populated with units that really feel alien and interesting, instead of something we’ve already seen in zillions of TV shows, movies, and other games. The writers and designers for Beyond Earth should have read a few more good sci-fi books for ideas.

    Maybe I’ll feel differently after spending a little more time with it. I’m not writing it off yet.

    • Lanfranc says:

      Maybe this is an unfair thing to say, but I do wonder if part of the problem is that so many game designers have degrees in game design these days. Brian Reynolds studied philosophy, and that shows pretty clearly in SMAC.

      • Zenicetus says:

        That’s a good point. People who go into “media” studies don’t often get much exposure to the humanities subjects that can make for more thoughtful, creative projects. Or maybe it’s just that younger people are reading fewer great sci-fi books, and getting most of their ideas from self-referential media like movies, TV shows, and other games. Maybe a little of both.

  20. detarame says:

    16 hours and one Transcendence victory in:

    I was initially very drawn into this game and loved a lot of the new things it was doing. I love faction generation, although I’d love more options and more balanced options. (Why would I ever choose 2 food per city over 2 hammers per city?) I realized very early that they brought in basically every V mechanics and found new and interesting ways to use it. The archaeology and ideology systems, the espionage system, and the trade route systems are all carried over well. Espionage systems get a lot of grief in general – and Civ V gets grief in particular – but I think CV:BE brings in some pretty interesting ways to “weaponize” your intelligence services instead of just using them to steal techs.

    I think the Endless Space tech system is a great idea to bring into this setting, and I particularly liked the “sub-techs” idea. The tech web means that, among other things, Wonders are placed such that there is much less “racing” for them, since following one strand of the web by necessity forfeits another set of branching choices.

    I do think BE has more or less succeeded with the design goal of making choices feel like weighty decisions and I think that the ideologies system couple with the sub-tech systems very much makes advancing in this game feel like the actual development of a system of values and a worldview. It feels like building an actual culture, so I know exactly what’s being spread as the pink numbers climb higher. When I choose focus paths on my buildings and on my tech tree, in my mind’s eye I can imagine the society that’s developing. It’s very evocative for the first 100 or 150 turns. After that, though. . . like with any game whose techs and buildings are basically Treknobabble, I start to fall away from the lore and the feeling of development and fall towards… Well, playing Brave New World. There’s nothing here that is “new and different,” but there is a lot that has been cleverly reworked and re-imagined.

    Managing the war effort, the expansion effort, and the dozen cargo manifests every turn starts to crowd out the immersion of imagination and force me back into playing the end game of BNW. The good news, of course, is I love the end game of BNW, and it’s fun to do it with a slightly different vision, but by the time the ideology is set and the carrier are afloat. Well, that part is a bit of a solved puzzle. They do a decent enough job trying to mitigate this by giving you a hell of a lot of interesting victory conditions to chase, but another way of reading that, in all fairness, is “you will be pressing ‘end turn’ a lot while waiting for buckets to fill.”

    At the end of the day, though C.R.E.A.M is still very much in effect. (City-spam Rules Everything Around Me) This makes the late game really dreadful, because trade ports are capped per city instead of per empire, so having 18 cities each with three trading posts is a bit of a nightmare. If I wanted to play “Sid Meyer’s Logistics!” … wait, is that a game? I would totally play that game. But, I don’t want to have to reorder 8 trade routes every turn from turn 200 on when I’m playing a more-or-less classic 4X.

    I’m in the middle of a second play through, and I’ll probably go the distance, but after that I imagine I’ll wait for the inevitable expansion. So, that’ll probably weigh in at about 30 hours before burnout. The funny thing is, about halfway through the first game, I started thinking about the Endless Legend game I’d abandoned to play Beyond Earth and how anxious I was to finish it. It’s not a great sign for BE’s longevity that I’m daydreaming about a 4X I’ve already played for 75 hours on my second day playing with Sid.

    There will probably be some faction and map related DLC coming down the pike first. I do not imagine that will be enough to bring me back. The factions here are not really different enough for a couple of new ones to really spice up the mix any. I’ll be very interested, however, in seeing what they pull out for their first major expansion. I’m hoping that since they brought over more or less every major mechanic from the Civ V suite that it will mean some new an interesting mechanics brought in. My fear is that they’ll just find an excuse to bring in the execrable “tourism” mechanic.

    As an aside: Honestly, I don’t understand people’s hatred for the new tile based system. The stacks of doom system was never a good system. One can’t just say handwave away that by “Civ V isn’t about fighting.” Fighting is a core system of the game and it always has been. If a core system isn’t fun, it needs to either go or be made more interesting. I happen to think One-Per-Tile address all of the weaknesses in the old system, even as it has introduced some new problems, mostly UI-Related. It makes combat more interesting from both a strategic perspective and a tactical one. Without a doubt, it’s the best innovation to come out of this iteration of Civ games. I just wish we could focus on teaching the AI how to fight with it effectively.

    PS: Dear Sid, Please make miasma easier to see and, of you’re feeling squirrely maybe give me a checkbox to have my units “avoid miasma” while on autopilot.

    • Horg says:

      I think the sweet spot for unit stacking mechanics would have been to allow limited stacking of some kind, so you can still form army units without them becoming invincible. One unit per tile and unlimited stacks of doom were both flawed ideas, arguably making combat in the Civ series the most consistent weakness. For Civ 6, I hope that combat is the feature that gets the biggest overhaul.

      • LionsPhil says:

        They could also let you stack non-combat units. If worker stacks are so terrible, just only allow one to be working on a tile at a time. At least then two bulldozers could pass each-other with less maneuvering room than an entire fucking metropolis.

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      BlueTemplar says:

      The tech tree is very well made IMHO. It doesn’t have that much in common in Endless Space, as there are no separate trees, the addition of “leaves”, and the tech costs don’t nearly scale as fast. All this taken together really allows you to choose whatever path you want. One issue (that you see throughout the game) is that tech costs are still fixed, unlike in Alpha Centauri and Endless Legend, so, like in Endless Space, you end up researching all the core tech because they become so cheap (and in SMAX you were forced to because of the web of tech prerequisites).

      Carpet of doom is a way, WAY worse system than stacks of doom. It makes combat frustrating, a lot less interesting and reduces the tactical possibilities, not to mention that the expert systems (“AI”) are an even harder time to deal with it. It also affects the rest of the game in a bad way. I don’t understand why we’re still having this discussion, or why Firaxis didn’t realize that carpet of doom was a failure of game design (while Civ5 designer did). Maybe because Civ5 was much more commercially successful than Civ4, and Firaxis forgot that most issues with stacks of doom were solved by Alpha Centauri… but for some reason these solutions were forgotten in Civ3 and Civ4.
      Though it’s probably because Civ:BE is based too much on Civ5 to redo this part of the game from scratch.

  21. Phantasma says:

    It’s been ages since i played a demo but in this case i’m glad i did test it out thoroughly.

    Definitely bargain material.

    After the first previews i’ve accepted that it won’t be a real SMAC successor and i’d have to view it as a CiV expandalone, which does not necessarily have to be a bad thing.

    But when Firaxis wants to charge full price, the amount of laziness (or at best, carelessness) is hard to stomach.

    The Stat-grinding -no, sorry- virtues are as undemanding and unidirectional as were the social policies.
    The shallow diplomacy was criticised as one of the main culprits (beside the AI) in the original V, both systems have been carbon-copied without a second thought.

    The interface is more streamlined than ever before but more difficult to use and read at the same time, which in itself is a remarkable feat.

    But to not lose myself in just listing an arm-length of design niggles, let me just say, i wasn’t really feeling it.

    The game didn’t invite me to explore the possible strangeness of the world, unlock the technological and social potential of my people and imprint my will onto the surface of my new home.
    It was just an endless stream of +2 here and -5% there and every now and then some barbarian bug smashed a convoy or an improvement.

    And on a more personal note, the complete omission of terraforming (which could have been a perfect match for the setting AND for the new affinity system) is something i can’t quite comprehend.
    Trying to adapt to your surroundings OR force a more “earthly” ecosphere onto the planet, THOSE sound like interesting choices… not if i want to ride green bugs or build cyborgs with laser-guns.

    I’ve said it before, Firaxis got more comeptition in the TBS genre than they had a few years ago.
    Fleshing out a needlessly simple title with two expansions was okay-ish for Civ 5 but they seem to think this can become their modus operandi, which feels very, very tired by now.

  22. Press X to Gary Busey says:

    I just completed my first playthrough and it was fun but unpolished.
    I don’t mind that it’s another same-engine spinoff like they did with Civ 4: Colonization. Nothing wrong with tech reuse if it allows you to focus on the important stuff (not really QA in this case though).
    Rambling:

    The trade routes are seriously unbalanced (plus micro management hell) and the AI can’t handle the player rushing for affinity point tech. The quests and shaping the faction through them is nice but I wonder how well the AI actually handle the choices.

    The lore is poorly integrated and mostly hidden in the civilopedia. You don’t get much background about exactly what you just researched/built other than name and numbers. There’s barely any artwork and the wonders just shows a blueprint. Extra bad when there’s no historical context like in the main series.

    The “Planet” is barely in the game at all. The aliens are just “space barbarians” and not really an important part like in SMAC (they are too random and don’t seem like a hidden hive-mind faction).

    Diplomacy is improved a bit with Favors instead of blind demands. At the same time they cut a lot of essentials. No religion/ideology, no council and no U.N. charter. The City States are nerfed to uselessness just blocking expansion. The magical space resources are too common and used too much to be game-changing like rare uranium or a continent without iron in Civ. It’s just another number ticking up and down in tens at a time. At least the spy system is much improved now.

    The interface is bad. Not enough differentiation in icons for units and buildings. The unit names are confusing when they change regularly. The micro management of trade routes. There is no usable unit list like Civ 5 when you need to mobilize an army spread across two continents and oceans. I can barely see miasma or alien nests (they scrapped the strategic 2D view from Civ 5). And you still can’t stack workers even though there is still no reason to restrict them (since trade units can stack).

    The end-game is just a bunch of science victories (though well done) or conquest. There are no planet busters or any real super weapons other than a special spy operation per affinity.
    The unique units are done better than in Civ 5 where they disappeared as fast as you got them. The new space layer is nice and has a few interesting strategic buffs, attack satellites and orbital Cthulhus.

    Still, 23 hours of fun-enough for €29 so I don’t really regret it. It was the same with Civ 4 and 5 for me. I quickly got bored with the broken release games but then played them regularly for months after they got patched up, especially after the expansions.
    They’ll probably release a Good Game Expansion Pack for this one too if it doesn’t flop.

  23. raiders5000 says:

    Sea Dragons sank my battleship. What’s this world coming to?

  24. NotToBeLiked says:

    Warning for whoever is still on the fence and has bothered to scroll this far down.
    There is a pretty horrible bug that will make the game end with a Time Victory after 400 turns (at standard speed), despite not checking the Max Turns checkbox, or even when checking the Max Turns checkbox and entering 0 as the value. It’s even impossible to press the ‘Just one more turn’ button at that moment (or even way before that moment). If you like your Civ games in an epic-style length as I do, this is pretty much a gamebreaking bug…

  25. mpk says:

    I think the nicest thing I can say is that at least there wasn’t a day one season pass DLC. That way the game’s shortcomings and lack of content compared to Civ V might not have been blatantly, cynically and very obviously held back.

  26. vash47 says:

    Is there any non-steam demo available’

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      BlueTemplar says:

      Yes, but depending of the country you’re in, it’s probably illegal.