Civ BE Rising Tide Patch Makes Peace Less Ridiculous

Oh, Civilization: Beyond Earth [official site], how sad you make me. You work so very hard to make me love you but… well, maybe you’re fundamentally unlovable. The Rising Tide expansion, that was a good try. You became more alien, less like your dad trying to wear a spacesuit, but gosh, you made a pig’s ear of Diplomacy, didn’t you? Bugs and bonkers design decisions queered the pitch.

But maybe it’s not too late. I hear there’s a big new patch intended to address one of your biggest problems; what flowers are you bringing to my door this time?

There were, for me, two main issues with Rising Tide’s revamped diplomacy system. One of those – that AI allies would not come to your aid in the event of war, but would automatically drag you into any of their conflicts – has been mostly fixed by a patch which arrived around a week after launch. The other seemed more fundamental – that the game would make its own decisions about what each side offered come peace negotiations, creating bizarre situations such as demanding that your struggling enemy gave up half his cities to you purely to broker peace, even if you didn’t want or need them. Or vice-versa.

Much as we lamented how little Beyond Earth originally broke with Civilization V tradition, switching things up so that the player had no control over one of the most important aspects of their campaign was, frankly, mad.

The new patch replaces this system with a revised one known as Spoils Of War. It’s a sort of halfway house between new and old, in which the leader who has ostensibly won the war can pick from a buffet of possible reparations from the other. I.e. technologies, yields, and cities – exactly what, and how many, is dictated by how many War Points you’ve scored. So long as the spoils add up to the same or less, the other party has to accept the deal.

However, more than likely the other side will have scored a few War Points too, and they can similarly spend it on nabbing some of your stuff, if they can afford it. All told it’s more like a shop than a negotiation, which I worry only amplifies my sense that Rising Tide overlays perhaps too many overtly game-y systems onto the base game – but it does sound better than the like-it-or-lump-it approach of the expansion pre-patch. Most importantly, to my mind, you can now request little or nothing from your bested opponent, rather than be forced to be a greedy conqueror regardless of your play style.

The system works a little differently in multiplayer – the bested player can accept or refuse the winner’s terms, but must offer a counter-proposal in the event they reject the deal. There’s more on how this all works here. It sounds like an improvement all-told, as much as I’m worried that it’s just making a vast number of different points systems more and more intrinsic to the game.

TL;DR version: you can now pick and choose what you want during peace negotiations.

The patch brings with it assorted minor fixes, but highlights to my mind are the melding of land and sea trade vessels into a single amphibious unit, which gets rid of some pointless busywork, and these two bug-splats for Diplomacy:

o Fixed an issue that prevented AI allies from joining a war if they hadn’t met the opponent and the war started before the alliance was formed.
o Fixed an issue where some AI leaders would send communiques inappropriately while at war.

That will hopefully help reduce the madness I experienced about who’d go to war and why, and that mortal enemies kept saying chummy things to me even while their tanks were at my gates.

More things are listed here, and hopefully this isn’t the end. It’s a shame Rising Tide wasn’t quite the redemption song we’d hoped for, but at least the devs seem to be responsive to its issues rather than entrenching into design decisions which frustrated people.

25 Comments

  1. Troubletcat says:

    I was so excited for Rising Tide and so crushed with disappointment when it came out. Far worse on launch than Civ V was. Far, far worse than Civ V is now (and really, I believe that’s the standard we should be setting – make your new game at least as good as the final state of the last one, so people have a reason to switch. Then build from there).

    I can’t stomach the idea of spending another $30 on something that made me feel so much sorrow when it came out.

    • Troubletcat says:

      Meant to say Beyond Earth, not Rising Tide.

    • wondermoth says:

      $38 for us Britischers. Yay! Oceans!

    • Xocrates says:

      Your new game should be as good as the previous one was on launch plus multiple years of community feedback and additional development based on that feedback even though it’s a new product with different (even if similar) design and goals.

      What?

      • Troubletcat says:

        Sure, if it was actually a considerably different game than the previous one, not being as refined would be acceptable.

        “Reskin, but worse” is not.

        • Xocrates says:

          The game is actually very different in many small ways. It is much more trying to do something different with the same mechanics (and stumbled), than a reskin.

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    Viruzzo says:

    This seems an awful lot like EU4’s system; I feel though it does not make quite as much sense in this setting.

    • Archonsod says:

      Setting wise it’s fine (it is just a way of recognising that wars don’t purely boil down to who owns who’s territory). It’s the mechanics that screw it up here – each city you own increases the cost of various things as well as applying penalties to health, so having the AI dump a bunch of cities (usually poorly situated to boot) on you without having the option of saying no (or pre-patch, which cities) usually means watching your economy grind to a halt, leading to the rather bizarre situation where it was nearly always more beneficial to lose a war than to win it. Unless of course you embarked on a campaign of genocide anyway.

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        Viruzzo says:

        I feel like it makes more sense that your ability to demand booty is limited in a setting of “tradition” and general political common sense (same way as the requirement for casi bellorum), whereas in a “settlers on an alien planet” situation I find the whole system less believable.

    • TheAngriestHobo says:

      That’s exactly what I was thinking as I read the article, minus the bit about the defeated party getting to make counter-claims.

      EU4’s system is admittedly one of my favourite treaty systems in any grand strategy or 4x game, but damn, it took Firaxis a long time to settle on it.

  3. Chris Cunningham says:

    Number of people who earnestly believed that a patch whose primary feature was being able to build cities on water would fix the fundamental problems that put people off Beyond Earth: one, apparently.

  4. Phinor says:

    You said it well. The game has too many game-y systems. Points here, points there, it’s all about collecting and adding more points to make things happen a bit better or faster. Almost like an Excel sheet at this point. They try to fix these things by adding even more of these systems into the game but I think that’s a poor approach when the game already has so many points and systems. At their core most strategy games are like that, but the good ones manage to make it feel like a good gaming experience that doesn’t feel like you are just collecting points. This game needs a lot of work to make it not feel like that, perhaps even more now with Rising Tide than before. Maybe a step forward, but at least a step back as well in that regard.

  5. mattevansc3 says:

    Beyond Earth/Rising Tide’s diplomacy system seems like reinventing the wheel just to be different.

    The 4X genre has reached the point where they’ve got a diplomacy system that works. Where the improvements need to be made are in humanising the process and make the AI more reactive to changes.

    • Elgarion says:

      @mattevansc3 : you’re right!

    • Zenicetus says:

      I wouldn’t say the current 4X genre, as a whole, has figured out how to do diplomacy all that well.

      There may be a few games where the AI is better than others at faking human interaction. Maybe the EU/Crusader Kings games? But recent games like Endless Legend and GalCiv3 are being criticized for poor diplomacy systems and diplomatic AI. Amplitude is throwing more AI developers a the problem with Endless Legend. GalCiv3 is trying a hybrid approach where the AI is exposed for modding, but it’s still not in great shape for diplomacy.

      Apparently it’s a tough nut to crack. And not helped by the way that every new game tends to start over from scratch with its AI routines.

      • mattevansc3 says:

        I was talking more about the systems than the AI.

        Most 4X games have got the core principle of offer vs request nailed down. Its a bartering system where others’ perception of you affects the likelihood of a deal going through and/or the exchange rate.

        Rising Tide threw that out the window.

        Of course I am only talking about the core principle. Devs constantly try variations on it, expand it or play with it and there’s a hell of s lot of room for improvement for the genre, such as;

        Counter offers instead of straight up refusals.

        Bioware conversation wheels. To bolster your chance of striking a deal or getting another player to change their mind abut refusing your offer you can try to convince that player why its a good deal. “I don’t think your catapult technology for my City is a good trade.” “The Romans neighbouring you have built walls and your warriors would get annihilated in an assault.” “On second thought that deal sounds more reasonable”.

        More variation in options available. Trade agreements that allow you to barter production for culture or research for military might. Common goal agreements, such as both of you contributing research towards gunpowder to get it done quicker.

        As you mentioned though, this is all pointless without the AI to back it up.

  6. Blastaz says:

    When you think that they could have just given a new lick of graphical paint to Alpha Centauri Beyond Earth is a crying shame.

    You would have hoped they learnt their lesson from Colonization, where every change they made to the original formula was a step back…

  7. Neutrino says:

    War Points? Omg that sounds so lame. What I want from a modern sci-fi 4x game is subtle nuanced diplomacy based on rich and believable characteristics of the difference empires and their leaders and sweeping story arcs. The last thing I want is transparent gamey bean counting.

    Fingers crossed Stellaris can deliver better.

    • mattevansc3 says:

      What I’ve been missing is a nuanced threat/ultimatum diplomacy system.

      Most 4X games give you the option of threatening with war but I can’t recall if any 4X game has allowed you to threaten others with economic or culture sanctions.

  8. raiders says:

    Yeah…I concur, mates. They queered the pooch on this game. It may be too far gone for repair at this point.

  9. Lord Byte says:

    I loved CIV V, but the thing in this one that has been annoying me from day one is… Ranged units are pretty much worthless. They do so little damage, are such annoyances to get into range (and what with intervening terrain) that the enemy units just keep levelling from the pin-pricks, get 50 hp heal, and trash your units in one attack. Wall of melee with ranged behind is annoying to get working because of all the terrain (and forests, or fungii).

    You can seldom get enough units around his cities without having lost half of them (and the city plain healing up if you send em in piecemeal), which means the only valid way to attack cities is… naval, because there’s NO INTERVENING terrain there. Siege units cannot fire over interevening terrain, cannot outrange cities, and are extremely fragile, which means they’re extremele worthless.

    So just spam melee and outproduce your opponent. Basically.

    • Lord Byte says:

      And lots and lots of silly canyons….

    • Danley says:

      Range units, even in Civ V, are for defending positions or other units. Set up bottlenecks and secure elevation so that your enemies can only do damage to a city with aerial bombardment. Keep your coastal cities exposed to no more than one coastal tile and set up range units so that you never lose that tile.

      Range units often have the advantage of doing damage against melee units that either can’t get to them (on the other side of a canyon, in an outpost, on a hill overlooking forest, etc.) or wouldn’t survive getting back out after attacking. Also one of the first upgrades for rangers is the ability to move after attacking, for guerrilla tactics, and one of the first for rocket batteries is extended range for hitting targets before they can even attack you (though with the same obstruction penalties).

      I’m playing a Domination-only victory game on Soyuz and haven’t even had war declared on me yet through 150 turns because my outposts are all on bottlenecks with range units overlooking them. No single unit could survive getting through the lane to actually attack the outpost.

      Getting an outpost positioned so that it would be suicide for any unit attacking it is only possible with ranged support. I lose the ranged units and I won’t be able to do enough damage so the enemy could potentially survive the invasion turn, capture the one square adjacent to the city, rotate in a healthy melee unit on the next turn and capture the position, at which point I’m left with an outpost that’s equally hard to recapture.

      I’d go so far to say that the most important thing in Civ V/BE is economy to fund your research, but only because research determines much damage your ranged units will do.

  10. Zenicetus says:

    It may be a gamey system that doesn’t feel much like actual diplomacy, but at least it removes a major incentive to just finish every war by wiping out the enemy faction. It should be easier now to just cripple a faction enough to hold it back, while completing your own faction goal.

    The game still desperately needs a patch, or more likely a second major expansion following the Civ 5 model, that revamps the end game. Right now there isn’t much point in just clicking Next Turn to wait out the timer on non-domination victory conditions, because the AI doesn’t try to stop you. The factions taking hybrid paths also don’t have their own unique endgame goals for victory, which seems like a hole waiting to be plugged in the game.

    So I’ll bet there’s another expansion planned. It would follow Civ 5’s format of main game plus one expansion directed at the earl/mid game, and then another adding challenge and polish for the late game.

    Whether or not BE will ever be worth the cost of the game plus that many expensive expansions is another question. It still has that feeling of being a project made by game designers who don’t read or care that much about sci-fi as a genre, and are just going through the motions. I did break down and pay for Rising Tide though, so I have to hope that they can wrap it up as a more satisfying game at some point.

  11. thestryker says:

    Having never acclimated myself to any Civ game I always had issues with Civ V from the start, because the only 4x game I’ve ever really loved was Alpha Centauri. While overall game systems are better in Civ V than BE there’s one thing that prevents me from enjoying the game, and that is the tech “tree” or should I say line of no real choices. This infuriates me quite a bit to the point where I simply can’t play the game without dwelling on it. This is one thing which is a massive improvement from BE so while I’m certainly not happy with the overall game, especially compared to AC, this is a huge positive for me.

    That being said it is interesting how many of the basic systems aren’t as good as they should be, but hopefully over time these things will be gradually adjusted.