This is news worth working on a weekend for. Firaxis have announced Civilization: Beyond Earth, a spiritual successor to Alpha Centauri. There's an announcement trailer below, which doesn't show any of the game but does set the scene. (The scene is of me, rubbing my thighs at all the spaceships). Also, it's due out this "Fall/Autumn" which i) is not far away at all and ii) it's nice that they wrote both Fall and Autumn because it makes me feel included as a non-American.
There's very little info on the Civilization site other than the trailer, but there is this description under the YouTube video:
Sid Meier's Civilization®: Beyond Earth™ is a new science-fiction-themed entry into the award-winning Civilization series. As part of an expedition sent to find a home beyond Earth, lead your people into a new frontier, explore and colonize an alien planet and create a new civilization in space. A New Beginning for Mankind is coming Fall/Autumn 2014.
Firaxis released Alpha Centauri in 1999 as a spin-off from the Civilization series, putting a scifi bent on the 4X formula. It was and is beloved, but the rights remain with the game's original publisher, Electronic Arts. Beyond Earth is Firaxis' attempt to re-capture the original, only without the name.
The designers are still up on stage at PAX East, talking about the game, but PC Gamer are first to the punch with a meaty interview on the game's factions, planets, alien life, AI and more.
PC Gamer: How did you go about moving the narrative into game systems?
Will Miller: We try to take as much as we can from the fiction and put it in the map. When you kill the siege worm, you see its skull, and when you pick the skull up you may find a new quest thread that you can pick up and follow, and each time you complete an objective in that thread, you get a little bit of the fiction. We decided very early that we would imply more than we say. I think that's really important, because the gaps the player's going to fill in with their imaginations is a story that's way more interesting than the one we could write ourselves. I think the more explicit you are about the narrative, the less the player gets to build it themselves. We've tried to strike a balance between content that we write, and building blocks of content that the players get to assemble into something really cool, and it belongs to them.
Shacknews follow along with a wee write-up of the announcement, which includes a couple of screenshots (one of which is above). These screenshots technically leaked earlier this morning but maybe they have been officially released now? Who knows!
What do you think? To my mind Firaxis are some of the safest pairs of hands around, and even without Brian Reynolds at the helm and Sid Meier only in his normal supervisory role, I trust them to release something worthwhile.