The Great Mistake

Civilization: Beyond Earth is an upcoming turn based strategy game that is currently in development by Firaxis Games. Following the hugely successful Civilization V, Beyond Earth aims to retain the core values that players have come to love, but also build on them with a fresh take on concepts such as the technology tree and ideologies.

Set approximately 250 years after present day, Civilization: Beyond Earth begins with players looking to the stars after events referred to as The Great Mistake. Although a historical blackout prevents gamers from figuring out exactly what that is, it's clear that humankind must leave earth and set out to re-establish themselves on other planets. For veterans of the franchise, this narrative is a complete turnaround from what they have come to expect of the series, although not at all unwelcome.

To Affinity and Beyond

Players who had a chance to get their hands on the Brave New World expansion of Civilization V will remember the importance of Ideologies. These concepts helped align your nation with others that were like minded, as well as provide some bonuses as you unlocked more tenets.

In Civilization: Beyond Earth, it appears that affinity took over this role, and is broken down into three categories - Harmony, Purity and Supremacy. Once again, the choices made by players will help shape their people's identity, impacting cities and units aesthetically, as well as tying in with the all-new technology web.

The Not so Itsy Bitsy Technology Web

In previous iterations of Civilization, it was possible to explore every option on the technology tree, and this made your decisions in research all about the order in which you discovered concepts, knowing that eventually you could learn them all anyway. This led to a more careless approach, since you could always go back and correct your mistakes a few turns later. This is where the technology web comes in.

With Civilization: Beyond Earth, players will not be able to research all of the technologies on a single play through, and the linear tree was replaced with the open ended web. Depending on your affinity and personal preferences as a player, you very well could end up researching and learning completely different concepts than your competitor. Not only does this give players complete control on shaping your own unique experience, it also increases the replay value of the game, and is far less forgiving if you make a mistake.

Wolf Beatles and Sea Dragons, Oh My...

From what we've seen of Beyond Earth, the gameplay and combat should be in line with what veterans of the franchise have come to expect, but there are definitely some new concepts to learn. The tile-based, turn-based city progression still exists, and resources and terrain are still valuable. Military units will still protect what's important within your borders, plus conquer what you value outside of them.

For those who have come to dread dealing with barbarians, they were replaced by alien species native to each planet, and how you deal with them is completely up to you. They won't necessarily be hostile, so you could choose to co-exist, wipe them out or even attempt to integrate them into your society.

Where things start to branch off are the concepts of quests and the orbital layer. Quests are new in the Civilization franchise, and they allow you to work toward an affinity while simultaneously completing tasks that will provide certain bonuses. One example we've seen was the option to either domesticate or eradicate the alien species that have taken the place of barbarians, although we didn't get to view enough footage to see how this played out.

The orbital layer, on the other hand, works on the idea of satellites, of which there are several types. For example, early in a demo a player launched a Solar Collector directly over their city, which provided an increase in the energy yields of the tiles in its effective range. While we don't have all the details, there are definitely more functions for satellites, including using them as a resource in military conflicts.

Journey into the Unknown

Every video game franchise will eventually come to a point where the developer has to decide on what path the series will take. The goal is always to give the game new life, while simultaneously retaining its identity that longtime fans have come to expect with each installment. Civilization: Beyond Earth appears to be on the right track, with the gameplay and concepts familiar enough that we would be comfortable jumping right in, yet still feeling as if we're experiencing something the series has never given us in the past.

For more news and strategy related to Civilization: Beyond Earth, keep a tab open to Prima Games.