|Release: Q3 2014|
|Screen Resolution: 480p-1080p|
by Angelo M. D'Argenio
The world has died. You and a few others have set off for another world in the hopes of rebuilding the human race. The only problem with this project? Humans. We don’t think alike, we don’t work together, and building a civilization is hard. Will the human race prosper, or will it blink out of existence with its dying planet and dimming star? This is Civilization: Beyond Earth, the newest sci-fi civilization game that we got to see at E3 2014.
At its most basic level, Civilization: Beyond Earth is still a lot like Civ 5. It’s still a hexagonal grid that you get to move units around, forming colonies and going to war with other civilizations. However, the very premise of Beyond Earth makes the mechanics differ in some pretty huge ways. Since you are already technologically advanced, you aren’t quite reaching things you “can” do but rather what you “should” do, and to conceptualize this there is a new system in place, the technology web.
Instead of a technology tree, which starts at the bottom and blossoms upward, the technology web starts at a node and starts branching out to other nodes. It’s not linear. You can get to new technologies from multiple other technological paths. There’s no direction to it, so you can start at basically any node and start working your way to any other node that is adjacent. Different civs will start with different nodes active, so your path through the technology web will be different every time you play.
However, technology is linked to more than just cool things that you can build. It’s linked to your philosophy of what it means to be human, and this is a central part of the game. There are three philosophies--supremacy, harmony and purity--and each tech will alter your affinity to one of the three.
Supremacists believe in the ability for humanity to conquer all, and not necessarily militarily. They believe that human intelligence can overcome any obstacle, and as such they use technology to stress their dominance. Can’t breathe an atmosphere? Forcefully terraform it. Low on food? Use 3D printers to print organic matter. They have access to lots and lots of robotics, cybernetics and high technology advances in the web and they understandably have a lot of military might, what with their walking spider mechs and robotic assault rifle wielding troops.
Harmonists believe that the reason the original earth died is because we didn’t work with the planet, but against it, and they don’t want to remake that mistake. Harmonists do not believe in altering a world to suit them, but altering themselves to suit the world. They have a lot of biological advances, allowing them to alter their DNA, commune with aliens, and more. Can’t breathe in an atmosphere? Alter your lungs. They are very well equipped to utilize the natural resources their new alien world gives to them, as they need to process them less than any other faction.
Purists believe that the status quo is just fine. We don’t need to research ultra technology to dominate worlds nor do we need to change ourselves to suit those worlds. Rather, the key to continuing existence is to continue the traditions of the human race. Instead of terraforming or altering their lungs, they will simply find areas of breathable atmosphere or breathe through oxygen tanks. They will build houses instead of arcologies and plant crops instead of genetically modifying them. Their goal is to retain the history of our once proud earth, and as such they have several cultural and diplomacy upgrades on the tech web.
The alien planet has a lot of natural features that all factions will be able to use in different ways. For example, the planet is littered with supply packs which were dropped there before the settlers ever came. These packs are filled with supplies from earth, just waiting and ready to be used. However, there will also be natural flora, fauna and minerals that you can take advantage of. Perhaps you want to go hunting for some alien meat? Maybe you’d like alien beasts to help plow your fields or as a war mount? Maybe you will excavate an alien relic and find a powerful ancient weapon, or a new means to terraforming the planet to your desires.
There is one last element to the game, and that is missions. You’ll always have a lot of missions available to you, and they change depending on how you play the game. For example, let’s say that you are running low on currency. You might have a mission that tells you to earn 30 science and its reward will be 500 cash. That way you can use missions to fill in the gaps of your strategy, and even unlock new nodes on the tech web before you normally would be able to.
Unfortunately there wasn’t much more to show at E3 this year. The game is still in a very early alpha and a lot is going to change before the game officially releases. That being said, it looks awesome, a worthy successor to both the Civ and Alpha Centauri franchises.
Angelo M. D'Argenio
Date: June 13, 2014