Civilization: Beyond Earth – Mod or future greatness?

I fully expect to see two basic review styles of Civilization: Beyond Earth. One will lean heavily towards “its a mod/expansion for Civ V”, while the other will dig into specific changes to try and explain why it ultimately feels like a very different game. Let’s call the first one an EG-style review, just to bring back an old joke.

Anyone who has played Civ V a decent amount and plays one or two games of Civ:BE before posting impressions will likely EG it. I think the main reason for this is that you CAN play Civ:BE like you would a game of Civ V and have some success, especially if the difficulty is set low enough. Like a lot of games, if you only scratch the surface of something you might miss the good stuff a layer or two deeper.

Having dug into the game a bit, my take is that Civ:BE is the result of letting the devs spend 90% of their efforts on design and systems, with just 10% focused on the engine, graphics, and all the other superficial stuff. The game plays like a loosely focused story of space colonization, where the direction and ending of the tale is in your hands. It has more of a narrative feel than Civ V, with more focus on the mysteries of space, aliens, and how future technology might shape the human race.

I don’t think the game today is as deep and complex as Civ V after it’s expansions, but it still has plenty of interesting decisions and systems going for it. Unit variety is limited, but it does cover all the bases. Also the way units upgrade is new, ties into your overall progress, and isn’t the ‘new replace old’ system of Civ V. Your starting military unit will self-evolve (rather than require you to pay to upgrade him), and his evolution path isn’t just linear or exclusively tied to researching a technology.

It’s also painfully clear that Civ:BE is a good game, but will be a great game once its ‘finish’ with future expansions. The game needs more civs (especially civs not from earth), more aliens (along with deeper, city-state style options to become a bigger factor), and just overall more ‘stuff’. Also while the game has been technically solid, some bugs can be found and technical glitches do occur, but then it is a Civ game near release so that’s almost expected.

About SynCaine

Former hardcore raider turned casual gamer.
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4 Responses to Civilization: Beyond Earth – Mod or future greatness?

  1. pkudude99 says:

    My review is here:

    I’ve got 7 completed games in now, 48 achievements, and Steam says over 70 hours. Yeah, I kinda junkied on it.

    Given so much play time in such a short period — yeah, I definitely like it and find it quite compelling. But I can also see the flaws, so look forward to the patches and expansions that will smooth them out and make it deeper.

  2. I am not unhappy that I bought Civ V and each of the expansions on launch day for full price. I got my money’s worth in play time. But the patch and development arc followed by Civ V has made me content to wait until things get worked out, which also will likely have the virtue of saving me money. I still enjoy Civ V, so I can play that while I wait for Civ:BE to get fleshed out and rise to its potential.

  3. Annon says:

    Honestly, the game strikes me as being a fairly weak version of civ. The ai is underwhelming. The aliens seem to do nothing but spin in place (why do you have that fence to keep them away from your cities – they dont ever seem to bother mine). The game is interminably slow – especially in the beginning where you seem to spam the next turn button while waiting for interesting skills and units to finish. The pathing of units seems terrible – instead of just crossing over some unit that is right next door to the space you want your units seemingly will wander way out of their way over multiple turns to get in place. The diplomacy seems pointless (and there is no diplomacy victory). And even though they have tried to make the game non-linear it still is, because you still need to pick up the same skills every time if you want to proceed in a reasonably successful fashion. Also victory is so meaningless – you almost dont notice when it happens. All this being said, its still playable, just disappointing.

    • SynCaine says:

      I wish they hadn’t hidden the alien aggression number (or made it easier to see if it isn’t hidden), and put more emphasis on it. So you could be friendly with the aliens and they would join in on your side during wars, all the way to them being so mad that they launch armies against your cities to raze them.

      Instead its a bit shallow right now; staying friendly with them means your units can pass next to them, killing a few angers them for a bit, but killing aliens you come across isn’t difficult past the beginning of the game.

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