Community Review: Civilization: Beyond Earth

So Civilization: Beyond Earth came out last week and from what I can tell, the reaction has been slightly mixed.

Okay, let me rephrase that. The reviews weren't mixed, the reviews have been mostly positive, but Civ fans themselves seems a little divided.

I had a pretty hardcore Civ fan tell me it was 'crud'. I had another sink a ridiculous amount of time into it already, so that's probably a good sign. Me? I know so little about Civilization that I was scared to even write this Community Review, let alone have an 'informed' opinion on it.

So I'm sorry friends -- you're going to have to do all the heavy lifting on this one. How are you all finding the game so far?


Comments

    I'd say that it's a good game, but not so drastically different to Civ 5 to feel like a new game. It feels more like a solid standalone expansion to me. I think it's going to eke a little more life out of Civ 5 for me, but not become the massive time sink that I'd expect a new Civ game to.

      I think that's probably why I'm enjoying it so much. I devoted hundreds of hours to Civ 4 but Civ 5 I don't think I've even broken the 24 hour barrier (for various reasons). For me it's probably like getting to enjoy Civ 5 for the first time. Might even be enough for me to go back to Civ 5 for a second chance.

    Summary of my prior Civ experiences may put this in perspective...
    Civ 2: Played to death. First session was literally 16 hours. I was 15 or 16 at the time.
    Civ 3: Skipped. Wasn't PC gaming at the time.
    Civ 4: Played to death. Modded to death. Loved every aspect of it.
    Civ 5: Got at release. Played for a few hours. Sat on pile of shame (stopped PC gaming for a while) played a little of the expansions as they came out. Haven't devoted much time to it.

    So, BE. For me, BE is like getting to take a breath of fresh air and succumb to OneMoreTurnitis all over again. Maybe it's just that "I enjoy alternate numbered releases" but probably not. It's the small details that make me enjoy things. I love that units all upgrade at once. No more hunting down that single rifleman who is hiding somewhere. Just upgrade and go.

    The TechWeb... Wow. Yes yes yes. I love being able to go for my own goals in my own time, and ignore the things I don't care about. Was saying that in my first game I had Xeno Titans, and had totally ignored one of the most basic branches (Physics) - and I *loved* that I was able to do that! It's a little confusing / confronting when starting a new game and going for a new style of play, but I think that'll iron out in time.

    Some of the usual Civ things are still there (e.g. AI offers you a trade. You click accept and suddenly the trade isn't good enough.) but all in all I find myself enjoying it, and enjoying the Civ-In-Space vibe. To make another comparison, it's like SMAC2. Or... well SMAC1.5. Or SMAC-on-Civ-5-engine. And that's a good thing.

      God damnit... this is pencilled into next month's budget now. Thanks for giving it a good run-down!

      "Some of the usual Civ things are still there (e.g. AI offers you a trade. You click accept and suddenly the trade isn't good enough.) "

      Ha! That pisses me so much I typically vow to destroy the any civ who does it to me! :) Was amazed to see it pop up in BE still!

        Civ contacts me, asks me to help them in a war against some guy. I accept, because I was planning on invading them later anyway.

        Next turn, those 2 Civs make peace, leaving me at war.

        Original Civ now hates me because they see me as a warmonger for the war /they/ started! *tears hair out*

        The petty things that make us wipe a Civ out hey?

          I know right. Like I had a civ go to war with me and when I nuked them back into the stone age they called me the warmonger. They started it, I finished it, but I'm the bad man. AI Biased against humans.

            That always gave me the shits. I used to love taking out civs, but liberating the city states. Sure the Civ hates you and others hate you for wiping them out, but you get alll the love from city states :D

        I'm getting the one where I offer Open Borders for their Open Borders, and they tell me its not a good enough deal.
        Then the very next turn they offer the identical deal back to me...

      Yeah, all the benefits are things I enjoyed, too. Probably one of the more intuitive trade-route systems this iteration, as well.

      I have yet to play a Civ game that handled diplomacy in a satisfactory way, with the AI routinely offering me terrible, terrible, terrible deals and refusing to accept anything slanted even slightly evenly, no matter how long or friendly our history.

      "Hello! We'd like to have an open borders arrangement that only benefits us, offered to you at the low price of half your currency and an on-going fee charged to you!" How about you fuck off, AI.

      Also seems to dramatically underrate the power of a strong economy and bank balance. They sneer at the lack of military might, seemingly not realizing that a powerful economy can effortlessly raise an army the size of theirs in literally one turn.

      Other than that and the frequent annoyance of pop-up tutorials/reminders you really don't need and can't convince the game to forget about, I'd say the magic is still there. My first play session was somewhere around 9-10hrs.

      'One more turn' indeed.

        Oooh, yes, that's another good one. The trade routes are fantastic (and I can't remember if I was like that in Civ 5, see above) - "Here is a list of all the cities you can get to. Here are the benefits you'll get / give. Pick a city! We'll come back after a few trips to make sure you still want this route, too, just in case a better one opens up."

      My first Civ was Civ 2...on the PSone...I loved it.
      Civ 3 was great but going back to it it's now unplayable for me having played IV & V.
      Civ IV was immense. So many hours pumped into it. I was apprehensive when the details of V came out that it wouldn't have the playability of IV
      Civ V, I was wrong to doubt them

      As for BE, I know I shouldn't draw the comparison, but I couldn't get into Alpha Centauri at all because it was alien. The big appeal for Civ for me is playing through history. Hopefully BE will be different, I'll know when I pick it up, probably in the Xmas sale. Hopefully they utilise a few things from BE in Civ VI though such as the tech tree not being linear

    Am enjoying it though but I miss the visual impact of going up through the ages and being able to see when your Civ is progressing further than others not just by what units you have but the Age they are.

    I think I've made the mistake of overloading on Civ 5 in the week or so leading up to release. I love the changes they've made, but find I don't have the patience to play another turn-based at just this moment, which is a shame.

    What I have found so far is that I need to change the way I go about things. In Civ 5, I can usually technologically outstrip others civs and conquer using that advantage. However, the tech web makes that much more difficult here, which is probably the point.

    I'm in two minds about it. On the one hand, it grants the player a lot of freedom to build their colony how they choose to, and that goes a long way. I really enjoyed playing as Franco-Iberia, even though sponsors do not affect your playstyle as much as individual civs did in previous games. I played one game focusing on Harmony, then another bent on Supremacy, and was pleasantly surprised to see my society evolve in completely different ways whilst retaining a sense of growth.

    However, this huge amount of customization borders on sheer overload, and is also somewhat to the game's detriment. As I mentioned early, sponsors do not feel as unique or distinctive as civilizations did in previous games. In the two games I have played so far, rivalling colonies did not appear to make decisions based on their actual leader's lore-based ideologies, so it was strange to talk to a Purity-aligned KP leader after hearing one of her many Harmony-related quotations attributed to a wonder or a new technology. In other words, the personality the leaders have in the lore doesn't appear to have any impact on their playstyle, something I find most disappointing. The Techweb is an excellent concept, and while I did find myself selecting different paths, I often found myself getting confused in regards to what was required in order to build towards one of the victory conditions. And that's my main problem with Beyond Earth: The sheer amount of customization allows you to do whatever you wish, but it also means that you need to pay attention to victory conditions unless you intend to conquer the planet through force. But that honestly shouldn't be a problem after the first few playthroughs. And hopefully the modding community can develop something that will make the faction leaders act more in line with their personalities in the lore.

    So, while Beyond Earth does have it's issues, they stem from a sheer overload of customization. It'll take more playthroughs to become fully accustomed to the Techweb, but afterwards I can certainly see myself enjoying this new entry in the Civilization franchise a whole lot more.

    Last edited 27/10/14 11:31 am

    I am enjoying it a lot over all. That's not to say it couldn't do with a few tweaks and fixes, but the core game is solid and definitely gives me one-more-turn-itis. . Have played pretty much the entire franchise prior and enjoyed them all and most were improved over time, so expect the same here.

    I gave into the hype and preordered last week on GameTap to avoid Aussie Tax. Release came and went and no email with my key. Emailed GameTap and they took two days to tell me that had actually sold out of keys but it stayed on the site regardless! They're refunding me but I missed playing this weekend and the preorder bonus. Not in a hurry to order through them again!

    Unfortunately there are some serious syncing bugs to be ironed out. I was playing a multiplayer game (Not hosting) and whenever the game synced I lost stuff that I gained from random events, for example; I stole a bunch of science from Pan-Asia which gave me a tech for a wonder and was one of the techs needed to complete the game. After a few turns the game re-synced, when the sync was done I still needed 12 turns to research the tech, lost the wonder in the process cause I couldn't build it any more but the next tech in the chain I was researching had indeed saved the progress I made towards it.

    Just little things like that which make me want to wait till the game is sprayed with some insecticide before I'll give it another go.

    On the bright side it does show a lot of promise on becoming a great addition to the series. I'm very fond of the outpost mechanic in setting up a city, it gives the player an opportunity to gank a city the AI attempts to build on your land before it suddenly has 60 strength and is untouchable.

    So far enjoying it, but I'm yet to finish my first playthrough and haven't even gone to war with another civ. Quests are a good way to pass the turns when you don't have a big army to manage, but this game is VERY much like Civ V with the brave new world expansion. So much so that some of the dialogue appears to be copy-pasted:

    Your empire is famed for its strong economy. Perhaps...

    becomes

    Your empire is famed for its energy reserves. Perhaps...

    Having not played Civ 5 at all, I've really been looking forward to this.
    Wish I could find a review from someone who could do so without comparisons to Civ5. Last one I played was 2/alpha centauri.

      I guess that is hard for the reviewers to do, as the overwhelming sense I have from reading several reviews already is "feels like a Civ V exp pack or big mod than a new game".
      The consensus seems to be that cities still work and grow the same, resources still work the same way, you win by still either out-researching or out-gunning your opponents, and that they could have done more to make it seem like a distinctly different game rather than what I get the feeling it is, being "Civ V on a different planet."
      Don't get me wrong, I'm a big fan of Civ V, got several hundred hours in it and associated mods, but yeah I guess it is hard for reviewers to separate it from Civ V given the many similarities.

      Last edited 27/10/14 12:56 pm

      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IydX8R2xxe4&list=UUy1Ms_5qBTawC-k7PVjHXKQ

      It's a little long but hey, it's a suggestion :). Comparisons are still made to Civ 5 because the game is ultimately built on that engine and systems but does a good job at showing the game as is, and compares/contrasts to alpha centauri

    Been a big Civ fan since Civ1. For me, Civ III, IV and V were great improvements but all lacked a cool feature from Civ1 and II: The reward of earning upgrades to your Throne Room or Palace! Starting a new turn only to discover you've earned the option of decking out your own crib with ever-increasing luxury was something so simple yet gratifying it literally kept me addicted to OneMoreTurnitis.

    Was hoping BE would bring back that feature... ;(

    I've only played it relatively briefly so far; I've found the aliens to be tremendously aggressive - and one of the three play "styles" more or less rules out aggressive actions against them. I'm still getting a handle on how to balance that out.

    But then, while I've played the Civ games (starting from Civ 1 on the Amiga) a fair bit, I was never actually very *good* at them.

      Lesson one: stay well away from the siege worms!

        I had two pop up about four squares away from my starting city (between that and my second - and at the time only other - city). I was not happy.

    I think someone else asked this but I can't remember.
    I haven't played Civ5 and was wondering if I was going to play only one whether it would be better to play Civ5 or BE?

      Civ 5 with its expansions currently has more depth and more interesting systems than Beyond Earth. Expansions to Beyond Earth may or may not change that, but for right now if you've played neither, I'd probably recommend Civ 5.

        Awesome. Thanks for that. I was kind of getting that impression as well from peoples comments and the reviews. Now to wait for the next steam sale.

        Thank you for answering that question!! This has been exactly what I've been wondering!

        There are a lot of systems in Civ V when you include the expansions. Probably an overwhelming amount if you are trying to learn all at once. I think start with the base game until you get the hang of it.

    Ok, I've been playing it for about 20 hours, so these are my thoughts.

    Firstly, while yes, this is very much a highly modded Civ V, there's still a lot of major differences which make the game play out quite differently.

    The biggest change is the tech web. Previously, because of the linearity of the tech tree, you could fairly easily guess where you were at compared with your opponents; if you have pikemen and your neighbour rocks up to your border with riflemen, you're probably screwed. On the other hand in Beyond Earth, you can show up with your shiny new robo-tank, only to discover your enemy has dudes riding alien death-horses, and you realise he's just as teched up as you are, just in a different direction.

    Also, the tech tree allows you to research techs based on specific needs. For example, if your economy needs a bit of an improvement, you can research techs leading to energy improvements. Or health, culture, science etc. Another difference is that, unique affinity units aside, unit improvements are often tied to increases in affinity, rather than direct tech upgrades. This makes quests quite useful, as finishing quests often lead to affinity points.

    The unit upgrade system changes combat strategy quite a bit. Since quite often you're upgrading existing units, instead of replacing them throughout the game, keeping a standing army makes a great deal of sense, if you can afford it. Over time, you get to customise your units for your play style, with one of two choices available at each upgrade level.

    If this is sounding a bit like AC, then the good news is that the influences from its predecessor are greater than at first glance. Little snippets every time you gain an affinity level aren't quite as in depth as the Interludes from AC, but they do add a nice sense of progression to the game, as you aren't simple counting off turns; the citizens of your colony are becoming more acclimatised to your new world as time goes on. The quests also help with this; there are tons of them, and they often provide nice little storylines, not to mention very useful benefits. Once I got a random quest that made trade units invisible to aliens, which was nice.

    Speaking of aliens, they are a BIG deal in Beyond Earth. Unlike Civ V, where Barbarians were not generally much more than an early game annoyance, the aliens are BE are much like their Mindworm predecessors; numerous, dangerous and perfectly capable of completely ruining your day if you piss them off. To balance this, they won't attack on sight unless you annoy them, and if you leave them alone, it's perfectly fine to have some hanging out next to your city. They may eat your workers on occasion though.

    There's more I could say, about the orbital system, the double edged sword that is Miasma, and other things, but that's a decent first impression I think.

    Long term CIV player here, been playing them since Civ1 pretty much and love Civ V.

    As stated elsewhere, if your new to the series, Civ V with all the addons is definitely better.

    CIV:BE is very daunting at first, because unlike the Civ, where techs and units are familiar, all the technologies, buildings and units are not commonly known, so it is hard to differentiate between which are necessary / important, and which aren't worth bothering about. It isn't very intuitive, and feels like for the next 10 games i will simply just be stabbing in the dark to get familiar with and try the new stuff.

    Key Positives about BE:
    - Cool new landscape / features / theme & concept
    - New open tech trees will be cool to play with
    - New simplified unit upgrade system, rather than 100s of units and manual upgrading
    - New Affinity feature is cool
    - New spy/intrigue system is more interactive
    - Huge potential for expansions
    - Quests are a cool distraction to the main game (Especially the multi-part quests), but quest decisions are lame. i can see the whole quest system getting annoying after 10+ games though

    Negatives:
    - New UI is all one color making it hard to navigate
    - unit queuing system & city screens are seriously clunky
    - Unit & Building naming & logos do nothing to help you work out whats what
    - AI is very average at best
    - Diplomacy is worse than Civ V was
    - Aliens aren't really that varied.. basically just cooler barbarians.
    - Since it's all new tech buildings & units are made up, which makes it hard to easily determine their function, and importance.
    - Why is there no alien CIVs! (huge potential there so it will be an expansion i am guessing?)

    Last edited 27/10/14 2:20 pm

    I love the premise of the game but I can't help but shake the feeling that I want more control, from the type of people who I have in my colony, the laws I create, the long term developmet and even the type of food the eat.

    I like it a lot, but I wish there were more Civs and that allies would help me in large scale wars. Can't wait for the continued support, an expansion like Brave New World would be amazing. The terrain looks beautiful, loving the new espionage options (Coup De'tat!). Love the tech web, but wish it was a little clearer.

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