This is the intro to the almost-out Civilisation: Beyond Earth. I hope you weren’t expecting a merry jaunt as humanity smiles its way to the stars along a rainbow made of puppies.
Beyond Earth takes place immediately after a space victory in Civilisation V, sort of like a direct sequel; where the old game ended with a ship heading for the stars, that’s where you begin this one.
You’re meant to play Civ games as a demi-God, looking down from above and worrying only about the biggest picture. Things like pollution and unhappiness are counters to manage, not actual things that affect real people. Even in the midst of nuclear war, Civ V’s pastures remain green, its seas a tranquil shade of blue.
So this heart-wrenching sequence, where a daughter leaves her father behind — forever — hits me right in the guts. It’s seeing a Civ game from the ground floor, and this Civ game has gone wrong. It’s dystopian. Children of Men-meets-Deep Impact.
In this game, humanity isn’t reaching for the stars. It’s running from the Earth.
Is this what it’s like for the people of my Civ when, wracked by economic hardship and threatened by more powerful neighbours, I sink my remaining energy into a desperate bid for a space victory?
If it is, no wonder we never see Civ games from a more personal viewpoint. It’s too depressing. We’d never get anything done.