Archive for the ‘Civilization’ Category

Beyond Earth

Sunday, November 2nd, 2014

This weekend we played the new Civilization Beyond Earth. Firaxis’ fresh approach on the Alpha Centauri game concept. Since the original Civilization from 1991 one way to win the game has always been the space victory. By assembling a spacecraft and sending it to Alpha Centauri you finish the game. One early spinoff was Alpha Centauri where you played a Terran colonist faction on an alien world.

The newest incarnation of the Civilization series is Beyond Earth. It applies the Civilization V engine on the exploration and colonization of an alien world. I really like the cinematic trailer of the game.

Beyond Earth plays very much like Civ5 (i.e. hexgrid, single unit per hex, culture trees). Some things are just labled differently. Gold is now energy, happiness is now health. There are also some additions to the game, which in most cases are improvements:


Quests and random events from Civ4 are back in the game. Sometimes you just have to do something (like kill a specific alien life form, build a new city, research a technology etc.) to get a reward, while sometimes you are faced with a decision. Depending on how you decide specific future events may be triggered. This makes for interesting gameplay, at least until you have encountered all random events. Most of the events are triggered once you build a specific building for the first time thereby each building has a small additional benefit which becomes available at that time.


There are still the flyer types from Civ3-Civ5 (i.e. based in a city with an operational range of some hexes).There are however also few flying field units. While Civ5 had the helicopter gunships, they were no real flyers. They needed to get aboard a transport (which is included in every unit in Civ5 and CivBE once the seagoing technology is researched). In CivBE flying field units can directly fly across sea hexes making crossing of seas quick (no embark/debark movement required) and independent of the naval movement technology, as well as allowing to attack naval units and transports at sea.


The aliens in CivBE replace the barbarians from previous editions of the game. There are much more present from the beginning of the game on and some (like the siege worm or the sea dragon) are very powerful. There are some ways to tame them however which can grant you a significant boost to your meager starting forces.

Orbital Infrastructures

You may build satellites, which stay over designated areas and provide some benefit (like +1 energy in covered hexes). How the orbital mechanics are supposed to work is not exactly clear to me, since geostationary positioning should only be possible at the equator, but anyway. There are units like the missile launcher which can attack the orbital infrastructure.

Technology Web

The new way how technologies are linked feels much more realistic. Up to Civ5 technology is arranged in a tree. Now it is a web and you may choose any technology that is adjacent to a technology you previously developed for research. Technologies also have up to three sub-technologies each, which may be researched once the primary technology has been developed.
In previous versions of Civ unit upgrade became available once respective technologies were researched. Now it develops according to your progress in harmony, purity or supremacy (new concepts of CivBE). Unit upgrade is then free and automatic.

Alien Artifacts

Not only are there resource pods from earth, which are the equivalent of the ancient ruins from civ but there are also some places where you can start a dig with an explorer unit. Digging takes a few turns but the rewards are often larger than the energy, research etc. you gain from the pods.

Other things which changed

Trade routes to your own cities now not only yield food and production at the same time but also boost the economy of the sending city. Unfortunately it does not highlight the previous trade route for caravans that have to be reassigned.
Cities do not spawn instantaneously when the settler is activated. It takes a couple of turns until the new settlement has expanded to the six surrounding hexes. Only then the city becomes available for production etc.
Spies are handled very differently. You perform operations beginning with setting up a network
Some terrain improvements like oil wells have upkeep costs, not just the roads as in Civ5.

What I would have liked

The icons for the wonders could have been more clear. Sometimes, especially in your first game, it is difficult to see which new improvement, associated to a technology you are researching, is a wonder and which is just a building.
In multiplayer hot seat the completion of the excavations appears very briefly only screen after you press the finish turn button. That way you don’t have time to read it.
With all the new tile improvements a canal and an airfield (like in Civ3) would have been useful.
Flyers like the drone can only attack naval units once they fly across the sea, currently it seems you can’t attack directly from land, which seems to be an oversight.
The tooltip doesn’t show if you have researched the required technology for building terrain improvements, so unless you know the required technologies you may move your worker to a specific hex only to find out that you can’t build the improvement yet.
I miss the great persons, especially the great general, which was always useful if you wanted to extend your borders to some critical resources without founding new cities.


I like the game very much and give it a solid recommendation for all fans of the Civilization series. What I don’t understand is Steam’s pricing policy. If you can wait a day or two for the Amazon delivery or go to a retailer you can save

EDIT: In the meantime the first patch has changed a few things. Previous trade routes are indicated better, some changes to abilities etc.