Review: Civilization Beyond Earth

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I love strategy games.

Strategy games were the games that first got me into the hobby, there was a good chance you would find me sitting at my computer playing Xcom: UFO defence, Warcraft, or passing the mouse around with my friends playing a hot seat game of Heroes of Might and Magic.

Then I discovered Civilization II and my world suddenly exploded.

My night were consumed by building a civilization from a small group of nomadic people who had just set down roots and settled in a new area, looking to shape the world around them, taking them out of the stone age and into the future, a future where the culture I built was the dominate force in that little universe.

And then came Alpha Centauri.

If my nights were consumed by Civilization then my every thought was consumed by Alpha Centauri. The very concept of building a completely new society on an alien would, with every possibility open to me, opened my mind in ways more than just video games, it awakened my imagination!

So you can see how excited I was for Beyond Earth, it could be one of those experiences I had with Alpha Centauri, an almost spiritual awaking of my imagination. Unfortunately though, it didn’t give me the same, but that by no measure means its bad.

If you played any of the recent Civ games (4 or 5) this will immediately feel familiar, as if you’ve slumped on that same sofa you’ve sat on for years but there are all these extra little surprises that, while unexpected, are great additions to Civ.tech

The first one of these you’ll notice is likely the tech “web”, instead of choosing from a string of technologies to research that need to be researched one after another, you chose from many connected techs that don’t necessarily follow one after another, but give you flexibility in where your efforts are focused. Its a nice little touch that gives you the feeling of more control, even if you end up following a similar path most of the time. Another nice little touch is “sub technologies”, once a tech is researched you unlock the ability to research the sub techs, they take less time to finish, but often are more specialised or give you bonuses only useful if you are following a particular victory path.

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Another big addition you will notice when you play your first game is the addition of quests, the larger of these give you a bit of story and narrative that gives you a good sense of ownership, purpose and flavour over your civilization. there are also smaller quests that trigger the first time to build a building, giving you the choice over 2 small bonus for that building. the quest system is an exciting surprise the first time you play a game though, but on subsequent play’s can feel a bit repetitive.

There is also Affinities, when researching new sub techs and completing some quests, you get affinity points in one of 3 affinities, Harmony, Purity and Supremacy. ultimately these end up being used to upgrade unit designs, and each affinity has its advantages and disadvantages that will decided how you go about combat.

And not that I’ve mentioned combat, lets talk about it. there is really no difference between Beyond Earth and Civ 5. So if you liked that combat then you will like it here.

There are a few other nice things additions to the normal format, like the way you set up your civilization, instead of picking a civilization and the bonuses of those, you pick “sponsor” and some other bonuses that are mostly useful at the start of the game.

All of this adds up to a nice addition to the Civ collection, nothing really innovative, but some really solid new ideas that breath life into the gameplay that those who aren’t hard core fans might find grabs there attention and those that are hardcore fans will enjoy discovering.

So you want you want to know is should I buy it.

If you love turn based strategy or Civ games, then it is a must buy at $50 or less
If your not a fan of strategy you can probably give it a miss.
If you are in the middle, then maybe wait till you can get is on a steam sale.

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