What I’ve Learned By Playing Sid Meier’s Civilization: Beyond Earth

I’ve been playing Sid Meier’s Civilization: Beyond Earth for a while, particularly in multiplayer to round out the experience of the team member composing our review of the game. I won’t do any scoring or critiquing myself, but I’d like to share some facts for those who have made the decision to join me in making planetfall on one of the game’s random, alien worlds. Here are a few things you should know to expect before breaking orbit, starting with the fact that…

The intro movie will give you feels

Brace yourself. Sid Meier’s Civilization: Beyond Earth, like its predecessors, begins with a CGI film setting the stage for your new world conquests. Unlike its predecessors, this one begins at the end. While it accomplishes the same goals of preparing you for the possibility of the greatness you and your civilization will achieve, effectively inciting you to get started, the movie contrasts this optimism with the bleakness of “Old Earth” falling into ruin. You’re treated to scenes of people saying goodbye to one another, and it’s from the viewpoint of those who are left behind. Their fate isn’t stated with certainty, but with phrasing such as “in the twilight of Earth’s great civilizations,” it’s not difficult to ascertain that thing’s aren’t particularly promising. It’s also not clear for how long your pioneers have been in stasis before you see the one focal traveller snap to alertness, but given the nature of interstellar travel, it’s reasonable to believe that those who remained are long since gone. To say that this intensifies the need to succeed and survive is understatement. And this won’t be easy, on account of the fact that…

Your first encounter with a Siege Worm will not go well

Maybe you’ve played a fair share of the Civilization games. You know not to leave your first city unguarded on account of roaming barbarians or, occasionally, prides of lions looking for tasty humans to nosh upon. You’ll find Sid Meier’s Civilization: Beyond Earth no different in that regard, as the resident alien life will come exploring and, if you wander near to their nests, they attack without hesitation. So you build a soldier or a gunner and start on the 500 bug kills achievement. You gain a promotion or two and are feeling pretty good for yourself.
Then you encounter and open fire upon a siege worm and are one-hit-killed. So you try a ranged attack and take off a tenth of its health, which it recovers by steeping into poison gasses before it devours that unit as well. You’ve already realized you’ve made an irreconcilable mistake, or perhaps you’re questioning whether Sid Meier’s Civilization: Beyond Earth has improperly balanced things, and that’s before the colossal annelid mows across your city’s borders and lays waste to your best laid plans. It’s a valuable lesson, and you will learn it one way or another. Unless you’re able to take advantage of terrain and range, just steer clear of the things initially. Also hope that they stay off of your roads because…

Trade is key to your survival

The way that trade between cities is implemented has experienced a lot of (no pun intended) back-and-forth throughout the history of the Civilization series. Traditionally, trade routes were established by sending convoy units that had to traverse the play field without interruption. As the series progressed, this functionality was occasionally altered or reduced to automatic effects that occurred from menu-based decisions, but fan mods were quickly produced to reimplement classic functionality. The prior iteration, Civilization V, didn’t officially add trade units until the final expansion, Brave New World.
Sid Meier’s Civilization: Beyond Earth features the Trade Convoy and Trade Vessel from day one, and you will need them to keep your civilization running in the black. Once again, you’ll need to clear a path between the points of interest, which include your own cities, other players’ cities, outposts, and independent stations. Roads are beneficial but unnecessary to linking these locations. Instead, places will become viable trade targets by removing any poison clouds that litter the terrain from the start. Of course, hostile units can put an immediate end to your economic aspirations, but options will become available to repel the alien life. Human antagonists will still be up to you to dissuade. Ultimately, you’ll have your own personal United Parcel Service criss-crossing the map and serving an integral role in your budgeting while you decide to take…

Just One More Turn

Sid Meier’s Civilization: Beyond Earth is much more than a re-skin of Civilization V. Many things are new, but much is comfortably familiar. Be prepared to find yourself accidentally playing until dawn, just like you’re used to.
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