Sunday, 23 November 2014

Beyond Earth: It’s Civ Jim, but not as we know it!

I bought Civilisation: Beyond Earth on Friday and it was with great excitement that I started my first game. The prospect of living in harmony with the planet and sending siege worms after my enemies in the forefront of my mind. From the screenshots I had seen it looked enough like the other Civilisation games that I felt comfortable enough to dive straight in. A few hours later I emerged somewhat lost, on the verge of losing and feeling rather great about it!

I have played the civilisation series since it’s first iteration and had fallen in to a something of a pro-forma approach to the game. I would pursue the technological victory and knew the must-have wonders and techs from a relatively linear tech tree. In keeping at the front of the technological curve I usually had enough of an advantage that my small high-tech force could hold other civs at bay while I completed my spaceship.

After finishing that first (impulse) game I realised that I needed to go back to basics and learn how this game worked. For starters could no longer rely upon a linear tech-tree, neatly divided up in to ages. In addition I have never heard of any of these future technologies or building (yes, I admit it makes sense!) and therefore had very little idea of what I actually needed in order to maximise my science output! This meant a greater reliance on the in-game advisors who, while good at recommending techs, do not really explain what their end goal is.

Errrr, help I’m lost!

I also had to get to grips with this idea of affinity (what type of ideology would I follow on this new land) and I had decided that living in harmony with the planet was for me. Therefore I pursued anything that had a harmony symbol on it. While I did gain some great harmony perks, this left me vulnerable later in the game as I had ignored other techs because they were labelled as supremacy or purity. Little did I realise the use of the ‘a little of column A, a little from column B’ approach. There is something to be said for explorers that can build extra expeditions (gained at supremacy level 1) and also were not attacked by aliens (purity level 1)!

The big benefit of the Harmony affinity is the lovely green hue your buildings have.

Again with the move away from linear tech progression I found myself having to re-learn unit progression. I could not rely on my knowledge that machine-guns are (generally) better than cross bows. I need to have a look at unit stats and factors in for the fact that some units upgrade as you increase levels in your dominant affinity, meaning that your early game combat units can become your late game power-houses.

I am still smiling now as I contemplate my approach to my next game, knowing full well that I really need to read the manual/examine the tech web. With all that said it’s just too much fun to get halfway through a game, realise you have missed something critical and then spend the rest of it trying to find a coping strategy.

If you are intrigued you can pick up Civilisation: Beyond Earth on Steam for around £30. As for me I am going to swap harmonising with the planet for turning my folks in to robots, what could possibly go wrong?

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