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Civilization: Beyond Earth - First Impressions

So, I picked myself up a copy. Now, note that I've played Civ III, IV, and V previously, so this is coming from someone who's hit 'Next Turn' a lot. Like, a whole lot. I've sent endless archers to their deaths, riled up every world leader with everything I've done, and developed a strange vendetta against Brazil. Let's see how that past experience influences my take on Beyond Earth.

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Now, the concept was excellent. I've always sort of wanted Civilization to continue on past the modern era with some sort of ultimate end-game antics. So, understandably, I was excited about Beyond Earth. And, initially, it looked like a lot of fun. After some gameplay, though, I'm a bit mixed on it.

They've done away with currency. Which I suppose is okay since they've directly replaced it with energy. Cool so far.

Culture's still there, and it does pretty much the same thing. Though Social Policies have been done away with, they're replaced with a weird sort of tree thing that kind of resembles them, although with decidedly less exciting bonuses. Okay.

Happiness is now Health. This actually makes a lot of sense, since building scum-infested cities in Civ V was a perfectly viable option, so long as they had tons of arenas to watch people die in. Clinics and Pharmacies work so much better, though it really only changed in name.

Research trees have been revamped to allow for more specialization without placing your Civilization at a severe disadvantage. Before, you'd be completely screwed if you didn't progress vaguely along the right lines, but now, with branches and leaves, you can sort of pick what's best for your style of gameplay. That's nice.

They've revamped the way unit upgrades work, though, and that's nice. They upgrade significantly alongside your affinities, and get special abilities and whatnot. Makes early game units compete with late-game units in a nice way that stops units from being horrifically obsolete. This is a major upside- I love keeping my units around long enough to upgrade them and get significant advantages over their older selves.

Faith is gone. Am I particularly sad about that? Nope. Never really did dig that aspect of Civilization, but I can understand how people can be upset about it. They've added in something called 'Affinities' now, and they sort of act like a macabre mix between Social Policies and Religion. You get them as you make decisions ingame (See later point.) and research tech. They allow you to upgrade your units and give you a few unique bonuses. Unique as in every one of them has a slightly different flavor of the same thing. Are we talking about Rocky Road vs Banana Split? Nope. More like Vanilla versus Vanilla Bean versus French Vanilla. Basically the same thing.

Now. Decisions. So many decisions. Every single turn. Every time you build a building. Every time you move something somewhere. Quest Decision. SO MANY QUEST DECISIONS. I suppose that's great for customization, but it gets incredibly repetitive. Choose between +1 Energy and +1 Culture. Okay. Cool. Now stop asking me every turn. Do I want to harvest the alien lifeforms, or shall I ride them gloriously into battle? Perhaps I should make them pets. It really comes down to 'Which bonus do I want?' and skimming the decision list for whatever gets me Energy, because, unlike in other Civilization games, the economy is far too easy to dominate.

The combat is cool, but identical to Civ V. That's not a bad thing, really, because Civ V had amazing gameplay, but it's uninspired for a completely new release.

The aliens, too. They're like Barbarians, but on steroids. My highly advanced combat rovers and armor-clad marines seem to get obliterated at every turn by odd wolf-bugs and various cicadas. You can get advantages against them, I suppose, but really the alien lifeforms are more of a nuisance than anything else.

So, my overall opinion of the game? It's an expansion pack. A full-price expansion pack.

It's identical to Civ V in all ways that matter, so it's pretty pointless to pick it up if you already like how Civilization plays. Now, will they add more to it soon? I hope so. But right now, it's shining as an uninspired, if solid, addition to the Civilization legacy. I'll keep an eye on it for now, but overall I'm unimpressed.

Really, though, what did I expect? Civilization has always been about slightly tweaking an already successful formula, and for that, I can't blame them. I guess I was expecting more from something that completely abandons the notion of teaching your fledgling citizens to read and work simple tools.

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Posted in Computer Games Post Date 06/04/2017


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