Yesterday, Firaxis Games officially announced their latest installment of the Civ franchise. Four years after the release Civilization V, they are expanding into the last frontier known to man. This isn’t the first time Sid Meier has boldly gone where no man has gone before, though. Let’s not forget that Alpha Centauri (1999) featured alien world colonization as well. But technology has greatly advanced since then and the devs, along with one of the greatest strategy game experts of the century, take things even further.
Unlike earlier games of the Civ series, you will not start on an Earth-like planet in the midst of the stone age, but as astronauts on an alien world. There are currently three types of planets: Lush, Airy, and Fungal. Instead of a city, you start with a shabby outpost, but will later be able to build your very own luscious metropolises. The game is not limited to one planet as in vanilla Civ V; in order to expand to other worlds you will be using the aforementioned outposts.
But be wary, proud space traveller: you are not alone in this universe. Human adversaries will dominate the mid to late game, but first you will have to deal with the planets’ natives. Depending on your play style, you can either negotiate with them and make friends or send those sorry underdeveloped bastards to space hell. Diplomacy will be available right from the beginning. Researching ‘Writing’ will be quite literally a thing from the past.
You win the game by completing one of (currently) four tasks:
1. Successfully contact an ancient civilization
2. Send a satellite into Earth’s orbit, if it’s still there, and contact survivors
3. Take the remaining refugees from Earth to live on ‘your’ new planet
4. Return to the universe’s blue wonder, again if it’s still there
2 to 4 seem pretty neatly intertwined, but it remains a question if your actions decide the fate of the blue planet. There are mixed statements around the internet about whether 1 is actually a victory condition or just another feature.
Beyond the setting, most core mechanics will stay the same. Hex-fields, turn-based, FoW; Beyond Earth is not reinventing the genre. Orbital units, such as satellites, could provide a very interesting mechanic to the series, though. The idea of cloning Alpha Centauri and Civilization may be extremely enticing to Sci Fi fans, especially with the extensive modding capabilities of its predecessors in mind. If everything goes according to plan, the game will be released in Autumn 2014.