Just in time for you to have finally kicked your Civilization 5 habit, Sid Meier’s addictive strategy series is getting another installation. This time, the series will take mankind to faraway worlds with Civilization: Beyond Earth.
The last full Civilization release was Civilization V, which abandoned the unit-stacking and square-tile interface of previous versions for a hexagonal grid and revamped combat system. Civilization: Beyond Earth appears to retain that hex format, but it will replace barbarians with an alien species, apparently.
Civilization: Beyond Earth will mark a huge departure for the turn-based strategy series, as the game will see humans colonizing a new planet, one free from Earth’s history but not humans’ need to expand, develop technologies, go to war, and occasionally restart the game because the computer totally cheated to get to that resource before you… Ahem. That means that the new Civilization will see mankind starting where previous Civ games left off: the space race. That also means that the game’s makers had to invent their own history for the future of human kind.
Speaking with Polygon, representatives from Civilization: Beyond Earth developer Firaxis said that the new title’s future history will hinge on an event called The Great Mistake:
“The state of Earth a couple hundred years from now becomes rather dire,” according to the Civilization developer, which also made the wildly popular XCOM reboot. Something happened on Earth that pushed humanity out into the stars in order to start over. The team behind Beyond Earth isn’t going to give players too much in the way of back story, though, so players may never know whether it was environmental degradation, alien attack, solar flare, or something entirely other that made man seek out another planet.
“[For] the player, we’re leaving it vague and allowing their imagination to fill the gaps,” a Firaxis representative said of the new Civilization‘s back story. (Our money is on a one-two punch of supervolcano and zombie apocalypse.)
The future history of Civilization isn’t the only new element Firaxis will bring to the game. In addition to the development of ancient technologies, players will be saying goodbye to familiar cultures from Earth’s actual history. No more slingshotting the Egyptians toward a cultural victory with a Stonehenge-Great Library-Aesthetics combination. Instead, Beyond Earth players will take control of fictional future factions such as the American Reclamation Corporation or the Panasian Cooperative.
As Kotaku notes, Civilization players will have to adapt to the different characteristics of these factions. They’ll also be able to kit out their civilizations before even starting the game, choosing what sort of colonists will take what kinds of cargo onto what sort of ship in order to settle a new planet. Those initial decisions will combine with the faction’s characteristics to ensure that each Beyond Earth playthrough is a different experience.
The technology progression in Civilization: Beyond Earth will also be different from previous Civ games. Instead of the quite linear Technology Tree from games past, the new Civilization features a “tech web” of sorts. Players will be able to branch out after choosing from a few initial paths, with the option of switching paths later. That change will also likely make for notably different playthroughs.
“Once you go to ecology, for example,” Firaxis told Kotaku, “that can lead into technologies for terraforming… Whereas if you go down the engineering route, that leads to civil support, cybernetics, and other technologies instead.”
As with any Civilization game, the choices you make at any point in your Beyond Earth session will have a huge impact on how the rest of your game plays out. What won’t change are the exploratory aspects of the game, the diplomatic facet, and, of course, the choice to just go wild and win the game via conquest.
We are absolutely looking forward to dropping an antimatter weapon on the capital of whatever rival society is three eras ahead of us, and it looks like we won’t have to wait too long before we can do just that. Sid Meier’s Civilization: Beyond Earth will hit Linux, Mac, and Windows PC this fall for $50.