Sid Meyers’ newest iteration of his immensely popular “Civilization” series is set to launch in Fall of 2014. The game is called “Civilization: Beyond Earth.” At first glance the game seems to be a reboot of an earlier Sid Meyers game launched in 1999 called “Sid Meyer’s Alpha Centauri,” which didn’t carry the “Civilization” name because of copyright issues.
According to IGN, “‘Alpha Centauri’ wasn’t called ‘Civilization’ because Firaxis and publisher Electronic Arts didn’t own the rights to the name. Firaxis regained the rights to ‘Civilization’ when it was bought by 2K, but the rights to the ‘Alpha Centauri’ name remain at Electronic Arts.”
While the game does have several similarities, it is a new reimaging of the “Civilization”game space. Mike Hutter of Game Informer asked the co-lead designer, Dave McDonough, “Why not just call it ‘Alpha Centauri?'”
There is a lot of inspiration from ‘Alpha Centauri’ in this game. We even have a couple of people who worked on that game still on the team and helping us make the game. It’s not ‘Alpha Centauri 2.’ It’s not a sequel. It’s a whole new imagining of what civilization in the future, civilization in space could be. There are many homages and nods and winks to ‘Alpha Centauri.’ And there’s a huge creative and spiritual debt we owe to the groundwork that game laid, but this is a whole new idea.
“Beyond Earth” allows players an opportunity to throw off the shackles of human history and shape their own destiny. Typically “Civilization” games have an endpoint in the modern age.
“There’s no modern age arrival point at which time you can crown a winner, so we could decide what it means to win,” McDonough told Game Informer. “We decided to make it the next great leap, the next great turning point in the story of the human race. You get to decide what that is.”
Sid Meyers’ “Civilization: Beyond Earth” offers five different types of victory conditions that are tied to the new technology web. Technologies are categorized into three different types or affinities. Purity technologies help humanity make their new home more closely resemble Earth. Harmony options adapt settlers rather than the terrain for a symbiotic existence. Supremacy disregards the land and focuses on humanity’s independence from its environment involving a move toward a machine dependent existence. Each of these affinities has a related victory condition. The other two victories are a traditional military conquest and first contact, which involves finding evidence of alien life and making contact.
McDonough believes that the biggest change from traditional “Civilization” games is the switch from the traditional, linear tech tree to a more open-ended Tech web system.
“We’re huge fans of sci-fi from every part of pop culture and history, so we went to that and imagined a web where you start in the middle, surrounded by techs that are relatively recognizable based on conventional technology, and you go outward into any frontier you can imagine,” McDonough told IGN, “It’s also important to note that you’re not going to get all the technologies in a single game. The clash between your technological limits will drive a lot of the in-game play. The web design allows you to play the game in a discovery-oriented mode.”
While competing against other human civilization players will also have to contend with alien life that differs greatly from the traditional barbarians of games past. McDonough explains, “Civ 5’s barbarians are really more like a speed bump or an early-game punching bag for you to kind of get your military chops before you’re ready to get into a real war. In this game, they’re completely different. It’s really a whole other opponent that plays completely asymmetrically to any of the human players.”
Even with all these changes Beyond Earth will still feel very familiar to fans of the Civilization franchise. Civilization: Beyond Earth will arrive in 2014 for PC.