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#0: 04-14-2014 @ 02:34:47 pm
Link to this Post: http://www.machvergil.com/gamenight/messages.php?go=7697#7697

MachVergilMachVergil

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Announced at PAX East 2014 (Sadly I missed this announcement), the next game from Firaxas will be a spiritual successor to Alpha Centauri called "Civilization:Beyond Earth."  You can read more about it at this Joystiq article. I am a pretty big fan of Alpha Centauri and while EA's owning of that name stops this game from baring the name, a sci-fi post-earth based Civ V style game sounds like the sorta thing I'd love to play.


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#1: 08-26-2014 @ 10:19:12 am
Link to this Post: http://www.machvergil.com/gamenight/messages.php?go=8639#8639

MachVergilMachVergil

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Want to watch 55 minutes of Civ:Beyond Earth livestream that includes some gameplay?  If so, here ya go!


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#2: 09-02-2014 @ 06:30:26 am
Link to this Post: http://www.machvergil.com/gamenight/messages.php?go=8665#8665

MachVergilMachVergil

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More gameplay footage from PAX.


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#3: 10-01-2014 @ 06:21:54 am
Link to this Post: http://www.machvergil.com/gamenight/messages.php?go=8798#8798

MachVergilMachVergil

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This just under 10 minute trailer actually does the best job so far I've seen of explaining the game.


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#4: 10-27-2014 @ 08:55:28 am
Link to this Post: http://www.machvergil.com/gamenight/messages.php?go=8962#8962

MachVergilMachVergil

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I had my concerns about if I'd enjoy Sid Meier's Civilization: Beyond Earth.  I've had a very rough time with Civ V:Brave New World, and I have a very high opinion of Alpha Centarui, the game Beyond Earth might be a spiritual successor to (more on that later). Despite those two concerns, I've finished 3 full games of Beyond Earth at this point and have no interest in stopping. The game has hooked me in a way I don't think a 4X has since Civ V first came out, and before that Alpha Centauri itself.

I want to start with a blunt point though:  I've seen a few reviews and comments online about how much Beyond Earth is not Alpha Centauri and calling it a spiritual successor is inaccurate.  Generally speaking I agree.  Beyond Earth is less a sequel to Alpha Centauri than it is a sequel to Civ V specifically set in the future. 

When I played Alpha Centauri for the first time, I felt like they had taken Civ 2 and allowed its game design to be reworked and re-dictated by the change in theme and setting. Customizing your units, a tech web, political and economic victories added to the classic science or conquest options (a first unless I recall wrong of Civ 2), and factions that had extremely drastic and different benefits.  I also loved the way that the factions were based on ideology and not strictly nationalism (it was pretty clear that the Human Hive were Chinese for example, but less so the Spartans or the Gaians), which felt like a big change from Civilization's approach to representing specific nations and cultures.  Alpha Centauri just felt like a game full of options and ways to play, in ways that were, at the time, new and unique.

Beyond Earth, by comparison, feels like they took Civilization V, put on a space-based coat of paint, and reworked some high-level systems to fit the theme, but generally kept the fundamentals the same.  As a result the experience feels new and fresh, certainly enough so to call it's own game rather than a mod or expansion (that's my feeling on it anyway).  Considering the ways that Civ V changed the formula though it feels safe by comparison to Civ V or Alpha Centarui from a gameplay stand point, and also safe in a lot of the actual content and concepts.

Let me start by singing the game's praises.  Some of what I love about Beyond Earth is what it lacks.  It has "Stations" which are the game's Civ V style City States.  However the way they work they are little more than places you can trade with - the affect they have on the political scene in Civ V is gone.  And good riddance. Beyond Earth gets back to feeling like I'm playing against the other factions, not the other factions and a handful of little states that have way more political sway than they should.  I also like that while it has "Health," which is similar sot Civ V's Happiness, I find it much easier to manage and control than in Civ V:BNW (disclaimer: I never had problems controlling happiness before BNW, which is why I call it out specifically).

Beyond Earth also lacks a World Congress system.  While the Alpha Centauri player in me considers that an oversight, after having to suffer under all the various implementations of it from Civ V, I'm also going to say good riddance to it.  Yes this unfortunately robs us of a victory option (and more on why that's a problem later),  I can honestly say while I'm in the weeds, playing the game, I do not miss begging and buying votes from AIs in order to win, or more accurately, not lose.

While culture as it works in Civ V appears in Beyond Earth, there is not a culture victory option.  Instead culture is used as a resource to improve your entire empire in various ways through "Virtues."  This works more or less like the Policies in Civ V, but without the end-game of leading to a victory in anyway.  Again I am a-okay with this.  The difference the virtues make in improving your empire are powerful enough without having to shoe-horn a victory condition around it.

You know what else isn't here that I don't miss?  Religions. Would not add to this game.  At all. Affinities are close enough.

Now let me go over the new stuff that I love.  I love the new intrigue system. I love how much more damage you can do with it compared to previous civ games. I love that you have a ton more options with it than just stealing tech or influencing elections. I love how that damage is limitedby having to build up intrigue in a city, and that the defending player can also put spies to work defending against intrigue.  I love that setting up a network in a city gives you all sorts of awesome information about it to help inform other actions you may want to take. I wish it were clearer what determines how many spies you have and how you acquire more though.

I love the Planetary Wonders as a victory condition.  I like the idea of building a big thing, the building of that thing alerts everyone that you've built it, and that you can block the victory by diving into the enemy territory and blowing it up (there's a "however" attached to this but I'll get to that in a minute).

I love that you get to customize your start as much as you do. 

I love that when units gain veterancy the only thing you need to worry about is "it go stronger."  Good.  That's what I wanted it to do.  I'm less interested in figuring out under what limited circumstances it got stronger like in Civ V.

To my surprise I love the tech web.  I thought I'd find it confusing and confounding, but actually I really like the flexibility it gives me.  I also like that it forces me to think about what I'm doing however, because otherwise it is possible to focus in on improving my empire and forget about my military, affinities, or even victory conditions.

I overall like the Affinities, definitely more than how Ideologies are implemented in Civ V:BNW.  Each of ideologies look cool and have a neat aesthetic affect on the factions that adopt them and their units.  I like how it can become an appropriate sticking point to diplomatic relations in the end game. The part of me that loves high-tech future-military-stuff loves the unit design on many of the units.  I love how sleek and robotic Supremacy's units are, how Imperium of Man the Purity stuff is (Right down to power armored units with banner poles and HUGE TANKS), and how alien the Harmony stuff is.

I like the quest system though I think it is misnamed.  Most of your "Quests" boil down to "we built a thing, and we can give it one of two bonuses, which do we want?"  There are a few that I would say are "quests" like stuff from the Culper Cell, or the steps you have to complete to get the Contact victory, but I feel like this system, while a good idea, still needs some improvement.

I love that the alien lifeforms, who serve as the game's replacement for barbarians, do not act as a force for raw chaos and destruction, but instead seem to work on an agenda of "We won't fuck with you so long as you don't fuck with us."  This makes them more fun to manage as you need to decide if earning the ire of the nearby aliens is worth expanding to a given area.  I also like how miasma is handled - specifically that you have the option of either changing yourself so it benefits you, or removing it. That decision fits well with the Affinity system and its themes.

I also dig the music.  Some of the tracks that play when I get caught in war are fun to listen to and definitely get stuck in my head. That's not to say the whole soundtrack is a winner, but I've overall enjoyed its presence. 

Now for the stuff I don't care for.  First and foremost as much as I do love the idea of the Planetary Wonders, I don't love that 4 out of the 5 ways to win the game boils down to "Build Wonder, do thing with it."  Sure, "Do thing with it" varies.  For example pouring 1000 Strength worth of units into an Emancipation Gate is much easier than settling 20 colonists from the Exodus Gate is (unless of course you're at war and you have to dedicate your military away from said Emancipation Gate - then things get interesting), and keeping a Beacon running for the Contact victory is just a matter of hitting next turn until you win (so long as your economy is strong enough to keep the lights on, which is again not hard).  It doesn't change the fact that winning feels very similar regardless of which of these routes you take, and honestly, can be pulled off by a player who is behind and just sits in his/her quiet corner and builds their ticket to win town while no one looks. At this point I'm actually looking forward to the game where I play for conquest because I feel that one will actually force me to beat all the other players on the map.

I feel like if there is anything to this game that is damning it is the victory conditions. In conquest victory you have to beat every player militarily - fine that makes sense.  In a classic "science" victory, you have to win the race up the tech-tree against everyone else.  In a political victory you have to exert enough influence to get the other players to vote for you (or in Civ V be rich enough to buy off more city-states) which still feels like you are beating other players.  When you win with one of the Planetary Wonders in Beyond Earth it feels like the only thing you did better than anyone else is keeping your eyes on the prize.  I suppose you could argue that you're "winning a race" in that regard much like with the science victory example, but in practice I don't think the AI does a good enough job of going "OH SHIT, HE JUST BUILT A THINGY, WE SHOULD REALLY STORM IN THERE AND BLOW IT UP BEFORE HE WINS THE GAME."  Maybe it does at higher difficulties though?    This is a difficult thing for me because while I do feel like the victories need work, I still prefer this over the condition Diplomatic and Cultural victories are in Civ V:BNW.

That said I suppose the thing that does work about the victory conditions is they require you to build a somewhat balanced civilization.  Without science you can't do the research needed to be able to build the planetary wonder. Without economy/production, you can't build the thing in a reasonable amount of time.  Without military you probably won't be able to defend it if someone should get pissed you built it.  While there might be an argument there, the fact is I have yet to win a game of Beyond Earth by being the player with the highest score, and that's probably funky.

Aside from that I have a lot of nitpicks that I feel would have made the game better for me, but none of which stop me from enjoying the game or recommending it to others.

  1. I am disappointed that the factions this time are so clearly nationalistic.  I guess the way I always see our future "journey to colonies a new world" is it would require such a monumental human effort that we'd have to have succeeded in establishing a Planetary State before it happened. I like the Alpha Centauri theory of the mission starting unified, but then breaking apart over ideological differences, not nationalist ones, on the way to the new world.  I would have preferred that over feeling like I'm playing America, France/Spain, Pan-Asia, Australia, Russia, Africa, India, and South America again.  This also would have lined up better with the idea that Beyond Earth represents a continuation of what happens to Earth after the events of Civ V, since in theory a single nation would have won the Space Victory for this game to even happen.
  2. I think I am starting to agree with something DMZ has pointed out to me, though perhaps not to the same extent.  I do wish the aliens acted a little bit more like WEAPON in FF7 - that is to say if you build stuff that wreaks the planet like Boreholes or Petroleum plants, the aliens get more hostile to you.
  3. I like that Affinity is not a mutually exclusive decision.  I like that on the road to Supremacy I might pick up some Harmony or Purity points because they have stuff that would be useful to my current goals, especially since after about 13 points in an affinity (the point where you can start building the victory condition) you kinda get diminishing returns for going further.  That said one would think that the goals of specifically Harmony and Purity are so against each other that they should show more incompatibility.
  4. I agree with one review I read that complained about all the science and affinity quotes being read by the same narrator, instead of being given each their own voice actor a-la Alpha Centauri.  It would have given the faction leaders more character if we had heard their quotes in their voice.
  5. I wish you could close the Unit Upgrade window without making a choice if you wanted to hold that choice for a potential hybrid affinity choice.
  6. I wish the aliens weren't quite so good at securing the sea.  That said I've yet to play a game where the sea mattered that much - which is not to say it won't happen sometime in the near future.
  7. Clearly the range of trade routes increase with time.  I wish we knew what determined that.
  8. The AI can yell at me for attacking/killing stations they had trade with, but I cannot do the same to them, nor am I warned when a station I was trading with is under attack. I wish I could invoke protection of a station on some basic level.
  9. While I feel like I've wrapped my head around Health, I still hate how it is used as a mechanic specifically to deter rapid conquest or expansion.  I'm sorry Firaxis, but rapid conquest happened in history and will continue to happen and building game mechanics to deter it feels forced and not fun.
  10. I wish the Worker AI was a bit smarter about not filling your civilization with so many Terrascapes that your economy can't support them anymore.

 

This post was edited by machvergil on October 28, 2014, 10:51 am


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#5: 10-29-2014 @ 11:06:18 am
Link to this Post: http://www.machvergil.com/gamenight/messages.php?go=8981#8981

MachVergilMachVergil

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Having won my fourth game (conquest victory to go then I start ramping up the difficulty and messing with custom settings) I am starting to have some concerns about the game's balance from a combat stand-point. If they are going to tie unit power advancement to affinity, which I like mind you, they should make sure the affinities are balanced.  At this point I don't think they are.

Disclaimer: At this point I don't have a reliable out-of-game resource to compare numbers, so I am going off of experience and memory at this point.

At this point I've done the following victory conditions:

  • Emancipation
  • Contact
  • Promised Land
  • Transcendence

And over the course of those games I've been forced to at least some war as each of the three affinities.  As such I've come across the following concerns:

  • Supremacy seems to have the highest raw unit strength at spawn for their exclusive units.  This seems especially true with the CNDR and ANGEL units, with the CNDR's base strength being over 50 while Xeno Swarm and Battlesuit are both less than 50.  The Angel also spawns with over 100 in BOTH melee AND ranged strength, which is higher than Xeno Titan's melee strength.  It is still less than the LEV Destroyer's ranged strength, but the LEV Destroyer's melee power is such that it wouldn't last long against an ANGEL if it got in range.
  • Supremacy's power doesn't seem to come with any sort of meaningful downside.  Their units do not seem more expensive, though that's subjective to your game of course. Firaxite is hard to come by then they are of course expensive, but that's also true of Xenomass and Floatstone. One course argue I suppose that Xenomass isn't that rare since chances are you can find an alien nest somewhere nearby, but I feel like LARGE Xenomass deposits are rarer...

    Either way, Supremacy's units do not seem to cost MORE Firaxite, or MORE Energy than their equivalents in Purity or Harmony.
  • Supremacy's armies specialize in networking with adjacent units so they are more powerful en-masse.  This makes Supremacy armies more powerful once you get up a ball going it can steamroll pretty well.
  • Purity and Harmony have their ways to devastate Supremacy but they require more work to do.  While Supremacy's artillery is more mobile, Purity's is stronger, and as such Purity has a really easy time obliterating cities in just a few bombardments, and can tear down approaching armies as they approach.  That said, if a few CNDR's get in melee range they should have no problem tearing LEV Tanks and LEV Destroyers down.  Harmony can totally out-strength Supremacy as well, but only if you do the "in Miasma" bonus or the "lone-wolf" bonuses and have those conditions true.  So that makes it harder for Harmony to be able to efficient trade for their units.  It almost feels like they need to try and spread miasma the way Starcraft 2 Zerg players spread creep to make sure they can fight effectively (if they do that I think they could be really terrifying note).
  • All the while, there's the fact that Purity get's a 5% bonus vs Aliens, and that includes Harmony's Xeno Swarm, Xeno Titan, Xeno Cavalry, etc.  While that won't make up for the 40% from lone-wolf or miasma, it will make a difference in otherwise fair trades.
  • The Emancipation Gate is, IMO, the easiest of the three Affinity wins to pull off.  Building it is no easier than the Exodus Gate or Mind Flower, but if you have a strong economy and access to ANGELs, you can get the 1,000 Strength worth of troops through the gate in 10 turns, even with the 1 unit per turn send limit, which is much faster than waiting the 30ish turns for the Mind Flower to turn on or how far you will probably have to walk your earthling settlers to available land to establish your 2.5 settlements to win.  That said, the Emancipation Gate requires you to lower your defenses in order to finish, since you are pouring your armies into the gate not into defending it, while Harmony and Purity can both continue to fight to defend their Planetary Wonder while it does its thing.

The good news is, as a 4X, Beyond Earth is complicated, and I don't think these issues immediately translate into unsurmountable problems.  Yeah Purity has an edge on Harmony, but at the end of the day that edge doesn't save them from you if you are the stronger empire with the larger army.  At the end of the day there's also a lot of symmetry as well, since all 3 side's upgraded Rovers and Missile Rovers gain the ability to go over water to bolster the game's otherwise limited naval forces. 


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#6: 03-12-2015 @ 06:50:46 am
Link to this Post: http://www.machvergil.com/gamenight/messages.php?go=9843#9843

MachVergilMachVergil

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Sounds like the folks are looking at making a 2.0 for Beyond Earth

I just hope they don't "add" a Civ V:BNW style Diplomacy system to it.  I did not miss that at all while playing Beyond Earth

This post was edited by machvergil on March 12, 2015, 9:51 am


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#7: 05-18-2015 @ 05:06:10 am
Link to this Post: http://www.machvergil.com/gamenight/messages.php?go=10278#10278

MachVergilMachVergil

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Expansion announced. Adds sea colonization, new units, improved diplomacy.  No word of playable aliens.


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#8: 05-18-2015 @ 03:53:56 pm
Link to this Post: http://www.machvergil.com/gamenight/messages.php?go=10280#10280

dmz2112dmz2112

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Good.  Game deserves saving.


Son of a bitch it's all quaggan backpacks!

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