Good news! My weekend wasn’t so horribly eaten up by Civ that you didn’t get a page today!

That’s not to say that Beyond Earth isn’t as addictive as its predecessors. It’s very much a game in the Civ V mould, which isn’t massively surprising – in fact, the entire premise of the game essentially screams Alpha Centauri on the Civ V engine.

Okay, those are the negative points. Let’s talk about the AWESOME STUFF!

The premise of the game is that you are in charge of a colony that, after Earth fails and is evacuated, lands on a suitable alien planet to begin life anew. You must contend with hostile alien wildlife, an often inhospitable landscape, and the conniving machinations of other colonies that are aiming to establish themselves on this new planet. The setting, as a whole, carries with it a mix of both sadness and genuine joyful curiosity, which makes each and every one of your rival colonies seem sympathetic – even the more warlike ones.

Major changes include the rearrangement of the technology tree, and the replacement of religion with the subtly different ‘affinities’, as well as an all-new tileset with hazards unique to the game.

Let’s talk about technology first. Unlike in Civ, technology is arranged in a ‘web’ rather than a tree – the upshot being that it is possible to get to complex technologies through multiple paths. This is an excellent idea, particularly for BE’s playstyle. Whereas in Civ, most players will research everything along a tree’s path, it’s entirely possible to neglect whole branches of research in the web, in order to focus on technologies that better mesh with your playstyle. You can even delve deeper into the technologies, which doesn’t get you any closer to unlocking other technologies, but vastly improves the options available to you.

And usually, this deep research will assist you in the form of Affinity Points. There are three types of affinity in BE: Harmony, which emphasises taming and integrating the alien lifeforms into one’s colony (and DNA); Purity, which emphasises the defence of the human species, and represents the very best of humanity’s scientific efforts; and Supremacy, which focuses on the development and deployment of robotics to ensure humanity’s dominance over their new alien homeworld. Gaining points with these affinities allows the player to unlock special abilities and new units, giving them advantages in certain scenarios and contributing towards the expanded endgame goals.

The endgame itself is sufficiently varied and interesting – There are a good number of them, which I won’t go into here other than the fact that you CAN win by dominating the entire planet; but that’s by and far the most boring option. There is a wealth of fascinating storyline to be experienced by pursuing one of the other endings –  I myself am attempting to commune with the planet via the Transcendence ending type, which is supported substantially by my Harmony affinity. All my units look like the Guyver. And that’s AWESOME. Seriously, nothing should instill more fear in my enemies than a bunch of angry-looking bio-armoured soldiers tromping over the hill with a pack of deadly acid-spitting alien scorpions at their beck and call.

I could go on and on and on about stuff that I love about Beyond Earth, so in order to ensure that I’m not boring you, I’m going to summarise my thoughts on it. If you enjoy a non-linear game with plenty of room to manouevre in terms of grand strategy and individual tactics, then you’re gonna love this game. If you have a curious mind and enjoy stories told in snippet format, then you’re gonna love this game. If you’re looking for a deep strategic game with a plenitude of different units for you to employ in an intelligent fashion, you are most certainly gonna love this game.

Really, there’s something for everyone in Beyond Earth, so long as you at least enjoy turn-based strategy games. It’s a different beast altogether from Civ V, and I’d be loathe to declare one as being better than the other. But I can safely assure you that Beyond Earth is so much more than a mod or a reskin for Civ V. It requires a different way of thinking, and it has the added bonus of telling a story as it goes along.

A story that you yourself are capable of writing.

Anyways, enough rambling for now, as I have shirts to iron! See you all on Friday, for the cover page of the next arc of Elf Blood… The Hands of Mara!