by Sergio Brinkhuis
reviewed on PC
To affinity and beyond
Affinities also play a part in military progression. Gone are the days of dozens of different unit types that continuously go obsolete and require extortionately priced upgrades. Instead, new affinity levels bring free upgrades in strength and movement that are applied to existing units automatically, while offering a choice between two different perks to allow a certain measure of customization.
On paper, Affinities suggest boundless opportunities for creating diversity between the three paths. In reality the only time you will really feel that you’re different is when other Civs start making house calls complaining about your chosen path. Units are different, but not to the point that you’d want to change your play style to suit them.
Fans expected a spiritual successor to Alpha Centauri and I can imagine many will consider Beyond Earth to have come up short. There simply is too much missing, chief of which is the ability to terraform and customise unit design. Adding insult to injury, the game’s presentation leaves much to be desired. I love the new styling of the interface, but a paltry launch movie is all you get to help you get into the spirit of the game and there is an over reliance on players reading meaty pieces of text to stay current on the status of the planet’s goings on. I still don’t understand why Bombarding with an artillery unit should require a different shortkey than doing so with an air unit, and I fail to fathom what is so hard about properly highlighting a trade unit’s previous route in a list that potentially offers well over a hundred cities.
Still, those willing to look beyond their dreams of a new Alpha Centauri will find a lot to enjoy. Shooting satellites into the new Orbital Layer to buff the effectiveness of my military or to increase farm output has proven to add an interesting new way to enhance my empire. Quests pop up regularly, most of which offer simple choices to add one bonus or another to your buildings while others guide you in your research or explorations.
The Affinities system may lack depth but it does serve beautifully as a friendly nudge to try out various victory conditions. As the premise of each speaks far more to the imagination than vanilla Civ’s victory conditions, I had lots of fun trying to achieve each one. Even more fun was keeping other Civs from achieving their victories. Late-game mad dashes to find and destroy the Exodus gate of one opponent, only to get word that another completed the Emancipation gate, have proven to be absolutely exhilarating.
So here we have yet another controversial Firaxis release. Civilization: Beyond Earth is not perfect and it is difficult to see it as a full-price product. It doesn’t live up to the admittedly high expectations, lacks in presentation and feels more like an expansion than a standalone game.
Yet what it does do, is deliver fun by the bucketload. It has been ages since I have had this much fun discovering everything that a new Civ had to offer. Exploring the planet, digging for artifacts, figuring out how to best deal with the various affinities and new technologies… It’s been nothing short of an adventure.
A fun journey of discovery and adventure
Presentation is lacking, Affinity system could have been so much more.