Sid Meier’s Civilization: Beyond Earth – Review
Follow Genre: Turn-Based Strategy
Developer: Firaxis Games
Publisher: 2K Games
Platform: PC

Sid Meier’s Civilization: Beyond Earth – Review

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Good: refreshing, addictive
Bad: bugs, not very innovative
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Sid Meier’s Civilization: Beyond Earth is the latest addition in the Civilization series, a spiritual successor to the award winning 1999 game ‘Alpha Centauri’. While it continues to build on some of additions Civilization V introduced, Beyond Earth adds new mechanics and units in a very refreshing package.



In a break with usual Civilization storyline where the player starts out with a primitive settlement and plays to ‘evolve’ this ethnic nation to a more modern one, Beyond Earth picks up where its predecessors usually ended: the future. After the (unexplained, but very ominous) ‘great mistake’ mankind took to space to colonize new worlds capable of sustaining human life. These unknown worlds contain unexplored anomalies like initially toxic miasma and are home to all sorts of alien life. Whether to seek a new life in harmony with this new world or conquer it with superior human strength and knowledge is up to you.



It is easy to get lost in the grand scheme of controlling your units and assets, but when zooming in the attention to detail becomes apparent. Each unit is beautifully crafted and unique to your chosen path, the world tiles are diverse and very alien. Although sufficiently detailed enough for a strategy game, it becomes almost a shame they didn’t chose to add some more detail to their great designs. Furthermore, Beyond Earth can be surprisingly taxing on your hardware on high settings, especially at later stages in the game when lots of units and buildings have to be rendered. This becomes especially true on higher resolutions, IF you can get the game to utilize all these extra pixels at all. Currently a lot of players (yours truly included) report having issues with monitors that offer either >1080p resolutions, or refresh rates over 60Hz, as well as random game crashes. Currently most are forced to play at sub Full HD resolutions, usually at sub 30FPS framerates. Although some workarounds exist (like simply playing in windowed mode) it is pretty annoying they missed such a blatant bug before release, but forum threads indicate a patch is in the works.


A special reference to the artwork has to be made. The developers really went above and beyond (hehe) here, delivering some truly beautiful pieces which are rightfully prominently featured when setting up a game. While only making an appearance when just starting a playthrough, it really sets the mood with these slightly futuristic and very good-looking pieces of art; and the box art fits right in with that theme of futuristic minimalism which really makes it stand out from most other civilization games, or even most current games for that matter.



Although often overlooked in this genre, Beyond Earth features an impressive soundtrack which often instills the right sense of wonder and alienation in the player if you chose to follow the storyline. It’s good enough to not become repetitive, yet unobtrusive enough to not distract from your strategic deliberations. Every unit has its distinctive sound, which gets progressively heavier and louder as you unlock new and stronger units.


Like in Civilization V, the player can move units around the map over hexagonal tiles, grow their capital with workers and construct buildings and wonders, eventually founding new colonies which evolve into cities themselves. By producing ‘science’ players can research new technologies which are presented in a web, which replaces the previous linear research grid. By researching technologies and finishing quests players can also pick an affinity, either Harmony, Supremacy or Purity. Harmony promotes harmony with the alien world, using alien lifeforms and terrain elements like the miasma-tiles to your advantage, Supremacy focuses on evolving humankind into a new and better race, while choosing Purity means trying to protect the human race as it is. This choice will influence your game a lot, since it limits units, wonders and buildings that are available to you. Another thing produced by your cities is culture, which allows you to buy virtues which provide bonuses suited to a specific playstyle. You will also need to keep an eye on food, health and energy you produce to make sure you can keep up with demands from your ever-growing cities.

A major new feature is the possibility of launching orbital units. These can provide an area of effect bonus to your ground units, produce more energy for your cities, or straight up cause massive destruction from space. While Civilization V more often than not ended up being a race for nukes, it could very well be that the aptly named ‘Planet Carver’ orbital unit ends up being the new (awesome) end-game.


Setting up a game starts off with choosing a sponsor, based on ethnic races, each providing a long term fixed bonus. In the next step you chose who to bring along this epic journey, and depending on the colonist you pick you will get a specific production bonus. You can also chose a spacecraft which will give a map bonus like revealing the coastlines or alien nests on the map. In your spacecraft, you get to bring one piece of cargo, like one extra population in your first city, or a worker unit. A major decision is which map to play on. Each one has its benefits and drawbacks, ranging from an earth-like Terran planet, to a water-based world, with many small islands. The exoplanets map pack available at launch adds some more diversity among these.

Whether you go for the purity route and conquer your fellow settlers, or try to achieve harmony through co-operation, a game always start with your lander touching down on a random patch of new earth. With an explorer you can quickly scout the surrounding lands, and discover resource pods giving you a quick boost in the early stages. These explorer units can also mount expeditions on artifacts, which consumes an expedition unit the explorer caries for a random boost which ranges from Alien Units placed under your control, to a boost of Culture, Energy or Affinity points,

There are a number of possible victory scenarios, which can range from the very familiar ‘conquer all your opponents’ to rescuing the people you left behind on earth. These possible victories make the game even more diverse than it already is, making sure you won’t get bored quick. Especially when keeping in mind that a ‘quick’ playthrough on easy difficulty, on the shortest gamemode quickly turns into a 7 hour adventure. Easily one of the most addictive games around, one does not simply takea break in a campaign to conquer a brand new world.


While it isn’t entirely bug free, Beyond Earth delivers smooth and attractive graphics. Although the point is being made it isn’t much more than a ‘Civ V DLC’, it has a lot of new and interesting features, setting it apart sufficiently to warrant its own release. While some features might be familiar, the new additions are nice surprises that take some practice to master, making that eventual victory even sweeter. The strategic aspects have been fleshed out further, providing hours of content for fans of the genre. The futuristic theme is a very nice deviation from the slightly repetitive Civilization theme this series has followed up to this release. In the age of digital downloads, this just might be the game that comes in a box pretty enough to warrant the purchase of a physical copy.

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