I tried to help settlers colonize a new planet (Earth becomes uninhabitable after we screw it up in a big way) in our first hands-on with a pre-alpha build of the upcoming game Civilization: Beyond Earth early last week. I was briefed on how to get around, dig into the new tech tree, and potentially deal with arriving factions, but I kind of glossed over all of that in hopes of taking down a big ol’ Siege Worm or two.
I started out in an area called the Lush Biome where the idea was to take the explorer unit from my base and go explore, with the hopes of finding anything that could help us. But these guys are not a combat unit at all so they were quickly trampled by the green miasma-eating aliens that spawned up from a point just above my base. Angry at dying so soon, I sent my only combat unit up to take care of business, but they were quickly surrounded and whittled down to just a few members. It wasn’t but a couple of turns before my one little hex of nearly dead troops was surrounded.
Down but not out, I quickly generated new units and used my base’s defenses to hold the little guys off. That almost dead unit was able to level up and become stronger, too. I was eventually able to take out that troublesome alien spawn point, get a new explorer unit to start exploring nearby ruins, and even build up some defenses. Meanwhile, leaders of other factions were knocking on my door, and none of them were willing to play nice. If that wasn’t enough, I quickly got to a point to where massive Siege Worms were drilling underground and then coming up to attack my base. The plan I had to build a beacon to distract them and then take them out from behind was never going to be realized. Tactical satellite building? Psssh. I was going to have to leave this demo session without achieving anything.
The three or four dozen turns I had to play Civ: Beyond Earth weren’t enough to dig down deep. I barely got to touch the massive web of a tech tree that the game brings. In this web you start out in the very middle with habitation and expand outward. Even with only a few moves I was able to branch out into some deep science fiction ideas. Computing could quickly move into things like transcendental math, terraforming, or synthetic thought. Going off on a completely unique path would be very easy in this game.
Quests? Nope. Not enough time. Some popped up, but I had my hands full. Taking on these quests are how you’ll dig into the story and learn more about humanity’s new home.
I also didn’t get to interact much with any of the leaders or learn their affinities and preferences for humanity’s future. But from what I saw in my brief session, that stuff is pretty interesting. Some groups want humanity to preserve itself without the use of cybernetics, while others think that humanity needs to evolve into something like a native species. What’s clear is that none of them agree. Each’s factions beliefs are reflected in their talk, military units, and even their architecture. I would have needed much more time to begin exploring these approaches. Hopefully I can do that soon.
But I was able to take out a single Siege Worm before my time was up. This is a city-sized beast that takes multiple units to take out — one we were directed to avoid. I took it down with desperate measures and felt a bit better about myself. In my game, humanity was probably still screwed. But at least I accomplished something on this harsh alien planet.
Civilization: Beyond Earth launches on PC, Mac, and Linux this fall.
Civilization.com has relaunched with new information on Beyond Earth today.
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