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Civilization: Beyond Earth - Where Will You Take Humanity?

Greg Tito | 21 Jul 2014 12:00
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How Humanity Continues

Once you make it to the planet, how your faction reacts to discovering alien life will push you in one of three philosophical directions - Supermacy, Harmony and Unity. "Harmony represents you embracing the life that you find on the new plant and figure out how to live in symbiosis with it, reengineering a human organism to be native to the world," said Will Miller. "Supremacy represents investing doubly in the technology and the tools of robotics, artificial intelligence, computing. Then purity represents an interesting combination of perspectives that revolve around the idea of preserving and safeguarding humanity no matter where they go. Keeping humanity safe and restoring it to its idea, original state as it was on Earth. Keeping track of the beleaguered human settlers and making the new planet that they live on a paradise for them, a new Eden, a new ideal Earth."

Each of these affinities also have a specific flavor in how they wage war, when the inevitable conflict arises on the new planet you and other competing factions have landed upon. I asked Miller if you can take what worked in Civ V and apply it in Beyond Earth. His answer was ominous: "Do so at your own peril." Each affinity has different strengths and weaknesses, such as harmony being able to fluidly adapt to danger. "Harmony units are very good about using the terrain and using the map," gameplay designer Anton Strenger said. "Moving very quickly and attacking with overwhelming numbers. Lots of very cheap units."

"The supremacy affinity is all about battlefield geometry," Miller said. "It's about adjacency, units buffing each other depending on their spatial relationship. It's a finesse game. It's much more subtle, whereas purity on the other hand is going to be a brute force solution."

"Purity is about raw strength and power, having some of the highest combat strengths raw numbers of any of the affinities, but having less utility if they get cornered or something like that and being hard to move around quickly," Strenger added.

Not StarCraft

But it's important to recognize that these affinities are not analogous to that other sci-fi strategy game. "Don't think of them like races in StarCraft where they are so different in style that if you're good at one, the others just are never going to appeal. I think of them more like, I tend to think a little bit like colors in Magic," Dave McDonough said, showing his designer cred with a casual reference to the collectible card game Magic the Gathering. "If you like Magic, you'll like any of the colors. And if you like the basic problems of Civ and figuring out that riddle and besting your opponents, all three of the affinities are really interesting ways to do it."

More than one designer tried to dissociate Civ: Beyond Earth from StarCraft. It almost felt like the team had a complex. Not StarCraft ... Not StarCraft ... "I wouldn't go so far as to say it's like a mantra, but it is a thing that has come up a couple times," Strenger said. "It's science-fiction, it's the future, it's a strategy game, even if it's turn-based versus real-time, there are three factions with different visual aesthetics, and yeah, we are very conscious of the fact that we didn't want to become the three races of StarCraft."

"We always want the affinities to be a reflection of what your choices were," Miller clarified. "I think if you pick a race in StarCraft, that influences what your strategy will be, but in this situation it's kind of the opposite of that. Your choices are reflected in the affinity that you end up as."

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