Firaxis has announced its new project at PAX East this weekend, and it’s a Civilization game, just not as we know it. Taking cues from Sid Meier’s 1999 classic Alpha Centauri, Civilization: Beyond Earth is a tile and turn-based strategy that sees humanity stretch out into the stars to conquer new worlds.
Whilst the spirit of Alpha Centauri certainly looks to be present in Beyond Earth, this is Civilization in space, and will function similarly. IGN spoke to the game’s co-lead designer, David McDonough, who explained how Beyond Earth will differ and work upon Civilization’s existing structure. The main change seems to be replacing a linear tech tree with something far more flexible, coined a “tech web”: “We’re huge fans of sci-fi from every part of pop culture and history, so we went to that and imagined a web where you start in the middle, surrounded by techs that are relatively recognizable based on conventional technology, and you go outward into any frontier you can imagine,” said McDonough.
You’ll also be able to follow an Affinity; an ideology that dictates your method of expansion, which will either galvanise your relationship with other factions or cause friction and even war. These affinities are visually represented in your troops and buildings, with aggressive ideologies having shrapnel-like edges and more peaceful people featuring rounded and flowing models.
In order to enhance replayability, the start of each Beyond Earth game will differ depending on which Earth space program you choose as a sponsor. These act as replacements for traditional Civ’s nations, and dictate what cargo you have available when you first land planetside.
Beyond Earth also features alien life, but it looks like they share more in common with The War of the World’s red weed than X-Com’s hyper-intelligent planetary dominators. They’re described as ‘non-sentient’, but they still offer a major challenge to overcome when settling on new worlds. It will be up to you to decide if you wish to destroy alien life, or assimilate with it.
Civilization: Beyond Earth is due for release in the autumn of this year.