Let me start by saying that I'm a long time Civilization player and fan. I also consider myself a fairly experienced turn-based strategy player with hundreds of hours on record. Coming from almost 400 h. of playtime with Civilization V, I was really excited and looking forward to this new entry to the legendary franchise. I even pre-ordered the title with the hope to spend several hundred hours immersed into the game. I'm also a huge fan of sci-fi setting for videogames as it usually offer more room for innovation and interesting game mechanics.
So, what's my take on Civ BE? I think it's a solid stand-alone turn based 4x strategy game.
And I want to emphasize the word "solid" here. It's not great, it's not innovative, it's not complex... It's just solid. To put this in a different way - if you are new to this type of games, you should probably give it a try. On the other hand, If you're long-time Civilization player, you should pass on this one, at least in its current state.
What are my main points of concern with this title? What can be improved and why I believe this game is unfortunately inferior in many ways to its predecessor (Civ V + all expansions)? 1. Lack of content, polish and personality (i.e. units, cut-scenes, factions and their back story, )
The game feels empty
when compared to Civ V. I've put around 30 hours into it and I can confidently say that I'm bored and won't be coming back anytime soon. There's not much stuff to keep me entertained for a long period of time. It lacks replay value
because you will always end up in identical scenarios no matter how differently you want to approach the gameplay.
It's been mentioned multiple times, but the lack of personality
behind the so-called factions / sponsors is surprising. The only significant difference between them is their "special ability" bonus, and that's it. There's no back story, lack of variety in buildings / units
, nothing that you can feel identified with or attached to. They feel empty and meaningless and become annoying after just a few hours of gameplay.
Are you expecting to see a cut-scene video after completing a huge landmark project (50+ turns) to get one step closer to victory? Nope.
But there's surely a small animated piece when you finish building wonders, right? No, you're out of luck here as well...
Well, there must be a small video when you finally defeat your foes by making first contact with an ancient alien civilization that no one has ever seen before!? Sorry, but no.
Everything in this department feels extremely unfinished and rushed out of the door.
The game lacks immersion elements
and starts feeling generic very quickly. There are two possibilities: either Firaxis consciously made the decision of removing / "simplifying" these components for the sake of saving development time / money. Or alternatively, they will sell it at some point in form of DLC. Or likely both... Which would be kinda sad.2. Let's just say that the UI isn't great.
I'm not sure who took the decision to make the UI as minimalist as possible, but in my opinion it didn't turn out well. Let me list a few reasons here:
- Tech tree / City view feel unfinished
and outright inferior to Civ V. All icons look the same to me. There's no color icons which make it hard to distinguish between different technologies / buildings. After 30+ hours of gameplay, if you showed me any icon from the game (either from tech tree or city view) I wouldn't be able to recognize any of them.
of basic info, like: which building you just finished building in your city (HELLO Firaxis!?), lack of strategic view, lack of full list of cities / units / trade routes under your control,
- Victory progress for different players is extremely difficult to understand and follow
because this information is not presented in a visual way.
- There's no possibility to know how to get, say an "Emancipation" victory beforehand. You don't know what technologies you need to research, what buildings you need to build or what you have to do with these buildings once you finish building them.3. RIP World Wonders.
I love building World Wonders in Civ V. It just feels so satisfying and rewarding every single time. Many players base their entire strategy around building Wonders. The whole experience is so "Civ - like" and different in every game.
"Beyond Earth" removes this experience all together. We still technically have them, they just feel meaningless
, weak, empty and lacking any significant impact on gameplay. You can't tell a World Wonder apart from a normal building. There's a short pop-up with something I wouldn't dare to call "animated piece" that you will instantly forget. Not sure why Firaxis decided to go this route, I guess they couldn't figure out a good way to integrate World Wonders within a deeply futuristic setting. It's extremely disappointing though.4. The AI has identical issues to Civ V, maybe worse.
Everything about AI feels like Civ V
all over again, just in a bad way. It's as dumb as ever, all the meaningless diplomatic choices, weird decision making, cheating on higher difficulties - it's all there. Even dialog lines are the same
, just feels a bit less meaningful due to lack of personality in each of the faction's leaders. Combine this with the fact that every game you play against the same exact factions (due to lack of variety), it becomes old / boring very quickly.5. Quests are boring.
The quest system is kind of broken
. It doesn't matter which faction you play, or which affinity you choose, be sure you will get the same exact "grindy" quests
, no matter what. After a few hours, you will start skipping through them without reading or caring about them. On paper, quest system should add a layer of variety and deepen your engagement with the game, but it just fails completely to do so.
It's not all bad news though. This game has potential
and I'm sure with some patching love and a few expansions it will become better, maybe even great. It's just that I personally feel disappointed
and was expecting way more out of this new entry to the Civ franchise.Some things I like about the game:
1. The new orbital layer is promising. It has interesting potential
and adds a different dimension of strategy and potential development to the game. But as with several other features, it feels a bit unfinished / unpolished.
2. Overall I like the affinity system as it offers three distinct paths to your development. But again, as with orbital layer I don't think it's fully explored yet.
3. The Aliens have meaningful impact
on the early gameplay and definitely play out better than their barbarian counterparts in Civ V. That said, they become irrelevant pretty quickly as their Level doesn't scale according to your development. Unlike barbarians (Barbarian marine anyone?), Aliens become obsolete
after you get your first affinity upgrades.
Summing up, Civ BE is a solid stand alone 4x strategy game IF we don't compare it to its predecessors. If you are new to this genre and like sci-fi setting, I could recommend it.I wouldn't recommend this game to any Civilization fan / player nor someone experienced with this type of games. Just continue playing Civ V and wait until patches / expansions come out. Firaxis has some history of making great expansions and improving their games. I hope they will do the same with Civilization Beyond Earth.
Final review score: 6/10