PC Gamer

Civilization: Beyond Earth lets you decide the future of humanity. Will you respect the new planet you've colonised, or suck its resources dry to build bigger cities and better war machines? The affinities system is a powerful expression of those choices that affects your civ's path, from its technological focus to the way your cities appear on the map.

There are three affinities in Civilization: Beyond Earth: Purity, Harmony and Supremacy. According to co-lead designer, David McDonough, "They influence not just the way things look, but the way that they move, and the way that they build. The three identities are the combination of who humanity is when they land on the planet, and what they find, and how those two collide for the next two thousand years."

You side with an affinity by unlocking affinity points. These are scattered throughout the tech web, attached to techs that align with the philosophy of the affinity you're pursuing—expect lots of alien biology research to grant you Harmony points, for example. As you expand across the surface of the new planet, you'll encounter quests, which can offer affinity rewards depending on your choices.

It is possible to amass points in conflicting affinities, but over the course of the game, your choices will push you towards one more than the others. That's when things get really interesting. Let's take a more detailed look at each of the three affinities, and the values they represent.

Harmony

"Harmony finds that the planet is a beautiful place," David McDonough explains. "It's a gem, a jewel. Maybe the mistakes that they made on Earth, pillaging, polluting and so on, they don't want to repeat, so they find a way to make themselves belong on the planet."

As the name suggests, the Harmony path focuses on learning to live with the indigenous creatures on the plant you've settled. Harmony citizens learn from the ruined Earth they've left behind, and try to build cities that incorporate the systems they see in alien nature. This makes them a fast and flexible civ. They can learn to utilise the lingering miasma that poisons other factions, and can build units that weaponise the planet's most dangerous creatures.

"The Harmony player can take advantage of all the things that are threatening to you in the beginning of the game," co-lead designer Will Miller explains, "even to the extent that they start to design their own alien creatures. You get to play these big alien things at the end of the game, they even ride them. "They're not space elves, they're still very tough. In fact, the ground unit trajectory for Harmony, they look like Football players, huge genetically modified guys."

As you adopt an affinity over the course of many turns, you'll start to see your cities and units change. Harmony architecture is smooth and organic, replicating the aesthetics of alien fauna. Each affinity also has its own victory condition. The Harmony player unravels the mystery of the planet and communes with its collective consciousness to achieve a state of transcendence.

Purity

Do you like huge levitating battle tanks? If so, the Purity affinity is for you. The Purity civilization can only see the new planet as a corrupting alien force that must be held back with high walls and turrets. Humanity must be preserved in its current form, and grow strong in spite of any indigenous critters who might try to tear their cities down.

"It's a very plausible philosophy of what humanity would do if faced with, as the quote goes, 'the unimaginable strangeness of space," says David McDonough, "which is that they'll hold on very tightly to what they know, and what they recognise, and where they came from."

This attitude is expressed most obviously in their military hardware. "I was never a fan of Batman, Superman, I like the Hulk. You don't need fancy tricks and gadgets, you just need to hit things really, really hard. That's the Purity attitude—overwhelming force." The Purity player exploits special resources to create levitation fields that let their vehicles hover above the planet's surface—perfect for creating battle platforms.

A purity civ will look rugged and resilient. Expect robust, blocky white architecture that stands in stark contrast to the strange, colourful fungus that naturally grows on the planet's surface. The Purity civ's love of Earth is reflected in their affinity-specific victory condition. You can build a portal back to Earth, and bring the humans you left behind to the new world.

Supremacy

If you love extraordinary futuristic technology, you'll find lots of interesting ideas on the Supremacy path. Supremacy civs don't necessarily care about the wellbeing of the planet, but unlike Purity civilizations, their more than happy to tinker with the human form. They don't want to preserve humanity, they want to accelerate its evolution using spectacular new inventions.

"The Supremacy player says, Well, technology is the salvation of humankind. The ability to build a colony ship is what got us off that world, we've got to keep going down that road, it's the only way we'll be safe and keep humankind going, " says Will Miller.

On the tech web, Supremacy points are tied to transhuman inventions. Supremacy civs love bionic enhancement and robotics. Their units and cities look dark, sleek and dangerous. In Civilization: Beyond Earth, faction leaders will even change appearance as each civ picks an affinity. Supremacy leaders are adorned with glittering, borg-like skull apparatus. They're a little sinister, but extremely capable.

Militarily, you'll need to take a tactical approach if you want to get the best out of your Supremacy units. Will Miller: "The Supremacy player is very finesse oriented. It's going to be about building units and putting them in a geometry that lets them harmonise with each other. You have units that are very specialised, but if put in the right places relative to others, you get a lot of buffs that way."

Supremacy units use advanced cloud computing to improve their ability on the battlefield. The more processors they can throw at a problem, the more effective they are. That's why Supremacy units excel when placed adjacent to one another on Beyond Earth's hexes. If you keep your formations tight, it's going to be extremely difficult for other civs to break through your lines.

That's our quick look at Civilization: Beyond Earth's affinity system. It's a completely new aspect of Civ that will give long term fans of the series a lot of new strategies to consider. It also puts narrative in your hands. When you pursue an affinity, you decide humanity's role in the universe, so choose well. No pressure.

PC Gamer
NOW PLAYING

In 'Now Playing' PC Gamer writers talk about the game currently dominating their spare time. Today, Cory teams up with a buddy to find adventure in Divinity: Original Sin.

Wait, so how do I join? I ask. Shawn doesn t answer, but across the 1,200 miles of our Skype call I can hear him clicking. It takes longer than expected, but eventually we sync up. We re two source hunters, and we re on the prowl. 

Shawn and I have a long history of cooperative play. We ve tackled innumerable adventures together, buddying up and beating the crap out of all kinds of monsters. Divinity: Original Sin represents our biggest challenge: a deep, complex, 100-hour RPG with a focus on narrative and communication. Neither of us have played much, and learning it will be a serious commitment.

We ve tackled innumerable adventures together, buddying up and beating the crap out of all kinds of monsters.

I build a brute of a knight, adding all my points to strength in the hopes of splitting orcs in half with a greatsword. Shawn balances this with a Wayfarer, which mixes bow skills with healing magic. Neither of us customise these starter builds too deeply, but both spend far too long on how our characters hair will look.

We re in, and almost immediately, we both try to pick up the same sea shells, then experiment with moving them between our inventories. Shawn doesn t have to be standing right beside me to give me the apple he just liberated from a crate—he right-clicks on the item in his inventory and can simply teleport it to me. I eat it, so I don t have to give it back.

In typical fashion, Shawn moves ahead faster than I do. While I m poking around the shoreline, he encounters the game s first battle and yelps for me to come help. Combat in Divinity is turn-based, but a co-op partner sees things happening in real time. I wander up, but keep my distance as I watch his Wayfarer summon a spider to fight a skeleton. I can move however I want, but his battle s participants move as if in some bullet-time bubble. It s odd to watch. Eventually I get too close and get pulled into the battle myself, and we defeat the bad guys.

So you could have just left me to handle the fight myself? Shawn asks.

Seems so, I say. In fact, I could have been a world away.

We encounter two drunken guards who demand to escort us to the city gates. Since Shawn started the conversation with them, I have to watch the dialogue above each person s head to see what s going on. Shawn clicks through the options on auto-pilot, and chooses to accompany the guards. And then suddenly, I get a dialogue box of my own, giving me options.

I choose to fight the guards. I m a contrarian.

What are you doing? Shawn asks. These guys are trying to help us. He chooses another dialogue option, apparently trying to charm me into his way of thinking.

Bullshit. Let s bust some heads. I click the intimidate option, and the game becomes an epic battle of roshambo. I throw paper, he throws rock. I throw rock, he throws scissors. I emerge victorious, and now we have to murder some guards.

But that s not what I wanted to do! Shawn protests. I snigger.

Three hours later, we re overwhelmed. Every dialogue window requires a recap of the conversation, and every decision ends in the rock-paper-scissors minigame. We ve made almost no progress.

You know what? I don t think we can do this. Shawn says. His voice breaks a little over the Skype connection. There s no way we can commit to this. I m gonna go play singleplayer. He signs off, and I go relive the last three hours in a game of my own. I m sure lots of people will play co-op for all 100 hours of Divinity, and I applaud their devotion. But I m happier playing at my own speed.

PC Gamer

Playfire, the gamer service sponsoring this year s 
Golden Joystick awards (and there s still time to
get your votes in and secure yourself a copy of XCOM: Enemy Unknown today), has announced a brand new category for the show on Friday which is its Most Played award.

Gamers will get to vote directly with their feet or in this case with their Joysticks and gamepads, with the award going to the game which racks up the most hours played by users on the Playfire service.

  • The contenders for the title this year are:
  • Batman: Arkham Origins
  • Dark Souls II
  • DayZ
  • Football Manager 2014
  • Loadout
  • Path of Exile
  • Rust
  • South Park™:
  • The Stick of Truth™
  • Starbound
  • Thief

Those are the top ten most popular games played since last year s equivalent award, from the thousands available on the Playfire service and just how many hours have you put into those little numbers? We dread to think how many Football Manager 2014 alone has racked up, let alone Day Z, Batman or all that time spent getting mercilessly killed in Dark Souls II.

It's great to see a Golden Joystick Award category that is directly influenced and decided on by playing games" said Ben Bateman, Head of Community at Green Man Gaming and Playfire. "We've already seen members of the Playfire community coming together and joining forces to try and rack-up playtime on their favourite titles, and we can't wait to see which game will be the eventual winner at the awards."

The Golden Joysticks  Playfire Most Played Award will be decided at midday on Friday 24th October 2014, and will be announced during the ceremony which you can watch live on CVG, PC Gamer and on the Golden Joysticks site itself, as well as being broadcast on Twitch TV.

If you're not a Playfire member then getting involved is easy. Just 
with your GMG account, link your gamertags, and get playing for a chance to earn great rewards, including new Rewards this week on the following new releases:

  • Fist of Jesus
  • Spheritis
  • DeadCore
  • DarkEnd
  • Pike and Shot
  • Sinister City
  • Poltergeist: A Pixelated Horror
  • The Legend of Korra
  • Screencheat
  • Dreamfall Chapters
  • Time Rifters
  • Devil s Dare
  • Prophour23
  • Deathtrap
  • The Shopkeeper
  • Squishy the Suicidal Pig
  • Enforcer: Police Crime Action
  • Sign Motion
  • Sid Meier s Civilization: Beyond Earth
  • Sproggiwood

Playfire members can also play the following games and earn a 25% off discount off the Season Pass (by simply playing the applicable game for one hour and tracking on Playfire):

Alien: Isolation (get 25% off Alien: Isolation Season Pass)
Borderlands: The Pre-Sequel
Middle-Earth: Shadow of Mordor
The Evil Within

For the full list of all live Rewards please visit:
https://www.playfire.com/a/rewards

PC Gamer

It's nice when evil can organise itself to a schedule. For Guild Wars 2's world of Tyria, its various bad things have now mapped out their plans for the rest of the year, giving the various heroes of the world a much needed heads-up.

The first update, due later today, is the game's annual Halloween event. It will be a repeat of last year's festivities—as will the game's Wintersday event, due 16 December. Expect Mad Realms and a jumping puzzle for the former, and Workshops and another jumping puzzle for the latter. Despite featuring the same activities, both will offer "refreshed rewards".

Between these two events comes the return of Living World: Season 2. The fifth episode is due 4 November, and will continue on from the mid-season cliffhanger. ArenaNet is teasing the final episode of this series, referring to "points of no return". 

"Tyria has already decided to take the battle to Mordremoth," explains the latest blog post. "As we go on this journey we ll learn dark secrets of Tyria s past, venture into stories with roots deep in the very heart of Guild Wars lore, and visit places that have only been rumored to exist."

PC Gamer





Andy recently ran down the contents of GalCiv 3's Beta 2 update. But, if reading words makes you itch uncontrollably... well, first, I'm very sorry, this very page must be unbearably hellish. Second, there's now a video that runs through the diplomacy patch's contents.

In addition to diplomacy, the update adds new victory conditions and trade networks. It's a significant step along the road to the early access 4X's eventual full release.

PC Gamer

That's free to play, not free-to-play—an important distinction. Steam is again playing host to more (temporarily) free goodies, with a midweek trial of Civilization 5. The offer, which lets you play the full game until Thursday, 10am PDT, will give everyone a chance to experience the unstoppable wrath of Gandhi.

This, of course, is designed to prepare people for the upcoming Civilization: Beyond Earth, which has begun pre-loading ahead of this Friday's release. That game bears many similarities to Civ 5, only it's on an alien planet in the future. It is not, for instance, a game in which Genghis Khan can negotiate a beneficial spice deal with Bismarck.

Unfortunately, the free trial doesn't include the excellent expansions. Nevertheless, it's worth an investigation if, somehow, you've managed to hold off this long.

PC Gamer

When Bandai Namco announced a PC port for Dark Souls there was much rejoicing. Then, when it was announced that it would release on the dreaded Games For Windows Live platform, there was much rage. Well here's good news: come November, those who own Dark Souls on GFWL will have the opportunity to transition over to Steam.

Next month users can redeem their GFWL tokens on Steam in order to access Dark Souls. While you'll be able to do this indefinitely, the transferal of save data and achievements will be possible for a limited time only. More specific dates will be provided soon, Bandai Namco posted today.

The publisher announced earlier this year that it had plans to accommodate those still playing Dark Souls, despite GFWL's imminent death. It's one of the last games with ties remaining to the service, with most studios and publishers making the jump to other platforms much earlier.

PC Gamer

Voxel-based rogue-like shooter
Paranautical Activity has been removed from Steam, following an online outburst by its creator Mike Maulbeck. The developer reportedly made death threats to Gabe Newell after Steam failed to update Paranautical Activity from an Early Access title to a full game in a timely fashion. 

The alleged death threat has since been deleted, though Maulbeck has since admitted that posting the deleted Tweet was wrong.

 People telling me it's fucking stupid to say I wanna kill gabe. Can I set up a "no shit" autoresponse on twitter?

— Mike Murderbeck (@SpooderW)
October 20, 2014

Other Tweets remain where Maulbeck describes Steam as an "incompetent piece of fucking shit" and a "monopoly", among other things. "It's just not possible to make a living in this industry without Steam," Maulbeck wrote, "so I'm just out."

Speaking to
Polygon, Maulbeck reiterated that he regrets the outburst. "I have since obviously replied to them saying that I didn't mean what I said and pleaded that they consider the monopoly they have on the PC market before totally writing us off," he said, "but let's be real. If they took the game off the store, they're fuckin sure about their decision. There's probably nothing to be done."

Valve's Doug Lombardi confirmed the news to Polygon. "Yes, we have removed the game's sales page and ceased relations with the developer after he threatened to kill one of our employees."

Paranautical Activity is still available on Desura and the Humble Store, though neither come close to the effectiveness of Steam. "Don't worry guys, everything is gonna be OK, we sold TWELVE copies on non-steam platforms today," Maulbeck later Tweeted.

"We were selling more than that a minute on Steam."

PC Gamer

According to our recent interview with Metrocide studio Flat Earth Games, the stealth shooter was due to release in August. That hasn't happened yet, and fair enough too: the indie studio has been too busy optimising the game's difficulty. Should it be "really hard" or "excruciatingly hard"? How hard is too hard? Flat Earth Games wants you to help them answer these questions, thus they've made the game available on Early Access until the game's final November / December release date. 

From the very beginning, we decided we wanted Metrocide to be hard," a spokeperson for the studio wrote on the game's Steam page. "Every time we've finished the game, we've made it harder and tried again. Cops, security cameras, gang members and vigilantes mix with permadeath to make sure that no matter how armed to the teeth you might be, one wrong move and you're back at square one (although you will keep all the unlocks)." 

The studio said that it's happy with the game from a technical perspective but that it didn't want to go overboard with the difficulty. "The short time we intend to be in Early Access will be centred around balancing the game (the last third or so in particular), to make sure that it's as punishing as we intend it to be, but also that it's punishing in the right way.

Metrocide is available now on Early Access

PC Gamer

Tactical strategy game Massive Chalice is Double Fine's second Kickstarted project, and one of many that fans have been able to watch very closely during development. Between Amnesia Fortnight projects such as Spacebase DF-9 and other Early Access games such as Hack 'n' Slash, Double Fine has invited fans to watch them pitch concepts, create art, and balance character stats in spreadsheets via developer diaries and Twitch streams.

It's all super interesting stuff if you want to see how games are made, but there have been problems. Recently, there was some controversy around Spacebase's unexpected transition from Early Access to v1.0, and planned features lost in the process. When I sat down with Massive Chalice Project Lead Brad Muir, I asked him if this caused Double Fine to reconsider its approach.

PC Gamer: Did you discuss how to better manage expectations when developing a game in full view after the reaction to Spacebase's release?

Brad Muir: We talked about it a little bit but I think our communication has been good, really transparent...Massive Chalice is really mechanical and procedural, so we're content complete at this point. There are small features, enemy behavior, some abilities we want to tweak. Lots of number tweaks. Overall balance to the game is going to change dramatically, especially the second half of it. That's one thing about any sort of long term, strategic game: the further you deviate from the beginning, the less testing you're going to get on it. I'm excited to have all these people helping test the game.

What's it been like developing Massive Chalice with constant feedback from backers?

One of our tenants as a Kickstarter project is that we didn't have the whole thing designed, and we had a lot of people come to us with ideas that were better than ours. One of our classes is an alchemist that throws exploding flasks. This guy on the forums, zdesert, did this quick talent tree in MS Paint and drew all these icons that the alchemist character would have. Some of them were fine, some of them were bad, but one of them, it was a jar of bees. I wanted some kind of area denial ability, like poison gas, but this kid...I actually don't even know if he's a kid, maybe he's like 45, I have no idea, but he made this thing that's even more interesting because it can move around the map, it can create this hazard that can break up and shift for a few turns before it dissipates, and that's a lot more interesting than a cloud of poison gas.

Does he know it's in the game?

Absolutely he knows. He's so stoked. He will forever be able to say that he had an idea that went right into this game.

The origin of 'bees in a bottle.'

Creatively, what's the downside of working this way? If I had to write something on a Twitch stream I'd be too self-conscious.

It's impossible to know what this game would look like if we just closed the doors and developed it internally. For sure, you have to have thick skin because people are going to talk shit about it, and say some inflammatory, angry things, and you just have to do your best to ignore it I guess. Just the other day, there was a guy who came into our forums, TrashMan, and he was like, "What the fuck, these classes are stupid."

We have three core classes in the game and we tried to make something that's not just magic and wizards and fireballs flying around. That stuff is cool, but there are so many games that exhibit that kind of orcs and elves, Tolkien-esque high fantasy stuff.

When someone like the TrashMan appears—I love that he's called that, it's so perfect—there are other backers saying "check out Teamstream number 3, where they went through all this stuff." It's been nice, but there's an ugly side to it—the internet gives everyone a voice. And the other thing is, I don't know anything about these people, that's one part I find very strange about this. I would like to know more about zdesert. He might be a girl, I don't know. It's weird. And this TrashMan guy, I'd like to think that he's just an angry kid, but he might be 40 and through two divorces.

Are you scared that this is taking some of the magic away, showing how the sausage is made?

I think one of the cool things about Kickstarter is you're choosing to be more involved, you're choosing to make this thing happen, though you don't have too. You don't have to gaze upon the making of the sausage.

I don't think that it will ruin it for people. I hope there are more people like zdesert that are just that much more invested because of it, because they saw it grow from nothing. We made Massive Chalice with their help. That's really cool. 

...

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