A few days ago, Civilization and XCOM: Enemy Unknown developer Firaxis announced that they would be unveiling their next big project at PAX East. That project has now been revealed to be Civilization: Beyond Earth, the next entry in the critically acclaimed 4X strategy series and the spiritual sequel to 1999’s Sid Meier’s Alpha Centauri.
Built atop the Civilizations V engine, Beyond Earth will allow players to lead an expedition from Earth to a far-off planet of their choosing. From there, they will have to explore ,terraform, and colonize this new planet and deal with the challenges of starting a new civilization in an unknown world, such as adapting to the local flora and fauna and coping with the arrival of other human expeditions.
Although the formula for Beyond Earth will be similar to previous Civilizations games, Firaxis are planning to introduce several new features to the game to emphasize the focus on letting the player own his or her faction, rather than playing in the shadow of real-world counterparts, as was the case in previous Civilizations entries.
At the start of the game, which takes place in the aftermath of a worldwide catastrophe called “The Great Mistake,” players first choose a civilization to fly out of Earth, as well as what cargo to carry, how many people and what type of people to bring, and what planet to colonize. These early choices will have an impact on how one’s civilization will turn out.
As the game wears on, an overarching belief system called affinities will become important in defining every facet of one’s civilization. These are purity, which favors science and research to terraform the new planet into a mirror image of Earth, harmony, which seeks to merge with the alien lifeforms on the planet, and supremacy, which favors cybernetic augmentation to achieve domination.
Regardless of what choices players make, Firaxis is intent on ensuring that each player’s experience is unique and that the game immerses them in a story that they are a participant in, according to lead designer David McDonough in this Polygon article:
[It’s about] starting from a place of safety and taking a journey that’s both dangerous and invigorating into a strange new future and the revelation of wonder along the way, the feeling of gradual mastery as you start to take control of the planet and feel like you’ve found your footing, reacting to the different choices that you’re AI opponents make. Friends and enemies start to take on a whole new meaning when your enemy has transformed itself into a robot. What does that mean for your civilization? How could you ever get along? That sort of thing: putting interesting decisions like that in front of of the player, all the way through the game.