BE Impressions from Free Weekend

Discussion in 'CivBE - General Discussions' started by Biologist, Jan 19, 2015.

  1. Biologist

    Biologist Emperor

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    Saw Civ: BE had a free weekend on Steam and decided to try it out. I'd been kept away by the negative reviews and high price tag, but I wanted to see what all the fuss was about and had nothing to lose (aside from some time I could have spent playing Dragon Age Inquisition). Here's my impressions after two lengthy play sessions in which I completed about 3/4 of a game on Quick speed, Vostok difficulty:

    UI

    One of the first things I noticed was that the UI feels stripped down and utilitarian compared to Civ V. Think of the transition between Rome: Total War and Total War: Rome II and you'll have the idea. At least, it should be utilitarian, but it's actually gotten in my way several times. Finding out what level my various units were at took a while, and I still have no idea how to tell where my specialist slots are and whether citizens are allocated to them. Diplomacy interface is disappointingly bare-bones, and the pidgin English spoken by some of the leaders I encountered is somewhat jarring. The Jarvis-like advisor was helpful at first, but I quickly got tired of it pointing out that I could assign trade routes or conduct espionage missions every other turn. I GET IT ALREADY!!! I like the new Civilopedia. Very straightfoward, and without much of the awkward...childishness of the Civ V version. Sometimes it does its job a bit too well, though; many entries have so much technobabble and psycho-pseudomystical-New Age gobbledygook that my eyes glaze over by the end, and that's coming from someone who's read all of Asimov's Foundation books. It does set the tone nicely though, and I particularly liked the last paragraph of the entry for "Cynosure"

    Combat
    Surprisingly, I have fewer gripes than most people on this score. I spent a *lot* of time at war with Supremacy Polystralia, so I got to observe the AI using a number of different tactics. At first it just suicided all its units into my cities, and I thought "here we go again". Then it pulled back and was quiet for a while, and I found it had built an airforce and an army of hovering tanks that attacked from unexpected angles. When I countered this strategy, the cyborgs added in naval bombardments of my coastline. Finally, they began launching orbital laser satellites everywhere and blasting my cities and armies to rubble until I could get artillery into position, which was hard to do with their tanks forming a screen around the satellites. Granted, the AI had technological superiority over me for most of the game because I had no clue what I was doing research-wise, but the tactical variety was encouraging. I even saw the AI perform an air sweep once to clear out my interceptors. One thing that bugs me: why do some of the unique units seem pointless? My Battlesuit soldiers had no discernable advantage over my generic Sentinels except production cost. Was I supposed to have gotten access to them earlier, making them relatively more useful, or is there a real balancing issue here?

    Aliens
    I am sad to report that aliens are not actually unfamiliar but are simply barbarians... IN SPAAAACE! Early game the alien hordes seem unstoppable when provoked, and it's all i can do to hack my way through to destroy a nest before my marines and gunners get obliterated in retaliation.... and I'd better hope I don't encounter a hungry Siege Worm. Later in the game, I decided to go bug-hunting during a lull in my endless war against Polystralia, and one of my Sentinel infantry units slaughtered wave after wave of aliens without breaking a sweat. They'd gone from unpredictable, terrifying killers to insignificant roadblocks. I'm wondering if Harmony is a more interesting alien interaction than xenophobic Purity.

    Diplomacy
    Without exaggeration, it feels like Civ V vanilla diplomacy all over again. Civs will beg again and again to enter a nebulous "cooperation pact", then throw it all away the moment they decide they don't like how you've redecorated your patch of Terra Nova. Hutama denounced me (or "condemned", if you prefer) about 20 turns after signing such a pact, and then declared war on me about 10 turns after that, all while massing troops on his border. You can imagine my shock. That said, it seems that factions who pick the same affinity as you make a genuine attempt to befriend you, so maybe it's best to just ignore diplomacy until everyone decides on their philosophy. Ultimately the ideological blocs feel like an oversimplified version of the late-game diplomacy from Civ V. Only here, we don't even have an inter-factional council to agree on some ground rules. Diplomacy is definitely the most lacking aspect of the game, in terms of both gameplay and presentation.

    Espionage
    Espionage is powerful and feels like a meaningful part of the game, which is good. It may be too powerful, which could be bad if you're not a fan of using exploits to make life easier. Even as a complete newbie to BE I could see the potential inherent in Espionage spam. My economy was in the tank for virtually the entire game, so I just funded my army by stealing money from my enemy - over and over and over again. Need reinforcements? No problem, I'll just steal a few tanks and artillery batteries from the Kavithans. They didn't really need them anyway. There are countermeasures to espionage, but the AI seems to be inconsistent at best in employing them. To be fair, sometimes the rewards aren't all that great (stealing a bunch of Explorer units is more of a burden than a help). Stealing tech can change the game in unexpected ways, which is fun. I used the miasma-condensing tech I got from those bug-loving Kavithans to form a buffer zone between myself and Polystralia, then surround their cities with the noxious alien gas.

    Technology
    Unlike many players, I enjoyed the nonlinear tech web. The only problem is, I suspect that once I discover (or Google) the optimal path through the web for my chosen victory, I'll just beeline those techs with little deviation, except from theft. It was fun to have some freedom in deciding when to pick up certain "basic" techs in favor of getting more powerful stuff, and having a free technology rewarded to you feels more meaningful now, since you get to make a choice with multiple options, rather than just clearing a bottleneck from a linear decision tree.

    Overall, I enjoyed Civilization: BE. I did not enjoy it $50 worth. I may not even have enjoyed it $30 worth, but I did enjoy it. The makings of a very fun game are in there somewhere, *if* Firaxis and the mod community give it the attention it deserves in due time.
     
  2. LORD ORION

    LORD ORION Warlord

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    The last patch nerfed them, and they were significantly more powerful then.
    The affinity resource units do get vastly more powerful with their next unit upgrades.
    eg: CNDR strength was 38 and is now 24. When it upgrades it goes to 63 strength at Affinity 12.

    They are barely more powerful then normal units now. but I guess it still gives you a chance to get experience on them if you keep them alive and get their reach affinity improvement level.

    Depends how pragmatic you are, with Harmony you build the Mindflower for your affinity victory and it makes all aliens go crazy when you turn it on.

    So the reality of Harmony is that you want to murder all the aliens in your lands and hope others were dumb enough to live in peace with them when your Mindflower goes up... heh idiots. ;)
     
  3. keldaur

    keldaur Chieftain

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    Later on the game affinity units become the best of the best by far. I love'em. Specially that dirty artillery from supremacy with range 4, or Xenotitans just stomping everything on their path healing themselves.

    The affinity 4 ones are more if you are going very oriented for domination + might on fast games (like duel or dwarf maps) are very useful to have, the affinity 4 to 6 window makes them the best of the best, but of course, you will be hitting yourself in the foot if it goes for a long game.
     
  4. wayneb64

    wayneb64 Prince

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    I think the affinity units are great. They are cheaper and easier to get before you get an affinity to a high enough level for the second standard unit promotion, and if you build a lot of them just before u get their promotion they are cheap and powerful. Also that promotion is usually pretty easy compared to the third promotion of the standard units if you take the split affinity approach with 4 in a minor affinity.

    In general they give you more options between the levels for the standard units.
     
  5. Gort

    Gort Emperor

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    The affinity 4 units are the most powerful units you have access to... until affinity 6, when infantry catch up in strength and outstrip them through abilities. They are really good for that smallish window, though.

    Late in the game they get way better than infantry again, though, and Xeno Swarms always have the advantage of being low-cost.

    They were truly ridiculous pre-patch, though, you could win entire games based on rushing to Battlesuits as quickly as possible and laughing at anything the AI attempted to throw at them.
     
  6. flp_ndrox

    flp_ndrox Chieftain

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    I also downloaed BE on the free weekend. I never played SMAC, but I thought this game compared favorably to the Civ2 Mars Now! scenario. I got default level wins with Harmony Africa and as Supremacy India.

    My biggest issue was how badly the end game dragged. I think I waited for that flower to bloom for around 40 turns. The supremacy win was possibly more frustrating with a conga line of ultimate units waiting to gate. If anything, purity is the worst (I'm currently playing that one at one level higher). I think I might go conquest just to save myself from dragging this game out another hundred turns.

    It also seems to me that some some of the early choices are obvious. Starting with the strategic resources uncovered seems just that much better because it lets you know which affinity to stress. Prosperity is the best virtue unless a player is going straight early conquest. Even artists seem to be the best of their group since those virtues seem pretty potent.

    Biologist has a lot of good points, and I tend to agree with him, but that was really all of the big gripes I have.

    I love the streamlined military tech progression and not having to make upgrade decisions for every unit, because it felt like I had a much bigger military than I typically had in CiV. I enjoy being able to let the bugs live and not get attacked for most of the early game. I'm OK with the orbital layer, even if the sats don't wow me. I'm overwhelmed by the tech web, but it does make me feel like I'm making significant choices. I'm really digging the huge number of free tile improvements. Supremacy's free roads are sweet. I'm even enjoying a return to a more wide play style than I played iin CiV.

    Even if the AI has trouble with the terrain, and the only question about chopping is "when", it seems like the game was stripped down to help the AI...and that's not a bad thing. It felt like I didn't have to build every building in every city, and I never felt like I was hamstringing growth to build an army. That was nice.

    I'm not convinced it was worth $30, but in gratitude for the free weekend, I picked up BE...and I am enjoying it.
     
  7. Adjuvant

    Adjuvant Emperor

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    This game is bad. Don't buy it. It's a cheap money grab, when we've come to expect better.

    Clearly the developers are taking civ veterans for chumps.
     
  8. tedeviatings

    tedeviatings Warlord

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    From my point of view it's all about expectations. People that expected the game to be more like SMAC are disappointed. People that expected the game to live up to Civ BNW quality are disappointed. People that expected the game to be more like CiV vanilla in space tend to like the game. That's what I've gathered anyways.
    And this is really not about what is reasonable expectations are. I'm just stating there seems to be a correlation between what people expected and what they think of the game. And there are in fact plenty of people that like and play the game.
     
  9. Myth and Legend

    Myth and Legend Prince

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    To be honest I fully regret paying full price for the game at launch. I've gone back to Civ 5, CivBE was a letdown for an oldschool Alpha Centauri player like myself.

    CivBE is little more than a mod which downgrades the mechanics of Civ 5 and adds some underwhelming graphics and blue grass. Worst 50 EURO (which is a lot more than US DOLLARS) I spent in my life, and that inlcudes all the trips to the strip club.

    Next time I will wait for a 75% steam sale before buying any game, especially a Firaxis one which lately all seem to suck at launch and then become really polished gems with a few DLC (priced as full games of course)
     
  10. Adjuvant

    Adjuvant Emperor

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    I agree 100%, if I buy it at all.
     
  11. Mecatronico

    Mecatronico Chieftain

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    I liked the game even if I agree it could be better, and I think that this money was a Lot better spent than all that money I used at Steam sales and now have hundreds of games that I never installed, at least I played this game.
     

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