Beyond Earth - a flawed, underrated gem

KayAU

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...which really could have used a second expansion or a sequel.

So, I get why not everyone loves BE. It has its flaws, especially without the expansion, and it was inevitably going to be compared to Alpha Centauri on launch. That's a tough one to follow, and despite the similar premise, BE is not Alpha Centauri. However, everytime I go back to Beyond Earth - Rising Tide, I am struck by just how much I love about the game: affinities, virtues, biomes, the tech web, agreements, leader traits, how resources work, how cities are developed, how you customize your faction at the start, wonders, expeditions, artifacts, marvels, quests, building specialization, unit upgrades...this is a game which keeps me playing for that new reward that is always just a few turns away, often with additional synergy rewards to go along with it. For instance, researching a tech can get me to another affinity level, which might unlock a reward, or several rewards if I get affinity synergies, and then some unit upgrades. The virtues tree is the same way, lots of synergies and bonus unlocks. I love how exploration works. There are resource pods which act like classical goodie huts, but you also get expeditions, which are far more exciting, and can get you powerful artifacts...a set of three of these will give you access to a unique ability or building. This makes for an interesting early game, but where other 4x games tend to get boring around the middle or end, Beyond Earth just starts to pick up the pace.

As I said, it does have its flaws. Diplomacy can be messy, and while everyone seems to have a strong opinion about every single thing I do, the leaders still come across as a bit bland. Stations do nothing for me. I think the game would have benefited much from some further refinement, and even some extra content (natural wonders, a government system, some extra biomes, for example). But even in its sadly abandoned state, Beyond Earth is great. I don't think I felt like this at launch, but the game has grown on me. There is so much potential here.
 
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Darsnan

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So, I get why not everyone loves BE. It has its flaws, especially without the expansion, and it was inevitably going to be compared to Alpha Centauri on launch.

Yup, BE was pretty bad on release, and always being compared to Alpha Centauri (which is probably the best game Sid Meier ever produced) will definitely always work against it.

However, everytime I go back to Beyond Earth - Rising Tide, I am struck by just how much I love about the game: affinities, virtues, biomes, the tech web, agreements, leader traits, how resources work, how cities are developed, how you customize your faction at the start, wonders, expeditions, artifacts, marvels, quests, building specialization, unit upgrades...

You didn't list the music/ soundtrack! :lol: I think that was one of the best things about BE, as I still listen to the music when I play the game (and this is the only game that I have ever listened to the soundtrack). I've also really enjoyed the exploration facet once Rising Tide came out: just sending your Explorers out to discover the new world (biomes) has always fascinated me.

[/QUOTE]
But even in its sadly abandoned state, Beyond Earth is great. I don't think I felt like this at launch, but the game has grown on me. There is so much potential here.[/QUOTE]

Yeah its too bad Firaxis abandoned this. It did have a lot of potential, but as you'd stated it was really bad on release, and I don't think it ever really recovered after that, even though RT made it so much better - there was just too much working against it at that point.

D
 

KayAU

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You didn't list the music/ soundtrack! :lol: I think that was one of the best things about BE, as I still listen to the music when I play the game (and this is the only game that I have ever listened to the soundtrack).
I think I was mostly focused on gameplay features, but you are absolutely right. :) The music and overall sound design is terrific, and contributes a lot to the atmosphere.

Despite its lack of commercial success, I do hope Firaxis realize how much the game has going for it, and pick it up again at some point.
 

HorseshoeHermit

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I think what hurt Beyond Earth was the antipathy that was bred for the planet ecology. When you're playing on Earth in Civ, you can picture a historic empire sprawling across the land, and bringing resources you recognize under your control. In Beyond Earth the planet's life hates you and gives a claustrophobic feel to pushing too far, while the alien resources mean there is no feeling at all toward what to want in regards to them. What is a tubers. What is this shiny thing in the water. Oh wow, the tile improvement is plus 1 yield, and maybe not even better than a farm. Sometimes it is equal to a farm, which is a joke - and still worse because there's an upgrade for farms.

Rising Tide took away international trade, so turn by turn is again a strange, solitary affair, with a looming sense of danger and no handrails to point which way to go. I always felt like a screwup not growing the colony fast enough but trying to run colony pods across the terrain never worked out, they were attacked by aliens in a pack that would come from nowhere and after so many turns committed to the pod and the escorts that's a game over. My choices were never correct, can't make so many soldiers that we end up broke, can't be undefended from aliens, can't make outposts like the A.I., but can't one-city challenge either.

Alpha Centauri made the alien life a -hard- barrier which clarified that one goal was colony defense from mind worms, and the eventual re-engineering of the fungus squares. Beyond Earth makes you literally pray that the 60 strength wurm dancing around doesn't just end you.

Archaeology's hidden information made it impossible to tell what you were giving up to spend any of the artifacts in any configuration. That's feel-bad.

Traits and the tradeable aspects of traits would be cool to revisit. The idea of affinities as post-information era ideological possession is kind of neat, but the way that unit upgrades key off those advances, giving the military advantage, did not look fair. Again, the gutted trade system makes the tech web look poor. Echoes of Earth has a brilliant tech web. It also made archaeology better, unexpectedly, by requiring a return trip to a colony to keep digging.

---
In my headcanon, the adoption of an affinity is a disease hurting the humans of the future, a possession by a reactionary ideology to the transhumanist questions that careens too far. It is meant to be countered by {unnamed yield}, centering the human spirit and protecting it from the influx of the extremist positions represented by those three.

What the game needed, in one pillar, was one strong thing to feel Human. Either the leaders to be more alive, or the territory (settled land) to be hospitable and beautiful, to be something you want to have, on some level that was not achieved with the mechanics we had. It almost seems that there's no way the leaders could have been compelling, but Alpha Centauri proves you can make seven people very engaging in every playthrough.
 

KayAU

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@HorseshoeHermit I agree with some of what you say. The setting is naturally quite alien, and I understand how it might seem somewhat opressive. I've rarely experienced the native lifeforms to be too agressive, though, usually they will not attack me unless you attack them or clear out their nests, and so I just thread lightly around them, especially early on. I also find the planets to be rather beautiful and interesting, although I agree they could use something extra. I would have loved to see some natural wonders Alpha Centauri's planet, by comparison, was not nearly as pretty, but...they literally made it a character in what was a very narrative driven game.

I agree with you about leaders. Again, the comparison with SMAC is inevitable, and yes, those characters are infinitely more memorable. To be fair, they are all also fairly one dimensional, and defined by a single characteristic: Zakharov cares about science, Deirdre about the environment, Morgan about business, Yang is all about collectivism, Lal about diplomacy, and so on. Another reason why I think they are so memorable, is that their personalities were so closely tied to diplomacy, and diplomacy, like everything else, was done very well in SMAC.

As I said initially, the game could have used another expansion. If they refined gameplay a bit more, threw in some natural wonders/landmarks, enhanced diplomacy and introduced something like the Planetary Council, I think it would accomplish a lot.
 

Guide-on

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I purchased BERT with BE. I really like BERT but never play BE. I do not know if I would have purchased BERT if I had bought BE first. BERT still needs some easy tweaks, but the devs abandoned it.
The idea was good, but they never put in the resources it needed.

Some of the tweaks could be do by a good modder could do but they apparently kicked the last good modder of the boards!
 

KayAU

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<snip> the alien resources mean there is no feeling at all toward what to want in regards to them. What is a tubers. What is this shiny thing in the water. Oh wow, the tile improvement is plus 1 yield, and maybe not even better than a farm. Sometimes it is equal to a farm, which is a joke - and still worse because there's an upgrade for farms.
I forgot to address this. I agree basic resources look underwhelming at first glance, but they are actually quite good. You say farms can be upgraded, but that is also true for basic resource improvements. So to take "tubers" as an example:
First of all, the question of what the resource is is answered in the Civilopedia. :) Tubers are a type of plant, and they exist on real-life Earth as well. As a resource, it adds +1 food to a tile, and they can be improved by a Plantation for another +2 food. If you search for "Plantation" in the Tech Web, you will see that Plantations can be enhanced by researching Photosystems, which gives them all another +1 food. Basic resources can also be upgraded through Virtues. There's one which gives +1 production for every basic resource tile, and another which gives +1 energy. There's also one which gives +1 health for every type of basic resource you have. Anyway, back to tile yields. For tubers, the maximum additional yield to the tile's base is rather good: +4 food +1 production +1 gold.
Many of the resources also have associated buildings which enhance them further. To take another Plantation resource as an example: fungus. Fungus adds +1 food to a tile, and can be improved with a Plantation, which gives another +1 (less than for tubers). Again it is enhanced with Photosystems and the right virtues, bringing the yield up to +3 food +1 production +1 gold. However, having the fungus resource enables you to construct the Growlab building, which itself produces +3 food, as well as adding another +1 food to the tiles.

I personally like this approach a lot, as it adds some situational strategizing to how you move through the Tech Web and Virtues tree based on what resources you have available.
 

Tiberiu

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I still have Beyond Earth installed but without the expansion since I think Rising Tide is an unplayable game. The AI does not know how to use any new feature and does much worse in all aspects of the game. Granted, in the base game you can steal gold from the AI for free by buying favours and then selling them for profit, but I can abstain from this exploit. Playing with self-imposed handicaps can make Civ:Be a playable game for me, like, 1-2 games per year to have fun a little.

I don't agree that this game is underrated, it didn't deliver what Civ5 delivered. Which is too bad because it had great potential. A problem that I see for BE is that the atmosphere quickly turns into something boring, where you feel that nothing happens in the world, or nothing of importance, anyway. In civ 5 the music and the atmosphere is better and the rival leaders make it seem like you are not alone in the world, like in BE, where they seem to be absent-minded. I would be surprised if the civ BE AI has code that instructs it on how to win the game or if it can only win by accident. Also, the tech tree might seem interesting but in the end it's almost like it doesn't matter what you pick, just pick stuff that give extra spies, and affinities. You can safely ignore at least half of the technologies on the tree and still win.

After the disaster that Civ6 represents, I can only dream of a better Civ 7 or at least a remake/remaster of Civ:Be in the future.
 

legalizefreedom

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@Tiberiu I can't imagine playing BE without RT. So many improvements in the expansion, even to some of the things you mention.

It comes down to your style of play (role play vs puzzle (winning as fast as possible)). Consider the AI are not trying to win. They are trying to survive and thrive just like you. The problem may be that you are playing a different game than the AI. That is, if they are role playing and you are solving a puzzle, there is an inherent conflict. The game is not doing what you want it to do and you aren't doing what it wants you to do.

Regardless of how bad they are at tactics, you can still have your race on the highest difficulty. But you will still be on the other side of the fourth wall to them.
 

Protok St

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Several days ago I saw a thread on steam discussions in which one of the new buyers complained that he could not play because he did not understand the mechanics of the game.
This was a not abad buy but there where some issues to get going
Reminds me of this:
Rising Tide took away international trade, so turn by turn is again a strange, solitary affair, with a looming sense of danger and no handrails to point which way to go. I always felt like a screwup not growing the colony fast enough but trying to run colony pods across the terrain never worked out, they were attacked by aliens in a pack that would come from nowhere and after so many turns committed to the pod and the escorts that's a game over. My choices were never correct, can't make so many soldiers that we end up broke, can't be undefended from aliens, can't make outposts like the A.I., but can't one-city challenge either.

In september several times a week I found somebody playing BE and broadcasting it right on steam:
Beyond Earth Steam Broadcasts

Activity is increasing. A bit.
 

DST1348

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My biggest issue with BE is that there is too much area to settle and expand. No matter which Affinity you chose, you will always come by the necessary resources. No need to trade with your neighbours, nor to attack them. Rising Tide made matters worse in this regard, since it opened up even more parts of the map to settle. On the plus side, the AI knows how to use air units...
 

vorlon_mi

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My biggest issue with BE is that there is too much area to settle and expand. No matter which Affinity you chose, you will always come by the necessary resources. No need to trade with your neighbours, nor to attack them. Rising Tide made matters worse in this regard, since it opened up even more parts of the map to settle. On the plus side, the AI knows how to use air units...

In Civ 4 and Civ 6, the AI do indeed fill up most of the map. I've not played enough Civ 5 to say whether that happens or not, but I definitely agree with open space on the planet in BERT. Only certain AI factions expand more than 3 or 4 cities. In most of my games, Duncan and Daoming are too busy fighting wars to expand. Hutama and Lena are willing to expand; even so, I have few constraints on my expansion.

The resources are spread throughout and I've never been without Firaxite, floatstone, or xenomass. Unlike other games in the franchise, I don't have to start wars to get resources. I'm not tempted to found cities on the faraway resources, since supply lines would be long to get defenders over there.
 

sendos

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I loved CIVBE and especially RT. I think CIVBE had a lot of balance issues. Polystralia is literally broken. I have never lost a game as Polystralia.

With RT, you get hybrid affinities, but that also means you get t4 super quickly because it's easier to get hybrid t4 upgrades than pure t4 upgrades. On a quick game, you can get them by turn 90 or so. Purity and supremacy was the best, I reckon.

Harmony had the easiest victory type that didn't require much effort. Purity's victory type is probably the hardest if you have no room to house the earth colonies.

Espionage was fun but too time consuming to get the awesome operations.

Trade was awesome, particularly with stations.

Virtues were great, but only industry had the best early game kick. Might was good as a follow up. My common strat as Polystralia was get about 10 industry virtues then go straight down might.

Health was no big deal, except for early game.

Wonders were great. I lost recollection of them though. I think there were some that really helped you snowball.

Orbital layer was awesome. I liked the one that boosted the strength of my troops. The solar one was great for building economy.

Alien life was too much a roll of the dice. Aliens would leave you alone, but if you attacked them or strayed too close to their nests, they would rip your scouts to bits.

Agreements and traits were great but, as Polystralia, I was able to reduce my unit maintenance to 0. WIth my huge energy flow, I was able to sustain a massive army with no cost.

Early game exploration all came down to finding progenitor ruins and hoping they gave you then free affinity points but now xp in a random affinity level. Not to mention finding that artifact for the contact victory, which you would get ridiculously lucky in starting the contact wonder early. I remember stomping another player who was lucky to get the criteria to get contact victory wonder by turn 40, but he neglected his military.

The AI opinions were also flawed. They hated you if you were weak and loved you if you were strong. So the stronger you got, the less the AIs picked on you and the easier the game became.

One brilliant AI quirk was that AIs would gang up on you if you were about to win the game, but if you were too far away, they never really bothered to attack you.

Ultimately, CIVBE was just abandoned, which was a real shame. They did rush the game though, which was also a factor.
 

Guide-on

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I loved CIVBE and especially RT. I think CIVBE had a lot of balance issues. Polystralia is literally broken. I have never lost a game as Polystralia.

With RT, you get hybrid affinities, but that also means you get t4 super quickly because it's easier to get hybrid t4 upgrades than pure t4 upgrades. On a quick game, you can get them by turn 90 or so. Purity and supremacy was the best, I reckon.

Harmony had the easiest victory type that didn't require much effort. Purity's victory type is probably the hardest if you have no room to house the earth colonies.

Espionage was fun but too time consuming to get the awesome operations.

Trade was awesome, particularly with stations.

Virtues were great, but only industry had the best early game kick. Might was good as a follow up. My common strat as Polystralia was get about 10 industry virtues then go straight down might.

Health was no big deal, except for early game.

Wonders were great. I lost recollection of them though. I think there were some that really helped you snowball.

Orbital layer was awesome. I liked the one that boosted the strength of my troops. The solar one was great for building economy.

Alien life was too much a roll of the dice. Aliens would leave you alone, but if you attacked them or strayed too close to their nests, they would rip your scouts to bits.

Agreements and traits were great but, as Polystralia, I was able to reduce my unit maintenance to 0. WIth my huge energy flow, I was able to sustain a massive army with no cost.

Early game exploration all came down to finding progenitor ruins and hoping they gave you then free affinity points but now xp in a random affinity level. Not to mention finding that artifact for the contact victory, which you would get ridiculously lucky in starting the contact wonder early. I remember stomping another player who was lucky to get the criteria to get contact victory wonder by turn 40, but he neglected his military.

The AI opinions were also flawed. They hated you if you were weak and loved you if you were strong. So the stronger you got, the less the AIs picked on you and the easier the game became.

One brilliant AI quirk was that AIs would gang up on you if you were about to win the game, but if you were too far away, they never really bothered to attack you.

Ultimately, CIVBE was just abandoned, which was a real shame. They did rush the game though, which was also a factor.
You were right about it being rushed and abandoned to early! I still like BERT, but it would be so easy to have made it a LOT better. There have been times I tried to talk myself into trying to do so, but I am NOT a programmer. ;(
 

vorlon_mi

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I loved CIVBE and especially RT. I think CIVBE had a lot of balance issues.

Virtues were great, but only industry had the best early game kick. Might was good as a follow up. My common strat as Polystralia was get about 10 industry virtues then go straight down might.

Health was no big deal, except for early game.

Ultimately, CIVBE was just abandoned, which was a real shame. They did rush the game though, which was also a factor.

I've usually followed the Prosperity (green) virtue path, rather than Industry (purple, on the right). I like getting the free worker and settler/colonist, as well as the health boosts. Health became a non-issue for me after turn 150 or so, but the whole first half of the game I really held back on expansion to keep my health up.

Definitely a shame that they abandoned it. I understand the business decision; Civ 6 is available across platforms, so that it has much more profit potential.
 

KayAU

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It is interesting to read how people have different approaches. I really like exploration, so I tend to try and secure the Knowledge virtue that gives me science from expeditions, and then the Prosperity virtue that gives my Explorers 3 additional expedition modules.
 

Guide-on

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It is interesting to read how people have different approaches. I really like exploration, so I tend to try and secure the Knowledge virtue that gives me science from expeditions, and then the Prosperity virtue that gives my Explorers 3 additional expedition modules.
You might want to try Rykia's Awesome pods and ruins mod. Prosperity is definitely useful!
 

s0nny80y

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I like how gunboats are unlocked from the start of a game. This is an element that wouldn't make sense in a historically set earth game.
 

vorlon_mi

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I like how gunboats are unlocked from the start of a game. This is an element that wouldn't make sense in a historically set earth game.
Yes, isn't that interesting? One has to research a tech (Pioneering) to be able to create colonists for new cities, but key military techs are available right from the start. All the other Civ games in the franchise are the opposite; one can create new cities immediately, but one has to research techs to build a military.

I enjoy the idea that those first military units are underpowered compared with the aliens. I have to run away from most fights, initially, to avoid losing the unit. After one or two affinity buffs, then my units are much stronger. Probably explains why there are fewer aliens in the late game -- the AI factions have buffed military units, and they go hunting aliens and alien nests, leaving a few colossal aliens around.
 
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