It's unfair to continuously compare BE to its spiritual predecessor, but I think such critiques do reveal some of BE's inherent weaknesses in terms of story and characterization. I think for me the setup of BE's flaws aren't simply because the writing leaves a lot to be desired, or even that BE is a shiny optimistic future compared to its predecessor's desperate struggle for survival. First, all of the sponsor leaders, and the nations behind them, are all presented as too nice and non-confrontational. As MandaloreGaming's review describes it, "Everyone is from a really clean, polite, refined, perfect future. It's hard to imagine any of them fighting[...]" It's harsh, but it's true. All of the characters' motivations are more or less the same- the bettering of humanity, specifically their nation- they just have different emphases on how to do it. But none of the emphases are really in conflict with each other. Nobody is trying to set up a dictatorship or a warlike society. No one seems to have ethics issues. The in-game tech quotes and diplomacy dialog options don't present anyone as possibly nefarious. Not even the Civilopedia/website teaser lore seems to indicate that Kavitha's fanatical theocracy has a dark side. Rejinaldo's military career is that of a peacekeeper! The lore goes out of its way to tell us that Chungsu has a bad rep, their secrecy is actually for the betterment of humanity! The most negative you could get is that Fielding is a power-hungry corporate stooge with a predilection towards industrial espionage (but not anything more problematic like, assassinations), and Hutama likes to rig trade deals, and Élodie is a snob for the classics. Second, the national differences don't matter in terms of conflict. There's no reason why one country would hate or like another country, since there's no backstory of conflict or cooperation that BE works off of. All are basically starting from the same place, so there's no past grievances, only realpolitik struggles over resources and material concerns, until Affinities kick in. While I get that Firaxis doesn't want to invent reasons for one future country to hate another future country- that could easily make things dated really quickly, and even though the game was made before 2015 I understand why the devs don't want to stoke national antagonism. But then what ends up happening is that the Sponsors are just hollow window-dressing, differentiated only by different palette swaps and sound bites and city names and stat boosts. Why even differentiate the factions as national blocs if that's all you're going to invest into making them compete with one another? So finally, the affinities should be a bigger built-in differentiator. Two good posts: People have probably harped on this before, so I'll just conclude on how important Affinities are emphasized in future expansions or if there's a BE 2. They need to not only change stats and gameplay styles, for immersion and believability's sake, the writing also needs to give us a reason to care. Why does Supremacy, which is about changing yourself irrespective of your environment, conflict with Harmony, which is about changing yourself so the environment is unharmed? What are the hybrid affinities about and why do they conflict with each other, much less with the non-hybrid ones? Most of all, how do the Sponsors fit in with the Affinities? It's easy to think of Élodie as a Purist, Sochua as a Supremacist, Lena as a Harmonist, since their emphases reinforce those affinities. But you're allowed to choose any for anybody without any sort of penalty or conflict. I think restricting some affinities for some sponsors based on characterization (of the leader or of the sponsor future-nation) would help provide some depth. Or at least penalties for choosing an affinity because it's against the character's motivations. To bring about more choice, sometimes you need to restrict some choices. Or at least to tell a better story. I think Firaxis put a lot of work into the story and writing of BE, as flawed and underwhelming as it was. The fact that Sid Meier's Starships! had the sponsor leaders as the transhuman leaders of interstellar empires weirdly rooted in old Earth nationalities shows that Firaxis cares deeply about the characters they made, or at least wanted to reuse their art assets. So I hope BE 2 will still retain the sponsors in some fashion, but make them more interesting. Finally, I also think it's interesting how avid the mod community has been introducing their own future-nation blocs that really fit the style of BE. But I think these fan works often go an extra mile at actually providing their fan nations with deeper motivations.