[Comments by me are given in these brackets]
If you have questions about a certain part just quote it and I'll answer/clarify them asap.
(1) The border offical on the Washington airport was quite amused when he heard that the GameStar author was visiting because of BeyondEarth: "Civilization? Oh man, I played CIV5 quite a lot. There is a new one coming out? Cool, have fun!"
(2) SMAC was created because the dev team didn't have the CIV licence. BE was created because the team didn't get the licence from EA.
(3) Producer Lena Brenk: "But that's no problem, because we don't actually develope SMAC2. SMAC was a nice companion piece to CIV2, since then the CIV series has developed quite a bit and we build upon that."
(4) The author disagrees with that statement: SMAC was not a companion piece, but a master piece on its own right.
(5) BE is based on the CIV5 engine and uses the CIV5 style combat system. The author states that the combat system as great after the first few AI patches.
(6) The playing session consisted of the first 100 turns. They could choose to play with a premade planet or a random one and picked the latter.
(7) He mentions that he had a CIV-like option menu and could decide "to battle on big contients or island groups" [presumably map settings like continents or archipelago in CIV5]. He could also select if the AI aliens should be aggressive or restraint.
(8) He mentions several "planet types": Jungle Worlds produce lots of food, Arid worlds produce very little and "Fungus Infested Worlds" where it is "especially wild". His choise was an arid world.
(9) He also commented that the choise hadn't that big of an impact in the first 100 rounds version. [I'd disregard that considering that he did only test one planet and didn't know anything about the actual gameplay]
(10) The different planet types use different graphic sets.
(11) Modders can add own planet types. He wonders when we will see the first "Hello Kitty" planets.
(12) The player CIV is build out from several different "parts": Leader (defines nationality), Colonist Profession and Spaceship Cargo.
(13) Possible combinations mentioned: (a) battle-hardened Brazilian Faction with Scientist colonists (better science) on a "Land Surveyor" ship (uncovers all coast lines on the planet) with "Machinery" cargo (free worker unit). (b) American Reclamation Corporation (better spies) with "Survivor" colonists (more food harvested in the first city) with "Lifeform Scanner" (uncovers all alien hives) and "Lab" cargo (free advancement "Pioneering" [the 2nd tier tech in the middle of the tech web]).
(14) Possible combinations: 8 leaders + 5 colonist types + 5 cargo types + 5 ship types = 1000 potential combinations for the player CIV/Faction.
(15) Unlike with the CIV5 Civilizations the differences between the factions are rather small, because only the national bonus is unique, the remaining choises only affect the early game.
(16) Factions do not provide Unique Units or Unique Buildings. This is "done later" [presumably via affinity. It is not clear if he wants to imply that affinities unlock UBs - I doubt it].
(17) The first city can be founded within a limited area (red colored borders). This area is bigger if the player selects the "Counter-Impulse Thrusters".
(18) After the starting hex is selected a drop pod is sent to the surface and you have the very first "foothold" on the planet.
(19) Very first in regards to AI opponents are arriving one after another in the following 10 turns [Sounds like AI spawn is staggered].
(20) The first few turns can be used to improve the city, watch "Alien Hounds" (that mostly[!] leave the player alone).
(21) The player also starts with an "Explorer" unit which he can use to scout the map.
(22) It is advisable to leave "Alien Hives" alone, same for "Coastal Areas" where "Sea Dragons sometimes devour careless passerby".
(23) During exploration his unit stumbled upon a "Bonus Crates" [not sure if he means multiple huts or if the graphic shows multiple boxes] full of gold/energy. He also found "Giant Skeletons" and "Ruins".
(24) These artifacts can be surveyed, the Explorer unit has to hold his ground for a few turns to do so [so like a worker/archaeologist in CIV5].
(25) The Skeleton rewarded him with a "Controllable Alien Unit", while the ruins gave him a "Quest".
(26) There are different kinds of quests. Some are straitforward ("Find two bonus crates") others are complex, like in his case: He found a human skeleton in the ruins that was several thousand years old. He has to build a lab to progress.
(27) The quests can lead to one of the 5 different win conditions: (a) Contact the precursors who live/lived on the planet (b) conquer all enemy capitals (c) special victory condition for each affinity.
(28) Affinites are like Ideologies from CIV5. They are mostly influenced by the player's tech choises.
(29) BE uses a "Tech Web", with "Basic" stuff in the middle and "High Tech" stuff on the outer parts. Each tech has two "sub techs". These are discovered seperatly and cost "a lot more than their parental tech". They also often influence the value for the three affinities.
(30) Affinities have Unique Units with special talents that have huge impact on playstile.
(31) Sidebox: "How Upgrades Work": Units can be upgraded if they are within the player's borders. This is free but requires a certain "Affinity Level". Each upgrade offers 2 perks, but only 1 can be selected.
(32) There are "7 regular unit types" [presumably Infantry, Artillery, Tanks, etc. he doesn't go into details, but see (38) below].
(32) Example for the "Infantry" upgrade path [includes the 3D model for each unit]:
(32a) "Soldier" - basic melee unit that can be trained from the very start. The "stone age warrior" of BE.
(32b) "Marine" - improved grunt. Perks: Faster healing OR +20% combat strength.
(32c) "Harmony Tier I: Brawler" - Perks: +40% defence vs. ranged attacks OR damages all adjacent enemies upon death.
(32d) "Supremacy Tier I: Diciple" - Perks: +20% firepower [probably combat strength] bonus when next to an allied unit OR +40% combat strength when alone
(32e) "Purity Tier I: Sentinel" - +30% defence OR +10% offensive firepower [probably combat strength] for each unused movement point.
(32f) "Harmony Tier II: Marauder" - Perks: +40% combat strength while in Miasma OR requires only one movement point regardless of terrain [like CIV5 scouts].
(32g) "Supremacy Tier II: Apostle" - Perks: +10 HP per adjacent ally OR +50% combat strength when flanking the enemy.
(32h) "Purity Tier II: Centurion" - Perks: +1 movement per turn OR full heal at the beginning of each turn.
(33) Purity doesn't like to get anything close to it. Uses high firepower and ranged attacks.
(34) Supremecy are the robot and cyborg guys. They are reliant on formations because units give/receive benefits when next to each other.
(35) Harmony uses troop masses to overrun enemies. They also use terrain to their advantage, for example Miasma heals harmony units instead of damaging them.
(36) Different victory conditions for each affinity: Harmony - become one with the planet, Purity and Supremacy: Build a warp gate to either return home or "free humanity from its human form".
(37) These final projects take a lot of time and ressources [hammers] and can thus be disrupted/countered by the other factions.
(38) There are 7 different unit types: soldiers, tanks, planes, battle ships. Each unit type can be upgraded three times and the first upgrade is always the same and does not require an affinity, but the last two tiers do.
(39) Example: Purity infantry units get thicker armor, while "Harmony Hippies" use fast and flexible troops.
(40) The player can only select one of the two available perks of each upgrade level. This means troops of the same Affinity can be developed quite differently.
(41) "After selecting an upgrade all units of this type are upgraded for free" [This implies that an upgrade choise is not an individual one, but instantly affects all units - within the borders?]
(42) On the other hand units do no longer have experience promotions [like in CIV5]. They can still level up, but are only able to upgrade their combat strength a bit or fully heal once [this seems to imply that special promotions like "Blitz" or "March" are GONE!]
(43) Different unit types can be upgraded at different paces. "Infantry" only needs "Affinity Level" 9 for tier II upgrades, while "Light Vehicles" need level 13 for tier II, "Artillery" and "Carriers" are even more costly.
(44) It is possible for the player to level several Affinites, but then he won't be able to get the max tier for these Affinities [probably because of tech cost/time]
(45) Each affinity has 4 super units for very high affinity levels: Harmony - "Xenotitan" (a giant alien colossus), Purity - "Flying Battleship" (can move over land, sea and mountains). Due to these "super units" each faction should be quite different during late game.
(46) Neighbors with different ideologies don't get along very well [like CIV5 ideologies?].
(47) Satellites offer a new level of strategy for BE. Once they are build in a city they can be put into orbit. Some possible effects: More research, bombard enemiesm, increase combat power of nearby troops.
(48) Satellites can usually only be placed near own cities. Satellite influence areas must not overlap. Hostile Artillery [AA?] can shoot down the "flyers".
(49) Satellites only last for a limited amount of time. Economic-type satellties usually last longer than military ones.
(50) Affinities can influence satellite effects. For example, Supremacy players can place satellites over any Fireaxite ressource on the map (Firaxite is used for high-tech units). If they use a "Teleport-Satellite" they can quickly move units across the globe.
(51) Another mechanic for customization are "Virtues". Virtue lelves are gained via culture, which is produced by buildings.
(52) The game offers 4 different virtue trees: Might, Growth, Science, Industry. These are like CIV5 SP trees, but with much more advantages [I guess he means more SPs].
(53) In addition to these "Virtues" each tree gives a "Snyergy" bonus if the player unlocks "a lot" of virtues within it.
(54) Example: "Growth" improves food production and health of cities [it is not clear if he actually describes the SP effects or the synergy effect with this].
(55) Health works like happiness in CIV5. Too many and too big cities make people "ill", certain buildings and ressources increase health. It is a global variable.
(56) If health drops too low culture and science suffer, if it drops even lower industry and food production are affected.
(57) Too rapid expansion can thus have dire consquences for the player.
(58) Firaxis has slowed down expansion sinificantly. Colonists [equivalent to the CIV5 settler unit] are very costly.
(59) New cities start as outposts and require 10-15 turns to become a "full city".
(60) This was done to prevent early border clashes and instead make the player to focus on the planet and its wild life.
(61) The author is sceptical if that will hurt the pacing of the game. It could be boring to just have Explorers for a good part of the early game. He hopes the devs will find a good balance.
(62) The player can build terrain improvements like farms and mines. Roads are also available, but cause upkeep cost like in CIV5.
(63) To make more money the player can trade with foreign cities or "Stations" [who are equal to the City States of CIV5].
(64) "Stations" are founded from time to time. The player gets a pop up where two different companies (example: a mining company and a weapon manufacturer) request clearance to settle near his territory. He can select one of them that will then create a station near his territory.
(65) If the player creates a trade route with that city via a game menu, he receives benefits in return. Military Forts, for example, grant free units [like Military City States in CIV5].
(66) Trading with a station near another AI player can lower relations with that AI [negative modifiers for AI Diplomacy behviour?].
(67) Espionage is available from the very beginning of the game and has even bigger impact on relations.
(68) <Author inserts obligatory USA <-> Germany spying joke>
(69) Agents are assigned via a special game menu. This has no immediate effect.
(70) The longer a spy is assigned to a city and the more spies are assigned to a city [so it seems you can have multiple spies per city, unlike in CIV5] the more points are added to the local "Intrigue" value.
(71) The intrigue value has 5 levels that determine what espionage actions are available for that city. The first 3 levels are rather harmless (e.g. tech stealing), while the last 2 levels allow nasty stuff.
(72) High level espionage options include: flipping the city [not clarified if that is instant or with rebellion over time] or luring "Alien Siege Worms" to the city that destroy tile improvements and kill units.
(73) If a city has a high Intrigue level the owner will receive a warning.
(74) A player can assign spies for counter-espionage.
(75) Sidebox: "Goodbye Alpha Centauri - why Beyond Earth does many thing differntly"
(75a) Factions: SMAC - Factions with ideologies, pros + cons, impact on AI behaviour
(75b) Factions: BE - Nationality + Colonist Professions + Equipment. AI behaviour depends on nationality, but may vary: Brazilian AI is usually more aggressive than Franco-Iberia but doesn't have to.
(75c) Factions: Why it was changed - (Will Miller) "We want to give the player more choise when selecting a Faction. Instead of repeating the same strategy over and over again they should try new things. Ai doesn't follow a fixed strategy but reacts to it's situation.
(75d) Factions: What Game Star thinks - "More variany can't be bad. Adaptable AI sounds good. But the modular system also makes Factions more interchangeable. We liked the clearly shown factions from SMAC. Greetings to praying mantis Sister Miriam. (thumbs sideways)"
(76a) Research: SMAC - Classic tech tree. Random research system where the game randomly selected a few available techs. Thankfully it could be turned off.
(76b) Research: BE - Techweb allows more freedom, research from basics (inner part) to high tech (outer part). Each tech has 2 (costly) sub techs. Techs determine the affinity of a faction.
(76c) Research: Why it was changed - (Will Miller) "Thanks to the non-linear net factions can develope in completely different directions, that is something new to the CIV series. The affinities make the factions more distinct from each other.
(76d) Research: What Game Star thinks - "Affinities are a great idea, because they give the interchangeable factions a face. It replaces the UI and UB system from CIV5, just in a way where you can select your UI/UBs yourself. We an affinity-like system would also be possible for CIV6. (thumbs up)"
(77a) Units & Upgrades: SMAC - Instead of researching CIV-like prebuild units the player unlocks parts. From these the player can create whatever unit he desires. Old units could be upgraded for an energy cost.
(77b) Units & Upgrades: BE - Premade units, all units of one category (e.g. Infantry) can be upgraded for free once the player has reached a higher affinity level. Each upgrade offers 2 perks, but only once can be chosen. Veteran units increase their combat power like in SMAC, but don't learn new special abilities [from promotions] like in CIV5.
(77c) Units & Upgrades: Why it was changed - (Will Miller) "Our first prototype actually contained a SMAC-like unit editor. However, that required too much micromanagement and was quite tedious. So we decided to go with a more linear upgrade system that made more fun and felt more like CIV."
(77d) Units & Upgrades: What Game Star thinks - "The unit editor from SMAC offered a lot of flexibility - too bad it is gone. However, we like the idea of upgrades via affinities. The free upgrade, on the other hand, feels odd - in real life you usually don't get better weapons for free. (thumbs sideways)"
(78a) Combat System: SMAC - Combat is like in CIV2. An unlimted amount of units can be placed on any tile. A new mechanic allowed to bombard tiles and damage all units on it. This made bigger armies more vulnerable.
(78b) Combat System: BE - BE uses the CIV5 combat system: 1UPT, so the formation of the units is very important. Satellites add a new level of strategic depth.
(78c) Combat System: Why it was changed - (Dennis Shirk) "We added hexes and 1UPT to CIV5 to remove the doomstacks from CIV4. Instead of just massing units in cities battles should be fought on the world map. Initially the AI had some trouble, but it got better after a few patches." [Indeed, now they just suicide their armies most of the time...]
(78d) Combat System: What Game Star thinks - "The CIV5 combat system was an excellent idea, because it made tactics more important. Satellites might add even more tactical depth, considering that you can have only one per area. (thumbs up)"
(79a) Terrain & Terraforming: SMAC - SMAC had real 3D terrain, each tile had exposition, heigh and inclination, with an impact on gameplay. Tiles could be raised and lowered or the player could plant forests.
(79b) Terrain & Terraforming: BE - Since BE uses the CIV5 graphics engine, the terrain is "flat". The terrain has a clear structure and each tile consists of a fixed terrain type and cannot be changed. Terraforming is gone, so interaction is limited by building farms, mines and the like.
(79c) Terrain & Terraforming: Why it was changed - (David McDonough) - "Like many other players I have found memories of SMAC's terraforming. But in BE we used another approach because we don't think that this level of micromanagement is really necessary. Instead you can now influence the terrain with units, like satellites that can create or remove Miasma." [That last remark quite interesting!]
(79d) Terrain & Terraforming: What Game Star thinks - "We can do without SMAC's 3D terrain - it had interesting impact on gamepla, but was neither good looking nor clearly laid out. A good alternative would be a CIV2 like system where the player could change terrain types. At least BE offers some terraform-like improvements, like the Terrascape (a kind of "Garden of Eden"). (thumbs sideways)"
(80a) Governments: SMAC - Instead of premade governments (like "republic"), we were allowed to create our own state from 16 predefined policies like "police state" or "mind control". That had different pros and cons, could be changed at any time and had significant impact on diplomacy.
(80b) Governments: BE - Culture gained from buildings increases culture levels and unlocks "virtues". There are 4 differnt trees (Might, Growth, Science, Industry).
(80c) Governments: Why it was changed - (David McDonough) - "The virtues act like the SPs from CIV5. We like that because it allows you to shape the identy of your people. Now we also have quest decisions and affinities. That adds a lot more character than a simple "form of government"."
(80d) Governments: What Game Star thinks - "Virtues are a cool idea, but like in CIV5 we miss the option to change them. Unlocked virtues stay with you forever - which means we miss the SMAC system even more. It was simply put one of the best systems in any strategy game to this day. (thumbs sideways)"
(81a) Diplomacy & Espionage: SMAC - Next to direct negotiations we had the planetary council, some sort of UN to make important global decisions. Espionage was handled via a CIV2 like system with on-map units.
(81b) Diplomacy & Espionage: BE - There is no longer a planetary council, so we have only direct negotiations with other players. Espionage, however, was improved: Instead of on-map units we assign spies in a special menu.
(81c) Diplomacy & Espionage: Why it was changed - (Will Miller) "You can interact a lot more with the other parties than you could in CIV, since we have more than just alliances and the like. We removed the planetary council because it was not really necessary anymore. In SMAC it was one of the victory conditions, but now we have different ones."
(81d) Diplomacy & Espionage: What Game Star thinks - "The planetary council in SMAC wasn't good because it allowed a victory condition, but because it allowed votes about important topics like the use of Weapons of Mass Destruction. It would also fit quite well into BE. It is nice that espionage was extended, but we will really miss the council. (thumbs down)"
(82a) Cities & Expansion: SMAC - Founding cities in SMAC worked like in every CIV game before. Except for one thing: We could also settle the seas with special colony ships.
(82b) Cities & Expansion: BE - No more ocean cities, the player can only settle on land. Colonists are costly and outposts need 10-15 turns before they turn into real cities. Until then they are defenceless and must be protected and supplied.
(82c) Cities & Expansion: Why it was changed - (Anton Strenger) "We thought about adding ocean cities but refrained to add them in, because we want the player to focus on land. Outposts were added to prevent rapid expansion and allow early game border clashes. The player should focus on the alien enviroment instead of the other factions during the early game."
(82d) Cities & Expansion: What Game Star thinks - "We don't really miss ocean cities because they offered little for much micromanagement. We are a bit more sceptical about outposts - they might save us from too fast early game expansion, but could also slow down the pace. (thumbs sideways)"
(83a) Story & Quests: SMAC - As the game went on the planet became increasingly hostile. The told the story via text: The planet was alive - and allergic against humans.
(83b) Story & Quests: BE - There is no story. Instead the player can start quests via surveying artifacts that tell little stories. The play can, for example, look for clues about the precursors that lived on the planet - but he doesn't have to.
(83c) Story & Quests: Why it was changed - (David McDonough) - "We think CIV players want to experience their own story - many write down their experience and publish them in forums. We don't want to ruin that with a strict storyline. Instead quests will give the player some cool SciFi bits that they can weave into their story."
(83d) Story & Quests: What Game Star thinks - "There are players who didn't like the story of SMAC because it inevitably let to a point where the planet attacked and the player lost stuff he had carefully build up. However that was also a special challenge, just like the War for independence in Colonization. Too bad that it has been removed. (thumbs down)"