Civilization: Beyond Earth Takes a Trip to the Sea With Its Latest DLC

The cover art for Rising Tide

The latest from Sid Meier

Civilization: Beyond Earth was quite the departure from earlier installments in the celebrated series by Sid Meier. All the previous games take place in the past, as remnants of specific pieces of history. Beyond Earth finally brings the series into the future.

Not only is it in the future, it is the distant future – approximately six hundred years from now. 

Players no longer control historical figures from a catalogue of historical territories. Instead, the characters and kingdoms are customizable, personalizing the playing experience. 

Somebody familiar in Civilization V.

Further customization can be accomplished through the extensive technology web, which counters the more linear acquisition of technologies in prior Civilization games.

Beyond Earth is the result of what happens after humans are forced to leave our home planet; it is the exhausting journey of trying to colonize safely in space, in areas that were only recently discovered. Guess who has discovered these lands first… none other than aliens, who may not always be pleased about humanity’s presence outside of Earth.

Despite confusion that the game could be a simple expansion of Civilization V, its predecessor, Sid Meier’s Civilization: Beyond Earth is a standalone product that was released in October of 2014.

The Ocean is Ours

As its name suggests, the main attraction of Beyond Earth’s upcoming expansion is the addition of water as inhabitable land. Players will be able to colonize the ocean, which works as what the developers of Rising Tide call a fully replayable map, for the new strategic options and unique natural resources it offers.

Obviously, it would not be Civilization without a catch; ocean territories have certain quirks, advantageous and disadvantageous, not native to land.

For instance, it is easier to move over water versus other terrain, and very few detours need to be made around landmasses such as mountains. Thus, the map opens up far more quickly! 

Units have a faster traveling rate on sea, but they may also take longer to be created in oceanic cities.

Also, ocean plots generally gain less in the way of food and more in the way of culture. This puts ocean territories at somewhat of a disadvantage, being an environment that is not conducive to rapid border growth.

An interesting twist on the way expansion works in city territories, ocean territories actually do not grow on their own. There is no gradual leveling-up mechanic that increases your sea city’s borders. Instead, one must purchase a single hex tile for the city at a time – or shift the entire property over a block, an opportunity that takes the shape of any other building project but certainly is the more radical choice.

By adding ocean colonization, Rising Tide is ambitiously and admiringly revolutionizing the base game of Civilization: Beyond Earth.

Whole New Worlds

Much like the notable differences between ocean and land territories, there are two new planet types in the Rising Tide expansion, each with their own strengths and weaknesses.

The first new biome is called Primordial. Their number one feature is pure chaos; as a much younger type of world, it can be rather unstable. 

Add volcanoes to the mix, and Primordial worlds are sure to be an exciting addition to Beyond Earth! 

A peek of tundra in Civilization V

To the contrary, Frigid worlds, the second new type of planets, are older and slower-paced. Ice has frozen over into tundra for many, many years. Even the waters are as frosty as a slushie!

There are various other factors that differentiate the Primordial planets from the Frigid planets. Alien races and behavior, for example, vary between each. As an objectively balanced game, everything has its pros and cons in Civilization.

Changes in Diplomacy and Politics

While the employment of new inhabitable terrain is huge for Civilization: Beyond Earth, changes to its political landscape are almost equally as significant.

Artificial Intelligence has always played a big role in Civilization games, and Rising Tide is about to further develop how real life players interact with their AI rivals. The expansion will implement a dynamic “Trait” system for all leaders, where various characteristics can be unlocked and transformed throughout the course of the game. That way, they will progress as individuals along with the world surrounding them.

Another revamp was given to the Diplomacy system. It contains two novel attributes, Fear and Respect, that affect how varying opponents feel about you.

Fear is governed by rank, so the opponent AI will only fear you if you possess a higher rank. Respect, on the other hand, is more personal; whether or not somebody respects you is based on how much your gameplay decisions line up with theirs and how responsive you have been to their desires. Of course, the specifics are also influenced by player personality.

Conversing with other civilizations in Beyond Earth

Ultimately, the health of a player’s relationship with other territories is determined by these factors and their political capital. Because political capital regulates traits and traits are generally advantageous, the Trait system pairs along with the Diplomacy system in exactly how beneficial alliances can be.

Civilization’s international relations system has always been complicated, and with Rising Tide, they are enhancing the series with even more dimensions of complexity between leaders. That could be worrisome to players who already tend to feel overwhelmed by the game’s extensive mechanics.  

Several New Factions

As for new civilizations, the Rising Tide expansion will add four extra factions to the game.

This is where the most mystery (and anticipation) rests! Only a few details about the new factions have been released so far, and the rest may not be revealed until release.

Two of the four factions are aquatic-themed, meaning they start out with an ocean city already established.

An aquatic faction itself, Al-Falah is the name of the group that we have gathered the most information about so far. They arrived on generational ships, unlike other factions. Despite having descended from wealthy Middle Eastern earthlings, they have no recollection of Earth on their own.

Lead by Arshia Kishk, the Al-Falah capital is called Ard, and their special ability is rumored to be a bonus to city processes.  

From the reveal of Beyond Earth

The section faction to be introduced in Civilization: Beyond Earth’s upcoming expansion is named the North Sea Alliance. Somewhat less is known about their civilization’s backstory, but its leader is Duncan Hughes, and they too are aquatic, meaning the North Sea Alliance can begin in the ocean.

With a special ability of 50% more combat strength and a decrease of 50% to move in aquatic territories, the North Sea Alliance will be particularly skilled at water-based combat, perhaps even in their capital of Deepcastle.

Hopefully more light will be shed on the remaining two factions as the release date of Rising Tide swims in closer to release.

Additional Smaller, Though Still Important, Changes

Civilization: Beyond Earth’s technology web was already a step up from the linear branches of Civilization V’s tech tree. However, Rising Tide will include yet another improvement to the system. Assigning colors based on where a specific tech will end up, the web will be easier to navigate than ever; skills leading to buildings are blue, units are grey, and World Wonders are yellow.

Furthermore, there will be a state of the art Affinity system that ties into the ramped up technology web in Beyond Earth.

The occurrence of Affinities is dependent on the technological advancement that particular civilization has invested in. Three differing paths of Affinity are available to players, and can be followed the same manner that access to new types of buildings and units is acquired. 

The three Affinity paths

A circular wheel showcases each of the three possible Affinity paths, functioning as the route players will need to take in order to receive specific bonuses. 

Rising Tide brings a literal game-changer to the system by allowing players to specialize in multiple Affinities at once. These are called hybrid Affinity units, which receive distinctive upgrades specific to the direction players choose to take their civilization. Rewards are based on an individual’s particular style of play, rather than confining each civilization to a singular class or path.

Finally, the expansion adds a less bold system called Artifacts. After excavating an area, players may “discover” valuable relics scattered amongst the land. The relics can be traded in for perks, such as unit upgrades, or can be saved and traded in multiples for a better bonus.

The Effect on Gameplay

Beyond Earth and its Rising Tide expansion are slowly transforming the Civilization franchise into something more customizable for its community.

With the addition of the Trait, Affinity, and Diplomatic systems, there are more ways for players to express themselves through their civilizations. They are no longer forced to conform to history; now, in this future world, we create our own history.

The Rising Tide expansion for Civilization: Beyond Earth is expected to be released this autumn of 2015. Watch some sample gameplay from E3 below.

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