The AI has seen a good amount of improvement since Beyond Earth's predecessor, but it still lacks the sophistication necessary for a game of this magnitude. Often times, our opponents seemed timid and more than willing to allow myself and my allies to complete an endgame victory requirement with little or no opposition. For example, in a game involving three teams of two, my team created The Beacon, a gigantic monolith that, if held, would grant us victory in thirty turns. One of the AI teams noticed this and almost immediately declared war on us, forcing us into a satisfying "defend at all costs" scenario. The other team, however, made no move or even a hint of a move to oppose us in our victory. While the hostile team gave us a bit of discomfort, a full, intraplanetary war would've been so much more logical and exciting. Further expansion on this example reveals another flaw, though this particular instance is specific to us co-op gamers and difficult to hold the developers responsible for. In the previous example, my settlement was housing the wonder necessary for victory. Upon the declaration of war, I began to fortify my cities in anticipation of the impending siege. However, shortly after announcing their hostility, the opposing team sent a majority of their military to attack my ally...on the other side of the continent. My side saw a few skirmishes between robots and hovertanks, but most of my units built to defend the Beacon never even saw combat. The whole situation struck us as odd and took away some of the satisfaction of our victory, which is unfortunate considering the six hours we spent achieving it.
If there's one suggestion I wish could’ve been repeated to Beyond Earth’s development team, it's the idea of "quality over quantity". While you are given many choices in an attempt to make your colony feel distinct, they begin to feel trite and insignificant over time, occasionally delving into annoying. I wish more time had been spent making a smaller number of options feel as complete as possible, such as the AI or Quest lines. Despite this, the game is gorgeous and does introduce a number of welcome changes to the Civilization series. If you enjoyed playing co-operatively in Civilization 5, as I do, you'll find this to be a similarly fun, albeit slightly pricey, experience which will serve you well as an option adjacent to the near-perfection of Civilization 5. The final question, and one that I believe marks the success of a Civilization game, is how well it imparts a belief of wonder, power, and responsibility. Despite its flaws, sessions of Beyond Earth saw me explore the ruins of a mysterious alien planet, crush those who opposed myself and my allies, and stamp out any danger to my little bastion of humanity with fierce loyalty. The feeling remains as untouched as it ever was.
Beyond Earth feels like fanfiction resulting from a Civ V victory. It possesses the same strong Civ V gameplay at its core we've come to love after all the expansions. Yet, it still suffers from some of the problems V did when it first appeared.
The tech web is a cool feature that definitely works for a game set in the kinda-distant-but-kinda-close future, and is by far the most unique thing about this package. I'm also a huge fan of the affinities, which grant your cities and units their own unique flavors as you travel down the various paths. The planet succeeds at feeling like a hostile, alien landscape where everything is trying to either murder or digest non-natives. The presentation is fantastic, but it simply falls short in execution.
The AI is completely nonthreatening, even on higher difficulties. Perhaps they are keenly aware that aliens might wipe us all off this hostile world and are loath to battle other humans, but the computer opponents don't seem to care about your actions. I even founded an undefended base in direct conflict with their borders and they just pretended like it wasn't there.
Your "civs" have a shockingly low variety of troops they can recruit. While each unit has three mutations (dependent on your affinity), there really aren't that many to choose from. I know this is the future, where all of the "good tech" has apparently already been discovered, but it's still strange to build the same exact units throughout the entire game.
Why are quests seemingly showing up at random? Why are affinity points couched in the tech trees on top of opposing ones? Why are there only 8 "civs"? The game's limited scope betrays the initial wonder at landing on an alien planet.
Beyond Earth is a game that I really wanted to love, but was, in my mind, marred with perplexing design choices and a constricting range of things to do. It feels like a well-made mod for Civ V, but by no means does it feel like a proper followup, especially at $49.99. I had a great deal of fun with BE, but all throughout my time with it, I found myself wishing I was playing Civ V.
The Co-Op Experience: Team up with friends and play through a round of the game. Players share technology, can trade resources, form alliances and crush the enemy.
Co-Optimus game reviews focus on the cooperative experience of a game, our final score graphic represents this experience along with an average score for the game overall. For an explanation of our scores please check our Review Score Explanation Guide.