While mainline Civilization titles are traditionally enhanced by expansion packs and DLC, with few exceptions, such as Civilization VI at launch, each base game is enjoyable “as is”, and veterans and casual players alike will not feel like their hard-earned money has been wasted.
Unfortunately, Sid Meier’s Civilization: Beyond Earth is lacklustre and thoroughly disappointing compared to other Civilization titles, and even after the addition of the Rising Tide DLC remains as so because Rising Tide only succeeded in making a bad game better instead of making a good game into a great one, such as was the case with Sid Meiers Civilization V and the critically acclaimed Gods and Kings DLC.
Sid Meier’s Civilization: Beyond Earth is a very difficult game to judge fairly; while many critics praised the game and scored it very highly, the Civilization community has never been very fond of it, and even years later, after the Rising Tide DLC raised the overall rating considerably, it remains the lowest rated Civilization game in the history of the franchise, with just 59% of reviews being positive, a number that becomes even more alarming when you consider that the next lowest rated title is Civilization VI with 85% positive reviews and that the rest of the series enjoys a 90% or better positive review score.
While certain DLC have scored lower than 59%, this is often very objective, with players voicing their opinion on the price of said DLC, unlike Civilization: Beyond Earth, where most negative reviews have very valid issues with the game itself, issues which for the most part persist until this day.
What caused this disconnect between critics and players, you may ask? The answer is not that surprising.
While Civilization: Beyond Earth is a decent enough 4X game, it is not a good Civilization game, and in the same way, a customer would feel very disappointed to receive a very decent McDonald’s burger if they had ordered Wagyu steak.
Longtime Civilization players felt they were being served a substandard product, and honestly, after playing every title in the series multiple times, I agree with them.
Sid Meier’s Civilization: Beyond Earth introduced players to factions, with individual civilizations no longer existing and new factions that represent various nations and special interest groups taking their place.
Honestly, I found this a refreshing change of pace and being able to customize your faction with various starting bonuses such as increased resource yield or production bonuses.
In addition, players are allowed to assign, swap, and upgrade their chosen faction leader’s traits, meaning that players can customize their chosen leader to match their playstyle, a feature that I honestly would like to see find its way to mainline titles, at least for player controlled Civilizations, while AI faction leaders retain traits that best align them with their real-world counterparts.
When I play a civilization game, progressing through the tech tree and each era means something; I understand the importance of discovering horseback riding or irrigation, the world-altering effects of the Industrial Revolution and the discovery of nuclear weapons.
When I see a horde of barbarian musket men descending on a small outpost defended by a single swordsman, I know the outcome; in the same way, I expect the American civilization to expand and Japan to attempt isolationism before going berserk on its neighbours.
I even expect Gandhi to go nuclear, despite the real world Gandhi being a pacifist due to a long-running joke in the civilization community; I know what all these things mean, and as a longtime fan of the franchise, it helps me to understand not only how I compare to others, but what I should do next.
Civilization: Beyond Earth, unfortunately, lacks this realism and relies almost entirely on science fiction tropes and techno-babble, resulting in discoveries that sound like they were ripped from a badly written Star Trek fan fiction.
While I am sure that researching Nano Thorum Influx Convertors means something, and my Scythe X12 will perform its Demineralization protocols better when under the influence of Firazium, none of these words mean anything.
Please note, while the names and units above are not in the game, I made them up to show an example of how absurd everything sounds in Civilization: Beyond Earth, and many of the units, buildings and technologies have even similar generic sci-fi names and grant even more indecipherable bonuses.
When combined with lacklustre combat between generic units, meaningless exploration of a bland alien world, and a diplomacy system that has been reduced to swapping passive bonuses, Sid Meier’s Civilization: Beyond Earth lacks the “just one more turn” aspect of addictive gameplay that the Civilization franchise is infamous for, and as a result has been largely forgotten by the Civilization community, and honestly gaming community as a whole.
As I touched upon briefly, Sid Meier’s Civilization: Beyond Earth feels like a neutered Civilization game; every aspect of gameplay feels this way. In a recent playthrough, I placed everything I could onto automatic and auto-end turns and then sat back and watched. My workers built improvements that I didn’t care about and researched techno-babble. At the same time, my generic units rumbled around a bland map. They occasionally encountered alien life that either ignored me or put up almost no resistance, resulting in comically bad encounters where an unmarried city held off a horde of aliens without a single point of damage to my defences or the eventual defender I produced just in case the enemy managed to overcome the city defences, which they never did.
Having discovered multiple other factions, I got to work playing diplomat, only to discover that diplomacy consisted of renting one of their researched/passive bonuses for a new currency called capital while, in turn, renting out my passive bonuses for the same currency.
This mind-numbing tedium went on for over 150 turns before I decided to ally with the AI. I easily convinced all but one faction to become my ally before resuming the tedium.
This is where things get interesting: two of my allies declared war on each other, and then all allies of either faction declared war on me without giving me the option of choosing a side. As a result, every civ declared war on me and, in turn, on each other for no reason, effectively ending all trade and starting an 8-way war between former allies who held one another in high esteem, or at least that is what their frequent mindnumbing affirmations of friendship for one another would lead you to believe.
To make matters worse, the “war” was as boring and uneventful as everything else thus far. While I did lose a few units, and the enemy swapped cities a few times, nothing even remotely interesting happened, and I quit the game in disgust.
As a longtime franchise fan, I can safely say I have never encountered worse Civilization gameplay in any game, including some truly atrocious low-budget Civilization clones.
Perhaps it’s a good thing that Sid Meier’s Civilization: Beyond Earth was discontinued, as I certainly would not wish to play a sequel, despite the vast improvements brought by the Rising Tide DLC, which, in my opinion, were too little, too late, and only succeeded in making Sid Meier’s Civilization: Beyond Earth less awful.
Sid Meier’s Civilization: Beyond Earth was released just under two years before Sid Meier’s Civilization VI and was swiftly abandoned by the developers to save the struggling mainline title, which was subjected to many negative reviews.
While this refocus on Civilization VI saved it in the eyes of the community, it also doomed Civilization: Beyond Earth to obscurity, its potential to remain forever unrealized.
Originally, players who owned Sid Meier’s Civilization: Beyond Earth and Sid Meier’s Starships could unlock bonuses on each game by loading and converting a completed Civilization: Beyond Earth game from the “just one more turn” screen into a fresh save game for Sid Meier’s Starships.
Unfortunately, this appears to no longer work, however, due to changes in the 2K account system, which stops both games from being able to connect to the verification server.
Sid Meier's Civilization: Beyond Earth is a 4x strategy video game developed by Firaxis Games and published by 2K, it was released on 24 October 2014 and retails for $39.99+.
Sid Meier's Civilization: Beyond Earth is available exclusively on PC.
Sid Meier's Civilization: Beyond Earth is no longer in active development, and the developers have moved on to other projects.
Sid Meier's Civilization: Beyond Earth offers the following matchmaking options:
The following peripherals are officially supported:
Sid Meier's Civilization: Beyond Earth is rated PEGI 12+ and contains the following:
Civilization: Beyond Earth is a decent game, and for casual fans of the Civilization franchise, it is close enough to the mainline games to be somewhat enjoyable. However, there are much better civ-like titles on the market. Honestly, as a longtime fan of the franchise, I feel no urge to replay it, a sentiment shared with much of the community, considering that Civilization: Beyond Earth is the least played game in the franchise, with around 80% fewer active players that Sid Meiers Civilization III (2001), the oldest game that is legally available to download.
In short, Civilization: Beyond Earth is a decent enough sci-fi 4X title, but there are much better titles out there, and very often, they are not only much cheaper but continue to receive substantial updates, unlike Civilization: Beyond Earth, which was swiftly abandoned in 2016 following the launch of Sid Meier’s Civilization VI.