Linux Gaming News

Civilization: Beyond Earth Coming to Linux, Windows, and Mac This Fall

2K Games today 3announced that Civilization: Beyond Earth, the next entry in the popular Civilization #strategy #game franchise, is coming to Linux alongside release for Windows and Mac this fall.

Set in a science-fiction-themed future, the game will allow players to select one of eight different expedition sponsors that are looking to colonize alien planets in order to establish a new civilization. Similar to previous titles in the series, gameplay will center around building large armies and structures as well as researching advanced technologies. Civilization: Beyond Earth also features an enhanced quest system, unit customization, and support for up to 8 players in multiplayer.

Key features of Sid Meier’s Civilization: Beyond Earth include:

  • Seed the Adventure: Players will establish a cultural identity, select a leader and sponsor an expedition by assembling the spacecraft, cargo and colonists through a series of choices that directly impact starting conditions when arriving on the new alien planet.
  • Alien World: Exploring the benefits and dangers of a new planet filled with dangerous terrain, mystical resources and hostile lifeforms unlike those of Earth, players will build outposts, unearth ancient alien relics, tame new forms of life, develop flourishing cities and establish trade routes to create prosperity for their people.
  • New Technology Web: Reflecting forward progress in an uncertain future, technology advancement will occur through a series of nonlinear choices that affect the development of mankind. The tech web is organized around three broad themes, each with a distinct victory condition.
  • New Quest System: Quests are infused with fiction about the planet, and will help guide players through a series of side missions that will aid in the collection of resources, upgrading units, and advancing through the game.
  • New Orbital Layer: Players will build and deploy advanced military, economic and scientific satellites that provide strategic offensive, defensive and support capabilities from orbit.

In the science fiction that forms the foundation of Sid Meier’s Civilization: Beyond Earth, our home planet is no longer what it used to be. Humanity’s future among the stars flows from those events, but Firaxis is making a choice. It knows what happens — everybody there knows what happens, so they can work from a common foundation — but Firaxis isn’t going to tell players everything.

“Internally, we’ve written out exactly what those events are, but for the player, we’re leaving it vague and allowing their imagination to fill the gaps,” he said.

According to Strenger, the deliberately ambiguous narrative is way to both engage and empower players who will determine humanity’s fate.

“We don’t take such a strong stance on narrative for the game because we want this to be a really repayable experience, a really customizable experience,” he said. “A lot of the gameplay systems we’re putting in really address that.

“Players create their own story. If we, as designers, go in and say, ‘This is the backstory of why you’re here,’ I think that’s a missed opportunity for the players. I think our philosophy as a studio is to show restraint when it comes to narrative. You’ll see the same thing in XCOM. Until the very end in XCOM, you don’t really find out about why they’re there — and even then, it’s kind of left up a lot to the player’s imagination.”

There’s another narrative reason that Firaxis is taking a vague approach to the narrative underpinnings: In the context of Sid Meier’s Civilization: Beyond Earth, players will literally determine what we become after Earth, and the future of humanity is grounded in a fierce geopolitical struggle that begins back home. Players will need to choose sides.

“We came up with, as designers, this geopolitical series of cataclysmic events,” he said. “There’s a nuclear exchange that a lot of nations fell under.”

“If you think about it,” Brenk said, “in Civ historically, it’s similar. The player has the reference of history and [can] fill in the gaps with their imagination and what their play style looks like. They know the rough outlines. They probably are not all historians. They probably don’t all know the specifics and details, but they know the rough outline of what happened with Genghis Khan or who he was.

“We’re trying to provide something very similar, except here for the future, where we give rough outlines and the player fills in the gaps with their imagination because that will really be the place that they remember: the choices they made and how that impacted their playthrough.”

Leaving Earth allowed the developers to move “outside of the historical context,” she said, which excited many on the team. But doing something so different, even if it was founded in Civilization’s core principles, also provided its own set of challenges for developers to overcome.

“When you play the game, you’ll see all these opportunities to grow the very identity of humanity. You’ll pick several of them and try to nail them down and try to beat the over civs to it. And then you’ll start over and pick a different one.”

The decisions players make about what humanity becomes won’t take place in a vacuum. The strangers in Sid Meier’s Civilization: Beyond Earth‘s strange land have competing values, differing ideas about the proper path forward. And players will come face-to-face with those competing values as they build their civilization.

Humanity’s evolution is reflected in the gameplay. According to lead producer for the Civilization series Dennis Shirk, players will take their first 50-60 turns in the game alone. As each civilization grows, however, the game behind to change.

“When you cast off the historical context that we’re bound to in a game like Civilization, you can go to some strange places, if you just let yourself go wild,” Shirk said. “[The developers] showed a remarkable bit of both restraint and imagination in creating some very believable yet completely out of the ordinary places for the player to go through.

“When you’re going through this game, you might start out talking to other leaders or factions or other leaders who’ve landed on the planet, and you still feel, “OK, these still feel like people from earth that I’m relating to.’ But as the game goes on and these factions and these people start to change — they’re adapting to the planet — the game becomes new all over again as this whole experience changes.”

Previous Civilization games gave players a linear tech tree to seed, based on the course of actual human events. But in Sid Meier’s Civilization: Beyond Earth, players will be making history, not creating an alternate version of it. Exit the linear tech tree and enter the non-linear tech web.

“We were thinking, ‘How does this progress from here out?,'” Brenk said. “The design team came up with this really neat solution where we have a tech web instead of a tech tree. It’s not linear anymore because we don’t exactly know where humanity will be going from here.” Because it’s no longer saddled to history, there are multiple different theories about how humanity might develop, and the tech web contains three broad affinities that help players assimilate to their new surroundings. The harmony affinity is for players who believe that they should become part of the new alien world. The supremacy affinity is harmony’s opposite and favors technological advances like robotics and environmental domination over assimilation. The purity affinity uses “science and research,” according to Brenk, to look back at humanity’s past and culture and want to preserve humanity as it was and treat their new planet as a new Earth.

With Sid Meier’s Civilization: Beyond Earth, Firaxis is hoping to move beyond building a civilization out of nuts and bolts. It wants players to build humanity with their own mixture of the past and the future, a combination of ideology and religion — to build an ethos to sustain homo sapiens among the stars. Whatever we become will be up to players to decide. But whatever that winds up being — passive or aggressive, human or cybernetic— humanity is primed to change. After all, they’re building a different kind of civilization for a different kind of Civilization game.

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