Civilization: V is one of the most popular (and addictive) games ever made. Played by millions around the world, Civilization V was released in 2010 but still frequently cracks the top 20 most-played games on Steam to this day.

It’s an awesome and expansive strategy game that you can easily sink thousands of hours of your life into.

And now we’ve got a quasi-sequel. Civilization: Beyond Earth is built on the same engine and gameplay elements as Civilization V.

Except this time, instead of rewriting the history of civilization, we’re writing the future of civilization:

5) It all starts with “The Great Mistake”

Beyond Earth is set 200 years in the future from present day. In that future, humans have really messed up their world. A mysterious event called “The Great Mistake” forces the best and brightest people in the world onto gigantic spaceships and flings those people to far-flung habitable planets across the universe.

We don’t know exactly what The Great Mistake is. But in early trailers for BE, we see structures like the Great Pyramids and the Statue of Liberty lying underwater – so we did something to screw up the environment.

4) You use three “affinities” to dominate your environment

After years of travel through space, humanity finally reaches various extraterrestrial planets and must now colonize those planets using any means necessary.

To help you colonize planets, there are three affinities. Think of them like ideologies from the original Civilization V. The three affinities include:

-Harmony: Attempts to co-exist with the planet and genetically modifies mankind to “harmonize” with the surrounding environment and local species.

beyond earth 4

-Supremacy: Supremacy puts all its trust into advanced technology and attempts to dominate its environment – and its enemies – through the use of superior technology.

-Purity: Purity is a sort-of middle ground between the two. Instead of acclimatizing to the environment or conquering it, purity followers attempt to rule the planet through Terra-Forming – basically turning it into another planet Earth on which humans can thrive.

3) You choose various sponsors, colonists, cargo, and spacecraft the beginning instead of a civilization

Just like you chose a “Civilization” in Civ V, you choose a “sponsor” in BE. Here’s the list of sponsors included in the game so far:

 beyond earth sponsors

It’s easy to guess which region represents each sponsor. Clearly, France and Spain have combined to create the Franco-Iberia sponsor, while the American Reclamation Corporation – with its capital creatively named “Central” – is apparently what American capitalism put forward into the depths of outer space.

After choosing a sponsor, you choose colonists. Do you want a ship filled with scientists? You’ll get a big science boost. Doctors? You’ll get a health boost.

beyond earth 2

Next, you choose your cargo. What are you bringing with you on the spaceship? You’ll receive various bonuses based on that cargo. Finally, choose your spacecraft – which comes with a unique landing bonus, like the ability to scan all coastlines prior to landing or receive a production boost the moment you land.

After you choose all of these things, you get to choose your world. It’s basically like choosing a map.

Ultimately, choosing between all of these options feels a lot like building your own civilization. It’s a unique way to start the game that truly lets you customize your game according to your unique play style.

2) Yes, there are aliens

Aliens inhabit every planet in Beyond Earth. Aliens have a green and black icon when peaceful, an orange and black icon when they’re mad at you, and a red and black icon when they’re hostile towards you.

In Civ V, you could wipe out barbarian camps across your territory and never have to worry about barbarians again. In Beyond Earth, that doesn’t happen: when you attack an alien nest, that nest simply becomes more guarded towards you (it doesn’t get wiped out).

beyond earth 3

Ultimately, aliens usually leave you alone when you leave them alone. However, some aliens will get mad at you for just exploring near them – so be careful with your first scout unit.

Aliens are like barbarians in a lot of ways. There is, however, one way in which aliens are different: they actually have an impact on the late-game. Aliens get stronger as the game progresses, which means you can’t simply ignore their presence until later and then swat them around like flies. You won’t see some alien units until the very late game.

1) Release date of October 24, 2014

Civilization: Beyond Earth will be released on October 24, 2014. Unless, of course, you’re reading this after that date, in which case you’re already living in a post-Beyond Earth world.

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