Next Civilization game abandons Earth for the stars

Civilization made a strategy game of humanity's past. Now it's looking to humanity's future.

Everyone who has played a game in the Civilization series remembers seeing their country nuked by Mahatma Ghandi. In this historical strategy series, players attempt to guide a nation through the ages from its humble beginning to its role as a globe-spanning superpower. Anything can happen along the way, including being irradiated by one of history's greatest peacemakers.

After five instalments in a series that attempts to capture the spirit of humanity's ascent from darkness, developer Firaxis has announced an unexpected follow-up. Instead of beginning in the dirt and building to the heavens, Civilization: Beyond Earth begins with a voyage in the sky, one that will send colonists to begin anew in another star system. Slated for release on PC, Mac and Linux this fall, Beyond Earth surely will remind fans of Firaxis' 1999 classic space exploration game Sid Meier's Alpha Centauri, although the developer seems eager to distance itself from that comparison.

While the gameplay mechanics will be similar to the previous Civilization games, this time you're not a human in a predictable human world. You're an alien on an alien planet. You don't know this place, nor do you belong here.

"You start out and you're all alone," said Dennis Shirk, a producer of the series. "So you've got to learn everything all over again."

Interstellar Oregon Trail In the game's fiction, humanity has endured some rough times on Earth due to an ambiguous event known as The Great Mistake. We survived but were greatly hobbled, and Earth just wasn't the same anymore. As civilisation recovered, we sent our best and brightest to create a new home.

This is where you come in.

The game begins with something Firaxis likens to "interstellar Oregon Trail." Ordinarily in a Civilization game, you select your leader from a series of historically-based archetypes like Genghis Khan or Hiawatha. But since Beyond Earth takes place in the future, the player is given more freedom to affect how events play out.

That begins as you select not only a leader whose disposition will affect your Civilization forever, but also which culture your ship will launch from, what types of colonists you'll bring, and what type of ship you'll launch. From that point on, how the future plays out is up to you.

"A lot of our pre-production was spent looking at futurist writers, and looking into transhumanism and post-humanism," said Anton Springer, one of the designers. "Not just science fiction writers, but scientists talking about where humanity is going. We're leaving that answer in the hands of the players."

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Next Civilization game abandons Earth for the stars

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Recommendation and review posted by Alexandra Lee Anderson

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