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Rob Zacny

Episode 283: A Sterile Future

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Rob, Fraser, and Troy "It's my planet I'll do what I want" Goodfellow talk about the latest entry into the Civ franchise, Civilization: Beyond Earth. Is this the game we've all been waiting for? Well, no, not really. Find out why and listen to Troy talk about touching planets, and them touching back.

 

Fraser's review at PCGamesN.

 

Listen here.

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sclpls   

This was the first Firaxis game in awhile that I held off from buying. One thing that was cool about each iteration of Civilization is that each game had a slightly different thing to say about human history that was expressed through its game mechanics. And Beyond Earth, by staying so close to the Civ 5 formula, really doesn't seem to say much of anything at all. The changes from Civ 5 really don't seem like they add up to any sort of compelling statement. So I feel like I'm looking at a game that mostly plays like Civ 5, but I already have Civ 5 so why do I want to play this instead? Even with some nice features included in the game, I don't think there's ever been a good answer to that question.

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paradi6m   

You guys should check out Pandora again, it's improved a lot since release and there's a new expansion and free dlc that help shake up the end game boredom that plagues most 4x games.  The only thing that's better in Beyond Earth at this point is the espionage system, which is probably the game's strongest feature.

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You guys should check out Pandora again, it's improved a lot since release and there's a new expansion and free dlc that help shake up the end game boredom that plagues most 4x games.  The only thing that's better in Beyond Earth at this point is the espionage system, which is probably the game's strongest feature.

Civ5 was nice with all those ideologies while Endless series simply shouts at you when someone's winning. What's about Pandora endgame?

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paradi6m   

Civ5 was nice with all those ideologies while Endless series simply shouts at you when someone's winning. What's about Pandora endgame?

They added an event where a bunch of superpowered aliens invade the planet sometime during the last era.  It doesn't change how you win, but it shakes things up because you dont know where the aliens will invade from or who will get screwed over by it.

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Very good episode!

 

I ended buying Endless Legend instead of Beyond Earth, which I played the demo.

 

On the lack of flavour, specially among Factions I think the issue lies on the following - due the Affinity system, each faction had to be vague enough to fit in each affinity. But there is a second issue: affinities themselves aren´t dramatic and different enough, I think it would work better if they made more dramatic to reflect how things where getting crazy or out of control, because this is one time they could asked writers and artists to pull off some weird imagery and text, with leaders and description really changing to something different. But instead they I fell they fell on the "making things realistic" that often result in this strange sensation of missing potential, because it hint something that never happens due potential begin cut off as they didn´t allow themselves to be something fantastic. Small note: at least so far I know, despite the fact leader do change in visual you can´t see your own leader, which I think is slight strange, they could have made a system akin to the Throne Room in early Civs, instead now you could change your leader visual.

 

While I liked some supremacy units, the giant monster which harmony had, I felt that the giant robots and some aliens are a bit too shy in design.

 

To finish it,  as Troy said, there is no disadvantage or restrictions, which make things bland, there is no sensation that you are going down a path that you can´t go back.

 

I wonder how faction design issues is much because many strategy game use way too much small bonus and percentages to establish them, which sometimes works (in many paradox game there is a lot of small bonus, but the game let very clear when the bonus is kicking in) other not (Empire Earth 1 was kind plagued with that you could have things +5% of bonus in a very specific thing to a unit which you don´t use or barely will notice the difference itself). However, since we are talking about civ, I could not forget Call to Power II which had no factions at all - I mean you could enter a name but it made zero difference in gameplay and immersion, to be fair it did manage to kill emergent gameplay, nothing really matter, there was no unique histories or personalities, only slight different colored faction lead by the same robot, you could be playing with Persia, Assiria, Crystal Tokio or whatever you want but it did made no different at all and made the game very repetitive.

 

Now comparing with Endless Legend, there is the huge gap - there factions have lots of real potential and unique design (like the Ardent Mages with their pain powered magic) that feel and play different and still have room for some customization with the imperial plans - it is so much better.

 

I am really curious how dlc and expansions are going to work for Beyond Earth - because here they got some room to pull of something great and solve issues, since this isn´t a bad game - actually from the demo it felt good game which works great, but still have some problems and a general lack of personality.

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brkl   

I wish I had bought Endless Legend, but I trusted Firaxis to deliver. Unfortunately, the game feels kind of cheap (hire an artist!) and fails in a totally different department than I thought. In the Strategy Games subforum I go on about stuff like having the map start out black, which I think is a missed opportunity to try something new and fits poorly with any fiction about colonizing a new planet. But despite how bland the fiction and the faction design is as discussed in the podcast, the game's biggest failure is that it's boring. I never thought it would fail as a Civ game. There's no meaningful interaction with the other factions and I just haven't felt any tension yet. 

 

There's room to make the thing shine with DLC, but with the core game far less successful than Civ5, how will I trust the DLC to truly improve things? Especially when DLC tends to stay very expensive forever. A proper global diplomacy system where you could actually put favours gained through trade to use... There are many features that feel like one half or one third of something that's actually interesting.

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