Civilization: Beyond Earth devs want to play with "both science and science-fiction"

Ian Birnbaum at

One of the most exciting games we’re getting a look at during E3 is Sid Meyer’s Civilization: Beyond Earth, the newest entry to the venerable strategy franchise. The game is set after a colonial exodus from Earth—for the first time, this Civ won’t be about going to war with Gandhi and forming an alliance with Cleopatra. The new planet comes with its own challenges and goals, according to an interview the game's co-lead designers gave to GameTrailers at E3.

The game begins during “the seeding,” a time when colony ships leave Earth for habitable alien planets. When you land on the planet for the first time, you start to build from scratch. “The game tells a fundamentally similar story to core civ,” co-lead designer Will Miller told GameTrailers, “Which is: ‘we have a new home, we push back the darkness, we evolve as a species and as a culture, and then transcend where we started.’ In that sense it’s the same, but it’s our take on Civilization in space.”

Instead of a tech tree, you’ll have a tech web to facilitate organic evolution toward more and more fantastic technologies. The team states that they’re fans of science and science fiction, and they wanted both to have their place in the game.

Also exciting: players will be able to choose from three “Affinities,” which are post-humanist philosophical stances that affect how the human colonists react to their new home. The three Affinities are Harmony, Purity, and Supremacy. Harmony civilizations decide that their new home is their new identity—they are no longer Earthlings, so they begin to gene-splice themselves to better adapt to their new ecosystem. Supremacy civilizations think that to be human is to forcibly adapt their surroundings to themselves through tools. Supremacists want to be “planet-agnostic,” able to thrive in any environment.

Most interesting is the Purity civilization, which venerates old Earth. They work to force their new planet to more resemble Earth and decide that humanity will always be Earthlings.

Civilization: Beyond Earth is due out this fall. Last month we interviewed the designers of the new game, and you can read everything you’d ever want to know about it here.