How can a civilization "win"? A good civ hopefully feeds, educates and provides a rich future for its inhabitants, but there are epoch-defining moments in any society, a tectonic shift from one way of living to another that will be remembered forever. Civilization: Beyond Earth imagines what those might look like in the far-flung future with new win conditions that take your civ to the fringes of science fiction.
Winning a game of Beyond Earth is different to previous Civ games. Victory conditions are tied to a new quest system that gives you a series of objectives to complete before your final bid for a victory, and there's a strong element of risk/reward to the five paths. Co-lead designer Matt Miller says "We decided early on that we wanted victory in the game to be something you start a little bit earlier, and a bit of a gamble. This is it, you're taking your shot, you're making your run and be very dramatic."
Let's take a look at each one, and examine some strategies that'll help you get ahead of those pesky competing factions.
A classic win-state for conquerors, domination invites you to capture every faction's capital city. According to Firaxis, the "cornerstone of a Domination victory" is production. By researching technologies that improve the efficiency of your factories, you can cut down the time it takes to get troops on the field and steamroller the futuristic armies of your enemies.
Civilization V players will recognise the one-unit-per-hex combat of Beyond Earth, but there are significant differences, especially in the different military approaches of Beyond Earth's affinities. Harmony players can field units that incorporate the strange creatures that inhabit the planet's surface, which are a match even for a Purity faction's levitating gun platforms. The machinist elements of a Supremacy army work better when networked. Make sure your units are adjacent in formation to get the most out of them.
Also bear in mind high-level spies can be pressed into service as devastating saboteurs. A suitcase nuke or a well-placed Siege Worm thumper can undo a city in a single stroke. The aggressive path isn't as subtle as some victory conditions, but it will give you a chance to use Civilization: Beyond Earth's most explosive gadgets.
The prestige of discovering and making first contact with a sentient alien race is enough to earn you a win in Civilization: Beyond Earth. It's not easy. You'll need a little luck and a lot of persistence to decipher the Progenitor code, beam the contact signal into deep space and establish a link with the precursor race.
First you have to find the code. Scout for Progenitor Ruins and use your explorers to plant expeditions to examine them. These investigative sites have a chance of finding a copy of The Signal among the mysterious inscriptions carved on these monuments. Alternatively, there's a chance you could find a fragment of the signal by scanning space from orbit. In Beyond Earth you can launch satellites into a strategic orbital layer. They normally convey bonuses to units and cities beneath them, but if you build a Deep Space Telescope it'll dutifully scan the cosmos for clues as to the Progenitors' whereabouts.
If you'd rather not rely on luck, you can research the Transcendental Equation, though you'll need a strong scientific infrastructure to support this highly advanced research. You only need to achieve two of the three methods listed here to achieve the victory, so roll the dice with exploration missions while shoring up your research. A lucky expedition could put you in touching distance of victory relatively swiftly.
The Transcendence victory is the most environmentally friendly victory condition. The study of alien biology reveals an interconnected consciousness that binds the biomatter of the entire planet into one giant organism. If you manage to make contact with that entity, you'll shuffle humanity into a new era of progress, and win the game in the process.
Powerful scientific understanding is the key to quickly attaining Transcendence. Transgenics, Swarm Intelligence and Nanorobotics are the three key pieces of research you need, which means building lots of academies, and other structures that add to your research power.
Trading can also boost research so set up trade routes early with whoever you can—trade relationships become more lucrative with time. Also: pay close attention to any nearby business enterprises. These independent organisations set up shop in the wilderness and can give you free technologies and decent science bonuses if you establish contact with a trade envoy.
Transcendence is a victory option for factions that pursue the Harmony affinity. You can accelerate the progress of your Mind Flower by building Mind Stems and Xeno Sanctuaries in your cities as you bring together the best of human ingenuity and the power of humanity’s new home.
The Promised Land
The Promised Land and Emancipation victories are two different takes on the same idea. Through the construction of a Lasercom Satellite, both victories seek to reestablish contact with Earth. They're co-lead designer Will Miller's favourite ways to win. "It's not just 'I build this thing and I win,'" he says, "it's 'I build this thing, and you turn it on, you have to protect it and all the other players know you're gunning for it. It's a neat twist on winning Civ.'"
The Promised Land win condition envisions your alien planet as Earth 2 in waiting. It's your duty to prepare the planet for habitation and bring Earth's inhabitants through the portal to the verdant paradise you've built.
But how best to achieve this? First you have to build and launch the Lasercom Satellite, of course. The Promised Land and Emancipation victories require you to defend this fragile orbital unit with everything you have. Combine the bare minimum of technological advancement with a strong defensive military presence to keep your orbital Wonder alive.
The Promised Land victory is an expression of the Purity affinity. The Purity civ seeks to preserve humanity in its current form, untouched by the influence of alien life or consciousness-altering technology. In a way, The Promised Land represents the ultimate conquest victory for the Purity player, pulling troops across the stars to colonise the new world.
The Emancipation victory also requires a Lasercom Satellite, but this win condition treats Earth as a neglected, broken motherland to which advanced humans are destined to return. Your job is to bring salvation to the lost people of Earth with your superior technology, by force if necessary.
Thematically, it's an expression of the Supremacy path, which imagines what would happen if humanity embraced technology completely and started augmenting the human form with bionic gadgetry. Instead of bringing Earth to the new planet, you're taking the new planet to Earth. That means you'll need to send troops through the portal to do some conquering, for the greater good, of course.
As you'll be sending troops into the portal and defending it at the same time, you'll need a lot of military units, which means strong production. Set up trade routes between your own cities for a boost in both production and growth, and turn your civilization into one gigantic military factory.
Those are the five ways to ultimately win a campaign in Civilization: Beyond Earth, but the means by which you achieve them is your choice alone. Which victory will you pursue first?