Review: Civilization: Beyond Earth – Rising Tide Sails Turbulently
Civilization has tempted players into playing just one more turn for years - but how does their latest expansion for Beyond Earth -- one of their most criticised games -- go down? Let's take a look!
- Worth The Time?Yes, but not worth the money.
- Things LovedExcellent new hybrid Affinity system. New War tally system offers a better system to negotiate peace terms. The personality trait system is one that could work really well if more thought is given to its application. Making the ocean tiles useful is an excellent move and improves the game a lot. Game now feels distinctively separate from Civilization V.
- Things HatedThe new Diplomacy and Diplomatic Capital system is awful, handles terribly and is an absolutely horrendous concept. Removal of the old trade system is odd, and does no favours to the aforementioned Diplomacy system. Artifact system feels tacked on, but is quite useful. Beyond Earth's core issues are still plainly evident, and this expansion doesn't do much to fix them.
- RecommendationIt's a really solid expansion, but it's nowhere near worth its current price tag. Wait for a sale, unless you're really eager for a big change to Beyond Earth.
- Name: Civilization: Beyond Earth - Rising Tide
- Genre: Brink, but Strategy
- Players: 1-8
- Multiplayer: Yes
- Platforms: PC
- Developer: Firaxis Games
- Publisher: 2K Games
- Price: R399
- Reviewed On: PC
When Civilization: Beyond Earth was released, I was a huge fan of it — it retained enough of Civilization V to make it immediately recognisable, while shifting the game to an entirely new field of battle. It came with some downfalls of course, amongst them being the loss of previous Civilization games’ iconic leaders and an awfully limited diplomacy system which mirrored the flaws of its predecessor’s.
Civilization: Beyond Earth – Rising Tide is attempting to be to Beyond Earth what Gods and Kings and Brave New World were to Civilization V: It’s attempting to fix the game’s launch issues while building in mechanics which will be considered a necessity in the game as it goes on. To that extent it somewhat succeeds, but I’m not entirely convinced by the expansion pack.
- You’ll Be Able To Play (Expensive) PS2 Games On Your PS4 Now | 2 months ago
- Jessica Jones Disempowers Its Male Characters And The Effect Is Refreshing | 2 months ago
- Hell Is 30 000 Deathclaws Tearing Through Boston And It’s Glorious | 2 months ago
- Sony Santa Monica Is Teasing Something Truly Strange | 2 months ago
Rising Tide brings with it four big changes to the Civilization: Beyond Earth formula: It changes the diplomacy system, allows you to develop hybrid multi-Affinity units, adds an Artifact system which grants players significant buffs and bonuses for exploration and, most notably, expands the resources available from ocean tiles and allows players to build floating oceanic cities.
Let’s start with what is likely the biggest change, but the worst executed — the diplomacy system. The new diplomacy system works off four personality traits: one which your leader inherently has, and a political, diplomatic and military trait. These traits all grant some base bonus to your civilisation, but their largest influence is the trade agreements they allow you to make, which will entice other leaders to trade with you to gain resources for their own civilisations.
The old bartering system has been completely done away with, and replaced by diplomatic capital, which is a commodity used for three things — to barter trade agreements, to develop and raise personality traits and to affect relationships between yourself and opposition leaders. This, however, is also where the entire system begins to derail.
The personality trait concept is absolutely fantastic, because it allows more conceptual agreements between civilisations to take place — instead of directly bartering luxury resources, you’re now improving the health of your civilisation through a joint public works project. However, the commodification of this system into something as arbitrary as diplomatic capital means that the entire system comes off as less of a success of diplomacy and more as a transaction. Furthermore, the replacement of direct trading is absurd, as it means conventional trade agreements are now also lost. There’s a lot that could have been done with this system, but it handles badly and is just terribly thought out.
The one nice thing that does come from this is the new war system. The game keeps a constant tally of who’s been coming out on top in long-term conflicts, and when peace is declared, the difference between the scores is used to distribute reparations in the form of energy, resources and even cities, if the victory was emphatic enough. This does stop losing a single war from completely ruining a Civilization game for the losing player, and makes it far easier to sort out what terms peace can be declared on.
The next system up is the new aquatic city system. This system allows players to build cities on the ocean, and access deep sea resources — or at the very least, resources out of the reach of conventional cities. The one advantage to these cities is they can be moved through a production assignment, which both shifts the actual city and enlarges its borders.
Again, it’s another great concept and it drastically changes how these cities are played, but whether its worth giving up valuable turns which could be used constructing buildings or units inside the city to shift it one hex down is definitely questionable. Most of the time I played with aquatic cities, I found myself buying the additional hexes instead of shifting my city, simply because I was developing faster than my city was churning out valuable buildings and I didn’t want to fall further behind.
The expansion of water resources is definitely not something that will go amiss though. Having water tiles contributing to the success of cities is a godsend, and having resources contributing to culture, production and energy coming from these tiles gave me much to consider when assigning my citizens to work specific tiles. Despite the perhaps lacklustre application of aquatic cities, Firaxis has certainly used them to fix what was previously dead space on a Civilization map.
The new hybrid affinity system is a somewhat smaller yet still significant change in the way that the game develops. Instead of developing straight down a path of either Purity, Supremacy and Harmony, units can be developed to cross between to of these at their highest progression level. Considering that developing the technology web will invariably result in some spare points in each of the trees, a couple of extra options in developing units will not go amiss. Additionally, the hybrid units being slightly differently powered to their pure Affinity counterparts mean they can be used slightly differently in combat, which adds a little extra variety to Civilization’s Beyond Earth‘s wars.
Lastly, there’s the Artifact system, which quite frankly just seems like a little bit extra tacked on which gives players bonuses as they progress. It works by using the pre-existing supply drops from earth, Progenitor ruins and alien remains, which players will find items in. These items can be redeemed individually for a boost in a number of things — including science, culture and energy — or as a set of three which gives players access to a buff of some sort and half the resources they would have received for redeeming the artifacts individually. It’s not a bad system, it works as advertised and gives player a welcome occasional boost, but it does feel very tacked on, where everything else in felt more built into the existing system.
It would be disingenuous to suggest that this expansion is just the sum of its parts, because it is building on what, as I have previously mentioned, was a very solid if predictable base game, but does it make Civilization: Beyond Earth a better game than it was already? Is it Civilization V‘s Brave New World or Gods & Kings expansion?
In quick succession, yes and no. Rising Tide certainly adds a lot to what Beyond Earth offered as a base package. Certainly it goes a long way to distinctively separate Civilization: Beyond Earth from what many argue is its better predecessor, but it does so by completely uprooting the diplomacy system which could have been expanded instead of being unceremoniously torn out and leaving many of the game’s core issues — including a roster of unremarkable leaders — untouched.
It’s a solid expansion and it has some really good parts, and if you’re still playing Civilization: Beyond Earth, I’d definitely get it when it drops in price, but it’s not a fundamental game-changer and it definitely isn’t worth its R399 price tag on Steam. Civilization: Beyond Earth – Rising Tide adds a good amount of high quality content, without fixing the underlying core issues in a way that Firaxis should be well able to by now.
This score represents just the expansion — take a look at our original Civilization: Beyond Earth review for our thoughts on the game.