Civilization fans (should) know the drill by now.
Year One: Firaxis puts out competent, but sparse, base game and people complain it’s not as good as [Previous Civilization title]. Year Two: Firaxis releases the game’s first expansion, adding a few new factions and technologies and at least one notable new system. Year Three: Firaxis releases the second expansion, which fills all the gaps and fixes all the half-broken systems. Many go on to proclaim it “The Best Civilization Game” and forget how much they initially complained, setting up the cycle for next time.
With Civilization: Beyond Earth - Rising Tide we find ourselves in part two of the three-part cycle. Here’s what I think of Beyond Earth’s first expansion.
Whatever floats your boat city
As implied by the title, Rising Tide is a nautical-themed expansion. And it makes sense Firaxis went here, I think. Why? Because this isn’t just “Alien Submarines” and “Alien Clipper Ships” and “Alien Aircraft Carriers,” though those types of units are part of the expansion.
But no, the key new feature in Rising Tide is aquatic cities. You can now found a city on coastal (or, if you have the right technology, ocean) tiles instead of on land. Aquatic cities don’t expand through culture like your usual land-based cities. Instead, you can gear production towards moving your city, one hex at a time. Upon moving, the city takes over all six hexes in its immediate vicinity—any it didn’t already own. You also keep any hexes you’ve left behind.
So far, I’ve found this typically means a slower start for aquatic cities—it’s an arduous task to move your city in the early game, and spending energy to purchase hexes can only get you so far.
Late in the game you’ll reach a point where it takes only a single turn to move your city though, which can be really crazy provided you have a lot of currency lying around to buy up troops when necessary. You’ve basically created a massive floating war factory.
It’s a fascinating system, and I look forward to hearing how people take advantage of it. But more importantly, it’s a wholly unique system that could only really work in Beyond Earth. Thematically, it makes no sense for traditional Civ.
And that’s a good thing, because it means Beyond Earth is finding its own footing. I actually enjoyed the base game a fair amount last year, but even I admitted it felt like a reskinned-and-stripped-down Civilization V. Rising Tide puts some much-needed separation between the two.
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