Civilization: Beyond Earth - Rising Tide Review
The game is winding down on turn 350, with your aquatic blockade sealing off the rest of the world from your carefully protected victory wonder, a ticking clock on your opponents. Though they realize happening, it’s too late – your diplomatic alliances and the related agreements have fueled an economic, cultural, and scientific powerhouse that only now brings its military power to bear at the zero hour to protect the ultimate victory condition. Unique units that would normally break the bank ripple out of each of your holdings, fueled by potent trade networks and masterfully planned territory borders created by your shifting sea colonies. This game may be over, but I’m already looking forward to the next one.
Rising Tide adds a good deal of complexity and options to Civilization: Beyond Earth, which was definitely needed. The base game is excellent, but as a longtime fan of the franchise, I was looking for more routes to victory and a deeper system of interaction with my opponents. Rising Tide answers this challenge admirably by adding the ability to build on the sea, which goes far beyond just using water tiles like landborne resources. Sea colonies have their own special buildings, units, wonders, and mechanics. They also expand differently than their land counterparts, via constant resource expenditure to move the colony from tile to tile. This allows the player to form a perfect zone of control, creating chokepoints and safety nets, with large sea-colony leviathans capable of swallowing up massive chunks of map and making movement difficult for rival factions.
The affinity system now also gives hybrid players real options and some awesome units/upgrades that let you specialize in powerful aggression or massive support with dangerous, hard-hitting mechs and morphing alien monsters, so you won’t feel forced into a single path. You may even want to dive into these offshoots if you’re working on a more traditional pure-affinity strategy.
While the new seafaring options are excellent, the real gem of Rising Tide is the revamped diplomacy system and the new associated diplomatic currency. This currency can be used to buy units and upgrades directly, but a far more compelling option is to use it to develop your faction’s core passive trait, pick up new passive traits, and fuel powerful allegiances and agreements that can be the difference between victory and defeat. These bonuses stack up in powerful ways, and a savvy diplomat has the world at their fingertips as they engage with the other factions.
You still won’t be talking down Lincoln or Gandhi, but the other factions now all have various personalities that you can play to for added benefit. You also receive constant feedback about what other factions think of you based on your actions, whether they are upset with your expansion or loving your culturally enriched attitude toward development. These relationships, balanced by fear and respect, lead to enhanced allegiances – or war. Firaxis did right here, as the diplomacy system opens a ton of new doors while making you feel like you’re part of the game, not just plodding along toward your preferred victory method.
Firaxis also added a new artifact system – a mechanic that makes every game feel unique even if you always play the same way. While it’s not nearly as pervasive as the new sea-building or diplomacy options, it’s a cool feature that lets you find various objects and cash them in for significant one-time currency bonuses. I usually pass on the instant gratification and save up a nice little collection, because artifacts can also be turned in as sets of three to create special buildings and unique perks, allowing your varying finds each game to present different bonuses and maybe even alter the course of your civilization.
Rising Tide is an overhauled look at the core experience, and it would be difficult to go back to Beyond Earth without the myriad enhancements the expansion offers. As with Civilization V before it, Beyond Earth looks like it’s becoming all it can be as it evolves with these upgrades.