Beyond the Stars, Week 1

Anyone who has ever looked up at the night sky has wondered the same things. Why are we here? What could be out there? And how would we get there, once our planet is facing destruction?

Buy games on a Steam sale?

Well, maybe not that last part. But that’s basically what you’re confronted with while playing Civilizations: Beyond Earth. While old fans of the series may be ecstatic about leaving behind a nuke-happy Gandhi, as a relative newcomer to the series I was excited that I could finally really connect to the game. Real world equivalents were never too appealing to me, as most games turned into alternate-history lessons on how whatever nation I chose governed itself into the ground, with underdeveloped technology and inadequate armies. As a small plus, we were damn good at supplying our conquerors with food.

Civilizations: Beyond Earth, however, has… space things. Okay, so it’s not that different, but the nuances are enough to make me dive headfirst into this game. After deciding to head the Pan-Asian Cooperative, built on the premise of creating a lot of workers and boosting productivity, I set out onto Reihl-166, a small Protean world, sporting one huge landmass surrounded by water. With the building of my city, Tiangong, I set out to make this planet mine.

It wasn’t long until I ran into resources and minor enemies. Floatstone and chitin resource spaces surround my city, and packs of Alien Wolf Beetles skittered along the fog of war around my city. Already I felt like Andrew Wiggin in Speaker for the Dead, eager to branch out on behalf of humanity, and break the chain of mindless aggression humanity is always famous for in science-fiction (See Ender’s Game, Mass Effect, Star Wars, Gears of War, The Word for World is Forest, Avatar… You get the point.)

“Already I felt like Andrew Wiggin in Speaker for the Dead, eager to branch out on behalf of humanity, and break the chain of mindless aggression humanity is always famous for in science-fiction.”

So I left the Wolf Beetles to their own devices, and they seemed fine with little more than skirting my great imperial nation. And then that’s where the trouble started. Other human colonies began dropping onto the planet, my planet. If there’s one thing I can’t stand in science-fiction (And Fantasy) games, it’s other humans encroaching on all my unrealistic wonderment. I’m obviously enough.

Look at this jerk. He’ll probably be trouble later. Let’s just attack him with… our productivity.

But Hutama of Polystralia didn’t seem intent on maliciousness, so keeping with the spirit of interstellar diplomacy I acknowledged him and left him to his own devices. Just a few turns later, however, he reached out to me for passage through my nascent kingdom. He was pressing his luck already, but I figured we should start off on good terms in the event I needed his help collecting space food.

See? Scheming already.

Unfortunately, before long a new colony founded a city on my increasingly tiny planet: Kavitha Thakur of the Kavithan Protectorate.


Declaring war probably shouldn’t be my first choice every time.

The borders of my world are already beginning to look hilariously small, so my next plan of action is rapid expansion. Whether that’s through trade or the strategic failures I try to pass off as warfare remains to be seen. Tune in next week, when my kingdom begins its ascent to global domination. Hopefully.

Dimitri Jordan is a freelance writer and editor, pursuing a Master's in Applied Sociology and a PhD in Gerontology. When he's not in class he enjoys looking up at the night sky, imagining who would win between the Geth and the Borg, and wishing he could become a xenoanthropologist.

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