It’s not news at this point, but Civilization, Beyond the Sword has been announced and is due to hit shelves in July. And goddamn does this expansion look good.
It seems that despite a short development timeline, Firaxis is adding substantially more content than came with Civilization: Warlords. Warlords was a great expansion, don’t get me wrong, but it seemed that they were more focused on the minimal amount new content possible (yet every upgrade was so good you couldn’t not buy the game).
Beyond the Sword is going to add new buildings, new civilizations, new wonders, new units, new technologies, and even a whole new espionage system. Not a bad haul by any stretch. The new espionage system will allow spying to become a civilization wide effort, so expect new levels of cruelty in multiplayer games. The AI is also slated to receive a long overdue upgrade, including the AI focusing on culture victories and better utilizing naval and the new units.
My biggest disappointment is that there will be no new resources. No tobacco, drugs, kumquats, or soybeans. However, one of the coolest new gameplay improvements, corporations, make up for this. Corporations will convert resource instances into other goodies: for example, one corporation converts corn/wheat/rice into oil (ethanol company), and another converts construction resources into bonus production. This will make resource control and imperialistic playstyles more important and more fun.
My other primary disappointment is no new (at least, based on what’s been revealed so far) civilization specific stuff. Civ 4 had Civ specific units, Warlords added Civ specific buildings. I absolutely love the aspects that differentiate the different Civilizations, but it seems that nothing new will be provided this go-around in that department.
The final addition which actually intrigues me for a change are the custom scenarios. One of the scenarios is a massive modification to the game in that it’s space based, almost like Gal Civ 2 or Spaceward Ho, based on the screenshots. Supposedly it features its own tech tree, asteroid belts, satellites, and spaceships. If done properly, this could be almost as fun as the core game in terms of replayability (depending on if the map is random or not). This would be a welcome addition, since I typically ignore all included scenarios, but I actually might give this once a shot.
I’m officially clearing my calendar in July.