From Beyond Earth to Starships: Leader Affinity Evolved

The Beyond Earth and Starships teams talk about Affinities - how they play a central part in the strategy of both games, what they mean for gameplay, and how the look of an Affinity can evolve from Beyond Earth into Starships. The following post is a collaborative effort between the Beyond Earth and Starships teams.

The three Affinities of Civilization: Beyond Earth are hypothetical future directions for humanity, and they’re critical to progressing your colony and pursuing an endgame strategy. Will you embrace the lessons offered by the life of the new planet, and go down the path of Harmony? Or will you choose to put your hopes in tools and technology and adopt Supremacy? Or will you reject both these approaches and go for Purity in the belief that humanity’s future can find guidance in its past? These Affinities are carried over into Starships, although now they form your starting point, and not your end goal.

The art team for Beyond Earth developed specific visual identities for all three Affinities, especially as they apply to the leaders. Supremacy-aligned leaders adopt dark clothing at first, and eventually add cybernetic augmentation. Harmony leaders wear green-tinted clothing, then eventually show changes to their physical forms - skin pigmentation patches and eye color changes in most cases. The Purity leaders express their belief primarily through dress, and not through changes to their bodies. The game has multiple models for each leader: one for their arrival state, before they go down an Affinity path; a Stage Two model, showing the change in clothing; and a Stage Three model as they move deeply into an Affinity track.

Since Sid Meier's Starships is set after the events of a game of Beyond Earth, the Starships team wanted to show what these leaders might look like as their Affinities continue to evolve. This meant choosing styles for the leaders that pushed the look for the Affinity in even more extreme directions, with Harmony-aligned leaders’ skin changing color and their clothing becoming even more rounded and flowing. Purity leaders continue to keep the “normal” human appearance, albeit with even grander clothing. And Supremacy leaders have far more cybernetics than anyone in Beyond Earth.

These differences in Affinity in Starships are more than just cosmetic. Affinities also have gameplay advantages in Starships for the player. Supremacy begins the game with a Wonder, representing the achievements of their advanced technology, a powerful bonus that applies from the start, and which can guide the development of the entire fleet and its tactical approach. Purity gains double rewards from each mission, through the skillful work of the fleet’s ambassadors. This is a very valuable trait in early- and mid-game Starships, before each world of the galaxy chooses to join one or another alliance. Finally, Harmony gets the advantage of half-cost repairs to starships, which can equate to savings of Energy over the duration of the campaign.

While both Beyond Earth and Starships treat Affinities differently, both games use them as ways to represent the future direction of humanity, and make them a locus for critical decisions on your way to victory.