Affinities Explained in Civilization: Beyond Earth

Sid Meier’s Civilization: Beyond Earth will introduce several new components to the Civilization experience. One of the features unique to Beyond Earth is the Affinity system. The guiding philosophies behind Affinities will define your civilization - how they do that is up to you.

We spoke with Will Miller and David McDonough, Co-Lead Designers for Sid Meier’s Civilization: Beyond Earth, to learn more about this new system.

What are Affinities?

Affinities play a central role in every game of Beyond Earth. Your faction always starts off human, but the decisions you make in the tech web will take your faction to the next stage of humanity. There are three very different Affinities – Purity, Supremacy and Harmony - that represent some post-human ideas we found to be the most evocative.

Can you explain the three Affinities?

Purity – A faction that aligns itself with the Purity Affinity is a faction that refuses to be changed by the alien world. Instead, the faction is out to create the ideal human and change the planet to be more like Earth. Of course, the only way to do this is through brute force, dramatic terraforming, and big guns. The Purity units, which are some of my favorite, beautifully illustrate this faction’s unwillingness to change. The units are big and powerful, yet still have a classic, valiant look to them. They’re both extremely intimidating and majestic at the same time.

Supremacy – Going the Supremacy route gets you some of the sleekest and coolest units in the game. I see Supremacy being very popular among many players just for the units alone. This Affinity is focused on developing advanced technology and implanting its people with cybernetics. The attitude here is that humanity has put a great deal of value into technology, because it’s what saved them and brought them to the new planet. Factions willing to go this direction gradually give up more and more of their organic forms, but this is by no means the ‘evil robot’ route. Like the two other Affinities, Supremacy requires you to make great sacrifices for progress, but there are no wrong answers when it comes to deciding the future.

Harmony – Factions who choose the Harmony Affinity have accepted the new alien world and embrace it. These players will not change the planet, but they allow the planet to change them right down to their very own DNA. Harmony units takes on a more organic look as the synergy between the faction and the alien life progresses. Devoting your research to Harmony will eventually allow you to get alien creatures on your team and breed new units based on their genes. It’s an awesome feeling to team up with the planet, who at one point was bent on killing you, and go on the offensive against all your opponents.

How do you think players will engage with Affinities?

We think Civilization fans will engage with Affinities in one of two ways; philosophically, and what’s best for the game they’re playing. We’ve found some players always choose an Affinity based on the narrative and moral impact - not everyone wants to outfit his or her people with cybernetic implants. I know a couple of people around the office who find the Purity Affinity almost cult-like, while others see the value of keeping Earth history alive in an alien world. The other type of player will choose the Affinity which best suits his or her current game situation. They’ll play a few dozen turns and try to figure out what’s going to happen in the next hundred. They’ll choose an Affinity based on that or even create a hybrid of Affinities that gets them the best perks and stats for their current game. Neither player’s approach is wrong; in fact, we hope to see fans approach the game in both of those ways.

Where did the idea for the Affinity system come from?

Early on, we realized we were developing a game about an untold future, but it needed elements that were still familiar to the player. The three situations Affinities present to the player are fun, believable, and powerful outlooks as to what could happen to humanity in the not-so-near future. A fun aspect about Civilization has always been seeing the humble beginnings of your people and how they have changed by the end of a game. We always found that aspect of Civilization appealing and wanted to enhance that. In Beyond Earth, how your people change is almost tangible. You’ll see humanity is no longer human. The planet and other factions will influence you. You will change or you will be changed.

How does Affinity unit progression work?

In Civilization V, units would gain experience through combat and eventually get a promotion. You could make your military more powerful by upgrading certain techs and advancing units like Warriors to Spearman. In Beyond Earth, upgrades are tied directly to your devotion to the Affinities in the game.

As you progress down an Affinity, you gain unique upgrades you can’t get under the other affinity lines. Selecting an upgrade applies it to all units of that type. For example, any and all Marines deployed on the planet will receive the new upgrade as soon as you choose it. Upgrades can’t be revisited, so players have to think hard about what they’re willing to give up.

These upgrades help distinguish two factions who share the same Affinity. Two Supremacy Marines facing off will not be on equal footing. Based on the chosen upgrades, one faction’s Marines may have a lot more firepower than the other.

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