Civilization: Beyond Earth Q&A

We reached out to the community at and asked them to provide us with some questions about Sid Meier’s Civilization: Beyond Earth. Lead Designers David McDonough and Will Miller answer the best below!

Q. Could you advise what the starting advantage is of one of the already revealed factions?

One of the new factions is the Pan-Asian Cooperative. Their ability is focused towards improving production, which is the cornerstone of a Domination victory, but also extremely useful if you want to focus on building wonders. Or, if you have some of your population specialize in research, you’ll still be able to go through your production queue on schedule. During the early turns, however, if you’re building lots of Marines, that extra production makes the difference in the time it takes to buy some breathing room.

Q. How far does the unit workshop allow us to customize the units? Do the upgrades work in a similar manner to promotions in Civilization V?

Previously, in Civilization V, promotions were assigned to a unit based on the experience they earned in combat. You upgraded different types of units by researching new techs, like moving from Warriors to Spearmen. It works a little differently in Beyond Earth. Instead of researching new kinds of units, you gain the ability to purchase upgrades for them based on your devotion to the Affinities in the game.

As you move down an Affinity line, you get upgrades that are unique to the Affinity line. When you choose an upgrade, it’s applied automatically to all units of that type. For example, all your Marines, wherever they are on the planet, will gain the new upgrade. You have a tough choice to make at that point because you can’t revisit your upgrades and choose another path to follow.

Just because you share an Affinity with another faction doesn’t mean your units will be like theirs. They may choose entirely different upgrade abilities, so even if your troops look alike, they may not necessarily fight the same way.

Promotions are still assigned to individual units. So if you can preserve that first Marine unit until endgame, they’re going to be carrying all the promotions they earned through their history, even though they look nothing like when they were first built. They’ll be far more powerful by then.

Q. We've heard that the culture system is based on ‘virtues’ - is that much like the policy trees in Civilization V?

The virtues are similar to the social policies in Civilization V in that both are purchased using culture, but there are some critical differences in Beyond Earth. We looked at the idea of choosing across different virtues versus going deeper within a particular virtue and added the idea of “kickers.” These are bonuses you can earn either by going deep down a particular path, or buying virtues across all the trees. The depth kicker is a bonus for staying within a line. The breadth kicker removes some of the opportunity cost for choosing multiple virtue paths – while you won’t get some of the deep, powerful virtues, you won’t be penalized for spreading yourself across many virtues either.

Q. Apart from Earth itself, does Beyond Earth feature one planet each play?

Each game of Beyond Earth is the story of the settlement of one planet. At the start, you’ll choose who your colonists are, and what tools they’ll bring with them, and then when the game begins you start the story of that world. The next time you play the game, it’ll be the story of an entirely different planet. As Civ players know, you always have to choose and adapt your victory approaches based on the geography of your settlement and the events that follow.

Q. How many turns will we have at the start of a game of Beyond Earth before other factions arrive? Will they then all arrive at once?

Right now, you can choose to have all the factions land at the same time, or have them gradually arrive over the first few hundred turns of the game. We found that in the beginning, fighting for survival against the alien world is usually enough to keep players focused. In order to keep the game competitive, late-arriving factions will get some bonuses to help them catch up. Maybe they left after you did, and arrived with more people or better technology? Eventually you’re going to have to confront them if you want to win.

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