Alpha Centauri was Firaxis's first game, released in 1999 after Sid Meier and a group of colleagues had quit Micropose. Unable to use the Civilization licence, they instead developed a very similar (and non-copyright-infringing) strategy game which basically followed up on the question of what happened to the colonists who left Earth at the end of every Civilization game. Firaxis were later reunited with the Civilization licence thanks to Take Two's financial firepower, but in the process lost access to the Alpha Centauri rights (which remain with Electronic Arts). Civilization: Beyond Earth is therefore the official Civilization sequel that Firaxis wanted to make in the first place, just fifteen years later then planned.
The game will be a turn-based affair using hexes for movement that will allow players to build up their own civilisation and seize control of planets through diplomatic, economic or military means.
Game features will include:
- Seed the Adventure: Players will establish a cultural identity, select a leader and sponsor an expedition by assembling the spacecraft, cargo and colonists through a series of choices that directly impact starting conditions when arriving on the new alien planet.
- Alien World: Exploring the benefits and dangers of a new planet filled with dangerous terrain, mystical resources and hostile lifeforms unlike those of Earth, players will build outposts, unearth ancient alien relics, tame new forms of life, develop flourishing cities and establish trade routes to create prosperity for their people.
- New Technology Web: Reflecting forward progress in an uncertain future, technology advancement will occur through a series of nonlinear choices that affect the development of mankind. The tech web is organized around three broad themes, each with a distinct victory condition.
- New Quest System: Quests are infused with fiction about the planet, and will help guide players through a series of side missions that will aid in the collection of resources, upgrading units, and advancing through the game.
- New Orbital Layer: Players will build and deploy advanced military, economic and scientific satellites that provide strategic offensive, defensive and support capabilities from orbit.
The game will be released on PC, Mac and Linux this autumn.