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More details on Civ IV: Beyond the Sword

May 17th, 2007 by Troy Goodfellow · 8 Comments · Firaxis, Preview

IGN has a new interview with Beyond the Sword designer Alex Mantzaris. He lets loose a lot of details that have me both excited and bewildered.

* “One of my new favorite leaders is Joao II of Portugal. He’s especially fun to play because his traits (Imperialistic and Expansionist) and unique unit (Carrack) work very well together for early expansion and colonization.”

A unique naval unit? Really? Civ III had some of these (Portugal, England, Byzantium and the Vikings) and they were always second rate units. Most Civ games are won on land, so the Portuguese will have to make the most of their trait combo. “Exploration” is mostly useful on a terra map (they have “New Worlds” with barbarian continents). So I’m skeptical about how useful the carrack will be. But, hey, it’s not like all the other Civs have great unique units.

* “Not only is the Native American leader Protective, which gives him powerful archer units, but the Totem Pole acts as sort of an extra barracks for archer units as well.”

Because if there’s one unit that needs more help in this game, it’s archers, right? (And it looks like the Maya are back.)

* [Corporations] each consume specific resources in order to provide benefits to their city. The more instances of resources they consume, the more food, production, commerce, or resources they supply. The downside is that any city hosting a corporation has to pay a maintenance fee for its services.

I can see some nasty tricks here. Found a corporation and then hit all your enemy’s far flung towns, driving maintenance up and research down. They went with real religions, but I’m betting that Exxon isn’t going to let them use their name. Anyway, this section clarifies a lot. Read the interview for more on this.

* Espionage has actually added a whole new dimension to the game. Its importance to your empire is now comparable to scientific research, culture, or income from taxes.

I only really used espionage in the first two Civ titles. Stealing technology, destroying buildings, and, most importantly, inciting revolts. So I’m glad to see it return as a primary strategy. I fear that I will be hopelessly out of practice.

* The space race is now more suspenseful because victory is not achieved until the spaceship actually arrives, not when it’s launched. Therefore, you may pull out a victory even if you launch late, by building a faster spaceship and overtaking your opponent on the way to Alpha Centauri.

Another return to the early Civ games. Excellent idea and I have no idea why it was changed to its current form in the first place. Anything that makes the Space Race more interesting is to be encouraged.

* However, in general, we added units to fill needed roles, rather then adding exotic units and trying to dream up roles for them.

This is sound design, and was, in fact, one of Brian Reynolds big ideas in Civ II. Fill out the tech tree, fill out the unit list and make the military game about more than waiting around until your superweapon is discovered.

* [Y]ou’ve got to love a Wonder like the Statue of Zeus, which doubles the war weariness of other civilizations fighting against you.

If you build it, it will certainly make the early aggression of Montezuma and Alexander easier to manage. Conversely, it will make it easier to launch a series of little wars, knowing that the other guy is suffering a little bit more than you are.

Lots more stuff at IGN. Expect more updates and crankiness from me as information becomes available.


8 Comments so far ↓

  • Andrew

    From reading the forums at Civ Fanatics, I get the impression that the hard core players don’t build archers, or even necessarily bother to research Archery. The idea is that archers are really only good for defense and you should never be on the defensive against the computer. I personally like them, but I have strong turtling instincts.

  • Troy

    I like archers because they are cheap and fast defense against barbarians. Especially axemen. And the AI loves building them.

  • Gabriel Syme

    Civilization IV is one of my favorites. I remember the feelings of wonder I had playing the original Civilization, and CivIV is the first game to bring back those old feelings, even though it does many things very differently.

    I actually liked the change to the space-race victory in CivIV though. I remember that in the original Civ, if a computer faction launched a spaceship, we would launch one that was faster but only had a 5% chance of arriving. If I remember correctly, it would be faster due to its lower weight. Anyway, it always felt like a cheap victory when it worked. By making the difference a technological one in this case, maybe it will work out better that way.

    I am interested in this new expansion. I skipped the Warlords expansion because the war aspect is the least interesting to me. I play the Total War games when I want constant warfare with my empire management. If this expansion turns out well, I may get both though.

  • Troy

    “If I remember correctly, it would be faster due to its lower weight.”

    You could make a small ship with lots of engines that would be fast, but with a higher chance of life support failure. And your final score was tied to the number of colonists were on your ship.

    I recommend you check out the Warlords, expansion, Gabriel, if only for some of the scenarios. The military stuff balances the game better (I wonder how this will change in BtS) but the real stars are the Mongol, Viking and Chinese scenarios.

    Plus, you get Hannibal.

  • Alan

    Archers are easily the best early-game garrison units due to their cost, bonuses, and availability. Plus, it’s a waste to use Axemen as garrison units, and you need to keep somebody around to fend off barbarians and counteract the insecurity penalty.

  • Bruce

    I am kind of offended and hurt by the expansion’s obvious intolerance for and bias against swords.

  • Cyrris

    I am definitely looking forward to this.

    I have Warlords, despite me not usually being a conquesting sort of player – the changes were just really solid. The combat was quicker (as in, each single battle) so it wasted less time, the new wonders were all pretty good and generally things just seemed more polished. Granted, paying the money for Warlords may seem like a bit of a rip if BtS is released for the same price.

    Aside from Blizzards announcement this weekend, BtS is the only thing I am really looking forward to in gaming at the moment.

  • JonathanStrange

    I am a huge (and I don’t mean excess avoirdupois) Civ fan; I’ve enjoyed all of them so far. I expect I’ll enjoy the next version but I’m going to wait and see what’s so special.

    What I’m not really seeing – and admittedly, I’m only casually reading a preview here and there – is something really outstandingly different. Not that there has to be something “entirely new” necessarily, sometimes tweaks and MOTS works, but that seems to be all they’re offering: unique units? we’ve had that. espionage? check. the space race. ditto. new wonders? okaaaay. I’m not saying that the new version won’t have a unique atmosphere; the Fall From Heaven 2 mod is an excellent example of how to take the basic Civ formula, add new units on the same gameplay and create a new experience. I am expecting a retail game expansion to offer even more than that I’ve been reading about. Oh well, at least I’m not likely to be disappointed expecting a revolution.