Last year’s release of Civilization: Beyond Earth took the classic Civilization franchise in a new and interesting sci-fi direction, and now the saga continues with the first major expansion pack, Rising Tide ($30). More than just new content, Rising Tide makes some dramatic changes to the gameplay from the original, rebuilding the diplomacy system from scratch and adding a whole new aquatic gameplay aspect, along with enhancing the affinity system and expanding exploration options. If you’re looking for more from the original Civilization: Beyond Earth, this expansion pack opens up the game in a whole new direction.
Diplomacy is a whole new ballgame in Rising Tide, with human players now able to earn “fear” and “respect” with AI players in order to enter into agreements, new relationship levels to contend with, a new “diplomatic capital” resource, and leader traits that can now be traded between players for capital. Strategic resources have now been moved from diplomatic trade into the enhanced trade route system. Rising Tide also takes exploration and colonization in new directions, with the ability to form aquatic cities that have different growth strategies and yield unique benefits, the ability to find many resources at sea, new artifacts that can be found and combined to add unique perks, and marvels that trigger quests by all civilizations to gain unique bonuses. The affinity system has also been expanded to allow hybrid affinities, so players no longer have to pursue Purity, Supremacy, or Harmony exclusively, but can mix between affinities to gain different capabilities — players can become Puritanical Supremacists or Harmonal Purists, for instance, choosing to pursue the virtues of multiple affinities. Along with the major gameplay enhancements come a smattering of new units, aliens, buildings, and wonders, as well as four new factions: the Al Falah representing the Middle East, the North Sea Alliance representing the British Isles and Scandinavia, INTEGR hailing from Germany, and Chungsu which stems from Korea, each with their own unique bonuses and gameplay elements, with two of the new factions designed specifically for the aquatic elements of play.