Author Topic: BE/RT overview & SMACX comparison  (Read 1937 times)

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Offline Harpalus

BE/RT overview & SMACX comparison
« on: May 06, 2016, 05:57:54 AM »
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  • So anyone from forum members played that expansion already?
    What is experience? Better than SMACX? Worse? About the same?

    I really wanted to like this game. I ignored Civ 3, 4, and I mostly ignored Civ 5, but purchased Beyond Earth on release day. The lack of voiced quotes for the faction leaders really hurts the personalities of the leaders, but to be fair there's more written as backstory than you realize: it's just out of the way. The Rising Tide and BE factions are all more realistic than Alpha Centauri's factions in my opinion, they just lack personality.

    The "lore" has a better starting point than Alpha Centauri, for what little that's worth. (For example,  ;aki; has borg implants COMPLETELY out of sync with her tech level when the game starts. ;deidre; is conveniently environmentalist, by which I meant that she would seem strange, weak, and out of place without the whole "alive planet" thing, which she couldn't have anticipated). It's all the movies, quotes, and philosophy that makes Alpha Centauri's story and characters special. A real opportunity was missed in Beyond Earth. A perfect example is Rising Tide's "Al Falah" faction: the only faction that wasn't cryogenically frozen, so they have no idea what Earth was like. It was an interesting narrative, completely ruined by what I can only assume is misplaced humour (they think Vulpix, the Pokemon, was a mythical animal on Earth along with the llama). You aren't even told any of this by the game: just "here's the arabic faction". Hell, you can't even see the name or image of the leader you're selecting, just the bland faction icon. I had to delve into the game's help files and website to find out Al Falah's backstory.

    They had a well thought out cast of characters and backstory, but didn't think narrative was necessary. There's a whole discussion of the backstory and lore of Beyond Earth on Youtube from a convention panel, and almost none of it comes out in the game.  I prefer the stylistic change of the setting, personally: ordinary, "realistic" factions that turn radical as the game progresses, rather than starting that way. Rising Tide added new hybrid affinities, but then didn't bother giving them unique victory conditions or even unique city graphics, both of which would have helped the narrative of the game.

    Mechanically, BE is fine. Rising Tide helps: it definitely improved aquatic cities, but it gutted some of personality the leaders had: diplomacy. It's mostly gone, replaced by a separate trading minigame where you're buying abilities for diplomatic capital, conveniently sidestepping the need to actually -talk- to other leaders anymore, much of the time. They do have randomly generated "personalities", where they'll send twitter-style messages at you for various things, which is something.

     If you like Civ 5 and science fiction, BE and Rising Tide are worth a shot. I don't miss anything that BE culled from Civ 5. Rising Tide had some good ideas but can't save the game without more patches and bug fixes. I appreciate that I seem to be on more of a level playing field compared to the AI: Alpha Centauri is full of mechanics that seemingly only benefit the player. BE's orbital layer is much better than the satellite spreadsheet of SMAC/X.

    If it was better supported by the developer I'd continue to play it alongside Alpha Centauri, but the game is just too buggy for me. There's been a handful of patches, but they still haven't addressed core balance issues. The game can't even install mods correctly: there's a known bug that prevents many mods from installing, unless you install it, uninstall it, and then install it again: a process you need to go through every time you start up your game. They added functionality that you have to buy and play another game to unlock. Imagine if AC refused to let you play as  ;ulrik; until you also bought Sid Meier's Pirates!, beat it, got the achievements added to a separate online account, and then and only then would you be allowed to play as  ;ulrik; (assuming you were logged in and had internet connectivity). Does anybody believe this company can make a good SMAC2?

    Poor show by the developers. The expansion tried to help, but BE was an average game to begin with and there's a mountain of balance issues and bugs. If you already like BE you'll probably like Rising Tide, but do know that they did gut most of the game's diplomacy in favour of a faceless trading game.
    « Last Edit: May 12, 2016, 09:12:26 PM by sisko »

    Offline BUncle

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    Re: BE/RT overview & SMACX comparison
    « Reply #1 on: May 06, 2016, 02:25:38 PM »
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  • I wanted to promote this post to the site's Front Page, so I hope it's okay that I split it into its own thread with an appropriate title...

    Offline Harpalus

    Re: BE/RT overview & SMACX comparison
    « Reply #2 on: May 06, 2016, 03:55:11 PM »
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  • I wanted to promote this post to the site's Front Page, so I hope it's okay that I split it into its own thread with an appropriate title...

    Of course. Thanks!

    Offline BUncle

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    Re: BE/RT overview & SMACX comparison
    « Reply #3 on: May 06, 2016, 04:02:06 PM »
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  • :D

    It's a great review.  I wish we'd had more gold like this back when it might have done some good building this part of the community...

    Offline Harpalus

    Re: BE/RT overview & SMACX comparison
    « Reply #4 on: May 06, 2016, 04:53:01 PM »
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  • Just to add to my post, here's what would--in my opinion--save this game. There's a promising upcoming mod that looks to balance gameplay on the civfanatics.com forums, but it can't solve some of these.
     
    • Replace the generic affinity quotations with a full set of voiced quotes for the faction you're playing, per affinity. The female narrator does a great job, but there's no individualization for the leaders.
    • Add in missing Alpha Centauri & Civ 4 dialogue options to diplomacy, voice it better, and integrate the new diplomatic capital system into the diplomacy screen
    • Add the 3d leader models to the faction selection screen along with a voiced quote.
    • Hybrid city art, at a minimum. I don't really mind not having a custom victory condion, but all factions in every game end up getting an odd, hybrid mix of affinities anyways, making your cities an eyesore. It's hard to see and appreciate the new affinities if they're only units, and it's hard to envision your faction as pure supremacy when all of your cities have purity and harmony skyscrapers in them.
    • Increase the number of sponsors per map, or shrink all default maps. Too much room for expansion with too little competition, most games.
    • Fix the following:
      • modding screen
      • overpowered and unbalanced artifact bonuses and wonders
      • underpowered wonders
      • unbalanced internal trade routes
      • neutral trading posts not having borders or units. Come on, the Civ 5 code is right there! Give them all descriptions, as well. (Most of them already have descriptions, they're just not enabled)
      • aliens not attacking unless you attack them first
      • make aliens an actual threat. Let them wipe out undefended cities.
      • unlock the gated starting content for all players

    Come on 2K Games/Firaxis, you can even charge $5 for it. I doubt your voice actors are expensive, the diplomacy changes wouldn't take long, and most of what remains is either bug fixing or already has existing assets. It would be one of the cheapest DLCs to create ever.

    Offline DrazharLn

    Re: BE/RT overview & SMACX comparison
    « Reply #5 on: May 18, 2016, 02:12:33 PM »
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  • Characterful diplomacy and world is a real essential for me.

    I thought Civ BE, or Endless Legend, or Stellaris might do it right, but none of them do. The AI hardly ever contacts you, and when they do there's no real flavour to it. Stellaris, Pandora and Endless Legend do alright on giving the world itself character, but it's still not as effective (IMHO) as SMAC's interludes and facilities+tech fluff.

    Endless Legend actually does some quite clever things with the world, mechanically, but it's not communicated as well as the uprising of planet in SMAC. Endless also gives you faction specific stories, which are pretty cool, but a bit too transparently gamey. Stellaris delivers story through lots of "anomalies" spread throughout space, but I think too few of them actually do interesting things (and they repeat too often). The alien races are potentially very different, too, but it's an opportunity lost by the weak diplomacy dialogue.

    Excited that people are trying to do something a bit better with strategy game narrative, though.

    Offline Mart

    Re: BE/RT overview & SMACX comparison
    « Reply #6 on: November 08, 2016, 12:17:53 PM »
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  • Is BERT an upgrade then? If diplomacy is substantially changed (degraded?) then BERT is not a good expansion?
    Can one play original factions on land, just having all those sea capabilities?

    There is a mod with SMACX factions, anyone tried it?

    Offline Mart

    Re: BE/RT overview & SMACX comparison
    « Reply #7 on: November 08, 2016, 06:13:32 PM »
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  • This review gives a lot of credit to new diplomacy system.
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    Offline Mart

    Re: BE/RT overview & SMACX comparison
    « Reply #8 on: November 27, 2016, 03:19:19 PM »
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  • So finally I got the whole package, BERT with exoplanet pack, ... Thanksgiving sale.

    And very shortly tried mods, especially such as PK and Pirates factions for BERT, virtues mod making SE choices from SMAC kinda mechanism.
    Other mods, especially the 3-unit per tile! There is hope for this game.

    Yes, the new diplomacy is certainly interesting, but conversations with others limited to collection of "diplomacy points" is strange. It does not feel like something natural. The good thing is that you do not want to chat with AI every turn, you can't. agreements are weird too, needs time to get used to it.

    There are some balance issues, some mods address that. It looks like without modding community work this game will not be very playable, but it has its climate. Music is good, graphics. Expeditions idea when explorers dig for artifacts.
    GUI is not that good, for someone coming from "old school" interface it may be problematic. However, some gui mods are there too, e.g. small resource icon.

    3 units per tile is already something. I still have to see how it really works, early game...

     

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