Civilization: Beyond Earth vs. Civ 5

Civilization: Beyond Eath

The newest version of Sid Meier’s most famous game just hit the markets. In Civilization: Beyond Earth we are now settling in space. Despite this what are the differences to Civ 5 especially including the add-ons Gods and Kings and Brave New World. Which one should you buy?

What’s new?

Starting the game is already different. You can choose different sponsors, settlers, spaceships and cargos (see the linked post for viewing their benefits). This allows you to do more finetuning of the benefits of your fractions. Before you could chose between 34 civilizations, now you have  multiple small choices. This offers the opportunity to do some finetuning of the bonuses. Do you want to fully optimize my colony on growth, or do I want to spice it up with a bit of health or production? You have the choice. On the other hand the bonuses are not so dramatical. Two more ressources, one additional worker, warrior or technology – it provides a boost at the beginning but is no gamechanger like e.g. Venice in Civ 5. This forbids you found new cities and offers twice the amount of traderoutes. Here I don’t see a clear benefit for one of the games (+C:BE, +Civ5).

Next comes choosing a first colony, production and tech. You now don’t have a settler anymore, but see a small area of the map and place you colony. You don’t need (and are not allowed to) waste turns by searching for the best spot (+C:BE – Civilization:Beyond Earth here is better than Civ5). Productionwise everything is similiar but a bit different. You will recognize that you are in space now, but many things will be similiar. Considering the technology Firaxis went from a techtree to a techweb. Now you can not only decide on which branch you want to focus, but also whether you want to go fast in a very specific direction or be very broad. The degree of freedom is now much bigger. The drawback is that the technologies will be more unknown than previously. It’s easy to guess what astronomy, religion or knighthood does. Now you’ll have to do a lot of reading before you specialize to be sure not to miss a crucial tech. Still in the long run I give here the point to Beyond Earth (+C:BE).

One change which was very important to the developers is the alien wildlife. Aliens are not barbarians! (quote Firaxis) Now you have to decide whether to avoid, kill or use(!) the aliens. Again, Civilization: Beyond Earth improved a bit the previous games (+C:BE).

The former policies of Civ 5 now also changed. And now you can also go broad instead of finishing one branch after another. (+C:BE)

Finally at some point you should think about winning the game. You still can destroy every oponent and celebrate you domination victory. The other victory conditions changed and depend one you chosen affection. Here I don’t see a clear winner.

What is missing

Civ 5 has seen a few addons Civilization: Beyond Earth hasn’t seen yet. They offered very strong features. Gods and Kings introduced religion. This gives so much depth and early game choices to the game, that it is clearly missing in Beyond Earth (+Civ5). Brave New World introduced archeology, tourism and bigger interactions with City States. I’m still not sure, whether tourism is a big benefit for the game and how important archeology is, but the city states are big fun (+Civ5). Another thing the addons brought are new civilizations and scenarios. And especially the civs with very significant bonuses and drawbacks. The ones which imho are the most fun.

Pros and Cons:

Pro Civilization:Beyond Earth

  • placing of the first settlement
  • techweb
  • finetuning of the colony when setting up the game
  • aliens are not barbarians
  • new policy structure

Pro: Civilization 5 (+addons)

  • civilizations with very strong bonuses and drawbacks
  • religion
  • city states


Despite Civilization: beyond Earth having more points, the ones of Civ5 seem stronger to me. Civilization: Beyond Earth improved what they touched, but as always Firaxis left things out of the game to come with the addons. Some things like city states are a perfect match for future addons. Imagine the Fremen sieges of dune. Other things seem more difficult to implement. Right now I still prefer Civ 5. It is so well streamlined and so fun to also play without domination victory. This Civilization: Beyond Earth has to achieve in two addons time. And then it will take the crown.