If you played even a little bit of Sid Meier’s Civilization series, it is likely you have heard about Alpha Centauri. Released in February 1999 shortly after Civilization 2 and based off the same engine, Alpha Centauri was a turn-based strategy game about seven ideologically based factions attempting to survive both a hostile alien world and each other as they attempt to turn the nameless Planet into a new home. It remains arguably the most beloved entry in the Civilization series of all time; many gamers, myself included, probably spent more hours in a single game of Alpha Centauri then the total campaign length of the entire Dawn of War series stretched end to end.
So it was with no small amount of joy and a little bit of worry when the first announcement trailer for Beyond Earth made the rounds and gamers tuned in for that first press reveal explaining just what we were in for. Over the past few months, we learned about the three Transhumanist affinities (Harmony, Purity, and Supremacy) that would guide the player’s development from start to finish and how our initial expeditions will be customized with different factions, colonist payloads, and ship equipment. Now, presumably working in alphabetical order, the dev team has started releasing mock interviews revealing the character of the playable factions and their leaders. Up first is CEO/CFO Suzanne Marjorie Fielding representing the American Reclamation Corporation, or ARC for short.
The obvious knee-jerk reaction for old fans would be to make a direct comparison to Morgan Industries of Alpha Centauri. Both factions are corporate-states but… that is pretty much where the similarities end. Beneath the corporate jargon, Fielding paints the picture of a leader that built their empire on a combination of pragmatic business decisions and technological innovation. CEO Nwabudike Morgan on the other hand was a businessman first and only, arguably turning off gamers to the idea of an Objectivist society long before Ken Levine took us to Rapture in the original Bioshock. The limited data on ARC's Apolyton page further reinforces this assessment; the American Reclamation Corporation excels at research and the construction of new units and buildings but is weak in religion and culture. Makes sense for a secular engineering company focused on urban reconstruction and land reclamation after the deliberately vague “Great Mistake” occurred in the game’s timeline.
Assuming the Culture mechanic works the same way it did in Civilization 5, this means the ARC naturally lends itself to small, extremely well developed colonies that expand their borders very slowly but build up the terrain tiles within their territory very quickly. It also means that CEO Fielding will likely be at odds with those touchy-feely Harmony-predisposed cultures, must be all those blasted cartoon horses singing about friendship (oh come on, you know that joke had to be made) and has an emphasis towards either Purity or Supremacy Affinities.
Beyond Earth is set for a tentative release Fall 2014, stay tuned for more information on the factions of Beyond Earth and their leaders as they’re released.