Civilization: Beyond Earth created by Firaxis Games.
Images used for educational purposes only.
Civilization: Beyond Earth Walkthrough Listing

Civilization: Beyond Earth is as robust as its predecessors, and it quickly unleashes its unique level of complexity the moment you start a new game. There are (potentially) many options to consider when starting a fresh round of Beyond Earth, and these options can prove somewhat daunting if you’re new to the game. This article will help you wade through the innumerable options and, hopefully, come out ready to play on the other side.

Note that this article is meant only for single player matches. Multiplayer setup is quite similar, though if you’re not hosting the game, you’ll only be able to choose your Sponsor and any associated bonuses.

Play Now

Your first option is Play Now. Choosing Play Now will push you into a game with pre-determined options. If this is not your first game of Beyond Earth, you’ll be given the same options that you chose for your last game. Play Now is fine if you want to jump right into the action, but you’ll have no opportunities to fine-tune the setting to your liking.

The Setup Game menu screen of Civilization: Beyond Earth.
Setup Game

Pickier players will want to choose Setup Game. This affords you a number of options for customizing the game to your liking, including:
  • Difficulty. Sporting six difficulty levels - Sputnik, Mercury, Vostok, Gemini, Soyuz, and Apollo - Beyond Earth offers a significant jump from easy to hard as far as difficulty is concerned. Newcomers to the series should probably stick with Sputnik or Mercury to get their feet wet without being immediately trampled, while Civilization veterans (especially people who have played Civilization V) can probably get away with Vostok, if not higher.
  • Game Pace. Like all Civilization games (that I’ve played, anyway) Beyond Earth allows you to change the pace of the game, depending on how long you want to spend on your actions. A Quick game can be completed in a matter of hours; a Marathon game will probably require several days. Every action taken (travel, construction, combat, etc.) will be scaled to the pace. I recommend either Quick or Standard for newcomers.
  • Map Size. The size of the playing area plays a crucial role in any game of Beyond Earth, and you have five options: Duel, Dwarf, Small, Standard, and Massive. You have more resources to play with if you choose one of the larger maps, but you also have more competition. Games also tend to take longer on larger maps, as you have to wait a great deal longer for the AIs to finish their turns.
The Designate Sponsor menu screen of Civilization: Beyond Earth. Sponsors are
the closest you'll get to choosing a country.
Designate Sponsor

Once you’ve established the bare basics of the map, you need to customize your civilization. Designate Sponsor is, in essence, your country. This will determine the face of your civilization, as well as the bonus which you’ll carry forward throughout the game. There are a eight sponsors to choose from in the base game of Beyond Earth:
  • Arc. Covert Operations are 25% faster and cause 25% more Intrigue. A good choice for players who rely on Covert Operatives to dish out damage to their enemies, rather than relying strictly on open warfare or selective politics.
  • Pan-Asian Cooperative. +10% Production towards Wonders, and +25% Worker speed. Ideal for players who want quick industrial expansion, as well as quickly nabbing Wonders before other players can get them built.
  • Franco-Iberia. Gain a free Technology for every 10 Virtues developed. A solid choice if your focus is on Culture but you don’t want to fall behind on scientific developments (always a good idea).
  • Slavic Federation. Orbital Units stay in orbit 20% longer, and the first one launched grants a free Technology. Orbital Units don’t stay in the air for long, so this is a nice choice if you like the things but don’t want them crashing down every five turns.
  • Polystralia. +2 Trade Routes available for the Capital. A great choice if quick economic expansion is your goal, as Trade Routes are sparse for the first hundred turns or so.
  • Kavithan Protectorate. Cities and Outposts acquire new tiles twice as fast. Tired of purchasing tiles with all that hard-earned Energy? These guys will quickly snap up new land before rival colonies get the chance. (This can also lead to increased border tensions, so be wary where you build.)
  • Brasilia. Units have +10% defence in combat. A wise choice if your focus is on military campaigns, particularly if you want the Domination victory.
  • African Union. +10% Food in growing cities when your civilization is Healthy. Only useful if you’ve mastered the maintenance of Healthy colonists, which, early on, can be difficult to achieve.
The Choose Colonists menu screen in Civilization: Beyond Earth.
Choose Colonists

Your new colony needs people. This option will allow you to determine who’s coming along for the ride, and each one provides a specific bonus that will remain with you throughout the game:
  • Scientists. +2 Science in every city. Technological development is their forte.
  • Refugees. +2 Food in every city. Starvation will seldom be an issue.
  • Aristocrats. +3 Energy and +1 Health in every city. In essence, your people have more money, and they’re happier on average. I recommend these colonists for new players.
  • Engineers. +2 Production in every city. New units and buildings will get churned out much more quickly. Good for military campaigns.
  • Artists. +2 Culture and +1 Health in every city. Allows for quick development of Virtues while maintaining Healthy colonists. Another good choice for newcomers.
The Choose Spaceraft menu screen in Civilization: Beyond Earth. This bonus
typically has a bearing on your early success in a session of Beyond Earth.
Choose Spacecraft

Your colonists had to get to their new planet somehow. These five bonuses will grant you some handy extras to make starting off just a little bit easier:
  • Continental Surveyor. Reveal coasts on map. A particularly nice choice if you’ve decided to set the game on a series of island chains. Matches with giant continents… not as useful.
  • Retrograde Thrusters. Wider area for choosing where to land first city, and additional visibility around starting area. Good for basically the first turn alone, but handier than it sounds, as it will allow you to locate your city near valuable resources from the get-go. Good for advanced players who know what they want right away.
  • Tectonic Scanner. No technology is needed to see Petroleum, Geothermal, and Titanium resources. Handy for a quicker start, as you’ll know where these resources are located immediately, but it doesn’t take that long to develop the technologies needed to locate ‘em on your own. Shrug?
  • Fusion Reactor. Begin with 100 Energy (on standard speed; varies depending on your pace). Honestly, this isn’t as good as it sounds. You don’t need Energy that much when first starting out. It’s not until your colony starts to branch out technologically that Energy becomes terribly important. I suggest choosing a bonus that will provide benefits on the long term.
  • Lifeform Sensor. Reveal Alien Nests on the map. Quite handy if you want to set out and explore immediately without the risk of running into said Nests. 
The Choose Cargo menu screen in Civilization: Beyond Earth. Want a particular extra from the get-go?
This is where you'll find it. (Maybe.)
Choose Cargo

Your crew has some stuff they’d like to bring along for the ride. Your Cargo will grant you some immediate bonuses for starting off on the right foot:
  • Hydroponics. Begin with an extra Population in your first city. Handy, but not so great if you don’t quickly adjust your colonies to maximize Health. 
  • Laboratory. Begin with the Pioneering technology. A handy starting tech.
  • Raw Materials. Begin with a Clinic building in your first city. Clinics are quite useful for maintaining Health, making this a wise choice.
  • Weapon Arsenal. Begin with a Soldier unit. Insular colonies that aren’t interested in quick expansion won’t run afoul of aliens that much in the beginning, but colonies that want to jump right into the fray may benefit from having an extra Soldier on hand.
  • Machinery. Begin with a Worker unit. Workers construct improvements in your territory, and can bridge the gaps between cities. Very handy for quickly churning out passive bonuses.
The Choose Planet menu screen in Civilization: Beyond Earth. This screen will
allow you to customize the map upon which your game is set.
Choose Planet

You went somewhere. This menu option will allow you to choose one of three different planet types, essentially dictating the type of map you’ll be using throughout the game. Though there’s an option to Re-Scan for Planets, this basically just changes the name of the planet:
  • Terran World. A world with a few large landmasses separated by oceans and some smaller islands. Think Earth.
  • Protean World. A world of one ocean and one very large, continuous landmass with the possibility of small, coastal islands. Unless the AIs get a little weird, everyone’s going to be on the same continent, in essence. This can lead to some interesting wars.
  • Atlantean World. A world of islands of varying sizes separated by narrow water passages. An emphasis on aquatic development is a must if you want to monopolize on resources, attack enemies, or otherwise expand your colony.
  • In addition to the three basic choices above, there are a number of Advanced Worlds that boast much more specific climates and challenges. Mu Arae f, for example, is a harsh world with only desert and tundra, while Eta Vulpeculae b is filled with lush forests. Your game play experiences will vary dramatically depending on which customized world you choose, if any.
Advanced Setup

Before confirming your colony, have a look at the Advanced Setup option in the top-right corner of the screen. This will open a slightly more spartan menu containing a variety of extra customizations that will further transform your gaming experience. In addition to the options already discussed above, Advanced Setup contains the following:
  • Sponsors. You can choose the number of players in the game, which Sponsor they have, and whether or not they are part of a team from the beginning of the game. Teams are locked together in a permanent alliance with one another, and if one team member wins, the whole team succeeds. The top slot is always for your own colony, and here you can customize your Leader Name, Sponsor Name, Sponsor Short Name, and Sponsor Adjective by clicking on Edit. Fancy.
  • Map Terrain. Lush has plenty of plants; Fungal is covered in weird molds and fungus; Desert is bereft of water.
  • World Age. Set by default at 4 Billion Years, World Age dictates the world's topography. The older the world, the greater the hill-to-mountain ratio. In short, if you want lots of rocky terrain, stick with a younger world. (Thanks to Randy in the comments for the clarification.)
  • Temperature. The climate of your world. Different options will change the environment in which your colonists must live, so a Temperate world will yield a relatively easy experience, while colonists on a Hot world will run into a lot of deserts.
  • Rainfall. The average rainfall. Again, this will affect the environment. A lot of rainfall (Wet) will promote plants and fungus; very little (Arid) will result in deserts.
  • Sea Level. The height of the oceans. The higher the Sea Level, the smaller the continents and islands upon which your colonists may settle.
  • Resources. The number of resources that can be found on the map. Sparse maps will require a lot of exploration to find resources; Abundant maps have resources all over the place. A Legendary Start will give your colony a huge boost right from the beginning.
  • Victory Types. In order to win a game of Beyond Earth you must fulfill the conditions of one of five Victories. This menu box will allow you to eliminate one or all Victory Types from the game. Get rid of all five and the player / team with the highest score at the end of the game is the winner.
  • Max Turns. Determines the number of turns the game will last. If time runs out without another Victory Condition being met, the player / team with the highest number of points will win.
  • Allow Veterancy Saving. As your combat units battle enemies they’ll gain experience, and can choose Veterancy bonuses. This option will allow you to defer choosing a bonus until you really need it, which can be handy if your unit is suddenly low on health.
  • Allow Virtue Deferral. With this option ticked off, you can opt not to choose a Virtue immediately upon earning one. Virtues gained for free must still be chosen immediately.
  • Don’t Stagger Starts. A new game of Beyond Earth will have AI units arriving on-planet after the player, typically one turn at a time. This option turns that off and has the AI players on-planet from the beginning.
  • Frenzied Aliens. Choosing this will increase the quantity and aggressiveness of the local aliens. Not a good choice for beginners.
  • New Random Seed. Results are entirely randomized between saves. You won’t get the same result from a battle, for example, if you saved beforehand and reloaded. Excellent for unpredictable games.
  • No City Razing. Whenever you take an enemy city you have the option of burning it down. This eliminates that option.
  • No Resource Pods. Occasionally you’ll come across Resource Pods on the map that contain Energy, Production, Culture, maps, and Quests. This option eliminates the possibility of finding Resource Pods.
  • Quick Combat. Choose this and combat animations are automatically skipped.
  • Quick Movement. Choose this and movement animations are automatically skipped.
  • Total Domination. Normally a player is defeated when all of their cities are captured or destroyed. This option amends that a little, forcing the opposition to destroy all of the player’s cities and units.
All done? Hit Start. This will generate a world based on your preferences and, after some loading time, begin a new game of Civilization: Beyond Earth. Enjoy!

Civilization: Beyond Earth Walkthrough Listing