Civilization: Beyond Earth Live Gameplay Demo Details Espionage System, Spies Can Steal Energy, Units And Even Cities

By Connor Sears , Updated Sep 11, 2014 03:44 PM EDT

The Espionage system in Civ V was a little underwhelming, and two Firaxis developers said the same thing to kick off their latest live gameplay demo for Sid Meier's Civilization: Beyond Earth. To make up for it, spies have received a major power boost in Beyond Earth's Covert Ops system, and they're able to undertake some pretty substantial missions that can seriously affect the entire game.

Last Week, The Live Demo Focused On Virtues And The Late-Game Harmony Affinity

Beyond Earth's Covert Ops system can be unlocked fairly early. The Spy Agency is a National Wonder that grants the player three spies when built, and it's unlocked with the discovery of the Computing technology, which can be researched very early on. For those who don't want to waste precious resources on a Spy Agency, though, operatives can be obtained in other ways.

Once a player receives a spy, he can choose to plant that spy inside his own city – which lets him serve as a defense against enemy spies – or he can wreak havoc and send his agent off to another civilization's city he has discovered. That's generally the more fun option.

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The Covert Ops system features a new measurement for cities: Intrigue. Every time an agent completes an assignment in a city, that city's Intrigue increases. As a city accumulates Intrigue, more and more substantial operations can be planned in that city. Spies in a low-Intrigue city might be able to steal some Science or some Energy. Spies in a high-Intrigue city, however, can generate new units, pull nearby satellites out of orbit or even flip a city to the player's control.

Yes, that includes capitals. Players with superior spy skills and a whole lot of luck can now theoretically win domination victories without even going to war.

Generally speaking, spy activities requiring three levels of Interigue or less will only benefit the spying party. It won't actively hurt the country being spied upon. Activites requiring Intrigue levels of four or more, however, can have actively negative effects for the unlucky party. A civ with low health will see its cities fill up with Intrigue faster, but various wonders and satellites are available that can lower cities' Intrigue or even kick enemy spies out.

Spies in Civlization have come a long way from being able to just steal a tech every now and then. In Beyond Earth, they seem like a force to be respected or, failing that, feared.

Sid Meier's Civilization: Beyond Earth is set to hit PCs on October 24.

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