In the run-up to the release of mega-strategy game Civilization: Beyond Earth at the end of the week, Sid Meier’s Civilization V is playable for free through Steam until Thursday for the few people who haven’t already played it.

Beyond Earth is the sci-fi followup to the history-based Civ V, and starts off right as Civ V ends: with humanity reaching for the stars. Players must colonise a new planet, and how they play will determine which “affinity” they’re best-suited to, something that unlocks different technologies for their fledgling civilisations.

The game features the same grid-based strategic gameplay of Civilization V, just with high-flying sci-fi concepts at its core that challenge players with things like terraforming, dealing with the planet’s flora and fauna and, of course, engaging in combat with unfriendlies using advanced technology. Or peacefully co-existing, if that’s your thing (but where’s the fun in that?).

No more will you have to focus on developing the absolute basics like the wheel and writing; you will instead have all sorts of techie things at your disposal with which to achieve your aims. Pollution, population happiness and wealth-generation are still concerns, but at least you’ll have new tools with which to deal with them.

It should be interesting to see what Firaxis’s designers believe the future could look like, and to settle into the challenges of governing a high-tech civilization rather than guiding primitives from tribal living and into cities.

Beyond Earth is out for PC only on Friday the 24th of October, for a recommended price of R599. If you preorder now you can get it for R525 from BTGames and get the Exoplanets map pack for free. Preorderers can start pre-loading Beyond Earth on Steam from today.

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Deon got his first taste of PC gaming at the tender age of 11 when his father bought an 8088 XT, ostensibly to "help him with his homework". Instead, it introduced him to Leisure Suit Larry, King Graham, Sonny Bonds and many more, and Deon has been a PC gamer and hardware enthusiast ever since. He landed his first professional writing gig in 2006 at a prestigious local PC magazine, a very happy happenstance as he got to write for a living about things he loves - tech, PCs, gaming, and everything in between. He's been writing about it all ever since, and loves every minute of it.