Content9Gameplay8Graphics9Story8Reader Rating1 Vote9.2New Horizons"Completes" Beyond EarthSeveral gameplay optionsUnits look greatPast MistakesGameplay can be "too slow" for some 8.5As the first expansion to Sid Meyer’s Civilization Beyond Earth, Rising Tide is not only a great addition to the game, it is an essential addition that completes the experience of colonizing on other planets. The premise, well… after the initial wave of great colony ships departed Earth – we finally managed to screw things up and Earth is no longer viable as a home planet with resources diminishing quickly – more ships depart for the new found home planet. New factions arise and take the place of governments and countries. And of course, as a species we aren’t all that good at learning from our mistakes and play nice, we land on the new planet to wage war on the local dominant species (technically we’re the aliens not them) an insect-fish hybrid, and of course ourselves. The local species are truly a peaceful lot that operate within a hive-mind. They’re actually quite peaceful and won’t attack you until you attack them. If you screw with one though (remember hive-mind?) you’ve basically declared war on the whole family. In addition to getting along (or not) with the locals, there’s still that tricky bit of maintaining relations with other factions. Each faction’s leader is… how do I put it… very culturally distinct and iconic (I tried…) and has their own views on how cities and the planet should be run – through careful economic superiority, scientific breakthroughs or martial warfare. Play nice or risk having war declared on you… or vice versa. One of my favourite aspects of the game is the number of upgrade and research options. The scientific web might be daunting to look at at first, but completing research unlocks new units and gives you options to upgrade old ones. Depending on your line of research, you can also develop hybrid units that merge the local species with humans and tech to produce awe-inspiring troops – if it isn’t for war, what is it good for?The character models give the units lots of well… character. Here’s a good rundown on the different affinities – Harmony, Supremacy and Purity. Hybrid Affinity: Harmony and Supremacy Hybrid Affinity: Supremacy and Purity Hybrid Affinity: Purity and Harmony Finally, sending your troops out to explore can provide great benefits – especially when you come across a ruin or a dig site and uncover an artifact. Artifacts allow you to discover new tech and benefits – basically another reason to go stir “alien” nests. Like most Civilization games, some might find the turn-based gameplay slow… but hey they built a whole franchise that way. Prepare to spend many, many immersive hours on Rising Tide. Rising Tide, more than an expansion, feels to be the missing element that Civilization: Beyond Earth lacked. I wouldn’t call it an add-on as much as an essential.