Firaxis has been streaming more Civilization: Beyond Earth today, dealing specifically with the covert ops portion of the game. It’s mentioned that Civilization V’s espionage system was largely about stealing technology, but that Beyond Earth’s covert systems will be expanded and overlap further with other features in the game.
For the purposes of the stream, the Firaxis guys play as the American Reclamation Corporation who get covert ops bonuses.
In Civilization: Beyond Earth, cities all have an “intrigue level.” Intrigue is summerised as being somewhat like the police stars system in GTA. Nothing really horrible happens until the higher levels, because the type of action an agent in a city can perform is gated by the intrigue level. This is so covert ops doesn’t “sneak up” (how ironic) on people. You always have an idea what kind of things your opponent will be able to do in your city, and vice versa.
To get started, it’s a good idea to build the spy agency building which can be found on the tech tree as a first tier technology. As you do partake in more covert actions, you attract more interest from the Culper Cell (based on the real life Culper Spy Ring) and they will offer you more missions to fulfill.
Once you have a National Security Project up and running, you can start assigning agents to active spying duties. It’s noted that covert ops is a pretty “opt in” activity, so if you prefer you can just channel your National Security into stuff like Homeland Security (for added city strength) rather than going out into the field.
Agents can be assigned to your own cities as counter-intelligence, which enables you to gradually lower intrigue and possibly kill enemy spies. Or, you can send them out to rival cities to cause some covert mayhem. An immediate benefit to doing this is gaining visibility around a city, and Civilization: Beyond Earth also allows you to establish a network pretty much right away. This raises intrigue a little and gives an intel report on the city (this begins with basic information like yields and expands as the agent levels up.)
Interestingly, stealing stuff is not always zero sum. So when, in the stream, some science points are stolen from a rival city, the other guy is not actually losing those resources from his or her stash. Actions at intrigue level of three or lower won’t really hurt the player it’s happening to (but will benefit the other guy). Levels four and five, however, certainly will hurt.
Watch the rest (below) to learn about inciting coups and flipping cities to your side. Civilization: Beyond Earth will be released on 24 October.