Welcome to the final installment of what appears to be an unofficial trilogy of casual guides for Civilization: Beyond Earth. We’ve already covered Sponsors and Wonders, so now it’s time to run through all the Best Virtues in Beyond Earth.
Developing your Culture is a tertiary concern in this game as despite being quite crucial in the early going, the importance of Virtues quickly drops off in favour of the more potent Science and Production. There’s no equivalent to Civilization V’s Cultural victory here and the Rising Tide expansion brought no changes to the Virtue system either.
What we’re left with now is an existing suite of empire-wide bonuses and synergies that can feel a little schizophrenic in terms of game-changing potential, but it’s certainly not on the same level of inadequacy as the Wonders are!
Once again, the best picks in the four different trees tend to be obvious, but for the sake of it, here’s a personal favourites list that ranks all of Beyond Earth’s Virtues from worst to best.
#60 – Applied Metasociology
City Intrigue decreases faster when an Agent is present.
If you caught my Beyond Earth Wonders guide then you’ll already know what I think about espionage “bonuses”. City Intrigue levels do not matter at all because the best Covert Operation (Steal Science) is available early and doesn’t directly hamper the city it targets. Even then, Agents assigned to counterspy duty already do a stellar job of reducing Intrigue without this Virtue in effect.
The only plus with Applied Metasociology is that it sits on a distant branch of the Knowledge tree, so you can freely ignore it in favour of better alternatives (which is just about anything else!).
#59 – Creative Class
Earn extra Culture up to 30% of positive Health.
In the release build of Beyond Earth, this Virtue granted a pitiful amount of Energy for a huge Health investment whereas now it instead grants a pitiful amount of Culture for a huge Health investment. Culture-fed bonuses that only reward you with more Culture are one of my biggest pet peeves in Civilization and so whichever way you choose to look at it, this is a very bad pick.
Spending Culture on a Virtue that gives you more Culture attempts to make your next Virtue cheaper, and yet it rarely works out that way because of the exponential growth of Virtue costs. Getting more Culture by selecting a Virtue like this only serves to make your next Virtue more expensive. You’ll never have enough excess Health to make this Virtue worth it as the percentage amount gained is way too low and would still be poor if the return was increased to 100%.
Like Applied Metasociology that sits just above it on the Knowledge tree, Creative Class is thankfully very easy to skip and not bother with.
#58 – Ecoscaping
+1 Food, +1 Production, +1 Culture from every Terrascape Improvement.
This Virtue bestows a respectable bonus to a costly tile Improvement that is way too expensive and impractical to get much value from. In fact, Ecoscaping arguably holds the distinction of being the worst tier 3 Virtue in the game just because the things it tries to enhance are far too bad to ever warrant consideration in the first place.
#57 – Liberation Army
After conquering an enemy Outpost, automatically found an Outpost of your own in its place.
Liberation Army is a very bad Virtue.
You won’t be warmongering early in Beyond Earth unless you choose to play on lower difficulties, but even then the ability to steal a developing outpost is far too situational. The AI loves to settle cities in poor locations so most of the time it’s better to settle one of your own instead.
Once in a while you may get lucky and snag an outpost in an ideal spot, but seeing as Colonist costs were reduced in Rising Tide, you’re much better off leaving this Virtue on the shelf.
#56 – Superior Engineering
Orbital Units stay in orbit 50% longer before de-orbiting.
The best Satellites in Beyond Earth actually benefit from a shorter duration in space, thus any “bonus” that keeps them in the air longer isn’t really helping much at all. The potent Weather Controller and Orbital Fabricator both spawn resources over their lifespan so it normally pays to let these Satellites expire and then rebuild them afterwards.
Superior Engineering only really helps keep your Solar Collectors active for a bit longer which is no where near worth it for a Tier 3 Virtue slot.
#55 – Entrepreneurial Spaceflight
+25% Production towards Orbital Units.
Satellites are already reasonably cheap and so gaining bonuses towards their Production is not worth it, especially when said bonus is so relatively slight.
#54 – Settler Clans
+1 Population for newly founded Cities.
Firaxis Games stupidly nerfed this mid-tree Virtue taking it from a +2 Population bonus to a +1, therefore removing much of its intended value.
Expert players will have founded their core cities long before this Virtue kicks in and it’s certainly not worth delaying the earlier picks in Prosperity in order to prioritise it either.
#53 – Joint Operations
+3 Orbital Coverage provided by Stations you trade with.
Another bad Virtue centred around Orbital gameplay. Joint Operations was almost completely worthless in the vanilla build of Beyond Earth, but with Rising Tide adding the powerful Station Sentinel (a satellite that requires Orbital Coverage over Stations), it can have some mild utility for players who enjoy spamming trade routes.
Sadly, Joint Operations sits on a very weak spot within the Might tree and is therefore impossible to recommend over the more competitive selections in its tier.
#52 – Public Security
+0.25 Health for every Military Unit under your command.
The worst of the Health-providing virtues in Beyond Earth. The idea has potential; colonies with massive armies will more than likely need the Health, but the bonus here is far too small and would need to be at least double what it is now to be worth adopting.
#51 – Gift Economy
+3 Energy from your Trade Routes to foreign cities.
External trade routes are, for all intents and purposes, dead in the current build of Beyond Earth and so it’s really difficult to see Gift Economy ever being worth it. If you’re really desperate for Energy then try adopting Virtues from the Industry tree instead.
#50 – Special Service
+40% Intrigue from Covert Operations.
A respectable boost to Intrigue generation that only dedicated Espionage enthusiasts could ever realistically take advantage of. Steal Science is the best Covert Operation anyway so you don’t really need to focus on Intrigue unless you’re playing for fun (I have heard of people doing this).
#49 – Hands Never Idle
+2 Energy from any Population acting as a Specialist.
Awful. The African Union is the only Sponsor likely to get any benefit out of this Virtue (as boosted Specialists are already part of their gimmick). Everyone else should stay well clear.
#48 – Social Mores
Each City tile generates +0.25 Culture for every Population.
Another one of those lacklustre Virtues that gives you more Culture. Social Mores at least adds its bonus to City tiles (great for border expansion and aquatic empires), but it’s difficult to see this pick helping you until your cities are already developed and Virtues are much better when they help you NOW instead of later.
#47 – Pioneer Spirit
-25% Culture needed for border expansions.
Whilst cheaper borders is a bonus that will help almost any land-based Sponsor, focusing on Culture is not a sound strategy in Beyond Earth and so the value of this pick greatly diminishes as the game goes on. It doesn’t help that Pathfinders (an infinitely better Virtue than this one) is right next door on the Prosperity tree.
#46 – Military Industrial Complex
+15% Production towards Military Units.
Here is another instance where the developers have been far too lax with their additive bonuses. Production boosts for Military Units are always going to be helpful, but this one isn’t strong enough, especially in the early game when Soldiers and Rangers are desperately needed to fight aliens and protect the homelands.
Double that bonus, Firaxis and maybe then we’ll talk.
#45 – Brutal Efficiency
+50% quantity from sources of strategic resources.
The utility of Brutal Efficiency will depend on the settings you chose during map setup. Selecting Strategic Balance will make this Virtue almost worthless whereas a sparser map might actually see this one become a premium pick.
Most of the time though it’s much easier to just settle near another resource deposit or take one from someone else than it is to invest in costly Virtues.
#44 – Field Research
Earn 50 Science Science from finishing expeditions.
Any bonus that grants Science is usually going to be decent and with so many expedition sites in Rising Tide you may think that Field Research is going to be essential.
Unfortunately, the bonus you receive is a bit small, and it doesn’t offer any help with finishing or continuing expeditions either. An extra explorer charge or scouting bonus would really take this Virtue to the next level, but as it is, it’s just kind ‘meh’.
#43 – Cohesive Values
-10% Culture needed for new virtues.
Whilst the Culture savings on this one are OK, taking a Virtue with the sole intention of making future Virtues cheaper is both stupid and remarkably boring.
#42 – Memeweb
40% Culture penalty from number of Cities for new Virtues.
See Cohesive Values above.
#41 – Central Planning
+5 Energy in your Capital.
A decent early game Energy boost that combos well with all the Solar Collectors you’ll be finding in resource pods. Somewhat overshadowed by the Commoditization Virtue that sits right next to it however.
#40 – Learning Centers
+1 Science from Academy Improvements.
If you enjoyed the potent state of Academies in vanilla Beyond Earth then this Virtue is for you. Learning Centers is hurt by being so far down into Knowledge which is easily the weakest Virtue path as it offers so few crucial early game bonuses.
#39 – Profiteering
+0.5 Health for every trade unit under your command.
Whilst this bonus seems rather stingy at first, your trade units should always be running at full capacity anyway and so it’s uncommon not to the receive the maximum amount of Health.
#38 – Laboratory Apprenticeship
Each city tile generates +0.25 Science per Population.
A solid Science bonus is hard to turn down, but this Virtue ironically comes too early into the Knowledge tree. Either you’ll open Knowledge and have a hard time in the early game or open something better and later dip into Laboratory Apprenticeship to help you win more.
Decent, but not very well balanced.
#37 – Integrated Arms
+10% Production towards a Unit for each Upgrade it has.
A Virtue that further hoses lategame Affinity Units. The best Units to take advantage of Integrated Arms are your basic Soldiers, Rangers, and Combat Rovers which all have the maximum number of upgrade slots to scale with.
The core of your army should be built during the early game though so even then it’s tough to make the most of Integrated Arms when it finally does show up.
#36 – Democratized Quartering
-50% maintenance for Units.
A solid Energy boosting Virtue for those with large armies. Hardly essential, but welcome all the same.
#35 – Monomyth
+7 Culture for every Great Wonder.
I’m a little biased towards Monomyth because it’s a Virtue that tries to help Wonders be worth a damn. The bonus works really well alongside the +50% Culture boost enjoyed by aquatic cities and it can help turn lots of Culture into Science when combined with Technoartisans.
It’s just a shame that Monomyth comes so late into a Virtue tree filled with bonuses that don’t do a lot for you during the most crucial period of the game.
#34 – Investment
Earn 1% of stockpiled Energy amount every turn, up to 100 Energy.
Although Energy is one of Beyond Earth’s weakest yields, I rate Investment higher than normal because I like the idea behind it.
Saving your Energy for a key purchase or emergency unit is a common thing to do and this Virtue helps make that wait a little more profitable. On its own the Virtue is nothing to write home about, but with Industry’s many other Energy boosting Virtues, the synergy there is easy to build upon and enjoy.
#33 – Labor Logistics
+10% Production towards Buildings.
Whilst a ten percent bonus isn’t going to do much at the very start of the game, Labour Logistics soon comes into its own once you manage to get a few Titanium Mines and Manufactory Improvements on the ground.
Essential for Harmony victories where you need to build as many Mind Stem and Xeno Sanctuary buildings as possible.
#32 – Frugality
10% Food retained after a City grows.
A solid early game bonus that combos nicely with Biowells and any other food-heavy strategies you might be planning.
#31 – Homesteading
+30% faster development for Outposts.
Every Sponsor can make use of this Virtue. The earlier your cities come online, the sooner you start winning, and this Virtue will help make that dream a reality.
#30 – Community Medicine
+1 Health for every 6 Population in a City.
A powerful global Health Virtue in Knowledge that’s best taken mid to late game. For a conquered empire especially, the effects of this Virtue are considerable, but it’s not so hot with smaller empires that haven’t developed many large cities.
#29 – Scalable Infrastructure
+15% Production towards Wonders.
The placement of Scalable Infrastructure may surprise you considering how poorly I rate the Wonders in Beyond Earth.
Luckily this Virtue also works for the Planetary Wonders that help you win the game and since the costs of those projects are so huge, Scalable Infrastructure puts forward a considerable bonus to help shave vital turns off your win time.
#28 – Survivalism
+25% Melee Strength and Ranged Strength against alien life forms.
Aliens are well worth exterminating and so any Virtue that helps with that objective is going to be a good pick. Survivalism comes early enough to assist your troops during the exploration phase and is the chief pre-requisite for the excellent Scavenging Virtue.
#27 – Workforce Initiative
Gain a free Worker Unit.
There are few instances where a free Worker isn’t helpful and Workforce Initiative comes early enough to be very impactful in this regard. The virtue is somewhat watered down by the cheap cost of Workers and also the Machinery Cargo option (which gifts you a free Worker on turn 1).
#26 – Liquidity
-20% Energy cost to purchase Units.
Liquidity is a deceptively useful pick that combos well with Industry’s many lucrative Energy Virtues. Purchasing Units en masse is a great way to defend your territory, supplement invading armies, and to quickly fill up an Emancipation Gate in preperation for Supremacy’s victory condition.
#25 – Helping Hands
+15% tile improvement rate.
Helping Hands doesn’t provide a huge bonus on its own, but it comes early enough to make an impact. More useful now that the advanced tile Improvements are so friggin’ expensive.
#24 – Channelled Wrath
+10% Melee Strength and Ranged Strength for all Units.
A straightforward combat buff designed to keep your troops alive for longer. Offers a nice edge when attacking with planes and other high-powered units.
#23 – Information Warfare
Recruit 1 new Covert Agent.
There’s a lot you can do with an extra spy, but the investment involved with getting to the bottom of Knowledge will be too costly for some players to stomach.
#22 – Adaptive Tactics
+50% XP from combat.
An excellent Virtue that grants your troops a greater number of opportunities to heal and power up. Essential for any serious warmonger, but did it really have to be the first pick in Might? That’s a bit early even for me!
#21 – Commoditization
+1 Energy from every Basic Resource.
Basic Resources are everywhere so you’re going get rich quick by taking this Virtue.
It comes early enough to combo with bonus Solar Collectors and synergizes well with Industry’s other Energy Virtues. Commoditization is solid when you have four to five cities and is even better when you control any more.
#20 – Army Engineering Corps
+1 Production from every Strategic Resource , +1 Energy from every Strategic Resource.
Ever since the time I settled an outpost in the middle of a desert surrounded by half a dozen pockets of Floatsone, Army Engineering Corps has been one of my favourite Virtues.
Working Strategic Resources can be tricky because of how much longer it usually takes to improve them, but the bonus here is good enough to make it worthwhile when you can.
#19 – Networked Datalinks
-40% Science penalty from number of Cities for new technologies.
A dull, yet undeniably useful buff to your Science rate. A good Virtue to have alongside a massive conquered empire full of cities.
#18 – Mind Over Matter
One of Prosperity’s many potent Health Virtues. Mind Over Matter will save you from nasty penalties and push you closer to those sweet Health-related synergy bonuses once your hybrid Affinities take shape in the mid to late game.
#17 – Foresight
+10% Science when healthy.
A well balanced Virtue that is placed way too early on the tree. Nevertheless, Foresight really sings once your Health has been locked down in the positive numbers.
#16 – Metaresearch Methods
Leaf Technologies cost 10% less Science.
Leaf Technologies contain the big Affinity yields that help you win so making them cheaper is never a bad idea. Metaresearch Methods is an uninteresting bonus to be sure, but it will save you hundreds of Science points before the game is over.
#15 – Technoartisans
Earn extra Science equal to 15% of the Culture you generate.
A cool Virtue that allows you to develop Culture and not feel too guilty about it.
Technoartisans arrives late and has many other Virtues as prerequisites, but the wait is usually worth it in order to try something a bit different. A fun combo with PAC, Monomyth, and aquatic cities!
#14 – Nature’s Bounty
+1 Production from every Basic Resource.
An excellent colony-wide Production bonus courtesy of Prosperity’s tier 3 collection. Fun combo with Commoditization if you can manage it!
#13 – Social Investment
+2 Production from Manufactory improvements.
Almost essential for those looking to build the Planetary Wonders in any sort of reasonable time frame.
#12 – Pathfinders
Explorer units can build 3 additional Expeditions.
The introduction of Artefacts in the Rising Tide expansion took Pathfinders from being an underwhelming Virtue to one of the best. Get out there and explore!
#11 – Interdependence Network
+25% yield from Trade Routes with your own Cities.
Rising Tide made internal Trade Routes even more powerful than they were before. Interdependence Network somehow makes what is already good even better.
#10 – Magnasanti
Each City generates +0.2 Health for every Building.
Industry’s contribution towards local health is a big one that works by you building lots of stuff in your cities- something that Industry allows you to be really good at doing!
With any strategy other than Biowell spam, Magnasanti is going to make you a lot of Health and will continue to scale up as your empire grows.
#9 – Joy From Variety
+1 Health from every type of Basic Resource that is improved.
Another superb Bonus Resource enhancer courtesy of Prosperity. Joy From Variety contributes global Health even when the resources in question are not being worked. Stellar!
#8 – Civic Duty
City tiles generate +0.5 Production for every Population.
Your developed cities will be making some serious Production once you adopt Civic Duty- just watch those build times plummet! Excellent combo with Industry. Who’d have thought?
#7 – Eudaimonia
15% less negative Health.
One of the few things in Beyond Earth that has survived being nerfed. Eudaimonia is the granddaddy of all Health Virtues and with careful play it should keep you in the green for many turns to come.
#6 – Alternative Markets
Trade Routes with Stations grant +6 Energy per Station tier.
A stupendously powerful Energy-generating Virtue that makes trading with Stations a fun endeavour. Combo with Station Sentinels and the Profiteering Diplomatic Trait and watch the ridiculousness unfold!
#5 – Scavenging
Earn 100% of an alien lifeform’s strength as Science after killing it. Earn 60 Science from destroying alien nests.
Scavenging can win you games if the map is setup right. The Science you get from clearing nests and water-based coral can make for a huge Affinity boost early game; one that your neighbours might struggle to resist should you decide to produce a large standing army.
This Virtue is lethal when used on aquatic maps as Gunboats can clear alien coral and nests quickly for even faster upgrades. Remember: the only good bug is a dead bug!
#4 – Adaptive Sciences
+20% Affinity earned from researching technologies.
Getting Affinity levels faster will win you games. This Virtue helps you do that.
#3 – Standardized Architecture
+25% Production towards Buildings which have already been built in the Capital.
A stupidly powerful Virtue that formed the basis for an entire civilization’s unique ability in Civilization V. Combos absurdly well with the rest of Industry as Production bonuses stack to reduce building times to trivially low levels.
#2 – Martial Meditations
Choose 1 free Affinity Level.
#1 – Colony Initiative
Gain a free Colonist Unit.
Even with the Colonist cost reduction now firmly in place, the value you get out of this one Virtue is almost impossible to pass up and should usually be prioritised in every single game you play.
There’s no quicker way of getting a second city on the map and when you consider that the Tier 1 Virtues have an early synergy bonus too, it’s almost always in your best interests to open Prosperity first in order to get Colony Initiative en route to whatever Virtue tree you hope to play around with.
Almost every strategy needs you to found cities and so almost every strategy benefits from getting those cities up and online as quickly as possible. Colony Initiative will not only assist with that, but it will also help satisfy an early in-game quest for founding a second city which, once completed, will reward you with an early Soldier/Patrol Boat into the bargain as well.
The sheer value you get from this one Virtue is huge and when you consider that most late game Virtues require existing infrastructure in order to fully exploit anyway, there is very little harm in slightly delaying your Culture in order to make Colony Initiative your first major acquisition.
Of the best Virtues in Beyond Earth, this one has probably won me more games than I care to mention, so take my advice and fly the green flag today!