If you thought my previous Civilization guide was kinda pointless – don’t be shy; they’re only for fun! – then you’ll really love this new one for all the Best Wonders in Beyond Earth. Merely suggesting that there are Wonders in Beyond Earth which can be considered the “best” is a sad and fully intended joke of course, so to those of you who enjoy a good hate-read I say: roll up, roll up!
So yeah, the Wonders in Beyond Earth almost universally suck, and it took all my restraint not to name this post The Worst Wonders in Beyond Earth. This failing has always been a huge problem because Wonders are supposed to be an important part of the Civilization experience. Wonders are meant to be tremendously powerful and unique super structures that confer satisfaction and mystique due to their potentially game-changing benefits that only their builder has access to.
Beyond Earth’s Wonders were thoroughly underwhelming in the release build and things only got worse following the spring patch that landed on March 11, 2015. At the time Firaxis Games had promised an overhaul and cost pass on every single Wonder in the game, but their changes backfired and made Wonders even more maligned than they were before. Things didn’t get much better following the release of Rising Tide either, as an incredible majority of Wonders in Beyond Earth are still far too expensive, weak, or unimpressive to provide any sort of meaningful return on their immense opportunity cost.
The list that follows then isn’t really a tier list as much as it is a scavenger hunt to find the least offensive Wonders that Beyond Earth has to offer. Is even one of them worth building? Read on and find out!
#41 – Human Hive
City immune to Covert Operations.
After all is said and done, Human Hive will go down as the single worst Wonder in Civilization history.
So numerous are this thing’s failings that it’s actually painful to discuss. Making just one of your cities immune to Espionage is entirely redundant when you consider that a competing Sponsor could just choose to spy on one of your other cities instead. Furthermore, the kind of operations that actually do direct harm are incredibly hard to pull off and are not in the best interests of your opponents anyway.
Even if a neighbour was unrealistically committed to brute-forcing your best city via Espionage, the easiest course of action would be to simply deploy a counterspy rather than build a costly “Wonder” that unlocks via an equally expensive and unattractive technology that no-one in their right mind would prioritise.
Human Hive is just bad. It was blatantly not playtested and would still be trash even if it targetted all of your cities. Firaxis should know better than this.
#40 – Quantum Computer
Free Maintenance and +50% duration for Orbital Units.
Following the disastrous spring patch, I’m sure many seasoned players looked at Quantum Computer and remarked: “Orbital Units cost maintenance?!” And that’s not even counting how the Wonder didn’t actually work until Firaxis issued a hotfix. Oh, boy!
Even at the best of times though, the effects of this Wonder are incredibly slight due to the lacklustre nature of Orbital gameplay and what makes matters worse is how the best Satellites in Beyond Earth all benefit from a shorter, not longer, duration! 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.
Quantum Computer inadvertently works against suggested play and when coupled with its terrible requisite technology and absurd cost, it’s definitely one of the worst Wonders you could try for.
#39 – Relativistic Data Bank
-1 Intrigue per turn in all Cities.
One of the Artifact Wonders introduced in the Rising Tide expansion. Relativistic Data Bank is similar to the execrable Human Hive in the sense that it grants the player a defence against Espionage.
Whilst its cost isn’t anywhere near as prohibitive as Human Hive, the effect is still completely unnecessary and the Wonder itself provides no bonus yields either. Your Artifacts are much better spent elsewhere than here.
#38 – New Terran Myth
+2 Culture from International and Station Trade Routes.
Before the spring patch arrived, New Terran Myth was Beyond Earth’s most unintentionally hilarious Wonder. Offering a mere +4 Culture in exchange for its tremendous entry cost, you couldn’t help but laugh at Firaxis’ incompetence.
This current version of the Myth looks slightly better at first glance, but investigate the game’s code and you’ll discover that only unique trade routes count towards the bonus, so you can’t just send all of your convoys to your nearest ally and hope to take it easy.
Culture won’t be particularly useful by the time you acquire it anyway and the fact that external trade routes are totally inferior to internal ones is just the final nail in its coffin.
#37 – Xenonova
Penalties from negative Unhealth Levels reduced by 50%.
If you’re the kind of player who enjoys conquering or founding tons of cities, then this Wonder might help you recoup lost yields by softening the huge Health penalties associated with that approach. Sadly, it also costs a bomb, comes way too late to matter, and is ultimately just really boring. Oh well.
#36 – Armasail
City suffers 50% less damage from ranged attacks.
One of the necessary ingredients for the pointless goal of making a fortress city! Regardless, Armasail is just another boring Wonder that’s far too distant and expensive to make any sort of meaningful impact on your game.
Are you seeing a pattern here?
#35 – Xenomalleum
+5 Petroleum, Titanium, and Geothermal resources.
This Wonder was actually pretty good in the vanilla release of Beyond Earth, but then Firaxis had to ruin it with their poor patching skills. Xenomalleum used to confer a game-changing buff to Generator improvements and made an Energy orientated strategy actually kinda viable. Shocking, I know!
Since then the Wonder’s price has skyrocketed and it now only provides five of each of the basic strategic resources. Titanium and Petroleum are mainly used for lacklustre satellites so they’re not particularly helpful, but it’s the addition of Geothermal that really stings considering how strictly useless that resource is.
If you play with strategic balance turned on then Xenomalleum becomes entirely worthless as the map will have plenty of resources for you to collect anyway.
A real fall from grace, it has to be said.
#34 – Ansible
Affinity XP is gained 25% faster.
Gaining Affinity XP at a faster rate is a tantalising bonus because of how fast your combat units and synergy bonuses develop along with it. Rising through the Affinity ranks draws you closer to building one of the game-winning Planetary Wonders too and so it’s not hard to see why Ansible’s effect could be great.
Once again however, this is a Wonder that’s far too expensive and comes way too late for it make a difference. Also worth mentioning is the fact that Ansible’s effect also applies to the Quantum Computer Wonder because of an unaddressed bug.
#33 – Archimedes Lever
Enemy units within 2 tiles of this City suffer 10 attrition damage each turn.
A fun idea, but such a token amount of attrition damage for such an insane cost is just not a good trade whichever way you choose to look at it.
Just build a Soldier instead!
#32 – Deep Memory
Gain 1 Culture for every 3 Population in this City.
A strict downgrade over the Deep Memory featured in the vanilla release. This iteration not only provides a pitiful amount of Culture for its price, but it’s also really really really boring!
#31 – Cynosure
Gain 1 Science for every 3 Population in this City.
See Deep Memory above. Cynosure scores one higher just because Science is always worth more than Culture, but it still sucks and speaks volumes of how unimaginative Beyond Earth can be at times.
#30 – Gene Vault
All new Cities start with a free Worker Unit.
Once upon a time this was the cheapest Wonder in the game. Sadly, Gene Vault has since become a relatively worthless investment following the spring patch.
Most skilled players will have developed their cities with Workers long before the Gene Vault becomes an option and even then it’s now located on a very weak Technology that should never be considered over the many superior alternatives.
The fact that it’s fairly cheap to build and available early enough for its bonus yields to matter does technically put it above other shoddier Wonders, but make no mistake: the Gene Vault is a very bad Wonder and you should never build it outside of joke games or as part of a very specific strategy when playing as PAC.
#29 – Mass Driver
City Strike +1 Attack Range and +25% Combat Strength at this City.
Mass Driver’s novelty of 3-range city attacks is dampened by spotty programming. A city with this Wonder can only attack units three tiles away if at least one other unit is within two tiles already, which is really stupid.
It’s also too expensive and hard to reach in good time, but you already knew that, didn’t you?
#28 – Xenodrome
Provides a small positive influence to Alien opinion each turn, and negative Alien opinion recovers twice as quickly.
Xenodrome probably deserves to be a lot father down this list, but I do feel a bit sorry for it. I like the idea of a Wonder that makes you allies with the Aliens, but once again the implementation is deeply problematic.
Firstly, by the time you manage to build this Wonder (assuming its huge costs don’t immediately put you off) the Aliens will no longer be a threat to you because of your more advanced military. Being allies with the Aliens doesn’t grant any direct bonuses and it prevents you from attacking them, which is never good because of how lucrative it can be to pillage their carcasses.
Xenodrone gets points for effort, but this is still a very bad Wonder that you should never build during a serious game.
#27 – Tectonic Anvil
+5 Production from Canyon tiles.
The novelty value of the Tectonic Anvil is the only thing that gets it this high on the list because ironically this Production-spewing monster is the most expensive Wonder in the entire game!
And even if you did have plenty of nearby Canyon tiles to make the prospect worth it, the city in question needs to have a enough food to support all of those extra citizens and that’s a tough prospect in Beyond Earth because of how stingy it can be with regards to city growth.
Cool name though!
#26 – Abyssal Mirror
Orbital Units launched from this city may overlap the coverage area of other Orbital Units by 1 tile.
The “Abysmal Mirror” as I call it, is another one of those Wonders that’s a nice idea on paper, but not any good in practice.
Stacking Orbitals is best done with the Weather Controller and Orbital Fabricator, though getting enough materials for all of those Orbital Units is going to be costly and the Mirror won’t help you afford more. Its sky-high price and specific unlock point only make the prospect of building this one even worse.
It’s a shame, but this one is definitely the worst of Rising Tide’s aquatic Wonders.
#25 – Ectogenesis Pod
Gain 1 Food for every 4 Population in this City.
How the mighty have fallen. One of the very best Wonders in the vanilla build of Beyond Earth, Ectogenesis Pod is now an underwhelming clone of Deep Memory and Cynosure that’s spared some of the ignominy by being much cheaper and a whole lot easier to build.
Even lategame though, this Wonder won’t net you more by than maybe 4-5 Food at best and at that point it really won’t matter.
#24 – Bytegeist
Virtue Tier Synergy bonus requirements are reduced by 1.
#23 – Daedalus Ladder
+10% Food, +10% Culture, +10% Science, +10% Production, +10% Energy in this city.
For a Wonder with such a rich and detailed flavour write-up, the Daedalus Ladder’s terrible release build effects had to be seen to be believed. It’s certainly not as lame and useless as it used to be, but the cost of entry here is still unreasonably high and it won’t come close to paying for itself should you attempt to build it.
#22 – Markov Eclipse
Military Units fight at full strength even when damaged.
Markov Eclipse has Japan’s special ability from Civilization V and whilst the effect sucked pretty hard in that game, Beyond Earth has one slight difference that makes it better; bombers.
Bombers existed in Civilization V too, but the equivalent Tacjets from Beyond Earth are available a lot earlier and steadily increase in power as the game goes on. Because Tacjets cannot be directly targetted before a city falls, they can take full advantage of their attack strength more often and can be quite lethal when combined with this Wonder.
Sadly that unique combo does not necessarily make this a good Wonder as the typically restrictive costs that Firaxis has put in place won’t be worth the price of admission.
#21 – Nanothermite
Ranged, Air, and City Strike attacks are 25% stronger.
The situation here is practically the exact same as Markov Eclipse above. Nanothermite offers a solid attack buff, but it’s too expensive and comes way too late to make any meaningful difference.
Pretty standard Beyond Earth fare.
#20 – Crawler
+25% Production for Buildings and Wonders.
This pricey Wonder came in for quite a kicking in my Beyond Earth review a few years ago and while it is still pretty bad, you can shave a few turns of your chosen victory wonder if you can somehow get it early enough.
#19 – Resurrection Device
Benefits from positive Health Levels increased by 50%.
Resurrection Device sort of has the inverse effect of Xenonova as it grants the player assorted benefits for amassing large amounts of colony-wide Health. This would certainly be a more engaging effect to play with and the fact that the Wonder shows up late is less of a problem seeing as you’ll need the time to develop Health beforehand.
Sadly, the bonus you get is not big enough to offset the Wonder’s immense Production cost and so it’s rare this one will ever get built by a human player.
#18 – Holon Chamber
Gain Science income equal to 10% of global Energy income.
Holon Chamber has perhaps the most intriguing effect of any of the post-patch Wonders. The idea of converting your Energy income into Science is an extremely cool idea which could lead to some fun strategies and it’s that potential which puts it above the more unexciting Wonders we’ve been seeing up until now.
Once again though, this Wonder shows up way too late in the Technology Web for its good ideas to shine during competitive play. It costs a ludicrous 1650 Production and an additional five Floatstone resources too, so you’re never going to see anyone except a plucky AI attempting to build it.
#17 – Faraday Gyre
Energy Maintenance for buildings and improvements reduced by 50% in this city.
One of the new aquatic Wonders that was introduced in Rising Tide. Faraday Gyre is reasonably costed and fairly accessible compared to some of the Wonders on this list, but its effect is a bit of a wash considering how sweet the prospect of a gigantic ocean generator should be.
It’s also hard to get a read on how much energy this Wonder actually makes you; it would be so much better if it simply added bonus Energy to your city’s surrounding coast tiles, but that’s life I guess.
Due to a programming SNAFU, the Faraday Gyre doesn’t work with Terrascape improvements either, which is pretty stupid seeing as those are the most expensive Improvements in the game and would benefit the most from a 50% reduction in maintenance.
#16 – The Akkorokamui
Unhealth from Population reduced by 50% in this City.
Similar to the Faraday Gyre above, this aquatic Wonder doesn’t really inspire much despite its reasonable build cost. Part of the problem is that Food is harder to come by in aquatic cities so reducing the Population penalties of those cities isn’t as good as it sounds.
Aquatic cities already get a bonus to Health anyway so you’re much better off focusing your efforts elsewhere before you think about building this oddly named Wonder.
#15 – Drone Sphere
Worker actions and Explorer Expeditions are completed 50% faster.
Now that the Wonders are starting to get a bit cheaper and within early reach you’ll begin to see ones that do have some potential. Drone Sphere is one of these considering how long-winded Worker actions are in Beyond Earth and its bonus to Explorer Expeditions is cool too seeing as how powerful Artifacts can be when properly managed.
Unfortunately, Firaxis ruined this prospect by adding a nonsensical Floatstone requirement to the Drone Sphere’s otherwise reasonable Production cost. This is really annoying as it forces the player to research Terraforming and then build a Floatstone Quarry (assuming that resource is even nearby) before work on the Drone Sphere can begin.
Even if you somehow manage to wrangle a unit of Floatstone from the crappy Black Market System, a smart player will have already worked their territory and gobbled up Expedition sites long before the Drone Sphere is ready to go and so its usefulness is always going to be somewhat stunted.
#14 – Precog Project
Military Units can achieve two additional levels of Veterancy.
Precog Project has some mild utility during a Domination game as its bonus Veterancy levels can be applied retroactively if your troops have already been fighting long enough to reach their new experience cap.
This Wonder is fairly cheap to build, but its outward location on the Technology Web is going to make it very hard to recommend to those who aren’t heavily pushing their Supremacy Affinity.
In truth, it’s safer not to bother.
#13 – Temporal Calculus
+2 Unit Visibility.
This poorly-worded effect upgrades your army’s sight radius and allows Units to spot enemies and items from a greater distance away.
Temporal Calculus is a bit pricey for what little you get (it offers no bonus yields like regular World Wonders do), though its effect is pretty helpful for both manoeuvring troops and uncovering hidden goodies on the world map.
#12 – Promethean
City no longer produces Unhealth from buildings or worked tiles.
Seeing as buildings don’t produce Unhealth, Promethean’s only real niche is in allowing you to surround your best city with the normally unhealthy yet wildly powerful Manufactory improvements. This can actually be a winning strategy seeing as how the game-ending Planetary Wonders cost a ton of Production and in that sense Promethean does set you up quite well for the closing moments of the game.
The Wonder is still expensive though and it usually requires going with the Harmony Affinity seeing as how far away its requisite Technology is from the centre of the Web.
Not great, but not strictly bad either.
#11 – Tessellation Foundry
Military Units complete 30% faster.
Another of the Artifact Wonders that was introduced in Rising Tide. The chances are you won’t need any further buffs to Unit production by the time you get this Wonder, but considering the steep price of lategame troops, it can have some positive application under the right circumstances.
#10 – Stellar Codex
+8 Orbital Coverage.
Stellar Codex has two major problems. First: it’s the priciest of all the early Wonders, and second: the AI loves to compete for it.
Nevertheless, a decent application of Stellar Codex is to use its huge coverage bonus to deploy the rather awesome Station Sentinels over the Stations nearest your territory. Both the Wonder and the Sentinels are unlocked on the same powerful Technology (Ballistics) and it can also make a good combo with Kozlov’s agreement that grants Science for every active Satellite in your Orbital Layer.
It’s nothing Earth-shattering, but Stellar Codex is a fun little Wonder for those who enjoy spamming Satellites. There must be some of you out there, right?!
#9 – Guo Pu Yaolan
Culture cost for new Virtues reduced by a percentage equal to this city’s Population.
This aquatic Wonder shares a problem with The Akkorokamui in that growing a cities’ Population on the ocean is sometimes more effort than its worth. Also problematic is the fact that Virtues only go so far in pushing your civilization forward; there’s no Culture victory and so Virtues lose their impact towards the mid to late game.
Despite all of that, the discount should be pretty decent if you can satisfy the growth requirements and also helpful is the fact that the Guo Pu Yaolan unlocks with Cognition; the same Technology that unlocks the powerful Academy Improvement.
#8 – Machine-Assisted Free Will
Cost of Leaf Techs reduced by 15%.
When Beyond Earth’s Rising Tide expansion first launched, the original cost for all of the brand new Artifact wonders was a measly 100 Production. At that time Machine-Assisted Free Will was also twice as powerful; granting a massive 30% reduction to the cost of Leaf Techs (!!). It was almost as if Firaxis were trying to make up for their past mistakes by bestowing Beyond Earth with the most awesome/broken/insane Wonder of all time!
A subsequent hotfix soon re-addressed the awkward balance of course and these days Machine-Assisted Free Will is half as effective and eight times as expensive. Like all Artifact Wonders, this one can be a tough one to judge because its accessibility is semi-randomly determined by the Artifacts you manage to uncover.
There’s no doubt that Machine-Assisted Free Will still has a desirable bonus, but its steeper cost makes any investment into it harder to justify.
#7 – Quantum Politics
Increases Virtue acquisition speed by 20%.
Much like the Wonder above, Quantum Politics was supremely overpowered during its debut where it granted a Virtue acquisition bonus of +100%!
Even though its scaled-back Culture boost can’t compete with the Science focused alternative that Machine-Assisted Free Will has, the build cost of Quantum Politics is nowhere near as high and so it makes getting this one into your build queue just that little bit easier.
#6 – Euphotic Strand
+1 Science from Coast terrain worked by this city.
Any Wonder that boosts Science gets an automatic consideration in my book and so is the case with this funky underwater lava lamp. Euphotic Strand has the makings of a truly great Wonder considering its realistic cost, scalable design, and potent effect.
Sadly, the Wonder unlocks with Biology; a lacklustre Technology that no longer provides any Affinity points. Gaining Affinity levels is the whole reason players build up Science in the first place so investing in a naked Tech like Biology is really not a good idea.
Nice try, Firaxis. Nice try.
#5 – Dimension Folding Complex
Cities generate -50% Unhealth from population.
The Akkorokamui on steroids. Dimension Folding Complex is a fairly dull Artifact Wonder albeit one with a good effect and a surprisingly cheap cost. So rare are those traits in Beyond Earth that they pretty much make this Wonder good by default.
#4 – Memetwork
Affinity Level requirements for Units, Buildings, and Wonders are reduced by 1.
Memetwork is the only Wonder in the game that got strictly better following the spring patch. The only reason for this turnaround is the level reduction it brings for Affinity Wonders, i.e. the Planetary Wonders that win you the game.
When timed right, the Memetwork can save you a ton of Science and even better is the fact that it unlocks with Orbital Networks; the Technology that also unlocks the Lasercom Satellite which is necessary for a Emancipation or Promised Land victory. Combine this with a Production cost that isn’t outrageous and you have what is easily one of the best Wonders in the game.
The only thing I hold against this Wonder is the fact that the changes in Rising Tide make it even easier to get ahead in the game and thus Memetwork drifts a bit closer to overkill than required.
It’s also important to stress that the Memetwork functions best as part of a Promised Land or Emancipation victory only. If you’re gunning for any other victory type then its usefulness will be dampened by more pressing concerns in other areas of the Tech Web.
#3 – Panoptican
+5 Orbital Strike Range. All Military Units receive +1 Sight.
Panoptican is another Wonder that grants Units a bonus to their sight radius. This underrated boon is quite useful for scouting, fighting, and for helping Siege Units see their target city.
This is also one of the few Wonders in Beyond Earth that has an undocumented effect too as the sight bonus it offers actually increases to +2 when Units embark into the ocean.
Unlike the barebones Temporal Calculus (a Wonder that possesses a similar effect to this one), Panopticon has the +5 Diplomatic Capital bonus that is standard to all World Wonders and more crucially, it unlocks early enough for you to make proper use of it.
Panoptican isn’t a game-changer by itself and its prerequisite Technology (Defense Grid) isn’t ideal either, but as the joint cheapest Wonder in the game, it’s easy to quickly fit this one in and reap the benefits in tandem with a well-developed army.
The +5 Orbital Strike Range is just gravy.
#2 – Master Control
Free Maintenance and +1 Movement for Worker Units.
Although I preferred the release version of Master Control just a little bit more, I still have great fondness for this menacing mainframe.
Workers are an essential Unit in Beyond Earth and with tile improvement times ballooning in the post Rising Tide world, having a dozen or more Workers on hand is getting to be more of necessity. Under these circumstances, Master Control can save you a bundle on Energy maintenance and the +1 movement allowance is a deceptively powerful effect that allows Workers to finish those crucial Tile Improvements faster so that you can harvest the yields faster.
As is the case with Panoptican (the only Wonder that matches Master Control’s cheap Production cost), it arrives early enough for you to take full advantage and it even unlocks on a Technology that provides Affinity points.
Master Control certainly won’t suit every game (Supremacy players will probably get the most mileage), but it’s still one of the better Wonders by default just because of how easy it is to build.
#1 – Benthic Auger
+2 Production from Coast terrain worked by this city.
Benthic Auger is the only excellent Wonder in Beyond Earth and it’s the only one that I will consider building in every game.
A gigantic drilling platform exclusive to aquatic cities, this marvellous creation has it all. Its Production bonus is potent and scales incredibly well, its unlock Tech (Servomachinery) offers Affinity points, and its build cost at 550 cogs with no additional resource requirements is a bargain compared to other Wonders of a similar tier.
It’s tough for the AI to steal this one because of its aquatic exclusivity and its raw Production output synergizes absurdly well with the +100% Production bonus to Naval units enjoyed by aquatic cities too. Whether you want to win with victory Wonders or conquering armies, the Benthic Auger will help you achieve both, such is its flexibility and power.
Why couldn’t Firaxis Games make every Wonder in Beyond Earth like this, you ask? As with all things we must consult the Auger, only this time via its rather fitting flavour quote:
“You fail to reap the bounty of the seas not because your people lack the means, but because you lack the imagination.”