So Much to Conquer….So Little Time
With the release of Sorcerer King right around the corner and the recent partnership with Soren Johnson’s Mohawk Games, the strategy genre overlords at Stardock Studios sure have been busy. While a few weeks back Hey Poor Player’s Adam Foster took a long hard look at their upcoming fantasy title with its conniving sorcerer, this week we return to Stardock’s more familiar territory, the sprawling cosmos in their latest foray into the realm of galactic domination, Galactic Civilizations III. The full release may not be due out until April, but there is all ready a whole lot to be excited about in their beta 4 build.
Right now there are 6 playable factions that each have their own unique traits. The Terran Alliance which is the humans who are fairly even across the line, the Drengin Empire who are a super aggressive warlike faction, the Altarian Resistance who are billed as human’s cousins who are very research and faith focused, the Iridium Corporation which are your galactic traders, the Krynn Syndicate who are very mysterious or Yor Collective which are sentient robots. Two more races that will make their appearance in the final game. They are the Thalan Contingency and the Iconian Refuge.
Each races has their own unique race specific technology through the three ages which pass: Expansion, War, and Ascension. One small example of this is shown clearly in the Yor Collective who have no need for farming to grow their population and so they have other means to grow their numbers.
As you move your blossoming race through the universe you have many decisions to make. Every planet you make landfall on a settler you are given a scenario which has three choices. One such choice I had to make was in regards to racing animals on a new colony and footage of animals being harmed was getting criticized by animal rights activists and I was given a benevolent option that would stop the races and lower my approval by 20% and give me 10 points in benevolence, a pragmatic option of more oversight that limits the danger to the animals more that gives awards me with 10 pragmatism points, and a merciless option that gives 10 points to that tree and boosts tourism by 30%. Each of the traits has their own bonuses which suit different play styles. These points can also be earned in other ways as well such as in building types as well as other ways. plus once you start one of these trees you aren’t limited one you can travel down each path if you decide each one has things you want/need.
At first when you are queueing units it is pretty standard. Though the longer you play and the more you unlock technology in warfare and ship construction you are given very cool tools to design you ships that suit your specific needs in expanding you civilization through however your decide you want to go at it be it as explorer, warlord, or settler. I would liken these tools to very similiar to Sid Meier’s Alpha Centauri if you haven’t played a Galactic Civ game before but if you have then these tools should be familiar but are even better now with even more design features coming. With that said if you don’t feel like being creative there are tons of standard designs which are automatically introduced to your shipyard as you finish research of a ship related tech.
When you begin a new game there are currently 7 size random maps to chose from tiny/small/medium/large/huge/gigantic and immense with even more to come later which is fantastic for a someone like me. I personally love playing really big maps and I was pretty blown away with how big the immense map was. Thinking of even bigger maps really gets me excited. Currently there is only one pace and difficulty setting to play as (normal for both) but with how many options there are map I can only imagine there will be a good amount of setting for each of these coming soon as well.
Researching new technologies in this game is very important as it is in most turn based strategy games and the tech trees which cover: Colonizing/Propigation, Engineering, Warfare, and Diplomacy/Interation are super massive (which was a bit overwhelming in a good way even to a genre veteran like myself).
Combat is pretty standard in regards to statistical advantages and what not when looking at it from the galactic map but in the most recent update they added a new feature. This really neat battle viewer which gives a really nice cinematic event which you can change the camera to have a Hollywood-like experience to see your navy either wreck shop or be decimated. You don’t have to use it if you are in a big hurry to conquer the universe but it if you have some time its great it can also help a bit with planning strategies by seeing how the units actually perform be it solo or together.
While exploring the cosmos there are tons of things to see and do. There are multiple resources to mine with starbases, random artifacts, ship graveyards and random space junk to scan for useful things, and tons of different planet types to settle.
The galactic map has changed a bit from early entries most notably is the change from four sided spaces to hex based spaces. This allows for more precise movements for ships and allow for more strategy in planning combat. I personally welcome this change much like I have in other turn based strategy games.
The AI right now is pretty standard but Stardock claims it will be much better in the future due to their 64 bit OS requirement. They claim from this that the AI will learn from each game it plays and improve its tactics and how it tackles what you do in future game playthroughs.
The visuals are pretty nice for a strategy game too. Really nice colorful art and a really slick interface make this game look much more current than I feel it’s predecessor had when it came out.
Another big deal is that this is the first time the series is offering multi-player. So getting 3 other buddies to come compete is totally a thing. With my experiences that I tested with this feature there were no real glaring issues and me and my pals had a good time.
There are a few features that haven’t yet been implemented but are just going to make this even better than it already is in its current build. Things like an interactive tutorial, being able to design your own race, minor factions to deal with, as well as the single player story based campaign which will continue plot lines explored in the previous games. There will also be more options on start as well.
I must say all in all I really have enjoyed my time with this title so far. It is a very vast game with a lot of features so far. I have already run through a few random galaxies with all of the available factions and had a great time getting to know the basics of There are still some bugs to fix as well as balancing issues but that is why a game goes early access to address these kinds of things before an official full roll out. Like I said I had quite a bit of fun and I can already see that this will most likely be my go to for the forseeable future when it comes satisfying my needs for universal conquest.
4x turn based strategy fans unfamiliar with the series then you should definitely be watching this title while fans of the series most likely already have been watching this for a while. So far this is shaping up to be a really great game.
Now if you will excuse me I have to get back to populating this sector…..Mumble, mumble