2K announced a new AAA title this past weekend: Sid Meier’s Civilization: Beyond Earth, but turn-based strategy fans waiting for a sci-fi epic to sink their teeth into can check out the latest entry in Stardock’s space-based franchise, Galactic Civilizations III. It’s currently available on Steam, but in very early alpha; the game’s not slated for release until Q2 2014. In the meantime, Stardock laid the framework for an exceptionally capable and expansive title.
For those not familiar with 4X strategy games, games like GalCiv III put you in control of a civilization from its beginning, requiring you to eXplore new territory, eXpand your civilization’s scope, eXploit resources to make your civilization more powerful, and eXterminate the competition. Players choose a race at the beginning of the game, each of which holds distinct abilities and technologies compared to others. In GalCiv III’s alpha, players choose from one of four races: the Terran Alliance, the evil Drengin Empire, the blue-and-enlightened Altarian Resistance, or the business-focused Iridium Corporation. In the final version, players can customize aspects of the race to fit their own play-style; in the alpha, battle-focused races like the Drengin are more useful since there’s only one win condition: wipe the other races out of existence. The final game has multiple conditions players can satisfy to win the game for those interested in a little more peace. After playing through a game I’m excited to see the final product, but Stardock still has a lot of work to do.
Galactic Civilization holds a dedicated fanbase, so Stardock released this early alpha to tie players into the development cycle, allowing them to report bugs and provide input on how to improve the final product. As of now the game lacks pieces necessary for newcomers; many tutorials, unit descriptions, and even entire gameplay mechanics like diplomacy. The game’s basic framework is still intact though: players build starships to send colonists to new planets and harvest resources, all the while keeping on the lookout for enemies who might be looking to take over the planets you’ve worked so hard to tame. In addition to answering “where” to build and expand, you’ll also need to answer “how” and “why;” technology and ideology decision trees allow you to gain bonuses based on whether you want to develop weapons of war or farming tools, preach the benefits of benevolence or force the ways of malevolence, or something in-between.
This might sound a little overwhelming to take on, and at first it is; you’ll manage every aspect of your civilization’s army, population, and economy. Unlike Starcraft and other real-time strategy games, twitch reflexes won’t save you from destruction here. That said, if you’re looking for the kind of game that makes you think on multiple strategic levels while taking on adventure, then this is a great one. Random encounters spring up while exploring space that offer your civilization potential bonuses to edge out the competition. Technological advances improve the quality and strength of your ships and farming methods. And let’s not forget about the joys of amassing a giant fleet of starfighters to mow down anyone getting between you and success…
Sorry, that was a bit of my malevolence coming out. 🙂 And you can’t see your fleets mow down the competition yet since the combat graphics aren’t done yet…but you can imagine it in that great imagination of yours in the meantime.
When compared to its predecessor, GalCiv III offers a ton of enhancements including a revamped user interface, brand new graphics engine, and multiplayer for the first time in series history. Multiplayer will offer asymmetric gameplay as well, so you won’t have to sit at the computer for days at a time with all of your friends to complete a large-scale game. The final version will also have a campaign mode for those interested in single-player gaming with a story, a Metaverse where you can create your own character and record his/her/its exploits, and a ship designer for those interested in completely customizing their fleets. There’s plenty to look forward to in the coming months, and we here at GotGame are looking forward to seeing what else Stardock has up its sleeve as development continues.
Those interested in getting involved in Galactic Civilization III’s development while it’s in alpha can pick up the Founder’s Elite Edition for $99.99 on Steam, which includes alpha and beta access to the game, the final game and all DLC, and the ability to name a star for use in the game’s final version. The Ultimate Editions of Galactic Civilizations ($9.99) and Galactic Civilizations II ($19.99) are also both available on Steam, and are great introductions into the world and gameplay of GalCiv.