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Found 18 results

  1. If you're interested in turn-based 4X strategy titles, Praxis Games wants you to know about Interstellar Space: Genesis entering into alpha. The devs have touted the title as "virtually feature complete" and noted that they worked with Neon Dolphin and Grant Kirkhope, composer of such classics as GoldenEye 007, Banjo Kazooie, and Civilization: After Earth, on their space-faring soundtrack. Interstellar Space: Genesis follows much the same premise of other space 4X strategy games (the four Xs stand for Explore, Exploit, Expand, and Exterminate) - players take on the role of a leader on a galactic scale and spread out into an unknown galaxy. There are tons of unknown dangers, both from alien empires and random events left by past or present civilizations across the sea of stars. Players will have to decide to pursue either peace or war when dealing with rivals. Will you rule the galaxy through bloodshed or with a gentle, guiding hand? The title features turn-based tactical combat augmented by the ability to go in and customize ships to fine-tune them to suit different needs. Players will be treated to a Grant Kirkhope musical score; something that's always a treat. Interestingly, each civilization will be given a random tech tree to spice up the different playthroughs, just one part of the many ways Interstellar Space seeks to differentiate itself. Players will be able to create custom alien races with their own unique needs and leaders. Colony management takes up a large part of the game, as does terraforming and diplomacy. Corner the market in asteroid mining or space tourism and use those funds to push even further into the unknowns of space. Praxis Games was founded by the duo who run Space Sector, a website dedicated to sci-fi strategy games, Adam Solo and Hugo Rosado. Mr. Rosado even worked for the European Space Agency as well as the private space sector. He commented on reaching the alpha stage of Interstellar Space: Genesis saying, "Space has been my passion since childhood. I was lucky to have a professional career in the space industry – at both the European Space Agency and private aerospace space company Elecnor Deimos. Now, I’m still in the space industry – but the venue is quite different: We are developing our first 4X title, and our launch is just within reach. Hopefully, everyone who gets to play this Alpha build will love it as much as we’ve been enjoying the development process itself!” People who pre-order will gain immediate access to the latest build and help shape its future with their feedback. However, pre-orders will only be available through the Humble Store through December 16. Praxis hopes to release Interstellar Space: Genesis for PC during the second quarter of 2019. Don't forget to sign up for Extra Life to help sick and injured kids in hospitals around the US and Canada by playing games!
  2. If you're interested in turn-based 4X strategy titles, Praxis Games wants you to know about Interstellar Space: Genesis entering into alpha. The devs have touted the title as "virtually feature complete" and noted that they worked with Neon Dolphin and Grant Kirkhope, composer of such classics as GoldenEye 007, Banjo Kazooie, and Civilization: After Earth, on their space-faring soundtrack. Interstellar Space: Genesis follows much the same premise of other space 4X strategy games (the four Xs stand for Explore, Exploit, Expand, and Exterminate) - players take on the role of a leader on a galactic scale and spread out into an unknown galaxy. There are tons of unknown dangers, both from alien empires and random events left by past or present civilizations across the sea of stars. Players will have to decide to pursue either peace or war when dealing with rivals. Will you rule the galaxy through bloodshed or with a gentle, guiding hand? The title features turn-based tactical combat augmented by the ability to go in and customize ships to fine-tune them to suit different needs. Players will be treated to a Grant Kirkhope musical score; something that's always a treat. Interestingly, each civilization will be given a random tech tree to spice up the different playthroughs, just one part of the many ways Interstellar Space seeks to differentiate itself. Players will be able to create custom alien races with their own unique needs and leaders. Colony management takes up a large part of the game, as does terraforming and diplomacy. Corner the market in asteroid mining or space tourism and use those funds to push even further into the unknowns of space. Praxis Games was founded by the duo who run Space Sector, a website dedicated to sci-fi strategy games, Adam Solo and Hugo Rosado. Mr. Rosado even worked for the European Space Agency as well as the private space sector. He commented on reaching the alpha stage of Interstellar Space: Genesis saying, "Space has been my passion since childhood. I was lucky to have a professional career in the space industry – at both the European Space Agency and private aerospace space company Elecnor Deimos. Now, I’m still in the space industry – but the venue is quite different: We are developing our first 4X title, and our launch is just within reach. Hopefully, everyone who gets to play this Alpha build will love it as much as we’ve been enjoying the development process itself!” People who pre-order will gain immediate access to the latest build and help shape its future with their feedback. However, pre-orders will only be available through the Humble Store through December 16. Praxis hopes to release Interstellar Space: Genesis for PC during the second quarter of 2019. Don't forget to sign up for Extra Life to help sick and injured kids in hospitals around the US and Canada by playing games! View full article
  3. Released almost two years ago, Stellaris introduced the world to a fantastic game that combined elements of turn-based strategy, real-time strategy, and role-playing in a unique, engaging experience. Paradox Interactive has stuck with their title throughout the years, releasing additional expansions and updates to the core game. The update that released alongside the most recent expansion, Apocalypse, completely changed the way the game is played, warranting a second look. At release, Stellaris offered three distinct modes of space traversal. Players could travel by warping to nearby systems within a certain radius of their fleets, by building wormhole generators and slipping into systems within the range of the wormholes, or via static hyperlanes between the stars. The latest updates removes all methods of travel except for hyperlanes. The decision to do this seems to have been made to enable choke points and improving the usefulness of defensive structures. Before the update, fleets could simply bypass systems with heavy defenses with relative ease. Now there are structures that can be built to hinder an enemy's progress through your space. A fortress on an inhabited world will prevent an enemy from leaving the system until they conquer the planet. This gives players precious time to move their fleets into position for a counterattack. Invading worlds works differently, too. The old way gave each planet a static fortification bonus. Once that number reached zero as a result of orbital bombardment, an invading army could very easily come in with a handful of soldiers to steamroll the defenders. The update gave defenders more of a fighting chance. Now orbital bombardment causes damage to the defending armies, which scale automatically with the population of their world (and more armies can be used to reinforce their numbers), but it doesn't diminish their effectiveness. That means you'll have to have a more powerful army and should expect to take losses if you don't have the time to bomb every single defender into dust when invading a planet. As for the meat of Stellaris' combat, the clashing of space navies, players will now run into limits on how big a single fleet can become. This sidesteps the problem in the original version that had players massing all of their fleets into one giant death ball to roll through enemy territory and the player with the bigger death ball won the day. The update breaks that death ball into several smaller balls adding to the strategic depth and satisfaction of pulling off a successful maneuver against an enemy. As a backdrop to all of this, the way empires expand might be the single biggest change to Stellaris. The old "sphere of influence" system has been ditched as many players complained it was too ambiguous and confusing. Instead, players expand their territory by building space stations in the systems they wish to claim. That station controls the system and whoever owns the station controls the system. Once an empire becomes large enough to be bordering a rival, players can go to war to claim systems from enemy territory. This massive change to the way territory works also adds to the strategies of space warfare and is bolstered by the splitting up of fleets. Players are encouraged by the various in-game systems to have multiple fleets engaging with the enemy. Perhaps one fleet spearheads the invasion of an enemy, traveling through territory as fast as possible to conquer as much as possible while another fleet is tasked with engaging the enemy fleets and another sits with the land armies, bombarding defenders in an attempt to successfully pull off a ground assault. This rework invigorated what had previously been one of the blander parts of Stellaris. Up until this point, all of these changes have been to the base Stellaris game. The Apocalypse expansion brings even more to the table. Planetary destruction stands as the main selling point of Apocalypse. As a game progresses, players will have the opportunity to undertake large research projects and construction efforts that culminate in a weapon capable of devastating entire worlds. These super weapons have no combat power on their own, but they can do quite a bit. Players can obliterate planets to bypass a lengthy invasion or test it on uninhabited worlds to access additional resources. These weapons present the opportunity for a variety of role-playing and tactical advantages. Players can use them to crack open worlds for mining, create an impenetrable, permanent shield around a world to study the inhabitants for science, wipe the minds of the population, cleanse a world of sapient life with a neutron sweep, or even instantaneously turn the creatures on the surface into cyborgs and connect them to the mechanical consciousness of your empire. A new non-player faction has been added to the game, too. Called Marauders, these factions go on raids against the various denizens of the galaxy with powerful fleets that dominate the early and mid-game. Players can pay off raids, redirect them toward other empires, hire mercenary admirals to lead their own fleets, or even hire entire an entire armada to fight under their direct command. One of the coolest aspects of the marauding factions is that there's a chance for them to become an empire in the mid-game. Paradox compared them to the tribes that united under the leadership of Genghis Khan. If such an empire forms under the leadership of a Ghengis Khan-like figure, players might have to either submit to their rule for a time or fight a mighty foe. A series of other special events populate the rule of these space warriors that all add color to the mid-game, which some players found to be a bit slow in the base Stellaris game. Empires can now also build titan-class capital ships, a new size category of vessel that had previously been restricted to powerful non-player factions known as Fallen Empires. These ships can bestow helpful auras on nearby fleets, impose penalties on enemy fleets, and possess weapons capable of destroying entire battleships in a single shot. They represent the apex of what a player can bring to bear in battle - and they feel like it. To compliment the new system where players expand their control of systems via building star bases, Paradox has included a shiny, new option in their expansion. Players are able to upgrade these into ever larger and more easily defended bastions, a feature that replaces the space fortifications previously in the base game. Apocalypse, however, opens up the possibility of building a Citadel, a colossal space station that can house powerful cannons and assist in stopping enemy fleets in their tracks. Conclusion: The new upgrade to the base game of Stellaris certainly diminishes some of the role-playing aspects inherent to it's pre-2.0 patch days, but the game overall gains a better sense of tactical weight. Building star bases everywhere to expand your borders might sound tedious on paper, but in practice it means you can focus your empire's growth in certain directions to block other empires and obtain critical resources or worlds in a sensible way. The changes to navy sizes mean that players can now break apart their powerful fleets to pursue different objectives without risking a crushing defeat. All of these feel like incredibly welcome changes to an already solid 4X strategy title. On top of that, Apocalypse stands out as a must for players who are looking to get the most out of the game. While it doesn't hold much content for the early game, players who stick through to the mid and late game will find a wealth of new options at their fingertips. New ships, colossal space weapons, towering fortresses, interesting technologies, new diplomatic opportunities - Apocalypse stands as an answer to a long list of fan requests that have been collected over the past two years. Stellaris: Apocalypse is available now on PC. View full article
  4. Jack Gardner

    Review: Stellaris: Apocalypse

    Released almost two years ago, Stellaris introduced the world to a fantastic game that combined elements of turn-based strategy, real-time strategy, and role-playing in a unique, engaging experience. Paradox Interactive has stuck with their title throughout the years, releasing additional expansions and updates to the core game. The update that released alongside the most recent expansion, Apocalypse, completely changed the way the game is played, warranting a second look. At release, Stellaris offered three distinct modes of space traversal. Players could travel by warping to nearby systems within a certain radius of their fleets, by building wormhole generators and slipping into systems within the range of the wormholes, or via static hyperlanes between the stars. The latest updates removes all methods of travel except for hyperlanes. The decision to do this seems to have been made to enable choke points and improving the usefulness of defensive structures. Before the update, fleets could simply bypass systems with heavy defenses with relative ease. Now there are structures that can be built to hinder an enemy's progress through your space. A fortress on an inhabited world will prevent an enemy from leaving the system until they conquer the planet. This gives players precious time to move their fleets into position for a counterattack. Invading worlds works differently, too. The old way gave each planet a static fortification bonus. Once that number reached zero as a result of orbital bombardment, an invading army could very easily come in with a handful of soldiers to steamroll the defenders. The update gave defenders more of a fighting chance. Now orbital bombardment causes damage to the defending armies, which scale automatically with the population of their world (and more armies can be used to reinforce their numbers), but it doesn't diminish their effectiveness. That means you'll have to have a more powerful army and should expect to take losses if you don't have the time to bomb every single defender into dust when invading a planet. As for the meat of Stellaris' combat, the clashing of space navies, players will now run into limits on how big a single fleet can become. This sidesteps the problem in the original version that had players massing all of their fleets into one giant death ball to roll through enemy territory and the player with the bigger death ball won the day. The update breaks that death ball into several smaller balls adding to the strategic depth and satisfaction of pulling off a successful maneuver against an enemy. As a backdrop to all of this, the way empires expand might be the single biggest change to Stellaris. The old "sphere of influence" system has been ditched as many players complained it was too ambiguous and confusing. Instead, players expand their territory by building space stations in the systems they wish to claim. That station controls the system and whoever owns the station controls the system. Once an empire becomes large enough to be bordering a rival, players can go to war to claim systems from enemy territory. This massive change to the way territory works also adds to the strategies of space warfare and is bolstered by the splitting up of fleets. Players are encouraged by the various in-game systems to have multiple fleets engaging with the enemy. Perhaps one fleet spearheads the invasion of an enemy, traveling through territory as fast as possible to conquer as much as possible while another fleet is tasked with engaging the enemy fleets and another sits with the land armies, bombarding defenders in an attempt to successfully pull off a ground assault. This rework invigorated what had previously been one of the blander parts of Stellaris. Up until this point, all of these changes have been to the base Stellaris game. The Apocalypse expansion brings even more to the table. Planetary destruction stands as the main selling point of Apocalypse. As a game progresses, players will have the opportunity to undertake large research projects and construction efforts that culminate in a weapon capable of devastating entire worlds. These super weapons have no combat power on their own, but they can do quite a bit. Players can obliterate planets to bypass a lengthy invasion or test it on uninhabited worlds to access additional resources. These weapons present the opportunity for a variety of role-playing and tactical advantages. Players can use them to crack open worlds for mining, create an impenetrable, permanent shield around a world to study the inhabitants for science, wipe the minds of the population, cleanse a world of sapient life with a neutron sweep, or even instantaneously turn the creatures on the surface into cyborgs and connect them to the mechanical consciousness of your empire. A new non-player faction has been added to the game, too. Called Marauders, these factions go on raids against the various denizens of the galaxy with powerful fleets that dominate the early and mid-game. Players can pay off raids, redirect them toward other empires, hire mercenary admirals to lead their own fleets, or even hire entire an entire armada to fight under their direct command. One of the coolest aspects of the marauding factions is that there's a chance for them to become an empire in the mid-game. Paradox compared them to the tribes that united under the leadership of Genghis Khan. If such an empire forms under the leadership of a Ghengis Khan-like figure, players might have to either submit to their rule for a time or fight a mighty foe. A series of other special events populate the rule of these space warriors that all add color to the mid-game, which some players found to be a bit slow in the base Stellaris game. Empires can now also build titan-class capital ships, a new size category of vessel that had previously been restricted to powerful non-player factions known as Fallen Empires. These ships can bestow helpful auras on nearby fleets, impose penalties on enemy fleets, and possess weapons capable of destroying entire battleships in a single shot. They represent the apex of what a player can bring to bear in battle - and they feel like it. To compliment the new system where players expand their control of systems via building star bases, Paradox has included a shiny, new option in their expansion. Players are able to upgrade these into ever larger and more easily defended bastions, a feature that replaces the space fortifications previously in the base game. Apocalypse, however, opens up the possibility of building a Citadel, a colossal space station that can house powerful cannons and assist in stopping enemy fleets in their tracks. Conclusion: The new upgrade to the base game of Stellaris certainly diminishes some of the role-playing aspects inherent to it's pre-2.0 patch days, but the game overall gains a better sense of tactical weight. Building star bases everywhere to expand your borders might sound tedious on paper, but in practice it means you can focus your empire's growth in certain directions to block other empires and obtain critical resources or worlds in a sensible way. The changes to navy sizes mean that players can now break apart their powerful fleets to pursue different objectives without risking a crushing defeat. All of these feel like incredibly welcome changes to an already solid 4X strategy title. On top of that, Apocalypse stands out as a must for players who are looking to get the most out of the game. While it doesn't hold much content for the early game, players who stick through to the mid and late game will find a wealth of new options at their fingertips. New ships, colossal space weapons, towering fortresses, interesting technologies, new diplomatic opportunities - Apocalypse stands as an answer to a long list of fan requests that have been collected over the past two years. Stellaris: Apocalypse is available now on PC.
  5. In May of 2016, the development arm of Paradox Interactive released a brand new strategy title called Stellaris. The sci-fi 4X game thrust players into a galaxy full of mysteries and conflicts. Players could construct their own species and society and pit them against the unknown in a bid for galactic dominance using strategy, diplomacy, and conquest. Stellaris became a record breaking success for the indie company that has since put together multiple expansions for the game. With schedules being what they are, sometimes coordinating a full episode of The Best Games Period can be difficult. When we can't have a proper discussion, we will be breaking off to do these shorter mini-casts, Honorable Mentions, to talk about fringe games that we might not otherwise be able to talk about on a full episode. Outro music: 3D Pinball: Space Cadet 'Inter5tellar 5a5uke 5ever' by Sir Jordanius (http://ocremix.org/remix/OCR03132) You can download or listen to the podcast over on Soundcloud, our hosting site, and iTunes. A YouTube version is (sometimes) available as well, so you can watch what we are talking about while we talk about it! If you want to have your opinion heard on air, share your opinion in the comments, follow the show on Twitter, and participate in the weekly polls: @BestGamesPeriod New episodes of The Best Games Period will be released every Monday
  6. In May of 2016, the development arm of Paradox Interactive released a brand new strategy title called Stellaris. The sci-fi 4X game thrust players into a galaxy full of mysteries and conflicts. Players could construct their own species and society and pit them against the unknown in a bid for galactic dominance using strategy, diplomacy, and conquest. Stellaris became a record breaking success for the indie company that has since put together multiple expansions for the game. With schedules being what they are, sometimes coordinating a full episode of The Best Games Period can be difficult. When we can't have a proper discussion, we will be breaking off to do these shorter mini-casts, Honorable Mentions, to talk about fringe games that we might not otherwise be able to talk about on a full episode. Outro music: 3D Pinball: Space Cadet 'Inter5tellar 5a5uke 5ever' by Sir Jordanius (http://ocremix.org/remix/OCR03132) You can download or listen to the podcast over on Soundcloud, our hosting site, and iTunes. A YouTube version is (sometimes) available as well, so you can watch what we are talking about while we talk about it! If you want to have your opinion heard on air, share your opinion in the comments, follow the show on Twitter, and participate in the weekly polls: @BestGamesPeriod New episodes of The Best Games Period will be released every Monday View full article
  7. Jack Gardner

    Feature: Review: Stellaris

    With the advent of faster than light travel, the void of space suddenly seemed to teem with life. Human, alien, synthetic, and organisms that defy classification found new homes in the cosmos. Players step in to lead an empire at the dawn of an exciting new era as creatures of all kinds reach for the stars. What awaits in the cold vacuum of space and the worlds orbiting foreign stars? Only those bold enough to go forth into the unknown can tell. Stellaris, though ultimately flawed in a number of ways, might just be the best 4X game of the last few years. Breaking free of more traditional turn-based shackles, Stellaris presents players with a fluid real-time strategy system. Within that real-time framework, the title asks players to manage an every expanding empire. Players will need to choose their priorities and balance the need to develop planets and galactic infrastructure against building a deadly fleet to defend their people against the various threats that they will encounter in the galaxy. Now, as one might imagine, there is a fair amount of micromanaging that can become too much once an empire gets too big. Developer Paradox understood the need to simplify the micromanagement and implemented a sector system. Once an empire has hit a certain size, it can begin sectioning off portions of the empire into sectors, autonomous regions that manage themselves and send the player resources. While this significantly streamlines play, especially during the late game, the overall pace of Stellaris seems a bit off. It can occasionally turn between everything happening very quickly to long stretches of waiting. Paradox does provide game speed options, but even on the fastest setting common activities like ship building or research seem to take long periods of time to finish. Players choose from a handful of pre-made spacefaring races or create their own, customizing everything from their people’s philosophy and system of government to their genetic dispositions. From there, every game presents its own challenges. Each galaxy that a player loads into is randomized with different races and events. This element of unpredictability leads to a kind of emergent history for the various fictional factions that make up each galaxy. For example, in one of my campaigns I created a race of snout-toting mammals called the Sneeb, religious zealots in a military dictatorship that lived to be over 200 years old. Early on in the game, my defensive space fleet was caught out by a neighboring empire and destroyed, leaving me at the mercy of their armada. My enemies then bombarded my planet from orbit for almost a century. However, they lacked the armies to successfully invade on foot and my people live for so long that the population being bombarded simply waited for the enemy government officials to die of old age and end the war. Random events can also be encountered in the vastness of space. Derelict space stations, large-scale space animals, paradise worlds, planet-destroying asteroids, and more can be found. I’ve discovered deserted ring worlds, abandoned ships that made my scientists go insane, and ceramic objects that have puzzled my philosophers and researchers for decades. All of these things have consequences, whether beneficial or disastrous. As far as I can tell, every game also has some kind of randomized end-game crisis that can conquer the galaxy if left unchecked. I encountered three crises during my time with Stellaris: The Prethoryn Scourge, a race of hostile creatures from beyond the reaches of the galaxy; extra dimensional entities that invade through a dimensional rift; and the ever-present threat of AI research leading to unshackled sentience and the rise of a robotic revolution against organics. If unmanaged, all of these can prove devastating to the entire galaxy. The diplomacy system creates decent interaction with AI players. Each political system and racial outlook grants different bonuses that make every faction’s reaction to other cultures different. The way you improve standing with other societies is by establishing embassies, having common rivals or enemies, trade, and by projecting military might. However, these interactions can sometimes be handicapped by an empire's natural inclination, that often can't be overcome by negotiation and leads to some frustration. Empires can ally with one another and, if enough empires are in alliance, form a federation. On the more aggressive side of negotiation, often it isn’t beneficial to outright conquer another empire when at war. Instead, Stellaris gives players the option to vassalize their enemies. This essentially forces them to be your ally and allows players to slowly integrate that empire into their own without the negative consequences like rebellion or sabotage. While Stellaris might not represent the pinnacle of RTS visuals, it proves to be more than adequate on the eyes. The models for the various races are nicely detailed and move with a life-like energy. Zooming in close to view stars and planets presents pleasing and unique worlds and vistas floating in space. The ship models are also well made, if a little lacking in differentiation. It is hard to tell the difference between most ships and weapons beyond the particle effects being used and the size of the vessel. This brings us to perhaps the most lackluster part of Stellaris: Combat. Engagements are automatic when fleets of warships enter firing range. Each fleet has a number indicating its combat strength and 99% of the time the fleet with the bigger overall number wins. This leads to players stacking up “fleets of doom” with all military strength in one massive death ball rolling through the cosmos. This isn’t necessarily bad, but it isn’t as interesting as the tactics players can use in games like Sins of a Solar Empire or StarCraft. Perhaps those who have entered high levels of RTS play can more effectively split fleets, but the game’s AI encourages this behavior, too. Even though the AI will break into different fleet sizes, any AI allies a player has will just send all their fleets to follow the player’s largest fleet. This actually causes some degree of lag, even on beefy computers because so many ships can be flying around in a bajillion different fleets. Beyond that, the AI just generally makes poor tactical decisions and often seems to become inactive outside of sending their fleets to follow the ever growing death ball. Remember those potentially game-ending crises I mentioned earlier? The AI does almost nothing in response to those. It can be frustrating when an extra dimensional invasion starts on the other side of the galaxy because about fifteen empires can stand between you and the rift and none of them will lift a finger to close it, even as their civilizations crumble into ruin. Pray that you or a neighboring empire is the one to begin the robotic revolution or you will have almost no chance of stopping it when it hits full swing and has enslaved half the galaxy before you can reach it. This seems like such an oversight that I have a hard time believing it wasn’t caught during QA testing. If I had to guess, end-game crises were an idea that entered late in development and Paradox didn’t have time to fully iron out the kinks before shipping it. I’m hoping for an extensive AI patch in the coming months that addresses AI inaction in the face of certain death, but it is a shame Stellaris didn’t ship with that functionality in the first place. If the AI proves to be a huge turn off, I’d recommend grabbing a couple friends who will stick with Stellaris for the long-haul and playing online. Having allies (or enemies, if your friends are particularly competitive/prone to backstabbery) that can react to situations in a human way really does add to the experience significantly. The only hurdle is time. Even at the fastest game speed, a full campaign might take 24-30 hours on a small sized map. Conclusion: All the randomized elements Stellaris brings to every galaxy it generates really absorbed me. Much like when I play Civilization and lose hours of my life being engaged in strategic decision-making, I found myself captivated by the emergent narratives of my alien empires in Stellaris. This review has only scratched the surface of the sense of discovery Stellaris holds for those with imagination. Primitive alien worlds can be observed, researched, guided, genetically altered, and uplifted to be allies in some unforeseen galactic war. Ancient ships might be discovered that might possibly be resurrected as weapons capable of setting an atmosphere ablaze. Sure, the pace might be slower than ideal at times and the AI might not be up to all of the tasks asked of it, but I had an undeniably great time exploring the stars and conquering my enemies through war, diplomacy, and manipulation. Despite lacking a story-driven campaign, Paradox included all the tools necessary to forge unique stories with every playthrough and I’m hoping Stellaris goes on to influence more games, directing them in how to create an effective emergent narrative on a grand scale. Stellaris was reviewed on PC and is now available View full article
  8. Jack Gardner

    Review: Stellaris

    With the advent of faster than light travel, the void of space suddenly seemed to teem with life. Human, alien, synthetic, and organisms that defy classification found new homes in the cosmos. Players step in to lead an empire at the dawn of an exciting new era as creatures of all kinds reach for the stars. What awaits in the cold vacuum of space and the worlds orbiting foreign stars? Only those bold enough to go forth into the unknown can tell. Stellaris, though ultimately flawed in a number of ways, might just be the best 4X game of the last few years. Breaking free of more traditional turn-based shackles, Stellaris presents players with a fluid real-time strategy system. Within that real-time framework, the title asks players to manage an every expanding empire. Players will need to choose their priorities and balance the need to develop planets and galactic infrastructure against building a deadly fleet to defend their people against the various threats that they will encounter in the galaxy. Now, as one might imagine, there is a fair amount of micromanaging that can become too much once an empire gets too big. Developer Paradox understood the need to simplify the micromanagement and implemented a sector system. Once an empire has hit a certain size, it can begin sectioning off portions of the empire into sectors, autonomous regions that manage themselves and send the player resources. While this significantly streamlines play, especially during the late game, the overall pace of Stellaris seems a bit off. It can occasionally turn between everything happening very quickly to long stretches of waiting. Paradox does provide game speed options, but even on the fastest setting common activities like ship building or research seem to take long periods of time to finish. Players choose from a handful of pre-made spacefaring races or create their own, customizing everything from their people’s philosophy and system of government to their genetic dispositions. From there, every game presents its own challenges. Each galaxy that a player loads into is randomized with different races and events. This element of unpredictability leads to a kind of emergent history for the various fictional factions that make up each galaxy. For example, in one of my campaigns I created a race of snout-toting mammals called the Sneeb, religious zealots in a military dictatorship that lived to be over 200 years old. Early on in the game, my defensive space fleet was caught out by a neighboring empire and destroyed, leaving me at the mercy of their armada. My enemies then bombarded my planet from orbit for almost a century. However, they lacked the armies to successfully invade on foot and my people live for so long that the population being bombarded simply waited for the enemy government officials to die of old age and end the war. Random events can also be encountered in the vastness of space. Derelict space stations, large-scale space animals, paradise worlds, planet-destroying asteroids, and more can be found. I’ve discovered deserted ring worlds, abandoned ships that made my scientists go insane, and ceramic objects that have puzzled my philosophers and researchers for decades. All of these things have consequences, whether beneficial or disastrous. As far as I can tell, every game also has some kind of randomized end-game crisis that can conquer the galaxy if left unchecked. I encountered three crises during my time with Stellaris: The Prethoryn Scourge, a race of hostile creatures from beyond the reaches of the galaxy; extra dimensional entities that invade through a dimensional rift; and the ever-present threat of AI research leading to unshackled sentience and the rise of a robotic revolution against organics. If unmanaged, all of these can prove devastating to the entire galaxy. The diplomacy system creates decent interaction with AI players. Each political system and racial outlook grants different bonuses that make every faction’s reaction to other cultures different. The way you improve standing with other societies is by establishing embassies, having common rivals or enemies, trade, and by projecting military might. However, these interactions can sometimes be handicapped by an empire's natural inclination, that often can't be overcome by negotiation and leads to some frustration. Empires can ally with one another and, if enough empires are in alliance, form a federation. On the more aggressive side of negotiation, often it isn’t beneficial to outright conquer another empire when at war. Instead, Stellaris gives players the option to vassalize their enemies. This essentially forces them to be your ally and allows players to slowly integrate that empire into their own without the negative consequences like rebellion or sabotage. While Stellaris might not represent the pinnacle of RTS visuals, it proves to be more than adequate on the eyes. The models for the various races are nicely detailed and move with a life-like energy. Zooming in close to view stars and planets presents pleasing and unique worlds and vistas floating in space. The ship models are also well made, if a little lacking in differentiation. It is hard to tell the difference between most ships and weapons beyond the particle effects being used and the size of the vessel. This brings us to perhaps the most lackluster part of Stellaris: Combat. Engagements are automatic when fleets of warships enter firing range. Each fleet has a number indicating its combat strength and 99% of the time the fleet with the bigger overall number wins. This leads to players stacking up “fleets of doom” with all military strength in one massive death ball rolling through the cosmos. This isn’t necessarily bad, but it isn’t as interesting as the tactics players can use in games like Sins of a Solar Empire or StarCraft. Perhaps those who have entered high levels of RTS play can more effectively split fleets, but the game’s AI encourages this behavior, too. Even though the AI will break into different fleet sizes, any AI allies a player has will just send all their fleets to follow the player’s largest fleet. This actually causes some degree of lag, even on beefy computers because so many ships can be flying around in a bajillion different fleets. Beyond that, the AI just generally makes poor tactical decisions and often seems to become inactive outside of sending their fleets to follow the ever growing death ball. Remember those potentially game-ending crises I mentioned earlier? The AI does almost nothing in response to those. It can be frustrating when an extra dimensional invasion starts on the other side of the galaxy because about fifteen empires can stand between you and the rift and none of them will lift a finger to close it, even as their civilizations crumble into ruin. Pray that you or a neighboring empire is the one to begin the robotic revolution or you will have almost no chance of stopping it when it hits full swing and has enslaved half the galaxy before you can reach it. This seems like such an oversight that I have a hard time believing it wasn’t caught during QA testing. If I had to guess, end-game crises were an idea that entered late in development and Paradox didn’t have time to fully iron out the kinks before shipping it. I’m hoping for an extensive AI patch in the coming months that addresses AI inaction in the face of certain death, but it is a shame Stellaris didn’t ship with that functionality in the first place. If the AI proves to be a huge turn off, I’d recommend grabbing a couple friends who will stick with Stellaris for the long-haul and playing online. Having allies (or enemies, if your friends are particularly competitive/prone to backstabbery) that can react to situations in a human way really does add to the experience significantly. The only hurdle is time. Even at the fastest game speed, a full campaign might take 24-30 hours on a small sized map. Conclusion: All the randomized elements Stellaris brings to every galaxy it generates really absorbed me. Much like when I play Civilization and lose hours of my life being engaged in strategic decision-making, I found myself captivated by the emergent narratives of my alien empires in Stellaris. This review has only scratched the surface of the sense of discovery Stellaris holds for those with imagination. Primitive alien worlds can be observed, researched, guided, genetically altered, and uplifted to be allies in some unforeseen galactic war. Ancient ships might be discovered that might possibly be resurrected as weapons capable of setting an atmosphere ablaze. Sure, the pace might be slower than ideal at times and the AI might not be up to all of the tasks asked of it, but I had an undeniably great time exploring the stars and conquering my enemies through war, diplomacy, and manipulation. Despite lacking a story-driven campaign, Paradox included all the tools necessary to forge unique stories with every playthrough and I’m hoping Stellaris goes on to influence more games, directing them in how to create an effective emergent narrative on a grand scale. Stellaris was reviewed on PC and is now available
  9. The Spatials, the first game set in the 58th century, sets out to be one of the wackiest tycoon-RPG-4X hybrids that you'll ever encounter. Explore randomly generated galaxies and loot entire worlds to construct the most popular space station in the universe. The co-founder of developer Weird and Wry, Carlos Carrasco, expressed his excitement: Creating a game like The Spatials has always been a dream of ours. There are so many different elements at work here: base-building, combat with landing parties, a working economy, a complex loot system, and space exploration -- all running in real time. Once players sit down with the game, they’ll immediately notice that we not only made all systems work well together, but we also delivered a really offbeat, fun tycoon game. Player feedback has been incredibly positive, and we can barely contain our excitement for the launch! The Spatials will retail at $12.99, but from now until April 7 a discount will knock that down to $9.74. Check it out if you're a fan of the classic tycoon games or love comedic twists on classic sci-fi tropes. The Spatials is now available on PC and Mac. View full article
  10. The Spatials, the first game set in the 58th century, sets out to be one of the wackiest tycoon-RPG-4X hybrids that you'll ever encounter. Explore randomly generated galaxies and loot entire worlds to construct the most popular space station in the universe. The co-founder of developer Weird and Wry, Carlos Carrasco, expressed his excitement: Creating a game like The Spatials has always been a dream of ours. There are so many different elements at work here: base-building, combat with landing parties, a working economy, a complex loot system, and space exploration -- all running in real time. Once players sit down with the game, they’ll immediately notice that we not only made all systems work well together, but we also delivered a really offbeat, fun tycoon game. Player feedback has been incredibly positive, and we can barely contain our excitement for the launch! The Spatials will retail at $12.99, but from now until April 7 a discount will knock that down to $9.74. Check it out if you're a fan of the classic tycoon games or love comedic twists on classic sci-fi tropes. The Spatials is now available on PC and Mac.
  11. Everything that you might want to know about Beyond Earth packed into one ten minute gameplay trailer. Covering the different stages through which each playthrough of Sid Meier's Civilization: Beyond Earth will progress, the Discovery trailer displays the wonders of alien worlds and the technologies humanity might have at its fingertips in the far future. Sid Meier's Civilization: Beyond Earth releases on October 24 for PC. Pre-ordering will net players the Exoplanets Map Pack DLC for free. View full article
  12. Everything that you might want to know about Beyond Earth packed into one ten minute gameplay trailer. Covering the different stages through which each playthrough of Sid Meier's Civilization: Beyond Earth will progress, the Discovery trailer displays the wonders of alien worlds and the technologies humanity might have at its fingertips in the far future. Sid Meier's Civilization: Beyond Earth releases on October 24 for PC. Pre-ordering will net players the Exoplanets Map Pack DLC for free.
  13. Jack Gardner

    Feature: Review: Endless Legend

    In a remote galaxy, far from the familiar tendrils of the Milky Way, lies the planet of Auriga. Many thousands of years ago, a race of creatures called the Endless colonized their entire galaxy, relying on a substance known as Dust to help them create whatever they could imagine. From food to interstellar ships, Dust was used to control and create. Then the Endless turned on one another, ripping their own galaxy apart in a massive cataclysm. Dust was scattered across the remains of their empire, throughout the ruins of their now barren worlds. On Auriga, some creatures survived. After centuries of barely eking out an existence, life began to flourish and discover Dust once more. As the ruler of one of the eight races that survived in the wake of the Endless’ desertion of Auriga, players must guide their faction to supremacy by any means necessary. Endless Legend is a tactical, grid-based 4X game developed by Amplitude Studios. Coined by Alan Emrich in a 1994 preview of the original Master of Orion for Computer Gaming World, 4X is a shorthand term for explore, expand, exploit, and exterminate. As has become typical of this type of strategy game, players of Endless Legend choose a faction and proceed to explore the secrets of their particular randomly generated map, expand into neutral territories, fight monsters and other factions, and use diplomacy to further their own goals. There are currently eight races to choose from, each with their own goals, motivations, and unique attributes. For example, the Wild Walkers are a race of elven creatures that try to live in harmony with nature, but are always tempted by the brutal aspects of the wild. They receive bonuses for building their cities in forested areas. Contrast that with the Broken Lords, former humans who had their bodies ripped from them and now exist as spirits wrapped in armor. Though The Broken Lords champion honor and virtue, they survive only by draining the Dust from the world and creatures around themselves. The choice of faction matters more than just the passive bonuses. Each faction has a unique quest that will reward players with new technology, resources, and lore. It lends the experience a bit more of a narrative than comparable 4X strategy titles. The first part of each game will consist of exploring and expanding. The world of Auriga is littered with ruins and temples begging to be explored by intrepid heroes. A ruin could contain resources, a rare weapon, unfriendly creatures, or an entire side quest. As players search out more ruins and follow their initial main quest goal, they would be wise to expand their influence by building cities in the neutral territories that they move through. Each territory may have only one city built in it at any given time, so building a new city locks down the entire territory’s resources for the player’s empire. Expansions mean more resources, more units, more everything. They’re handy to have. Expanding is important early on because Endless Legend’s AI factions are all too happy to rapidly expand. Even after several ages, Auriga continues to feel the effects of the cataclysm. As turns progress, seasonal changes will come into play. Summer is a wonderful time for most of the empires. They can find plentiful amounts of food and Dust and their armies can move freely across the land. In the bottom left of the screen a tentative forecast counts down the turns until the next seasonal shift. When the season shifts into winter, all units are slowed to a crawl while food and Dust production are dramatically reduced. Players will need to turn these seasonal changes to their advantage if they hope to claim victory. Endless Legend drops the ball when it comes to combat. Battles take place on a hexagonal grid that allows players to position their units prior to allowing the engagement to commence. Once the fighting begins, players can issue tactical orders for their units to follow after every round of combat. Unfortunately, that is the extent of player involvement. What follows is a minute or two of both armies being controlled by the computer. It is boring, it takes a long time, and it is often infuriating to watch your army make baffling decisions. Luckily, there is a way to automate these battles so they end instantly and players aren’t forced to spend several minutes watching the larger battles that can occur in the late-game. The combat either needs to be simplified and completely automated or made more complex with hands-on commands, not this strange, wishy-washy middle ground which Endless Legend seems to have adopted. All of this is a shame because there are a lot of neat elements surrounding the actual fighting that I thought were great. As a game progresses, new units will be researched or gained through alliances with minor factions. These units can be equipped with weapons and armor made with exotic resources to make them more effective or entirely new units can be created by equipping the same base unit with different equipment. As battles are won or as units receive special training from heroes, they’ll gain experience and become stronger. As a strange counter-point to the lackluster battles, the aspect of Endless Legend that I found most appealing was the diplomacy. Usually one of the most awkward and irritating portions of the 4X experience is being forced to interact with the AI or humans via in-game diplomatic options. Endless Legend boils these exchanges down into easily understood terms and ties them to Influence Points. When communicating with other empires everything from complimenting the size of their armies to declaring war costs Influence Points. However, Influence Points can also be used to make your armies stronger, improve the disposition of the general populace, decrease building times on units, and much more. This caused me to reconsider many of the more rash diplomatic decisions I would have made. Personally, I think it is brilliant. Beyond that, it is easier to gauge how interested the AI nations are in accepting deals through the inclusion of a reaction meter above the offer. This helps to eliminate wasting Influence Points by offering trades that will be rejected out of hand. Endless Legend is absolutely gorgeous. The outskirts of the map look like a lightly origami-ed canvas. As units explore, terrain seem to melt out of the creases of the unknown. Even zoomed in close, the unit and creature models look great. The cities look like something dreamed up by the Game of Thrones intro CGI artists. The musical score serves to heighten the sense of wonder and beauty. You really do get the sense that Auriga has a long, rich history full of magical beasts and wondrous treasures. Conclusion: Endless Legend is a fantastic game with a few minor blemishes that can be overlooked. If you are a strategy addict, Endless Legend will certainly keep you entertained for a very long time. The biggest issue will be adapting to the combat system, especially for players who aren’t all that keen on 4X titles in the first place. If you can overcome that hurdle, there is a lot to enjoy about Endless Legend. The artistic direction is unique and a real delight for the eyes, while exploring the fantasy world of Auriga and completing quests while balancing a diplomatic tightrope is engaging and entertaining. Strategy fans, Endless Legend belongs in your library beside the likes of Civilization, Total War, and Galactic Civilizations. Endless Legend is currently available for PC. View full article
  14. Jack Gardner

    Review: Endless Legend

    In a remote galaxy, far from the familiar tendrils of the Milky Way, lies the planet of Auriga. Many thousands of years ago, a race of creatures called the Endless colonized their entire galaxy, relying on a substance known as Dust to help them create whatever they could imagine. From food to interstellar ships, Dust was used to control and create. Then the Endless turned on one another, ripping their own galaxy apart in a massive cataclysm. Dust was scattered across the remains of their empire, throughout the ruins of their now barren worlds. On Auriga, some creatures survived. After centuries of barely eking out an existence, life began to flourish and discover Dust once more. As the ruler of one of the eight races that survived in the wake of the Endless’ desertion of Auriga, players must guide their faction to supremacy by any means necessary. Endless Legend is a tactical, grid-based 4X game developed by Amplitude Studios. Coined by Alan Emrich in a 1994 preview of the original Master of Orion for Computer Gaming World, 4X is a shorthand term for explore, expand, exploit, and exterminate. As has become typical of this type of strategy game, players of Endless Legend choose a faction and proceed to explore the secrets of their particular randomly generated map, expand into neutral territories, fight monsters and other factions, and use diplomacy to further their own goals. There are currently eight races to choose from, each with their own goals, motivations, and unique attributes. For example, the Wild Walkers are a race of elven creatures that try to live in harmony with nature, but are always tempted by the brutal aspects of the wild. They receive bonuses for building their cities in forested areas. Contrast that with the Broken Lords, former humans who had their bodies ripped from them and now exist as spirits wrapped in armor. Though The Broken Lords champion honor and virtue, they survive only by draining the Dust from the world and creatures around themselves. The choice of faction matters more than just the passive bonuses. Each faction has a unique quest that will reward players with new technology, resources, and lore. It lends the experience a bit more of a narrative than comparable 4X strategy titles. The first part of each game will consist of exploring and expanding. The world of Auriga is littered with ruins and temples begging to be explored by intrepid heroes. A ruin could contain resources, a rare weapon, unfriendly creatures, or an entire side quest. As players search out more ruins and follow their initial main quest goal, they would be wise to expand their influence by building cities in the neutral territories that they move through. Each territory may have only one city built in it at any given time, so building a new city locks down the entire territory’s resources for the player’s empire. Expansions mean more resources, more units, more everything. They’re handy to have. Expanding is important early on because Endless Legend’s AI factions are all too happy to rapidly expand. Even after several ages, Auriga continues to feel the effects of the cataclysm. As turns progress, seasonal changes will come into play. Summer is a wonderful time for most of the empires. They can find plentiful amounts of food and Dust and their armies can move freely across the land. In the bottom left of the screen a tentative forecast counts down the turns until the next seasonal shift. When the season shifts into winter, all units are slowed to a crawl while food and Dust production are dramatically reduced. Players will need to turn these seasonal changes to their advantage if they hope to claim victory. Endless Legend drops the ball when it comes to combat. Battles take place on a hexagonal grid that allows players to position their units prior to allowing the engagement to commence. Once the fighting begins, players can issue tactical orders for their units to follow after every round of combat. Unfortunately, that is the extent of player involvement. What follows is a minute or two of both armies being controlled by the computer. It is boring, it takes a long time, and it is often infuriating to watch your army make baffling decisions. Luckily, there is a way to automate these battles so they end instantly and players aren’t forced to spend several minutes watching the larger battles that can occur in the late-game. The combat either needs to be simplified and completely automated or made more complex with hands-on commands, not this strange, wishy-washy middle ground which Endless Legend seems to have adopted. All of this is a shame because there are a lot of neat elements surrounding the actual fighting that I thought were great. As a game progresses, new units will be researched or gained through alliances with minor factions. These units can be equipped with weapons and armor made with exotic resources to make them more effective or entirely new units can be created by equipping the same base unit with different equipment. As battles are won or as units receive special training from heroes, they’ll gain experience and become stronger. As a strange counter-point to the lackluster battles, the aspect of Endless Legend that I found most appealing was the diplomacy. Usually one of the most awkward and irritating portions of the 4X experience is being forced to interact with the AI or humans via in-game diplomatic options. Endless Legend boils these exchanges down into easily understood terms and ties them to Influence Points. When communicating with other empires everything from complimenting the size of their armies to declaring war costs Influence Points. However, Influence Points can also be used to make your armies stronger, improve the disposition of the general populace, decrease building times on units, and much more. This caused me to reconsider many of the more rash diplomatic decisions I would have made. Personally, I think it is brilliant. Beyond that, it is easier to gauge how interested the AI nations are in accepting deals through the inclusion of a reaction meter above the offer. This helps to eliminate wasting Influence Points by offering trades that will be rejected out of hand. Endless Legend is absolutely gorgeous. The outskirts of the map look like a lightly origami-ed canvas. As units explore, terrain seem to melt out of the creases of the unknown. Even zoomed in close, the unit and creature models look great. The cities look like something dreamed up by the Game of Thrones intro CGI artists. The musical score serves to heighten the sense of wonder and beauty. You really do get the sense that Auriga has a long, rich history full of magical beasts and wondrous treasures. Conclusion: Endless Legend is a fantastic game with a few minor blemishes that can be overlooked. If you are a strategy addict, Endless Legend will certainly keep you entertained for a very long time. The biggest issue will be adapting to the combat system, especially for players who aren’t all that keen on 4X titles in the first place. If you can overcome that hurdle, there is a lot to enjoy about Endless Legend. The artistic direction is unique and a real delight for the eyes, while exploring the fantasy world of Auriga and completing quests while balancing a diplomatic tightrope is engaging and entertaining. Strategy fans, Endless Legend belongs in your library beside the likes of Civilization, Total War, and Galactic Civilizations. Endless Legend is currently available for PC.
  15. To give you the best idea of what Galactic Civilizations III is like, imagine Sid Meier’s Civilization V set in space with the ability to design your own spaceships. If that sentence doesn't get you salivating at the possibilities, you might have to go rewatch Star Wars. Over the last few days I had the opportunity to spend some quality time with the latest build of Galactic Civilizations III and lead the human race into the future. Making sure that humanity survives to dominate the stars isn’t the easiest task, especially in the current build available from developer Stardock Entertainment. While it is certainly playable and quite enjoyable, the limitations of its beta state become immediately apparent when beginning a new game. Though the final game will include eight playable races as well as the option to create a custom race, the current build is limited to four: the Terran Alliance, the Drangin Empire, the Altarian Resistance, and the Iridium Corporation. Each race has different strengths and weaknesses. For example, the Terrans are great at exploring during the early game, while the Altarians are adept researchers and quick to adopt new technology. The other major limitation to the beta is that the only victory condition available is conquest. The final retail build will include diplomatic, scientific, and influence victories alongside conquest. Upon loading into a new game, everything seems fantastic. Fans of Galactic Civilizations I and II will feel right at home with the interface, while newcomers might feel a bit out of their depth and require a bit of a learning period before knowing the ins and outs of the numerous menus and orders. The first hour or so of gameplay feel refined and mostly finished and it is fun to expand to new worlds and see what you might find drifting among the debris in deep space. Survey craft can pick apart debris to find advantages for your race in the form of money or even operational ships. The first encounter with an AI civilization shows that Galactic Civilizations III is still very much incomplete. Not only is diplomatic victory impossible, but the diplomacy system hasn’t been implemented at all. This leads to every civilization attacking you on sight, which makes it difficult to fully explore the complex and interesting technology tree down any of the routes besides military. While researching the secret to building larger and larger ships, players will be able to design new types of spacefaring war machines. The ship designer is quite entertaining. It offers players premade designs or allows them to build their ships from scratch. Once the base body has been finished and outfitted with a variety of extra pieces give some character to the design, players can outfit it with weapons, armor, shielding, engines, etc. The system is incredibly flexible and I can easily see some Galactic Civilizations III players putting hours into creating new and unique ships for their fleets. The one thing that I will stress heavily from what I saw during my time leading the Terran armadas is how slowly the game moves. For me that’s great, I love slow, tactical experiences, but I understand that sort of experience isn’t something everyone enjoys readily. I spent nearly six hours with Galactic Civilization III and feel like I have barely scratched the surface of what the final version will be like. I have yet to see how science, influence, or diplomacy victories will work or explored how it could be feasible to research those parts of the tech tree. However, the time I spent in space is just enough to whet my appetite for the final product. Galactic Civilizations III is currently in beta on PC. It has no official release date. People can gain entrance to the beta via Steam for $44.99. I would not recommend purchasing the beta unless you are a hardcore fan of the Galactic Civilizations series and willing to deal with technical bugs and unfinished game systems. For more information on how the Galactic Civilizations III is progressing, be sure to check out the Stardock YouTube Channel to see their weekly progress videos. View full article
  16. Jack Gardner

    Preview: Galactic Civilizations III

    To give you the best idea of what Galactic Civilizations III is like, imagine Sid Meier’s Civilization V set in space with the ability to design your own spaceships. If that sentence doesn't get you salivating at the possibilities, you might have to go rewatch Star Wars. Over the last few days I had the opportunity to spend some quality time with the latest build of Galactic Civilizations III and lead the human race into the future. Making sure that humanity survives to dominate the stars isn’t the easiest task, especially in the current build available from developer Stardock Entertainment. While it is certainly playable and quite enjoyable, the limitations of its beta state become immediately apparent when beginning a new game. Though the final game will include eight playable races as well as the option to create a custom race, the current build is limited to four: the Terran Alliance, the Drangin Empire, the Altarian Resistance, and the Iridium Corporation. Each race has different strengths and weaknesses. For example, the Terrans are great at exploring during the early game, while the Altarians are adept researchers and quick to adopt new technology. The other major limitation to the beta is that the only victory condition available is conquest. The final retail build will include diplomatic, scientific, and influence victories alongside conquest. Upon loading into a new game, everything seems fantastic. Fans of Galactic Civilizations I and II will feel right at home with the interface, while newcomers might feel a bit out of their depth and require a bit of a learning period before knowing the ins and outs of the numerous menus and orders. The first hour or so of gameplay feel refined and mostly finished and it is fun to expand to new worlds and see what you might find drifting among the debris in deep space. Survey craft can pick apart debris to find advantages for your race in the form of money or even operational ships. The first encounter with an AI civilization shows that Galactic Civilizations III is still very much incomplete. Not only is diplomatic victory impossible, but the diplomacy system hasn’t been implemented at all. This leads to every civilization attacking you on sight, which makes it difficult to fully explore the complex and interesting technology tree down any of the routes besides military. While researching the secret to building larger and larger ships, players will be able to design new types of spacefaring war machines. The ship designer is quite entertaining. It offers players premade designs or allows them to build their ships from scratch. Once the base body has been finished and outfitted with a variety of extra pieces give some character to the design, players can outfit it with weapons, armor, shielding, engines, etc. The system is incredibly flexible and I can easily see some Galactic Civilizations III players putting hours into creating new and unique ships for their fleets. The one thing that I will stress heavily from what I saw during my time leading the Terran armadas is how slowly the game moves. For me that’s great, I love slow, tactical experiences, but I understand that sort of experience isn’t something everyone enjoys readily. I spent nearly six hours with Galactic Civilization III and feel like I have barely scratched the surface of what the final version will be like. I have yet to see how science, influence, or diplomacy victories will work or explored how it could be feasible to research those parts of the tech tree. However, the time I spent in space is just enough to whet my appetite for the final product. Galactic Civilizations III is currently in beta on PC. It has no official release date. People can gain entrance to the beta via Steam for $44.99. I would not recommend purchasing the beta unless you are a hardcore fan of the Galactic Civilizations series and willing to deal with technical bugs and unfinished game systems. For more information on how the Galactic Civilizations III is progressing, be sure to check out the Stardock YouTube Channel to see their weekly progress videos.
  17. The alpha version of Galactic Civilizations III is hitting Steam on March 27. What kinds of galaxy-altering actions should you expect to be able to do in the most recent build of the game? Galactic Civilizations III is a turn-based strategy game, kinda like Sid Meier's Civilization, but in space with aliens and lasers. The video shows off the way ships will move across the galaxy to explore, colonize, and wage war. While the military aspects of the game seem to be fully implemented or nearly finished, the alpha will be missing several key features like diplomacy, ship designer, and colony development. These features should be added soon as the game moves into beta and inches closer to final release. Strategy fans, keep your eyes on this one. Fun fact: the guy narrating this video, Adam Biesenner, is awesome.
  18. The alpha version of Galactic Civilizations III is hitting Steam on March 27. What kinds of galaxy-altering actions should you expect to be able to do in the most recent build of the game? Galactic Civilizations III is a turn-based strategy game, kinda like Sid Meier's Civilization, but in space with aliens and lasers. The video shows off the way ships will move across the galaxy to explore, colonize, and wage war. While the military aspects of the game seem to be fully implemented or nearly finished, the alpha will be missing several key features like diplomacy, ship designer, and colony development. These features should be added soon as the game moves into beta and inches closer to final release. Strategy fans, keep your eyes on this one. Fun fact: the guy narrating this video, Adam Biesenner, is awesome. View full article
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